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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 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: 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: 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.

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.