I’m Going to Shameless Book Con Saturday – What Authors Should I Meet?

Hey guys!

Just a quick post as I’m getting ready to head to Orlando for the Shameless Book Con on Saturday!

This is my third year in a row going to Shameless, and I’m so excited.

I’m so lucky that this event is held so close to home every year (only a couple of hours away!), and I am hoping I’m able to go for many years to come.

I’m hoping you can help me out! There are only a handful of romance authors going to this convention that I am familiar with, so I was hoping that you all can let me know who some of your favorites are that are attending and what books I should buy from them.

Here is the list:
A Zavarelli
Abbi Glines
Ahren Sanders
Alex Grayson
Alexis Anne
Alice Gaines
Alison Mello
Amali Rose
Amalie Howard
Amie Knight
Angera Allen
Anna Bishop Barker
Anna Edwards
Anna Zaires & Dima Zales
Annabel Joseph
Aubrey Bondurant
Autumn Grey
Avery Flynn
B Cranford
Betty Shreffler
Brittany Gibbons
Brock Grady
CD Reiss
CE Johnson
Chelle Bliss
Christi Caldwell
CM Seabrook / Chantel Seabrook
Dakota Willink
Dani René
Danielle Norman
David Wills
DB James
DB Reynolds
Derek Masters
Desiree Holt
Eden Butler
Elizabeth SaFleur
Elle Christensen / Fiona Davenport
Felicia Fox
Ginger Scott
Grace Goodwin
Haylee Thorne
Heather M Orgeron
Heather McCollum
India R Adams
Iris Morland
Izzy Sweet & Sean Moriarty
J Sterling
JA Low
Jamie Schlosser
Jane Harvey-Berrick
Jane Henry
JD Hollyfield
Jeanne St James
Jennifer Bene
Jennifer Michael
Jessie Donovan
Jiffy Kate
JM Walker
Julie Morgan
Kacey Shea
Kailee Reese Samuels
Kate Allure / Sonja Rouillard
Kate Stewart
Kathy Lyons / Jade Lee
Katie Fox
KC Enders
Kelsie Rae
Kimberly Kincaid
Kindle Alexander
KK Allen
KL Clare
Lauren Campbell
Leddy Harper
Lee Savino
Leela Lou Dahlin / LL Dahlin
Lexi C Foss
Lilly Atlas
Lynda Throsby
M Never
Maria Luis
Marika Ray
Marni Mann
Meg Benjamin
Meghan Quinn
Melanie Moreland
Melissa Andrea
MJ Fields
Natalie Bennett
Natasha Knight
Nicole James
Nikki Ash
Nina Crespo
Patricia D Eddy
Peyton Banks
PT Michelle
RC Boldt
Red Phoenix
Renea Mason
Renee Harless
Renee Rose
RL Mathewson
Rochelle Paige / Fiona Davenport
Sara Ney
SB Alexander
SE Smith
Shari J Ryan
Sharon Hamilton
Shiloh Walker
Sienna Snow
Siobhan Davis
Stacey Rourke
Stacy Kestwick
Stephie Walls
Suzanne Wright
Sylvie Stewart
Terri Osburn
TM Frazier
Toni Aleo
Tonya Burrows
Tymber Dalton
Vanessa Fewings
Victoria H Smith
Vivian Ward
Wendy Higgins
Winter Travers
Yolanda Olson
Zoe York

I’d be eternally grateful if you commented below with your favorite authors from this list and what books I should check out from them.

Thanks everyone!

I’m going to tag a few bloggers who I’d love to hear their favorites from:
Romance Book Binge
What’s She Reading
Book Twins Reviews
The Book Dutchesses
Sincerely KarenJo
Thrifty Bibliophile
Mel to the Any

Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Much like book covers, I’m a sucker for a great book title. I’ve been known to pick up a book because of its cover and even because of its title.

I think it takes a special kind of talent to come up with the perfect book title. Too often, I feel like this is overlooked.

The books I’ve listed below are ones that I’ve read, and whether I loved them or not is kind of irrelevant because the books listed below had the perfect titles, not just standalone, but they also were relevant to the story inside in a special way.

 

Extraordinary Book Titles

  1. A Lesson in Thorns
  2. The Enchanted Sonata
  3. Etiquette & Espionage
  4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  5. Where the Silence Gathers
  6. Atheists Who Kneel and Pray
  7. The Sky is Everywhere
  8. With Visions of Red
  9. The Sun is Also a Star
  10. To Kill a Kingdom

Books I DNF’d (Books I Didn’t Finish) and Don’t Plan to

I have a confession.

I DNF books. A lot.

It is extremely rare that I force myself to finish a book if I’m not enjoying the first 20-25% of it. I’m not one to hate read, because why would I want to be angry the entire time I’m reading?

Also, and probably more importantly, I have way too many books on my TBR to waste time on books that don’t suck me in.

To be fair, I have gone back and read books after putting them down initially, particularly books that I knew I’d like if I were in a different mindset – and I’m glad I have in most cases. A recent example is The Wish Collector by Mia Sheridan. I started that one a few times and put it down, but when I was finally in the right place for it, I really enjoyed it.

The books below, however, I knew almost immediately that they weren’t for me. The key part of that sentence being “for me.” If any of these books are your favorites, I’m so sorry! I know how disappointing it can be to see a low rating or DNF on books I love!

Because I DNF books so frequently, that also means that I very rarely rate books 1,2, or even 3 stars. I’ve gotten really good about anticipating the books I’m going to love, and I don’t even finish (or rate) the books that I don’t. Therefore… a lot of high ratings from me!

Books I Did Not Finish (And Don’t Plan To)

32940867
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

Honestly? I only downloaded this because it was on my Libby library app and it was available. It was also super boring and I had no idea what was going on… and also absolutely no interest. I gave up pretty early on this one.

In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she’s one of the world’s bestselling authors.

30839185._sy475_
Vicious (Sinners of Saint #1) by L.J. Shen

The hero was immediately the worst and I did not see how he could possibly redeem himself.

Emilia

They say love and hate are the same feelings experienced under different circumstances, and it’s true.The man who comes to me in my dreams also haunts me in my nightmares. He is a brilliant lawyer. A skilled criminal. A beautiful liar. A bully and a savior, a monster and a lover.

Ten years ago, he made me run away from the small town where we lived. Now, he came for me in New York, and he isn’t leaving until he takes me with him.

Vicious

She is a starving artist. Pretty and evasive like cherry blossom. Ten years ago, she barged into my life unannounced and turned everything upside down. She paid the price.

Emilia LeBlanc is completely off-limits, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. The woman who knows my darkest secret, and the daughter of the cheap Help we hired to take care of our estate. That should deter me from chasing her, but it doesn’t. So she hates me. Big fucking deal. She better get used to me.

30329506._sy475_
Hail Mary by Nicola Rendell

The premise of this one was promising, however, it just wasn’t well executed. It felt amateurish compared to the other amazing sports romances I’ve read. Also? The instalove/lust without chemistry annoyed me.

A funny, naughty, dirty *standalone* sports romance…

At a boxing gym in Chicago, Mary Monahan accidentally knocks out the most handsome man she’s ever met. After she wakes him up with a few slaps and some smelling salts, the very first thing he does is ask her out for ribs and beer. His name is Jimmy. He looks like a Gillette model. And he’s just too hunky to resist.

Jimmy “The Falcon” Falconi is mystified that Mary has absolutely no idea who he is. Mystified and refreshed. He is, after all, not your everyday NFL quarterback. He shops at Costco, has a soft spot for Pinterest, and is in the midst of an epic losing streak.

Jimmy falls for Mary fast and hard, the way he does everything—balls out and like it’s fourth and long. And he realizes he’s finally met his match. That stamina he’s so proud of? Doesn’t stand a chance against her Kegels.

But what they don’t know is she’s also his new physical therapist, recently hired by the Bears to work on his rotator cuff…and groin injury. If she can’t help him, he’ll be traded faster than they can say “offensive penetration.”

In spite of the thousands of internet memes featuring Jimmy’s face with captions like: “HEY GIRL, WANT TO TOUCH MY BALLS?” Mary finds herself falling for him and his unrelenting desire to make her his.

Until a toddler shows up at Jimmy’s door.

And throws their lives into total chaos.

***

To the reader: Sweet. Safe. HEA. This is a comedy that gets very dirty, so be advised. Other tasters’ notes: Hints of honey and champagne. And a feisty little dog named Frankie Knuckles.

36376514._sy475_
Midnight Blue by L.J. Shen

I’m kind of thinking LJ Shen just doesn’t write likable heroes, in my opinion. I actually got pretty far in this novel and just had to give up because I had no idea why the main character had any interest in Alex. He just seemed kind of gross and eyeroll-worthy to me.

Come to think of it… I don’t think I’ve ever been able to finish anything by LJ Shen. Should I keep trying?

From bestselling author L.J. Shen, comes a new, standalone, contemporary romance.

It should have been easy.
I needed the money. He needed a babysitter to keep him from snorting himself to death.
I was cherry-picked especially for him. Responsible. Optimistic. Warm. Innocent.
The worst part is that I should have known better.
Alex Winslow. British rock star. Serial heartbreaker. Casanova with whiskey eyes.
“Don’t get near the devil in a leather jacket. He’ll chew you up and spit you out.”
Guess what? I didn’t listen.
I signed the contract.
World tour. Three months. Four Continents. One hundred shows.
My name is Indigo Bellamy, and I sold my soul to a tattooed god.
Problem was, my soul wasn’t enough for Alex Winslow. He ended up taking my body, too.
Then he took my heart.
Then he took my all.

32145489._sy475_
Groupie (Texas Mutiny #2) by M.E. Carter

I actually kind of feel like if a book like this was done right, it’d be really good. I’m all about role reversals and anti-slut-shaming, but this one just was not well executed.

Groupie
/ˈɡro͞opē/
a person, especially a young woman, who regularly follows a celebrity in the hope of meeting or getting to know them.

See example Tiffany Wendel:

Whore. Slut. Cleat Chaser. I’m used to the names so they don’t bother me. These are my boys. My friends. So what if I like to have dirty sex with them? My body is no one’s business but mine.

Why is Rowen Flanigan making me re-think how I live my life? Making me question my choices? He’s only a rookie.

rook·ie
/ˈro͝okē/
a member of an athletic team in his first full season in that sport.

See example Rowen Flanigan:

Player. Son of a legend. Rookie.
Sure, I’d heard the stories of the groupies before. Who hasn’t? I’ve just been more sheltered than my teammates. So what? I didn’t expect her to be smart. Witty. Kind. She brings me to my knees in every way – except one.

That part? I’m saving until the time is right.

So how in the hell did I end up falling for a Groupie like Tiffany? And how in the hell is this going to work when everyone at my job has had a piece of the one thing I haven’t?

18129852
Rival (Fall Away #2) by Penelope Douglas

OMG I freaking pushed myself through the first book in this series, just waiting for it to redeem itself like so many have claimed it would. I pushed myself up until the first part of this book and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was so not OK with how Fallon was treated, the immaturity, the ridiculousness. And I LOVED Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas. However, this series? That’s a big NO from me, friends.

From the New Adult sensation and New York Times bestselling author of Until You

Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war…

She’s back.

For the two years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game…

I’m back.

Two years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.

But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me….

18739485._sy475_
King (King #1) by T.M. Frazier

A love interest who sexually assaults the main character will never redeem himself. Sorry.

Homeless. Hungry. Desperate.

Doe has no memories of who she is or where she comes from.

A notorious career criminal just released from prison, King is someone you don’t want to cross unless you’re prepared to pay him back in blood, sweat, pu$$y or a combination of all three.

King’s future hangs in the balance. Doe’s is written in her past. When they come crashing together, they will have to learn that sometimes in order to hold on, you have to first let go.

Warning: This book contains graphic violence, consensual and nonconsensual sex, drug use, abuse, and other taboo subjects and adult subject matter. Although originally slated to be a standalone, KING is now a two part series.

43696278
The Mister by E.L. James

This book had all of the trash that I disliked in Fifty Shades and none of the addictive trash that kept me reading that entire series.

The passionate new romance from E L James, author of the phenomenal #1 bestselling Fifty Shades Trilogy

London, 2019. Life has been easy for Maxim Trevelyan. With his good looks, aristocratic connections, and money, he’s never had to work and he’s rarely slept alone. But all that changes when tragedy strikes and Maxim inherits his family’s noble title, wealth, and estates, and all the responsibility that entails. It’s a role he’s not prepared for and one that he struggles to face.

But his biggest challenge is fighting his desire for an unexpected, enigmatic young woman who’s recently arrived in England, possessing little more than a dangerous and troublesome past. Reticent, beautiful, and musically gifted, she’s an alluring mystery, and Maxim’s longing for her deepens into a passion that he’s never experienced and dares not name. Just who is Alessia Demachi? Can Maxim protect her from the malevolence that threatens her? And what will she do when she learns that he’s been hiding secrets of his own?

From the heart of London through wild, rural Cornwall to the bleak, forbidding beauty of the Balkans, The Mister is a roller-coaster ride of danger and desire that leaves the reader breathless to the very last page.

A Lesson in Thorns (Thornchapel #1) by Sierra Simone

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: A Lesson in Thorns
Author: Sierra Simone
Series: Thornchapel #1
Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible

Synopsis:
When librarian Poe Markham takes the job at Thornchapel, she only wants two things: to stay away from Thornchapel’s tortured owner, Auden Guest, and to find out what happened to her mother twelve years ago. It should be easy enough—keep her head down while she works in the house’s crumbling private library and while she hunts down any information as to why this remote manor tucked into the fog-shrouded moors would be the last place her mother was seen alive. But Thornchapel has other plans for her…

As Poe begins uncovering the house’s secrets, both new and old, she’s also pulled into the seductive, elegant world of Auden and his friends—and drawn to Auden’s worst enemy, the beautiful and brooding St. Sebastian. And as Thornchapel slowly tightens its coil of truths and lies around them, Poe, Auden and St. Sebastian start unravelling into filthy, holy pleasure and pain. Together, they awaken a fate that will either anoint them or leave them in ashes…
***
From the author of the USA Today bestselling New Camelot series comes an original fairy tale full of ancient mysteries, lantern-lit rituals, jealousy, money, murder, sacred torment, and obsessions that last for lifetimes…

***A Lesson in Thorns is the first of four books in the Thornchapel series.***

GOODREADS

Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard about this book, and to be honest, it didn’t even matter.

Read More

October 2019 TBR | Reading List

Fall is one of my favorite times of year.

It’s the beginning of the holiday season and, even though the weather in Florida barely changes, there is a slight chill in the air.

I still feel that Christmas Morning Excitement, even though is barely autumn, never mind winter.

With that in mind, and knowing that it’s the spookiest month of the year, I decided to add some romantic suspense/thrillers to my TBR, along with a few other books I have in my library.

If you’d like to watch the video, you can check it out on my BookTube channel:

October Reading List

iwyatb
Wish You All the Best – Mason Deaver

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.

35959740
Circe – Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

ACS_0293
An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

watr
Whispers & the Roars – K. Webster

***THIS STANDALONE IS BEST ENJOYED WHEN YOU DON’T READ ANY REVIEWS OR SPOILERS BEFORE READING. GOING IN BLIND IS BEST. TRUST ME.***

When my eyes are closed, the monster can’t ever see me.
When I sing a song in my head, the monster can’t ever hear me.
When I pretend my bedroom is a playground where I play hide and seek, the monster can’t ever find me.

The darkness should frighten me.
I should worry I’ll find more monsters…monsters scarier than him.
But I’m not afraid.

It’s safe here.
When I’m inside of my head…

He. Can’t. Ever. Touch. Me.

Warning:
Whispers and the Roars is a dark romance. Strong sexual themes and violence, which could trigger emotional distress are found in this story. The abuse written in this story is graphic and not glossed over which could be upsetting to some. Proceed with caution. This story is NOT for everyone.

ds
Dane’s Storm – Mia Sheridan

A gripping, exquisitely romantic new standalone by New York Times bestselling author Mia Sheridan.

Dane was her first kiss and the only man she ever loved . . . until their marriage crashed and burned. Now Audra has built a quiet life for herself running a flower shop she’s put her whole heart into. But Audra is left reeling when an unexpected circumstance brings Dane back into her world. He’s still as breathtaking as he ever was, and he still affects her more than any man she’s ever known. Yet learning to trust him again could be a matter of life and death . . .

When Dane offers to fly his ex-wife from California to Colorado to help correct a wrong, he never imagined the harrowing twist of fate awaiting them. When their plane goes down in the snowy mountain wilderness, Dane and Audra are stranded with no one to turn to but each other. Will their second crash end their lives—or save their souls?

THIS IS A STAND-ALONE SIGN OF LOVE NOVEL, INSPIRED BY CANCER. New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

a
Addicted – Zane

For successful African-American businesswoman Zoe Reynard, finding the pleasure she wants, the way she wants it, is not worth the risk of losing everything she has: marriage to the man she has loved since childhood, a thriving company, three wonderful children. But Zoe feels helpless in the grip of an overpowering addiction…to sex. Finding a compassionate woman therapist to help her, Zoe finally summons the courage to tell her torrid story, a tale of guilt and desire as shocking as it is compelling. From the sensitive artist with whom she spends stolen hours on rumpled sheets to the rough and violent man who draws her toward destruction, Zoe is a woman desperately searching for fulfilment — and something darker, deeper, and perhaps deadly. As her life spins out of control and her sexual escapades carry her toward a dangerous choice, Zoe is racing against time to uncover the source of her “fatal attraction” — as chilling secrets tumble forth from the recesses of a woman’s mind, and perilous temptations lead toward a climax that can threaten her sanity, her marriage…and her life.

tbt
The Best Thing – Mariana Zapata

Some things are easily forgiven. Other things… not so much.

Lenny DeMaio made herself a promise: she was done.
Done thinking about him.
Done worrying about him.
Done reaching out to a man who clearly didn’t want to be found.

Too bad no one gave Jonah Collins the memo.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1) by Brigid Kemmerer

5-stars
Overall Rating: 5 Stars
Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Cursebreakers #1
Format: Hard copy purchased from Books a Million

Synopsis:
Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

GOODREADS

Review

Where do I even begin with my love for this book?

I’m a whore for Beauty and the Beast retellings, but up until I read this book, I always felt as though all of them were missing something.

I’ve always wanted to get inside the Beast’s head a little more. I wanted to see how the curse affected him mentally in the long-term. I also wanted to see the development of his relationship with Belle within the parameters of that.

Basically, I wanted a bit of torture and some epic hate-to-love.

And I got it with A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

Rhen

I have to start by talking about Rhen. First of all? That freaking name. I love all the names in this book, especially his.

Rhen is our Beast in this reimagining. He’s smart and calculating with a charming self-deprecating sense of humor that made me immediately fall in love with him.

But behind his seemingly light-hearted personality is a deep and very dark tortured soul. His pain, though, is buried so deep and has been festering for so long that it has manifested into resignation. He’s pretty much lost all hope that the curse will be broken after so many years of failure and loss.

I appreciate how Rhen is not perfect, but he’s learned from his (big) mistakes. He’s paid for those mistakes, though he may never feel it was enough.

Harper

Oh, Harper. I freaking love this version of Belle so much.

She’s a force to be reckoned with hidden in the body of someone who is constantly underestimated. Her disability doesn’t define her, even though many outside influences believe that it does.

I adored her low-key sense of humor. Her sarcasm and her witty, under-the-breath, pay-attention-or-you’ll-miss-it personality.

Watching her find herself and her strength when she’s thrown into this whirlwind situation was one of the most satisfying reading experiences I’ve ever had.

Gray

I mean, Gray is the ideal formula for a character I love:

Fiercely Loyal + Just a bit Grumpy + Quiet + Watchful = ♥ ♥

I think it’s Gray’s loyalty, against all odds, that makes me love him the most. Of course there is subtle humor there as well, which made me love him even more.

As far as the romance, like everything in this story, it was gradual and slow. I can see why some people felt that this book was slow or even boring, but it’s certainly a character-driven novel. It’s subtle and not action-packed, yet it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Read More

Top 10 Tuesday: Character Traits I Love + Recs

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

 

Character Traits I Love

  1. Quirky But Not Annoying

    Please see: Violet from Pucked by Helena Hunting, Lucy from The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

    I’m a sucker for hilarious, adorable, quirky characters in novels. I think that’s the main reason why I adored The Hating Game so much. Lucy’s character wasn’t your typical heroine, she collected smurfs and wore vintage clothes and red lipstick. Then you have Violet who is unintentionally vulgar and gets herself in embarrassing situations all the time. The best part about these characters, particularly when they appear in romance novels, is that they finally find someone who appreciates all their idiosyncrasies.

  2. Adorkable

    Please see: Reid from The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, Khai from The Bride Test by Helen Hoang 

    I think a big part of the reason why adorkable characters, particularly male characters, have a special place in my heart is because I’m married to a big nerd. My husband loves playing board games and when I first met him he used to play Dungeons and Dragons religiously. Though that was never my thing, I always secretly thought his nerdiness was kind of cute. He’s obsessed with Star Wars, plays games with miniature models, and when he talks about his engineering job it goes right over my head but I love every second of it. So, when I come across adorkable characters who are nerdy and kind, it always makes me happy.

  3. Grumpy But Misunderstood

    Please see: Rip from Luna and the Lie by Mariana Zapata, Theo from All In (Full Tilt #2) by Emma Scott

    I like to refer to this as The Darcy Affect. These are the characters who are misconceived as mean or grouchy, but in reality, have a huge heart and even though they may seem untouchable, in reality, they are often the most vulnerable.

  4. Hilariously Nonchalant and Over-confident

    Please see: Monty from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, Adrian from Frostbite by Richelle Mead

    This is one of my all-time favorite traits in a character and oftentimes I will love a book no matter what if a character like this is done right. I think the first time I ever came across a character like this that was done so well was Adrian from the Vampire Academy series. He’s troubled but puts on this sort of aloof front. These characters are so freaking funny and often very charming and self-deprecating, which makes me just love them all the more.

  5. Subtly Badass

    Please see: Harper from A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

    I get a little burnt out from the SUPER KICKASS heroines in a lot of fantasy novels. It’s great to have a badass heroine, but sometimes they can get on my nerves. I much prefer the low-key badassery of characters like Harper. A girl who is underestimated (even by herself), whose power lies in her willpower, loyalty, and strength-of-mind. She overcomes her disability to the point that it isn’t what defines her. These characters are inspiring and far more relatable.

  6. Ultra-charismatic and Magnetic

    Please see: Georgina from Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead, Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

    This is a trait I’m even drawn to in real life. I love coming across people in books and in life that have that little extra something. That magnetism that draws people to them. I’ve seen it in action several times and, boy, do I love reading about it. Often these characters are optimistic and a bright shining light – typically paired with characters who desperately need some light in their lives. They are able to pull even the most introverted people out of their shells.

  7. Fiercely Loyal

    Please see: Gray from A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, Mark from Stray by Rachel Vincent

    Ugh, this one pulls at the heartstrings. I adore characters who are deeply loyal, almost to a fault. Typically they are side characters: The friends who stand by the hero or heroine no matter the mistakes they make, the leaders of the armies who will fight until their last breath. Gray showed this from the very first time he appeared on page in A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

  8. Devious

    Please see: Lira from To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo, Grayson from Darkly, Madly Duet by Trisha Wolfe, Sadie from With Visions of Red by Trisha Wolfe

    Give me a deeply devious protagonist or antagonist any day. I couldn’t possibly choose when I like it more – in a villain or in a hero. In the examples I gave above, these are all protagonists. There is something so, I don’t know, satisfying about an exceptionally evil character. Particularly when you can sympathize with them despite some of the horrible things they have done. They are typically outrageously intelligent and calculating. I also very much appreciate when they do not break character, even when they are “doing good.”

  9. Relentless

    Please see: Aiden from The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata, Sal from Kulti by Mariana Zapata

    This can take shape in many ways. In a fantasy novel, it’s a hero who refuses to give up. Who fights to the bitter end and beyond. In contemporary novels this translates to someone who perseveres whether through emotional turmoil or, in the case of Aiden and Sal, who train hard for the sport that they love. All of these things are extremely motivating to me when I read novels with characters like these.

  10. Alluringly Badass

    Please see: Rhys from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas, Legend from Legendary/Finale by Stephanie Garber

    I mean… can you blame me? While sometimes the overpowered hero or heroine can be a little much, sometimes it’s done really, really well. Particularly when the badassery is paired with an extremely seductive character who knows their power over others, yet is entirely vulnerable when it comes to one particular person. Gimme, gimme, gimme!

 

If you know of any other books with characters like these, I would LOVE some recs! Leave them in the comments below!

 

After (Books 1-4) by Anna Todd + Movie Review

3-stars
Overall Rating: # Stars
Title: After
Author: Anna Todd
Series: After (Books 1-4)
Format: Audiobooks purchased from Audible

Synopsis:
Experience the internet’s most talked-about book, now a major motion picture, from Anna Todd, the writer Cosmopolitan called “the biggest literary phenomenon of her generation.” Now with new exclusive material!

There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there’s everything AFTER… Life will never be the same. #Hessa

Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way.

But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, and tattoos, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.

But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.

He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn’t the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.

Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her?

Unless…could this be love?

GOODREADS

Review

You guys… this entire series was a hot freaking mess and the movie was awkward and barely followed the same storyline, but goddammit if I didn’t read the entire series in a week and watch the movie several times.

Read More

September 2019 Wrap Up

I’m finally getting back into the swing of things here on the blog and over on my BookTube channel.

If you feel up to it, you can watch my September Wrap-Up here:

Otherwise, check out the books I read in September. Hopefully, reviews will happen soon!

September Stats

  • 8 Books total
  • # Re-reads
  • # three-star book
  • # four-star book
  • # five-star books
  • # audiobooks
  • # hard copy
  • # eBook
  • 1 currently reading

Re-reads

39338454

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

★★★ 3 Star Reads

44262397._sy475_

Black Sheep (Dirty Mafia Duet #1) by Meghan March

From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes a story of untold truths and one man’s redemption in the Dirty Mafia Duet.

Every family has a black sheep.
In the infamous Casso crime family, that black sheep is me—Cannon Freeman.
Except I’m not a free man. I’ve never been free. Not since the day I was born.
I owe my loyalty to my father, Dominic Casso, even if he won’t publicly acknowledge me as his blood.
I’ve never had a reason to go against his wishes… until I met her.
Drew Carson turned my world upside when she walked into my club looking for a job.
Now, my honor and my life are on the line.
Going against my father’s wishes might buy me a bullet straight from his gun, but black sheep or not, it’s time to make my stand.
She’s worth the fallout.

44262397._sy475_

Fallen Too Far (Rosemary Beach #1) by Abbi Glines

To want what you’re not supposed to have…

She is only nineteen.

She is his new stepfather’s daughter.

She is still naïve and innocent due to spending the last three years taking care of her sick mother.

But for twenty-four year old Rush Finlay, she is the only thing that has ever been off limits. His famous father’s guilt money, his mother’s desperation to win his love, and his charm are the three reasons he has never been told no.

Blaire Wynn left her small farmhouse in Alabama, after her mother passed away, to move in with her father and his new wife in their sprawling beach house along the Florida gulf coast. She isn’t prepared for the lifestyle change and she knows she’ll never fit into this world. Then there is her sexy stepbrother who her father leaves her with for the summer while he runs off to Paris with his wife. Rush is as spoiled as he is gorgeous. He is also getting under her skin. She knows he is anything but good for her and that he’ll never be faithful to anyone. He is jaded and has secrets Blaire knows she may never uncover but even knowing all of that…

Blaire just may have fallen too far.

Finding Our Course: Collision Course Duet (Finding our Way #1-2) by Ahren Sanders

I fell in love with my brother’s best friend the first time I laid eyes on him. He walked through the door, flashing me a crooked smile with his blue eyes shining bright. I knew in that instant, he was the man of my dreams.
As the years went on, my feelings grew stronger, waiting for the day he’d see me as more.

“Devon Harris, when you turn eighteen, I hope to God you still feel this way.” Bryce whispered sweetly, hugging me close.

“I will.” I vowed, knowing this was a promise I’d keep.

Then the unthinkable happened.
Bryce shattered my heart into a million pieces, leaving me devastated beyond repair.
I took the only choice I had, leaving behind my dreams of him and any chance at a future together.
Time and distance did little to heal my heartache, but I forced myself to move on.

Right when my life starts to make sense, Bryce returns.
I tell him it’s too late, but he’s determined to prove me wrong.
Together, we’re thrust into a world of undying passion, unrelenting devotion, and promises of a future worth fighting for.
But life has a way of threatening even the most solid foundation and our bonds are tested.
Can we really have it all?
We find ourselves facing obstacles and decisions that change the course of our lives-forever.

For the first time ever you can read the epic love story of Bryce and Devon in one edition. Finding Our Course, the Collision Course Duet was previously published in two separate books, Finding our Way and Staying on Course.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

p

Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

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

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

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

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

 

★★★★ 4 Star Reads

Maybe This Time by Kasie West

One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

★★★★★ 5 Star Reads

The Wish Collector by Mia Sheridan

New Orleans, a city of mystery and magic, of secrets and dreams, and a history drenched in both love and the deepest of heartache.

When ballet dancer Clara Campbell arrives in New Orleans, lonely and homesick, she is immediately captivated by the story of Windisle Plantation and the tragic tale that is said to have transpired beyond its gate. Legend has it that it is abandoned by all living souls, but to Clara’s great surprise, it is not a ghost she hears through the stone wall surrounding the property, but a flesh and blood man. A scarred stranger with a pain deeper and darker than the churning waters of the Mississippi river that flows beside his self-imposed prison.

The ruined man behind the wall hides himself from the world. The last thing he expects is to find a friend in the selfless girl who speaks to him through the cracks in the rock. The girl who keeps returning week after week. The girl who makes him wish for things he has long since given up on. The girl who strikes both fear and hope within his wounded heart. But there can be no future for them, no life beyond Windisle, for no one knows better than him that monsters only live in the dark.

The Wish Collector is the story of shame and triumph, of loneliness and love, and the miracle of two hearts connecting despite the strongest of barriers between them.

Savaged by Mia Sheridan

When wilderness guide, Harper Ward, is summoned to the small town sheriff’s office in Helena Springs, Montana, to provide assistance on a case, she is shocked to find that their only suspect in the double murder investigation is a man described as a savage.

But the longer she watches the man known only as Lucas, on the station surveillance camera, the more intrigued she becomes. He certainly looks primitive with his unkempt appearance and animal skin attire, but she also sees intelligence in his eyes, sensitivity in his expression. Who is he? And how is it possible that he’s lived alone in the forest since he was a small child?

As secrets begin to emerge, Harper is thrust into something bigger and more diabolical than she ever could have imagined. And standing right at the center of it all, is Lucas. But is he truly the wild man he appears to be? A cold blooded killer? An innocent victim? Or a perplexing mix of all three?

Harper must find out the answers to these questions because the more time she spends with him, the more she risks losing her heart.

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.