Fav Reads: March - July 2018

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So, as you may have noticed, it's been awhile! I normally like to post these lists every month, but this year has been crazy. So crazy and busy, my site has been down for a few months as I redesigned it, and really just life. But I'm back, yay! If you've read any of my previous posts, you also know I usually write micro reviews for the books I loved each month. You won't find that here this month, and I'm honestly not sure if I will go back to that. Time will tell. 
With all that being said, I read a lot of fantastic books while I was away and I want to share my favorites with you here! Have you read any of these? What did you think? Anything I'm missing out on? Let's discuss in the comments!!!

March

Simon vs The Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Tempt the Boss by Natasha Madison

Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

April

Unconventional by Isabel Love

Unforgivable  by Isabel Love

The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

The Hot Shot by Kristin Callihan

Bad Intentions by Charleigh Rose

The Eagle by Jillian Dodd

The Society by Jillian Dodd

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

May

Welcome to the Dark Side by Giana Darling

Sombra by Leslie McAdam

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Roomies by Christina Lauren

Piece of Work by Staci Hart

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

June

The Bombshell Effect by Karla Sorensen

Snapshot by Rebel Farris

July

Perfect Vision by L.M. Halloran

Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Ricochet by Krista & Becca Ritchie

 

 

 

Fav Reads: February 2018

I'm a mess, y'all! These five books here are probably the only ones I read in all of February because: edits + rewrites + a deadline months overdue + mom shit + just fucking life, man = a self-imposed ban on reading until I GET THIS SHIT DONE. So yeah, that means I read very little and haven't read anything since. BUT... those five books I did read? Love them. LOVED. THEM. They were fantastic. You should pick them up and read them (and I believe almost all of them are available in Kindle Unlimited, so if you subscribe to it, you really have zero excuses). I don't have much to say about these right now because my brain is fried, but seriously guys, these are so good!

 
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The Beau & The Belle by R.S. Grey

Oh, what to say about this one, other than I loved it? Seriously loved it. I enjoyed the fact that Gray decided to start Lauren and Beau's story at the beginning, in the past. They were some of my favorite chapters. Lauren is so awkwardly, adorably relatable. And that doesn't change much when we hit her adult years. I absolutely loved that about her, it made her so real and endearing. The chemistry between her and Beau was so great. The way New Orleans is described makes me want to take a trip there like yesterday.

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Dangerous Hearts / Destined Hearts by K.K. Allen

I LOVE a great rock star romance. LOVE. When that story is mixed with some suspense, burning hot bedroom scenes, and a cliffhanger that makes you want to pick up the next book immediately, I'm sold! I quite literally devoured these books in about two days. I was lucky I'm so late to the K.K. Allen/Stolen Melody duet, because I didn't have to wait at all to see where Lyric and Wolf's story was going to end. Angsty and emotional, Lyric and Wolf create beautiful music together in more ways than one. Allen took their story places I wasn't expecting, which is always a rare treat. This is the first of her work that I've read, but they won't be the last. I can't wait to devour more of her work!

Living Out Loud by Staci Hart

I haven’t read a Staci Hart novel in quite awhile, and not because I was actively avoiding them, but more so because I really need the time to sit down with her Hearts & Arrows series, so I've kind of ben waiting for that. So, anyway, it’s been awhile, and I decided, fuck it, I can't hold out any longer, I'm just gonna go ahead with Living Out Loud and come back to H&A when I have the time. So glad I did! Living Out Loud reminded me of all the reasons why she’s one of my favorite writer’s. Annie and Greg’s story is sweet, beautiful, not super high on the angst, but still delivers so many feels and emotions. Their dynamic, the path of their relationship, everything was just perfect the way it was. Get ready for a bit of a slow burn, but trust me, it's so worth the wait. I've never read a Jane Austen book (I know, I know), but Hart's adaptations of them make me want to change that!

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

I know I mentioned last month that I don't read Historical Romance as much as I used to. After moving on to Contemporary and New Adult Romance, I found it really hard to go back to HR. After reading and loving one of Julia Quinn’s books last month, and having Lord of Scoundrels highly recommended, I decided to jump into another one. I was not disappointed. Far from it. This might be my favorite HR ever and it’s definitely on my list of all time favs. This book is so witty, charming, and sexy. It is so incredibly fresh and modern that it’s hard to believe this book was written over 20 years ago. The banter between Jessica and Dain is so on point I had a smile on my face for much of the book. The characters are so different than what I’m used to with this genre, and it made for a fantastic read. If you are on the fence with this one or are new to Historical Romance, just make the leap. You won’t be disappointed.

My Favorite Romantic Movies: Part 2

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It's Valentine's Day, which means I'm back with a second edition/part of my favorite romantic movies list (you can find my first list here). I know I say that I'm not big into romantic movies, and I'm really not. If you gave me a list of 10 romance films, I'm guessing I probably haven't even seen half of them. What I find funny is that despite this not being one of my favorite genres, I definitely have enough movies that I classify as love stories that I fell for to do more than one list. Don't be surprised if there is a part 3 next year. And now to more favorites, in no particular order:

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The Cutting Edge

Who doesn't love a good enemies to lovers story? The Cutting Edge is the ultimate in that. The story of a figure skater with one last shot at Olympic gold on the hunt for a new partner to get her there. In comes a washed up hockey player with nothing left to lose. The level of hate that rolls off of both the characters is palpable, and it's no surprise the minute that animosity gets redirected to passion. With the 2018 Winter Olympics going on right now, this is the perfect movie to accompany viewing the events. 

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Spring

This might be the most untraditional movie on this list. A young, American man runs off to Italy to get some space from the shit show his life has become. Soon after arriving he meets a woman that he shares an instant attraction with. Sounds like the start of a promising romantic drama, right? Well, yes and no. He soon begins to realize something is off with his new romantic interest, and that's where Spring gets really interesting. Some would classify this as more of a horror movie than a romance, but I would disagree. Don't get me wrong, it is a horror film, but more in the vein of Lovecraft than in jump scares and creepiness. It is also very much about the relationship of the main characters. Spring is so, so beautiful and unique. I found myself in love with everything about this movie by the films end.

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Love Jones

Oh, Love Jones. I saw this movie in theaters when I was 15, and it was love at first sight. For a young biracial girl, this movie conveyed a life and love that resonated with me, something that I could envision for my own future. It really was a revelation for me. And then there was the passion, the sexiness of it all, the art, the poetry, the conversations, the words, the music. That damn soundtrack was life and I listened to it on repeat for months. The movie also introduced me to John Coltrane, something I will always be grateful for.

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Timer

Imagine living in a world where you can get outfitted with a device that lets you know the exact moment you will meet your soulmate. Would you do it? How would it affect your life? This is the premise for Timer. This little independent film is so full of emotion, fun, and discussion-worthy ideas. I enjoyed this movie so much I promptly had a few friends watch it. I found this movie so refreshingly different, and it's seriously worth the time.

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Simply Irresistible

This movie is one of my all-time guilty pleasures. A young woman is on the verge of losing the restaurant her recently deceased mother started and loved. Through a strange twist of magic, she becomes a great cook, and hijinks ensue. While not a high budget film or even an award caliber one, it is a really fun, sweet movie. I love the dynamic and banter between the characters, and I can't help falling in love with the movie as the main characters fall in love. For me, this movie is simply irresistible (see what I did there?)!

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A Very Long Engagement

This movie is so close to perfection for me. A young woman is told that her fiancee has been killed during World War I, and while everyone tells her to move on, deep inside she believes that he is still alive and sets out on an adventure to find the truth. Alternating between her investigation and flashbacks, A Very Long Engagement is a funny, wonderful, tragic, absolutely stunning film. It's beautiful to look at and is so emotionally moving. Imagine feeling a love so deeply that you know in your bones that the soul of your love has not yet left this earth. So, so gorgeaous. 

Fav Reads: January 2018

The year is starting out with a bang, if my January reading list is any indication! It was also a month full of ARC's (Advanced Reader/Review Copy) for me, and let me tell you, there are some fucking fantastic books coming out this month! So, in no particular order, my favorite reads of the month:

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Double Vision by L.M. Halloran (not available for order at time I hit publish, but look out for this one to release 2/22/18)

This book begins with Eden spotting her doppelgänger at a party one night, takes you on a dark and twisted road to an unexpected conclusion. I love dark romance, and I absolutely loved Double Vision. I loved the suspenseful ride of Eden's journey. I also LOVED the dynamic between Eden and Liam and how it all unraveled. Uniquely told in a compelling voice, I lost a serious amount of sleep staying up to read this because I simply could not put it down. I devoured this book in a day and wanted so much more. This was the first book by Halloran that I've read, and I'm now ready to read them all!

Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

If you've read my blog before, you'll know I am super late to the game for a lot of books. If they have been raved about or really hyped, I often avoid them a little more. They almost never live up to the hype and I hate that kind of disappointment. I really thought Sea of Tranquility was going to fall into this too when I first started it. It was a slow burner for me, but was interesting, compelling, and heartbreaking. The characters were so flawed (love this) and Millay made sure you understood exactly why they were the way they were and why they make the choices they make. And then there's the growth of the characters. I want to say so much more, but like most amazing reads, they are best experienced with as little info as possible. I do have to say: The 2 pages or so of this book? The last sentence? Might be the best I've read. They seriously gave me chills, made me smile hard, and cry. Seriously, that good.

False Start/Pivot Line by Rebel Farris (At time of publish, False Start is available for pre-order and releases 2/7/18, while Pivot line releases 3/7/18)

You guys, these books... These freaking books! I really cannot say much about them without giving things away that are best left experienced while reading. False Start and Pivot Line are a duet, but are also part of a larger series that will release over the next year or so. They are a genre mashup in the truest sense of the word, and really take you on a rollercoaster ride of romantic suspense. There are mysteries to be unraveled, and while I was following the clues trying to figure out what's what (and let me just say, I'm great at figuring these things out and even I was surprised at some of the reveals), and having fun doing so, I was also falling into the emotional lives of these characters. I truly enjoyed the ride and I'm having a hard time having to wait for the rest of the series connected to this duet.

Begin Again by Various Authors

An anthology of short stories by amazing authors, Begin Again is filled with beautiful stories of heartbreak, loss, tragedy, second-chances, and above all else, hope. These stories are truly special, and while I'd love to pick out some standouts, I would pretty much be listing most of the stories in this book. I discovered some new to me authors that I can't wait to explore further, which is one of my favorite parts of reading anthologies. I also have to mention that all proceeds will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and NAMI. These are causes that are incredibly important and necessary, and another reason I was so happy to support this collection of stories. If you or someone you know is struggling, please know that there is help out there. One resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

The Rebound by Winter Renshaw

Oh, where to start with The Rebound? Like Winter Renshaw’s other books, I devoured this one in one day. I couldn’t get enough of the sweet and heartbreaking story of first love, hope lost and found, and second chances. There’s a little twist to the plot; it hit me at the beginning of Part 2 what it might be, and I tore through the pages not only dying to find out if I was right, but also just enjoying Yardley and Nevada’s story. My one complaint? I wish there was more because I wasn’t ready to leave their story, even though I loved their ending. All things considered, that’s a good problem to have.

Hidden Seams by Alessandra Torre

After reading the blurb for this book, I went into it expecting a certain kind of story and for the plot to go a certain way. I was completely wrong, and I'm so glad I was. Hidden Seams was completely unexpected in the best way. I loved how complex and complicated both Avery and Marco were. I love flawed characters, and these characters fit the bill, but are so well written and relatable that I fell in love with them. The secondary characters are strong and add to the story. And that epilogue? So, so good.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

There was a time I used to binge historical romances like there was no tomorrow. With a degree in Renaissance Studies, I guess the fact that I'm in love with other time periods probably isn't the biggest shocker. My reading began to slow down, to the point I practically wasn't reading at all. When I started up again, it was mostly YA series and Contemporary Romance. I recently began to see people talking about how great Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series was, so I decided to dip my toes back into historical romance. I am so glad I did! I loved The Duke and I. I love both Daphne and Simon, as individual characters and as a couple; their chemistry sizzles. The dialogue is fresh, something that feels so uncommon in the genre. If you're looking to try historical romance or looking to return to it, check out this series!

Royally Matched by Emma Chase

After reading Royally Screwed last year (book 1 in this series of standalones), I immediately wanted to read Royally Matched, the second book in the series. Life and my never-ending "to read" list got in the way. So, I don't talk about this much, but I don't do audiobooks. At all. I zone out, my mind goes to about twenty other things, and before I know it I've missed thirty minutes of the book and I'm lost. Then I was confronted with having to build a large dresser from Ikea. Something that took me about four hours to do. I needed something to entertain me and keep me sane. So I decided to take the chance on the audiobook for Royally Matched. And I was hooked. It was so good. Funny, clever, and sexy, I couldn't help but fall for Henry and Sarah. Whether your read it or listen to it, I think you will too.

My Favorite Reads of 2017

So, I'm a little late with this list, but man 2018 has been a little crazy so far! And while most of us are in the full swing of a new year, I'm still looking back, fondly, at the books I read and loved last year. Let me tell ya, I loved a lot. I'm talking so many books that it was a huge struggle to get my list down to 27 standalones, 3 duets, and 5 series! It feels like every year I find more and more amazing books. The talent out there is crazy, y'all!

So here is the list of my favorite reads of 2017. The books listed didn't all come out in 2017, they were just books I read for the first time in 2017. Also, In order to save time and space, I decided not to write my thoughts on each book, but I have linked each listing to the post it originally appeared on that does have my thoughts, if you're interested. Also, just a quick note: I have broken things up by standalones, duets, and series. There will be some books that appear on the standalone list that are part of a series. Those books can be read as standalones. There are books that appear on my duets list that might have one or two other books in the series, but I felt like you couldn't read one of these without reading the other, so they felt more like a duet to me. Just felt like I should disclose that from the start!

If you've read any of these books, I would love to hear your thoughts and discuss in the comments! These are in no particular order and my hope, as always, is that you might find a new book or author that you love too! 

And, in no particular order:

STANDALONE NOVELS

DUETS:  

SERIES:

Fav Reads: December 2017

I almost considered not doing a December list and just compiling those favorites into my big 2017 list, but I didn't think it was fair for December or those books to get the shaft. So here I am to give glory to the amazing things I read this month. And seriously, so much good stuff. I know I usually have more of a lead-in to these lists, but what the hell, I think I'm just going to jump right in! In no particular order:

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When Life Happened by Jewel E. Ann

I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and I still don't have words for it. First off, this woman can write. Her words draw me right in and I end up getting completely lost in her stories and devour them quickly. When Life Happened is no different. I can't say much about this one without giving a lot away, and if you've read my posts before, you know that's not how I roll. What I will say is that there was a point in this story that stole my breath. Seriously. I had to set my kindle aside and just live in my feelings for a bit. There are times where you just have to trust an author to get you through it, and if you reach that point with this book, just trust that Jewel E. Ann will definitely get you to the other side.

Team Player Anthology by Various Authors

This is a year of anthologies for me. They were never something I was into before because I usually veer away from short stories. This year though I had the pleasure of reading a few different anthologies, and none of them disappointed me. This one might be at the top for me, though. I can't think of one story that was less than great, and so many of them left me wanting so much more, yet satisfied at the same time. If you like steamy, swoony stories and sports romances, this is the collection for you. Standouts for me were: Yard Sale by Charleigh Rose, Full Court Press by Kennedy Ryan, One Good Man by Emma Scott, The End Zone by L.J. Shen, and Back in the Game by Meghan Quinn.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Sometimes you hear a ton of hype about an author you haven't read before and you think, "there's no possible way they can live up to the hype." Most people give it a go anyway. Not me. I usually run the other way until I can't give in anymore. This book here, though? The minute I closed it I thought, "THAT'S what all the hype was about!" And it was right on. This book was so ridiculously good. The writing team behind Christina Lauren perfectly captured the excitement and angst and emotion and uncertainty of falling in love for the first time. But it's also so much more than that, so much more complex. Autoboyography is written so beautifully and authentically that I couldn't help but feel everything Tanner and Sebastian and even Autumn and Tanner's parents were feeling. It was that real and raw. This is one of those books I wish I could read for the first time all over again.

Untouchable by Isabel Love

Untouchable is a debut novel that doesn't read like one because it's so well written. It was emotional, so steamy and sexy with a bit of angst mixed in for good measure. Monica and Max had so much chemistry, the secondary characters were well-developed, and there was so much humor and emotion that I compulsively turned the pages, stayed up almost all night, and finished it in one night. It was seriously that good. The one thing that kept standing out to me above all this is how real it was. The passion and love felt authentic, and when complications arose, Love ensured we understood and felt why these issues were happening. Untouchable has me dying to read her next book.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I love a good mystery/thriller, and I love great YA Fiction, mix those two together and you get. One of Us is Lying. It did not disappoint. Five students walk into detention, one doesn't walk out. Through alternating pov's of the surviving students, you come to learn that the victim's gossip blog may have been the motivation behind his death and that each student in that room has secrets they want to keep hidden. Through the course of the novel, not only are you trying to piece everything together to see if you can figure out what really happened and why, but you also come to care about each of them too. About halfway through I had a theory worked out that proved to be partly accurate. McManus threw a twist in there that I would have never seen coming, and man was the climax and resolution satisfying.

Stuck-Up Suit by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

This is the first Keeland/Ward book I've read, and I loved it. Soraya and Graham were the perfect picture of opposites attract. While they never should have made sense, the sexy chemistry between them and their  hilarious dynamic made them one of my favorite fictional characters. There was a twist I didn’t see coming, and yet the resolution of the conflicts felt mature and real. This was one of those books I found to be the perfect combination of sexy, sweet, and funny. I smiled so much reading this and then couldn’t stop thinking about the characters for days after.

Fav Reads: November 2017

November was a crazy, crazy month y’all! As some of you may know, in addition to this writing thing and the mom-ing I do, I also have an online shop where I make and sell super cute crochet items. I’ve managed to avoid doing any craft shows in the five years I’ve been in business for various reason (main one being my super clingy 2.5 year old). I was invited to take part in a local show with other mom-owned small businesses and decided to take the leap. I had almost no stock, so November consisted of me crocheting my fingers off and trying to maintain my sanity. Thank God for the two seasons of Nashville I needed to catch up on and a nearly endless supply of Hallmark/Lifetime holiday movies to get me through the late nights.

Okay, so the point of all that is: all that work left me with very little time to write or read. Which made me kind of sad. But the books I did read? A-fuckin-mazing. Seriously. 

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The New Camelot series (American Queen / American Prince / American King) by Sierra Simone

I’ve grouped these books together because you can’t read one without reading the others. If you’ve read my book wrap-ups before, you probably already know that I tend to veer away from highly hyped books. Reality for me never lives up to the hype, so why disappoint myself? Well this is a case where something greatly hyped not only lived up to it but surpassed it. I only knew a few things going into this series: that it was a modern take on the King Arthur legend, that it was highly emotional, and it was super filthy. These books were all those things and so much more. I can’t and won’t say much because these need to be experienced with as little spoiled as possible and I still have trouble articulating all the things I felt reading these books. They were so well-written, so smart, and so fucking filthy (seriously the filthiest books I’ve ever read). And the heart. There is so much heart and emotion and heartbreak (yes, I even shed a few tears). It’s so rare to get a book, let alone a series, that contains all of these elements. Read these, and then feel free to reach out to me for some hair stroking and conversation when you’re done.

Spider by Ilsa Madden-Mills

I enjoy a good rock-star romance, and Spider does not disappoint. It actually takes the rock star trope and the step-brother trope and creates a story I wasn’t expecting. This isn’t a typical rock star story; while it’s what Spider does, it’s not a huge focus of the story. The forbidden love aspect of the story goes beyond Spider and Rose being step-siblings. At the heart of this book, it’s a story of how two broken people find love and healing in each other. I loved reading their journey and that epilogue made me smile in a way few have.

Bad Habit by Charleigh Rose

Oh angsty goodness! I read Misbehaved earlier this year by Rose and absolutely loved it, it’s one of my top reads of the year. When I heard about Bad Habit I anxiously awaited its arrival, and I was not disappointed. I adore all the sexy, angsty goodness that is a usual hallmark of NA books, and Bad Habit has that in spades. As much as I liked Briar, I loved Asher. Seriously, he was not at all the stereotypical alpha asshole so prevalent in NA. After finishing this book in less than two days I’m left waiting for the follow-up books with some of the side characters. Anyone else dying to find out Dare’s story?!?

Fav Reads: October 2017

Holy month of rereads, October! I don’t get much of a chance to read books more than once because my tbr list is miles long (at least it feels that way). There were quite a few books I was planning on reading in October that were part of a series, so I felt like I needed that second read to catch up before reading the new one. So glad I did too because it was nice revisiting old favorites. I’d love to get to a point where I can fit at least one oldie into my rotation, but as writers keep releasing amazing new things, that becomes so unlikely. I know, terrible problem to have. On top of the rereads, October have me some amazing books, with at least one that is now one of my all-time favorites. In no particular order:

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Dark Promises by Winter Renshaw

Oh, Keir. After reading Dark Paradise and Bachelor where Keir appears prior to Dark Promises (all three are standalones), I couldn’t help but be intrigued by his cocky, selfish, asshole ways. No surprise, I love my fictional men to be flawed with a heavy side of prick, which Keir has in spades. When I discovered that Winter Renshaw was writing a book about him, I was beyond excited. Dark Promises was worth the wait. Rowan was strong and relatable, I loved how unapologetic Keir was about himself, and the chemistry between him and Rowan was fire. More than that, it was a pleasure to see their connection grow, in spite of what they both intended and wanted. It takes skill and heart to create a character that you feel redeems himself enough to deserve the heroine, a skill that Renshaw wields here. Like most of her other works, Dark Promises was an easy, enjoyable read that I devoured in a day wishing it was longer, wishing there was more story but also being satisfied with how it ended.

Final Girls by Riley Sanger

“Holy shit!!!!” Those were the first words I said aloud upon finishing this book. I don’t step outside of Romance very often, but this one took me way outside of that and it was so fucking worth it. I felt like I was watching a great horror/thriller movie but in book form (and seriously don’t be surprised if this ends up becoming a movie). This book was so good. I'm talking, "I got less than 3 hours of sleep and jeopardized my ability to be a functioning human being because I couldn't put it down and just HAD to know all the things, all the answers, and how it ended" kind of good. I felt so conflicted about the characters, one minute loving them and the next wanting to scream at them and shake them, but not in a way that made me hate them or the book. I want to say more, but I can’t without risking giving away too much. You just gotta dive into it. It's the kind of book I know I'm gonna wish I could read for the first time again one day. 

Sure Thing by Jana Aston

If Rom-Com’s are your thing and you haven’t read anything by Jana Aston yet, you are seriously missing out and need to rectify that immediately. Few people write funny, well-developed, likable, and relatable characters like Aston does. I’m talking the kind of characters you want to know in real life and be friends with. The characters in Sure Thing was no different. I loved Violet and Jennings. Their chemistry (not just in the bedroom) was fantastic, and though they fell in love over a fairly short period of time, it all felt real and not even a little forced, which happens so often in these kinds of stories. Plus, who can resist a quirky, sassy heroine and a hot, British hero?!?

Scandalous by LJ Shen

Scandalous is the final (I think, but don’t quote me on that) book in the Sinners of Saints series and I have to say, it’s dethroned Ruckus as my second favorite of the bunch (nothing can top Defy and Jaime for me, though Trent came really close). I absolutely love Shen’s writing and how she creates these absolute assholes (hotholes) that you can’t help but love. Shen went places with this story that I wasn’t expecting. I fell in love with both Trent and Edie, and if little Luna doesn’t break your heart open and fill it right back up, you may not have one at all. I adore how each story in this series is so different, each character’s voice is truly unique, but it all feels like it’s part of the same world, no easy feat. 

Drive by Kate Stewart

This book, y’all. I have so many feelings about this one that I don’t even know where to start. I’m gonna try to get this all out, so bear with me. Okay, so little known fact about me: growing up I used to write song lyrics. Like I’d have a tune in my head that I’d write the words for, but because I didn’t play an instrument they pretty much went nowhere and I guess I should just call them poems. But as a teen one of my dreams was to major in music industry/business of music and to take on the music world in a non performing capacity. That was all a really long-winded way of saying I fucking love music. It lives in my body and moves me in ways few other mediums do. So this book that is so focused on music and the main character, Stella’s passion for it hit me hard and made her so real and relatable. The way Stewart integrated the playlist with the chapters in the eBook was like nothing I’ve ever seen and just added another layer to the reading experience. The other characters in this book are so rich and fully developed, which is crazy because this is a single POV story. Is there a love triangle? Kind of, yes. But it’s written in such a way that you don’t hate any of the characters. It’s done so well that it’s all authentic and heartbreaking and understandable. You want them all the get their happy ending. I could go into so much other detail about this book, but if you’ve read my monthly wrap-ups before, you know that’s just not how I work. What I will say is that this book had me so wrapped up in all my feelings and it’s definitely made it’s way onto my favorite books of all time list.

Fav Reads: September 2017

Oh, September. The month this year that has left me raw and emotional and in love. When I pick the books I plan to read for any given month, there's not really a ton of thought behind it. I try to pick things that are new or that I've had for awhile and haven't gotten around to yet. I usually try to pick books that are at least a little different from each other and there is generally no correlation or theme to my picks. Taking all of that into consideration, it's funny to me that this month nearly all the books I read were highly emotional reads. It wasn't planned and I probably won't do that again, because I am emotionally wrung out. Do I regret it though? No! I read some amazing books, so there is never any regrets in that! In no particular order:

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Touched by Mara White

I have read and adored several of White's Romance's and was excited to read her Literary Fiction. Touched is proof that White can write anything and in any genre. She has a way with words that make you envision, smell, taste, and feel everything the characters are so vividly. Hauntingly beautiful and tragically heartbreaking, White has created a riveting piece of fiction that will stay with me longer than most books do. I loved that the complexity of the narrative reinforced the complexity of the characters and themes in the story. Touched is a rich, compelling, and emotional read. It wasn't easy, but it was so worthwhile. I found myself in tears at the end (something that is rare for me), and I immediately had to talk about it with someone. Without a doubt, this is Mara White's best book to date.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

One of my favorite tropes in literature is older woman/younger man. It's one that, in my opinion, is under-represented. I can count on one hand the ones I've read, and none of them can touch how much I loved The Idea of You. When Solène meets her pre-teen daughter's idol, 20-year old Hayes, you think you know where this is going. You would probably be wrong. Lee has created a gorgeous, realistic, and at times heartrending story of an unconventional love. Weeks later and I am still thinking about this book. I loved the way it ended, found it to be perfect for the story told and characters, and yet I want more of Solène and Hayes. That is a rare thing indeed, in my experience.

Drumline by Stacey Kestwick

Before Drumline, I hadn't read any other book by Kestwick and I didn't know what to expect. I was so pleasantly surprised by this sexy, engaging story. While at the start it appears to be the story of Reese trying to break into her university's drumline, something that no other woman has done, and her growing attraction and connection to the captain, Laird, you soon discover there is so much more going on. Kestwick manages the challenging combination of tackling some heavier subjects/plot points while still doing justice to the love story of the characters. While this was my first of her novel's, I know it won't be the last.

Still by Kennedy Ryan

I almost wish I hadn't finished this book on the last day of the month because I really need more time to process everything I'm thinking and feeling. I know many people read romance as an escape to everyday worries and events. I read for that reason as well, and many books fit that bill. It isn't often that a "romance" novel is socially and culturally relevant, addressing issues that are going on right this moment in my country (I'm not going to assume everyone lives in the States). That is the genius of Still (and Flow and Grip, because you cannot read Still without reading both of these first, you just can't). Ryan so beautifully, painfully captures the reality of both the climate of the racial issues in the States right now, as well as the struggles that so many interracial relationships face. Grip and Bristol are serious "relationship goals." They love fiercely, passionately, and honestly even when it's ugly and it hurts. I wasn't sure where Ryan was going to take them in Still and how it could even come close to the perfection of Grip, but trust that she does. There were places that utterly broke me and I had to pause for some time to get my emotions together and to clear my eyes. And the way she wraps it all up? I know I've said it before, but it's the best way to express it: sweet and utter perfection.

Re-read of the month:

Sometimes I get a chance to reread a book I loved. I usually don't share that, but because there is a connection to one of the other books on the list this month, I decided to add it on.

Flow / Grip by Kennedy Ryan

I tried reading Still without doing a reread of the novella and novel that came before it. I only got 20% of the way through before I knew I HAD to reread Flow and Grip. There wasn't any way around it for me. I fell in love with Grip and Bristol and the perfection of these books all over again, a rare and sweet treat. You can read my previous thoughts on these books here: March 2017 Blog Post

Fav Reads: August 2017

So I'm just a little bit late with this post, but it's because I spent most of the month in a cave to get my book ready for the editor for its first round of edits!!! Yayyyy! And I was also up in the mountains with my family for the first few days of September. I absolutely loved almost everything I read, which is a first! So, with no further ado, and in no particular order:

After We Fall by Melanie Harlow

I just loved this book, my first Melanie Harlow book. I found Margot to be funny and relatable, and Jack was exactly the kind of broken, grumpy asshole I love in my fictional male characters. I read through this quickly because I really just wanted to know how it all ended. 

Absinthe by Winter Renshaw

I've said it once and I'll say it again: I absolutely LOVE Winter Renshaw and I'll read anything she writes. ANYTHING. She has a real knack at taking a well known trope and creating something completely unique and unexpected. Absinthe is no exception. I couldn't get enough of Halston and Ford. Absinthe was clever, humorous in places, and heartbreaking in others. If you love Student/Teacher romances, then you will not want to miss this one.

Love in Transit by Various Authors

I've never read an anthology series, but this one contained a short story by one of my favorite authors, Jana Aston, so I couldn't pass this up. The premise is that each author is given the same blurb to write a short story about. It was so fun to see how different each of the six stories turned out. I loved pretty much all of them, and I now have new authors to explore. It doesn't get much better than that! NOTE: this anthology is no longer being sold, though I'm guessing some of the novellas will be released individually. Jana Aston's Time Square novella will be released soon! 

Prime Minister by Ainsley Booth + Sadie Haller

I read Ainsley Booth's novella in the Love in Transit anthology, loved her writing, and decided I immediately wanted to read more of her work. I was pleasantly surprised that I already had Prime Minister sitting on my TBR collection on my Kindle. It was so so good! A workplace/political romance with kink and bdsm thrown in for good measure, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of heart in the story. This definitely won't be the only Frisky Beavers story I read!

A Court of Mist and Fury + A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

I considered doing two different entries for these but realized that there was no way I could really do that. You can't read one without reading the other. This series was so much more than I ever expected. I get why it's so loved and I now count myself as one of the converted. At the start of ACOMAF, I had no idea where it would take me, something that continued into ACOWAR. I haven't been so emotionally invested in a Fantasy series in so long, and I loved every minute of it.

The Foxe and the Hound by R.S. Grey

I seriously love R.S. Grey's writing. I hate to admit that her last book, Anything You Can Do wasn't one of the favorites, and that as a connected Standalone, I was a little worried if I would enjoy The Foxe and the Hound. I shouldn't have worried. Madeline instantly charmed my pants off, and I loved her and Adam's chemistry. I also have to say that I enjoyed the secondary characters, even Daisy, the female protagonist in Anything You Can Do who I disliked so much in that book, was so much more endearing and fun here. 

Misbehaved by Charleigh Rose

This is the second Student/Teacher romance on this list, but it is so completely different than Absinthe. I won't even try to compare the two, because they truly are very different, but both worth the read. Misbehaved was angsty, heartbreaking, and so sexy. I loved Remi's fire and heart, and seeing the closed-off asshole Pierce open up made this read memorable and rewarding. 

Fav Reads: July 2017

If you've read any of my other monthly wrap-ups, you know by now I don't really write "reviews" in the traditional sense. It's not something I enjoy, it's not what I'm good at. You want to talk books, I can talk to you all day, every day about them, but trying to write a synopsis and then breaking down the book? Not my thing. I'm also incapable of just listing my favorite books I read each month. I have to say something, ya know? I'll probably never write anything more than these "micro-reviews". Why? I hate giving much info about a book because I feel like it's best experienced fresh and blind by each reader. I don't want to kill that experience by saying too much in a review. So I do these little blurbs instead, and hope that you either find a new book that you fall in love with, and possibly that you reach out to me through comment, email, social media to chat about these books if you've read them.

Because seriously? There are few things I love more than books and talking about them. In no particular order, my favs:

 

Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent

Across all genres I might read (and all the different sub-genres of romance), the one thing I love more than anything else is a well-written flawed character. I love it. Layla and Thomas? So incredibly flawed and broken, and so incredibly beautiful. I still don't know how to put in to words everything else I'm thinking or feeling. It's been almost a week since I finished this, and I still can't stop thinking about it. Saffron Kent wrote something so unique and emotional with this one. It's so sexy, and heartbreaking, and different. Oh, and gorgeous. So gorgeous.

Gus by Kim Holden

I hate to say this, but I think I may have enjoyed this one more than I did Bright Side. And that's not to say that I didn't really like Bright Side, because I did. I think that Gus' journey and struggles after Bright Side ended resonated with me more, and I just felt him more, as a character. This was one of those books where I hated to see the main character struggle, but I knew it was essential to his journey, and I loved seeing it all unfold.

You by Caroline Kepnes

You know a writer is genius when they have you rooting for a psychopath. Told from the perspective of said character, it's so hard not to love Kepnes' writing. It's witty, hilarious, and creepy all at the same time, a mix that is almost impossible to achieve. She does it so well, and I found myself falling in love and wanting a positive outcome for a character that I normally would loathe. I can't wait to see what crazy story she tells in Hidden Bodies, the follow up.

Malentendido by Mara White

This is the follow up to Maldeamores, completing Belen and Lucky's story. I'm probably in the minority that I didn't mind that there wasn't a traditional happy ending for the pair in the first book. With that being said, I was so completely satisfied with how their story ended here.  The emotion and angst in this reminded me so much of the feelings I get when I watch Splendor in the Grass, one of my favorite movies (seriously, check it out if you haven't yet). Of course I love the taboo/forbidden aspect of the relationship, but I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing more glimpses into their past and how their present leads to the conclusion. The ending killed me in all the best ways.

Until it Fades by K.A. Tucker

I went into this book pretty blind, and it took me by surprise. The one word I can think of to describe it is: lovely. This was such a lovely, sweet read. I loved Cath. She was so sweet and soft, but also so incredibly strong. I also loved the pace and the path that the love story took. I finished this book feeling content with a big smile on my face. That doesn't happen often for me.

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

I used to have a serious addiction to YA Fiction. For a long while, it was all I read. Now my addiction has shifted to romance, but every few months I find myself in the mood to return to YA. I was at the library recently and this book caught my eye and after reading the synopsis, I was in. I loved this romantic suspense. While it falls a bit on the predictable side, I found the writing to be engaging and even beautiful in places. 

Fav Reads: June 2017

June was an absolutely stacked month for me, as far as books go. I got 18 books in this last month, and there were so many fantastic reads. I'm actually really glad that I was able to read as much as I did because I know July is going to be a sloooowwwwww month for me. I'll be focusing on finishing up this round of edits on my first novel, putting more work in on my second novel, and hopefully getting closer to reopening my shop. I know I don't talk about it much in this space, but I own/run an online shop that I create handmade products for (mylittleheartshop.com). It's a lot on the agenda for one month, especially with my kiddos being home all day for the summer and my hubby not being around much with his new job, but these things are my passion, so I can't imagine doing anything else.

So, in no particular order, here were the books I just couldn't help but love this month:

The Player by Claire Contreras

I love a good sports romance, and The Player is a great one. I couldn't help but fall in love with Warren and Camila and was pulling for their Happily Ever After from the start. I felt this had the perfect level of angst, the characters were so relatable, and it all felt believable. I sped through this one dying to find out how it all would happen and not wanting it to end, at the same time. You can't ask for much more than that in a book.

Maldeamores (Lovesick) by Mara White

Taboo romances are a new favorite of mine. There is just something about forbidden love that guts me and gets my heart racing. Mara White is so, so fucking good at the forbidden. Her book The Delivery was on my favorite reads of 2016 list (and I also really enjoyed her other books in the Heightsbound Series). I absolutely loved Belén and Lucky's story. I couldn't put it down and finished it in a day, then went back and read it again. I don't want to say too much because you really just have to experience it. The continuation, Malentendido (Misunderstood) comes out in July, and I am seriously dying to read it!

Bad Penny by Staci Hart

I absolutely adore Staci Hart's writing. I've read nearly everything she has written (I'm working on the few I've missed), and she is an instant one-click author for me. Bad Penny is no exception. Flawed, but lovable characters are my favorite, and there is no better example of this than Penny. She's flawed and has baggage but is honest and unapologetic about it. She is also badass and vulgar, and so fucking relatable. I knew I would enjoy this book based on the excerpts I had read, but I wasn't prepared to fall in love with it and Penny the way I did. And Bodie? He's on the list of best book boyfriends now.

Bad Romeo/Broken Juliet by Leisa Rayven

These two books are a package deal, and while not technically a duet, if you want to find out how all is resolved between Ethan and Cassie, you must read them both. I normally don't enjoy flip-flopping between timelines, but it worked for me here. I also generally don't like super angsty reads, but it all worked here. I got why each character made the choices they made, and Bad Romeo especially took me back to that intensity of first love and how much it can wreck you when your heart is broken for the first time. I found myself drawn in from page one, and the minute I finished Bad Romeo I HAD to start Broken Juliet to see Cassie and Ethan get their HEA.

Sustained by Emma Chase

Oh Jake, oh Chelsea. Sigh. This book was seriously so good. When a man with every intention of never settling down finds himself both in a relationship and becoming a surrogate father of six; hilarity, steam, and sweetness ensues. While I loved Jake and Chelsea together, their relationship with the six McQuaid children stole the show. I enjoyed the other books in Chase's Legal Briefs Series, but Sustained is the best of them and shouldn't be missed.

Fav Reads: May 2017

May was a crazy month for me. Between both of my daughters' birthday's this month, planning and hosting their party, a slight relapse of my health conditions (fibro and me/cfs seriously suck), and general family/life madness, I was a busy girl. So busy that it cut into my reading time. And I seriously hate when life gets in the way of my few, true pleasures, don't you? While I was only able to read about 10 books this month, I loved 6 of them, so I count that as a win overall. This really was such a fantastic month of reads for me. Have you read any of these? Loved them, hated them? Anything else you read this month that you couldn't put down? I would love to discuss in the comments.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I haven't read a really good fantasy novel in a long time; a couple years at least. Probably not since the last Mortal Instruments book. I got kind of burnt out on the genre and avoided it for awhile. This book brought me right back in. It was a slow read and a long read for me, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I loved getting drawn into this world that Maas created, loved getting attached to the characters. I'm invested now and I'm dying to read on and see what happens next.

Bombshell by CD Reiss

This was my second book by Reiss, and the second one that's on one of my favorite lists (Hardball was one of my top reads last year). She has a way of creating incredibly realistic, flawed characters that you can't help but fall for, and in many cases, relate to. Bombshell contains some of my favorite things in a romance: a sexy single dad, a hot movie star, a precocious and special child. Oh, and the steam in her books. Serious fire.

Bright Side by Kim Holden

I was really late to the game with this one. I was obviously living in a vacuum and hadn't heard about it until maybe six months ago. Even then, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it. I get that way when I come across things that everyone seems to fervently love. I figure it will never live up to the hype, so I avoid it. But then I was in the mood for something that would gut me (because I love that shit), and this book crossed my mind, and I figured, why not? I'm glad I did. It gutted me a bit and I definitely cried (if you've never read any of my other posts, this is something that does not happen very often, it's hard to melt my cold, icy heart). So I know you're wondering, do I think it lived up to the hype? Mostly. Is it my favorite gut-wrenching, yet inspiring story? No. But I really did enjoy it, and it was definitely one of my favorite reads this month.

Ruckus by L.J. Shen

This is the third book in Shen's Sinners of Saints series, and I know I'm going to be dying waiting for the next one. That shouldn't put you off from reading Ruckus (or any of the other books in the series). Each story is a standalone, each featuring one of the infamous Hotholes introduced in Vicious. I love how alternating between past and present reveals why two of the Hotholes are the way they are. It adds depth and heart to characters that might otherwise be unlikable (to some; personally I love a good asshole hero). While Jaime (Defy) is still my favorite Hothole, Dean might be a close second, plus, it's hard not to love Rosie too.

All About the D by Lex Martin and Leslie McAdam

I love every single thing Lex Martin has written. EVERYTHING. And this was my first time reading anything by Leslie McAdam (but it definitely won't be my last; I have a plan to devour all of her books). I've been waiting for this story for what feels like forever, and I was not disappointed. I don't want to give too much away, but I found All About the D to be funny, heartwarming and sweet. Oh, and super, super sexy. I absolutely loved Josh and Evie. And I think you will too.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I just finished this book last night and I'm already feeling hungover. Finding words to explain why I loved this book so much is impossible right now, I'm just too close to it and it's hard to say much without giving important plot points away. The p.o.v. and way the story is told and unfolds won't work for everyone. Either will the subject matter. It's obvious that highly emotional books that gut you are kinda my thing. There are so many things I related to and saw myself in, other things I was so glad I didn't. This book is the perfect example of how beautiful and heartbreaking the messiness of love and life can be.

Fav Reads: April 2017

So, I decided to try something new this month by creating a to-be-read list/collection on my Kindle to help focus my reading. I just wanted to see if it would help increase the amount I am reading each month. The list was a mix of books I've been meaning to read for forever and newer releases. I thought I was a onto a good thing. But the month started with a book that took me forever to finish, one that I actually regret spending so much time on. It just wasn't good. Then came a whole slew of new releases I wasn't anticipating or some great sales on books I've been meaning to get came up, and my list went up in smoke. I still managed to get 15 books under my belt, which still seems to be around my average this year.
 

I'm ok with the list not exactly working for me this month, because I ended up reading some freaking amazing books that I fell in love with. I mean, I'm sure that would have happened even if I had kept to the list, but I have no regrets. Here were my favorites for April, in no particular order:

The Perfect Illusion by Winter Renshaw

Winter Renshaw is a one-click author for me. No matter what it is, I buy it the minute I can, and I'm never disappointed. The same goes for The Perfect Illusion. It takes the fake fiancée/spouse trope and turns it on its head a bit, especially with a little enemies to lovers vibe thrown in there. I liked both Mari and Hudson, and I found most of the secondary characters enjoyable as well. I devoured this one quickly and found myself smiling when it was over.

Heat Wave by Karina Halle

I love, love, LOVE flawed characters. I really do. Even if I can't relate to the flaws, I still love reading about them, maybe because it makes it all seem more real and relatable. Ronnie and Logan are two flawed, stubborn characters, and I enjoyed every bit of them. Throw in some elements of taboo, a beautiful location, and secondary characters that help lighten the mood, and you have the yumminess that is Heat Wave. 

The Gravity of Us by Brittainy Cherry

The Gravity of Us is the final book in Brittainy Cherry's Elements Series (a series of standalones that are not connected). I loved them all, and this one was no exception. She does angsty, sad, and beautiful love stories so freaking well. I don't want to say too much, because I feel like these books are best left to be experienced. I will say that I felt like Lucy and Graham's story had a quiet intensity to it, which worked well for this story. While this wasn't my favorite of the series (The Silent Waters is, if you were wondering), but I would not skip this one!

Managed by Kristin Callihan

I read Idol, the first book in the VIP Series (a series of standalones) last year and loved it. That being said, I probably love Managed even more. The back and forth between Gabriel and Sophie was amazing and so, so funny. I am not always or even usually a fan of slow-burn romances, but this one was done so well and I completely got why there was a ramp up. While Managed takes place in the world of rock stars, it is so different than the average rock star romance. It's really worth the read!

Royally Screwed by Emma Chase

I was expecting to be disappointed by this one. It happens to me almost every single time I decide to jump in and read a book that seems to be loved by all. That, surprisingly, did not happen with Royally Screwed. Quite the opposite, in fact. I LOVED Royally Screwed. So. Much. I loved that Olivia had a backbone, and I loved the dynamic between her and Nicholas. And those sex scenes were absolute fire! My one qualm, (and it's not a major one), is I feel the ending was wrapped up pretty quickly and I would have loved to see it drawn out a little more, but it didn't diminish the story, for me. I'm definitely looking forward to the next two books in this series (they are standalones).

 

Fav Reads: March 2017

Good-bye March, hello April! You know what that means: time for my March Reads Wrap-up! I read 14 books in March, which seems to be my average per month. I thought last month was a slow one for me, and that's mostly because I spent almost half the month in a book hangover. They very rarely happen to me, but when they do, they knock me out for weeks! Out of the books I read, there were 5 that I fell in love with. 

I would love to know your favorite March reads in the comments. Or did you read one of my favs and love it/hate it/meh about it? I would love to discuss!

So, in no particular order:

Flow/Grip by Kennedy Ryan:

You guys. These. Books. They are the reason I was in a book funk/hangover for so much of the month. I devoured them and then couldn't stop thinking about them (or talking about them with anyone who would listen). So many thoughts. So many feelings. Kennedy Ryan is a magician with words. She takes things that should be ugly and turns them into something beautiful and deep. She took a character from her Soul Series that I really didn't care for, and she turned her into this fierce, beautiful, broken character that I ended up loving. Bristol and Grip's love story is beautiful and heartbreaking. What really got me though is the social aspect of the story. This story is so much more than just the love story. When romance delves deeper into some of the major issues facing our world today, you get a book that transcends the genre, and you end up with the perfection that is Flow and Grip. I don't want to say too much or give too much away. I just urge you to read these. Seriously, read it. Trust me on this, just pick it up and read it.

The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott

I know I've talked about the fact that I have a heart of ice before. I'm not a big crier and it takes a lot to get me to shed tears. Emma Scott is the rare author that seems to have a direct line right to all of my feelings. This is the third book of hers that has made me tear up. I absolutely loved reading about Zelda and Beckett's journey and growth. And those tears I cried? They were happy ones for sure.

Scarlet Stone by Jewel E. Ann

I went into this book completely blind, aside from the blurb. I am so glad I did. I could sit here and talk about the story or what I loved about it, but I enjoyed going into it blind so much that I don't want to potentially ruin it for someone else. I will say though, this is the book that broke my book hangover!

Born Sinner by S.L. Jennings

I haven't read a Paranormal Romance/Thriller in so long, so this was a refreshing read for me. It was dark and sexy, and I was automatically drawn into the world of demons, fallen angels, and the devil himself. There is also a sequel out, End of Eden (which I enjoyed), and based on the way that ended, I have a feeling there is still more of the story to come.

Fav Reads: February 2017

Well, it's about that time again: my February book wrap-up!  I ended up reading 15 books in February, which was kind of a surprise for me. I spent most of the month sick and not 100% with it, which means while my editing took a bit of a backseat, I had plenty of time to read all the books. And let me just say, February was filled with some amazing reads. Here were my favorites, in no particular order:

Defy by LJ Shen

This was one of my first reads of the month, and it stuck with me the entire month. This novella is the second release in Shen's Sinners of Saint series, but it is actually a prequel to Vicious (a book I enjoyed, but still have some conflicted feelings about). Jaime and Melody appeared briefly in Vicious, and I was instantly intrigued by their forbidden love story. I was drawn in from the start, and I loved reading about them. My only issue? That it wasn't a full length novel, because I was seriously wanting more by the time it ended.

Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

This was my first book by Penelope Douglas, but it definitely won't be my last. I didn't really know what to expect when I started this, but I loved how twisted and dark it was. I loved the alternating timelines, which kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what actually went down in the past that was driving the character's motivations in the present. I love how unique Rika and Michael are as a couple, and I kind of wanted more of them once all was said and done. I just found out that this will be the first book in a series, and I seriously can't wait to read more!

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

About eight or so years ago, I was right in the middle of a serious addiction to YA fiction. I felt like it wasn't constrained by the stuffiness and seriousness of literary fiction, and I loved that. It's been awhile since I've read anything YA, and I could not have picked a better book to return to it with. Everything Everything is unique and beautifully written. I loved all the illustrations and added media elements that I felt just enhanced the story. The characters were wonderful and flawed and totally relatable. This book is absolute perfection, and there are few books that I can say that about.

My Soul to Keep by Kennedy Ryan

This book/series had been on my radar for awhile, but with the coming release of a spinoff from this series, I decided to make the leap. I am so glad I did. I fucking devoured this book and read it in maybe a day. I love Kai and Rhyson in all their imperfect glory. Ryan is a wonder with words. She writes such beautiful, lyrical passages that just leap off the page and make you feel. I am smack in the middle of Down to My Soul (book 2), and I am dying to see where their story ends.

Full Tilt Duet (Full Tilt/All In) by Emma Scott

Guys, this book duet wrecked me. Seriously. Wrecked. I can maybe name one book over the last five years that have made me cry. Not tear up, but outright cry. Full Tilt had me sobbing. It was so beautiful, heartbreaking, and perfect. Scott tears your heart out in the most real, amazing way, but she puts it all back together again, with a few cracks. I don't want to say much about this one because it's best left to be experienced.

 

My Favorite Romantic Movies

If it weren't already obvious, I'm a book girl. When I want to experience love and romance of the fictional variety, my first instinct is to reach for a book. I'm generally not a big movie fan, especially of romance or romantic comedies. Every now and then though, my icy heart melts, and I want to see a great love story on the screen. To celebrate Valentine's Day in the only way I really do, I decided to share a list of some of my favorite romantic movies. These are just a small selection of movies I love, and I already have a list going for next year! If you are looking for a love story to watch, I personally don't think you will go wrong with any of these. These are in no particular order:

Casablanca

If I ever had to pick a favorite movie, this would likely be my choice. It takes a place in Morocco during World War II and is a beautiful love story, with elements of a war thriller and a bit of comedy thrown in. In a word, it's perfection. I don't want to say too much about this movie in case there are people that haven't seen it, but there is a reason that this one is considered a classic and is often at the top of most romantic movie lists. 

Almost Famous

I fell deeply in love with this movie the first time I saw it. On the surface, it's a coming of age story about a teenage boy that goes on tour with an up and coming band to write an article for Rolling Stone in the 1970's. To me, it's really a love letter to music and music lover's. You not only see it, but can also feel the way these people love the music, you can see how their love for music moves them and drives their actions. As someone who loves music passionately, this movie has always resonated with me in a pure and beautiful way. It also has a lot of kick ass music and a radiant Kate Hudson in her breakthrough role.

About Time

Some of you may know this, but I am not a crier. I often think that I am unable to cry, but then I come across a movie like this that literally makes me sob like a baby, and it reassures me that I am, in fact, capable of shedding tears. This sweetly charming romantic comedy is about a man who discovers he has the ability to time travel. It's funny, the characters are quirky and lovable, and the love story is sweet and oddly realistic for a movie like this. What really gets me though, is the relationship between the man and his father. Parent-child relationships seem to be my kryptonite, and this movie gets me every time.

Dangerous Beauty

Another confession: I love history. Always have. I love it so much, that I actually got my degree in Renaissance Studies, my favorite time period. With that said, it's probably no surprise, then, that one of my favorite romance movies is a historical one taking place in Renaissance Venice. Dangerous Beauty is the story of the most famous courtesan of her time and the man she is in love with. It's beautiful and intriguing. It's also based on a true story (though obviously some events have been altered for cinematic purposes), which I loved. I saw this movie for the first time when I was in high school, and it's been a favorite ever since.

Penelope

This modern fairy tale is about a young woman cursed with some of the physical features of a pig. A search for a way to break the curse also becomes a path to self-acceptance. The story and message are sweet, it's quite funny, and Christina Ricci and James McAvoy have a great chemistry that jumps off the screen. When I want a movie that is going to make me feel good and smile, this is often the one I go to. It's beautiful, with a magical quality and feeling. It looks like what I think a fairy tale steeped in reality would. As the movie progresses, you get so wrapped up in Penelope's journey that you begin to care less and less if she ever breaks the curse.

Wall-E

I avoided watching this movie for a while. I am not a big animated movie fan, and what little I had heard about this movie just wasn't a draw for me. Then my brother convinced me to just give it a try, I did, and about five minutes in I was mesmerized and sold. This movie is not only one of the best movies I have ever seen, it is one of the best love stories I have ever seen. Two robots fall in love. It sounds so ridiculous and silly, but in reality, it is so heart-wrenching and touching. Don't let the fact that there is almost no dialogue in the first hour of the movie. It doesn't need it, and you won't miss it. Weird related fact: My husband and I love and related to this movie so much that he actually got a scene from the end credits tattooed on his arm.

Crazy, Stupid, Love

A sweet and hilarious romantic comedy about love in different points of life. You have the young boy experiencing his first love with his babysitter (who doesn't even know he exists in that way), the married couple finding themselves at what seems to be the end of their marriage, and a young woman not really sure what she wants when it comes to love. I found myself laughing and rooting for all of the main characters, and relating to them all on different levels. For me, it brought up all the sad, magical, and happy feelings that love at its different stages engender. Oh, and did I mention Ryan Gosling without his shirt on?

Pillow Talk

This is possibly my favorite romantic comedy. Of all time. Doris Day is perfection as an independent woman embroiled in a feud with composer Rock Hudson over his constant use of their shared telephone line. Once Hudson's Brad sees Day's Jan, he is smitten, and creates an alter ego to attempt to seduce her. Hilarity ensues. This is by far the best of the Day and Hudson pairings, and you can just tell by their on-screen chemistry why two more films with them as romantic leads were made. While it's fairly obvious where this will all lead, I couldn't help but find myself wanting to see it all go down and see how it would all be tied up. Spoiler alert: it ends with laughs, of course. 

Splendor in the Grass

Natalie Wood. Warren Beatty. Need I say more? Ok, I do? Here it is: Love and sexual repression in 1920's Kansas. Wood and Beatty play young lover's crumbling under the pressure of their families expectations and the sexual repression of the time. It's angsty, passionate, and sad. It is also beautiful and compelling. It stayed with me long after I watched it for the first time, and I loved it.

Secretary

This is probably the least traditional of the movies on this list. When I first watched this, I had no idea what to expect, and I remember thinking that I had never seen a love story like this. It is raw and real. This was probably the first time I had really experienced BDSM in any capacity, and while new to me (I was all of 20 when I saw this for the first time), I couldn't help but notice how normal the relationship is. While it could have be portrayed as an oddity or something other or strange, it is obvious that this is what comes natural to these characters, and it is indeed romantic and dare I say, sweet. And oh so fucking sexy. On top of the relationship that emerges between the two main characters, I absolutely adore how Maggie Gyllenhaal's Lee comes into her own as a person.

Fav Reads: January 2017

I never set a reading goal for myself. I would love to do a reading challenge (if you have one you recommend, please share it in the comments), but I have yet been able to complete one. Last year I read a shit ton of books, and while I would love to match that number this year (200), it probably won't happen. The plan is to publish my first novel this summer, so in order for that to happen, reading will likely have to take a bit of a backseat to editing, promotion, and all the other things that go along with self-publishing a book!

Sooo, anyway, I managed to read 15 books in January. I was a little surprised by that number until I realized I was crazy sick for at least half the month, so I was super lazy and spent most of that time with my nose in a book (or Kindle, whatever). If you had any amazing reads in January, I would love to know what they were!

Out of the 15 books, there were 5 that stood out as my favorites. Here they are, in no particular order:

1 -  Taking Turns by JA Huss

Taking Turns was so fucking good. I couldn't put it down, finished it in a day good. Don't be fooled, while the book is dark, deep, and unbelievably filthy and sexy, at its core it is a love story. If you have read any of her other books (and if you haven't I HIGHLY recommend that you do), you have a bit of an idea of what you might be in for. I don't know how she does it, but every freaking time I'm hooked from start to finish. The only negative is that I have to wait for the next book in the series (it comes out in April)!

2 - November 9 by Colleen Hoover

I am noticing a theme on this month's list: three of these books are by author's that I love. I know I was a little late to the game reading this one, but it was well worth my long wait. Colleen is a master at writing beautiful, emotional, and moving stories. Her words stay with you long after you've finished the book. November 9 is no exception. Taking place on the same day over several years, I loved seeing where the years took Fallon and Ben.

3 - Fugly by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

I'm not sure what I was expecting really when I started this book, but I found it being so different than the light, easy read I thought it might be. This book isn't a comfortable read or easy read, but it is a unique, unconventional, and interesting love story. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I can't wait to see what comes next for Lily and Max.

4 - Dissonance by Tracey Ward

Two things I love: a good Rock Star romance and Tracey Ward's writing. She is so good at writing flawed yet relatable characters that you root for, and Jace and Greer are no different. In Dissonance she creates a rock star romance that I found different than others I've read. I finished this in two sittings because I found myself not being able to sleep until I found out how it would all turn out.

5 - All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

This book is exactly what the title says: Ugly and wonderful. It is also beautifully written. While the subject matter may be dark and disturbing, I couldn't help but find myself feeling sympathetic towards certain characters and relationships in the book. That is the all due to the beautiful, vivid, and engaging writing. 

My Favorite Reads of 2016

I always knew I wanted to use this space for more than just writing about my own writing and publishing journey. I wanted to share some of my daily life, but more than that, I wanted to write and share about the reads that stuck with me. The books that moved me, that wouldn't let me go. I decided to create a list of my favorite reads of 2016. Creating a list from 200 books was not easy. I ended up with a list of 20 books and 10 series that I loved.

Howdy, Hello!

Howdy, hey there! Thanks for stopping by! Being as this is my first blog post here, it really is just a hello, this is me (i.e. introduction), nice to meet ya kinda post. So, hello, I'm Celinka aka Cece, and I'm addicted to words. Words of all kind. Sweet ones, dirty ones, uncomfortable ones, absolutely filthy ones, the kind of words that make you feel all kinds of things. I love reading them and I love writing them.