Contemporaryathon Wrap Up

Last weekend was Contemporaryathon (from Friday to Monday) and I ended up reading a total of 10 books and DNF’d 1.

Don’t get too impressed, all of the books I read over the weekend were under 250 pages!

Let’s talk about the books and what I thought of them!

Let’s get the DNF out of the way…

Taming Her Mountain Man by Cameron Hart

DNF

In this book our main character has just turned 18 and inherited her estranged grandparents’ cabin in the mountains. She runs away from her creepy adoptive parents to secretly move into this cabin she inherits. When she gets there she meets this attractive older man who is a bit of a loner. The premise seemed like something I would really like because I’m all about the loner, but I was so annoyed with the main character. I didn’t mind that she was younger than the hero or that she was a virgin, but what I didn’t like was that she was also incredibly immature. I don’t mind age gaps when the younger heroine is mature for her age and that’s why she has so much chemistry with the older hero, but since she was immature it made the relationship uncomfortable to read about. So… I ended up DNFing this one.

Shy Girls Write It Better (Some Girls Do It, #1)

Shy Girls Write It Better by May Sage

★★★

This is a contemporary workplace romance where our heroine has a side hustle writing erotic romance novels. One day she accidentally gives her boss’s boss a copy of one of her manuscripts instead of a report and he is intrigued. He also notices that she is not great at writing BDSM scenes and, of course, he wants to give her some real world experience.

This book was ok. I didn’t really understand why the heroine was writing about BDSM if she knew that she wasn’t good at it. There was something about her naivety that annoyed me, but otherwise I did enjoy the premise. I also liked the hero. The fact that he easily could’ve been the cocky alpha boss, but wasn’t was a nice surprise. I don’t think I’ll move on in the series just because I have a feeling all the heroines are going to be a little mousy and that can get on my nerves after a while.

Powertools: Collection 1 (Powertools #1-2)

Powertools Collection 1 by Jayne Rylon

★★★★★

Yup. I gave this one 5 stars.

This is a reverse harem novella that includes two short stories involving the same five construction workers.

The first story takes place in the summer time with our heroine who is renovating her house while these construction workers are working on the house next door and the second story takes place in the autumn at her friend’s bakery that is getting renovated.

This book was surprisingly good. Yes, it was ridiculous and I think the fact that I expected that going into this was helpful, but what I was not expecting the romance to be so strong in both of the stories. Particularly in the second book, the hero was so freaking sweet and it was actually romantic – not something you’d expect from a reverse harem novel at all!

Beyond that – I love how each of the stories were seasonal. The first book felt like summer and the second had all the autumn vibes.

Point of Retreat (Slammed, #2)

Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover

★★★★

This is the second book in the Slammed series that I read a few months ago. It’s a contemporary new adult romance that has a slam poetry element in it.

I didn’t initially realize this was a series, but it makes sense as to why it is. The couple’s story definitely wasn’t finished and I think this wrapped it up nicely. I believe there is another book in this series as well, which I think may be a little overkill, but we’ll see.

This wasn’t my favorite Colleen Hoover, but I haven’t disliked a book I’ve read by her yet – and that is true for this one. I felt just a little disconnected from these characters since it has been a little while since I’ve read the first books – and I don’t recall being particularly in love with them in the first place, but overall it was a good story with Colleen Hoover’s signature great characters.

Mind Reader

Mind Reader by Kristy McManus

★★★★

This interesting contemporary, magical realism romance has such a cute premise: the hero can predict soul mates and when others will meet them.

I anticipated a few things going into this book and I was wrong for quite a few of them. This was both good and bad. It was bad because I was excited about a few of the things I was predicting, but it was good because I think it would’ve been boring if this was too predictable.

The hero was a little cringy in the beginning. I thought that he was going to get on my nerves a lot more than he did. This book actually turned out to be really sweet with very low steam, so for those of you looking for a short, sweet, low-steam romance, this is a great pick!

P.S. It's Always Been You: Part 1

PS It’s Always Been You by Lauren Blakely

★★★

This super short audiobook is a second chance romance between a woman who works with historical items and an adventure/reality TV show host. It’s part of a series of super short books and I’m honestly unsure why they are all broken up. Seriously. This audiobook was, like, two hours long.

And this book was fine. I always want to like Lauren Blakely books more than I do. They have a lot of potential, she creates really likable characters in interesting situations, but lately I feel like the books I’ve read by her have been somewhat lackluster.

She comes out with a TON of books per year and it makes me wonder if maybe if she focused on writing fewer – and perfecting those – then maybe they’d be a lot better.

With that being said, I really do appreciate how much she is involved in the making of her audiobooks – and how much she loves on her narrators. She’s really in touch with the audiobook world which is nice because I feel like it gets neglected by authors more often than not.

Cutting Edge (The Edge, #0.5)

The Edge Series Books 0.5 – 2 by CD Reiss

★★★★★

This is an intense contemporary military romance between a military psychiatrist and a military surgeon.

And I’m officially obsessed.

The prequel to this series is so important, so I highly recommend starting there if you are planning on reading this series. I felt like my heart was racing the entire time I was reading this book for so many reasons – between the intensity of the romance and the fact that their relationship was building in the middle of a warzone in the first book – then the turn the books take in the first and second books – whew!

It’s so clear to me, in these books, why I love CD Reiss so much. She’s a beautiful writer, who obviously puts a lot of time into researching the topics she is writing about. She’s able to mix beautiful prose with super taboo and steamy scenes without making them seem raunchy or cringey.

I can’t wait to finish the ARC I’m reading right now so that I can finish this series!

Desolate (Grace, #1)

Desolate (Grace Trilogy #1) by Autumn Grey

★★★★

This is an emotional contemporary romance between a guy who has wanted to become a catholic priest his entire life and a girl who was mislabeled as the town slut by her abusive ex boyfriend.

Autumn Grey is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine and I’ve only read two of her books, but man… I adore her books so much.

I always appreciate when authors build the chemistry between love interests and that is something that this author does really well, especially in this story. I fully understood the conflict that the hero is going through between wanting to pursue his lifelong goal of becoming a priest like the uncle he looks up to and not being able to stay away from this girl that he has been drawn to his entire life.

My one complaint is that I felt a little disenchanted with the hero after a while. I wanted him to suck it up and make a decision. This book also ends on a cliffhanger with no HEA or HFN, however it is part of a trilogy.

The Fire Between High & Lo (Elements, #2)

The Fire Between Hi & Lo by Brittainy C. Cherry

★★★★

This is a new adult contemporary romance between a hero with a troubling home life and an addiction problem and the heroine who is able to see the bright side despite her issues with her mother.

We love BCC around here. I’ve been slowly making my way through her backlist and haven’t found a book I disliked yet. Though this wasn’t my favorite, it was mostly because of the subject matter rather than anything to do with the romance or the story. I’m not a big fan of drug use and addiction in books and one of the main characters is dealing heavily with both.

I think my favorite part of the book was the meetcute. Although, I feel weird calling it a meetcute because it is actually quite a sad situation.

Overall, this was a very successful readathon! I always aim to read around 5-6 books for weekend readathons, so reading double that many was great! I definitely felt like I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop reading all weekend, so it worked out!

Summer Vacation TBR

I decided to take the first week of the girls’ summer vacation off of work so I can recover from two months of working from home and e-learning. This mental health vacation is definitely needed!

In anticipation of the extra reading time, I thought I’d put together a TBR – which is more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast To Read list.

These are the books I’m hoping to read on my vacation:

Broken Edge & Over the Edge by CD Reiss

I read the prequel and the first book in this series during Contemporaryathon. I’m almost done with the second book and I’m addicted. I can’t wait to see what happens in this super intense contemporary psychological military romance!

The Marriage Game

The Marriage Game by Sarah Desai

This is an ARC I received from Netgalley that I’m hoping to read and finish this week. This is a diverse romcom between an aspiring entrepreneur and a CEO.

Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye

I’m actually a little more than halfway done with this book, but I put it down for Contemporaryathon. It’s a contemporary romance between a veteran/tattoo artist and a woman who is trying to find out what happened to her brother who disappeared. I’m really enjoying it so far!

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides, #1)

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

I’m actually almost finished with this audiobook, but I didn’t quite finish it in time for contemporaryathon. It’s SO good! It’s about this Lord who is autistic, but everyone thinks he is mad, except for our heroine who seems to understand him better than most.

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

My friend De’Siree loves this book and has been insisting that I read it for a little while now. I was able to find this on sale and bought the audiobook, so I’m excited to read it. I don’t know much about what this book is about and I kind of want to go in blind. From what I understand it is a fantasy with a really good, but subtle romance.

Ravensong (Green Creek, #2)

Ravensong by TJ Klune

This is the second book in the Green Creek series. The first book, Wolfsong, was my favorite read of April. I’m excited to continue the series! I’ve heard great things about this book.

Rhapsodic (The Bargainer, #1)

Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa

I’ve heard so many good things about this fae romance from so many people. It was recently on sale on Audible for $5, so I immediately bought it simply because of the author. I’ve read a lot of contemporary lately, so I decided to dive into some fantasy on audio this week.

Darkfever (Fever, #1)

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

This is a beloved series by many and it’s been sitting in my Audible library for actual YEARS. Now that I’ve binged on a ton of contemporary, I think now is the time to give this series a try! I hope I love it as much as others do!

Fortuna Sworn by KJ Sutten

If I somehow magically have more time to physically read after reading all the other ebooks and physical books on this list, I need to finish this one. I’m only a few chapters in and have had to put it down for readathons and ARCs, but I’m dying to really dig into this. I love KJ Sutten and have heard the romance in this is epic!

5 of My Favorite MeetCutes in Romance Novels

For me, meetcutes have the ability to make or break a romance novel. It sets the stage for the rest of the book.

Here are five books that have some of my favorite meetcutes:

Jacob (Nightwalkers #1) by Jacqueline Frank

Starting off with a bang here, this book has my favorite meetcute perhaps of all time. This is a paranormal adult romance with beings called Nightwalkers that consist of demons, shifters, vampires, and more. The main beings in this series are demons who have elemental magic and are more like fae then what you would normally consider demons. (No red skin and horns here!)

The heroine, Isabella, is leaning out of her window in a high rise apartment, looking at the moon when she sees a handsome figure walking on the sidewalk below. She thinks that she is free to gawk at him since she is so high up because there is no way he’ll ever notice. Until, suddenly, he does.

Beautiful Liar (Reed Rivers Trilogy #1) by Lauren Rowe

This is a spinoff series to Lauren Rowe’s Morgan Brothers series that I absolutely love. This particular series follows Reed Rivers, an extremely magnetic, successful, powerful head of a record label.

In this meetcute, Reed is being interviewed during a panel session on stage and our heroine is in the audience. As she is watching him, she notices that he keeps making eye contact with her and sending her small smiles and other gestures.

As someone who has unabashedly wished that she would one day be that girl in an audience who the lead singer makes eye contact with, I felt like this meetcute was so swoony.

Lingus by Mariana Zapata

This one isn’t as swoony as the other two, but it’s definitely funny!

This book is a porn star romance that also happens to be one of the best friends-to-lovers I’ve ever read.

In this book, our heroine is attending a porn convention with her porn star friend when the hero catches her and calls her out on picking her wedgie.

It’s so classic Mariana Zapata and such a unique, hilarious introduction.

Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

This is one of my all time favorite novellas and the entire premise of the story revolves around this epic meetcute.

Our love interests meet in an elevator that gets stuck in the dark. The interesting twist is that they never see each other.

By Your Side by Kasie West

In this YA Contemporary Romance, our two main characters meet when they are both locked in a library for a long weekend.

This is probably my favorite Kasie West novel!

Contemporaryathon TBR

Today is the first day of Contemporaryathon and I thought I’d share my (extremely hopeful) reading plans with you!

Contemporaryathon is one of my favorite readathons to participate in because so many of the short books I own are contemporaries! This readathon starts today and goes through Sunday and is hosted by Chelsea from Chelsea Dolling Reads and Natasha from My Reading is Odd.

It only has 3 prompts:

  1. Read a book that has pink/peach on the cover.
  2. Read a book that is under 250 pages.
  3. Read a book that you think sounds fun!

Super easy ones!

As always, when I put together reading lists for readathons, I like to choose books I already own. My goal is to work through as many of those books as possible.

For short readathons, like this one, I focus on novellas that I own. Most of my novellas are on my Kindle, so all of these books are either eBooks (that I got for free or on KU) that are under 250 pages and audiobooks that are 7 hours or less. I’ll make note of their length for you below.

My Contemporaryathon TBR

So Unlike Me (Winning Your Heart Book 1) by Nikki Lynn Barrett
This is a small town contemporary romance that I downloaded for free on Kindle. I believe the heroine might star on a TV show and after a public breakup she is trying to hide away in a small town.
Format: eBook
Length: 203 pages
Prompt: Pink/peach on cover
Goodreads

Mind Reader by Kirsty McManus
The illustrated cover drew my eye for this one! I downloaded it for free on Kindle. This is a romcom between a guy who can predict soulmates and a stem cell research scientist.
Format: eBook
Length: 173 pages
Prompt: Under 250 pages
Goodreads

Rough Edge: (The Edge #1) by CD Reiss
I loved one of CD Reiss’s series, so when I saw this for free on Kindle, I downloaded it! This is a military romance between a woman who is returning home from the military and her husband, a surgical resident. It almost seems like there might be some sort of love triangle happening here? I’m not sure but it sounds really good!
Format: eBook
Length: 244 pages
Goodreads

Powertools: Collection 1 by Jayne Rylon
I mean, do we really need a synopsis here? LOL! This just sounds ridiculous and fun. I believe this is a reverse harem situation between a woman and construction workers who are building a house next door to hers.
Format: eBook
Length: 145 pages
Prompt: Fun!
Goodreads

Taming Her Mountain Man: Older Man/Curvy Girl Romance (Bear’s Tooth Mountain Men Book 1) by Cameron Hart
This is another freebie I got on Kindle simply because I’m obsessed with the loner hero trope!
Format: eBook
Length: 111 pages
Goodreads

Point of Retreat: Slammed, Book 2 By Colleen Hoover
I read the first book in this series a few months ago – it’s a new adult contemporary about slam poets! I really liked the first book and I’m hesitantly interested in this second one. I’m assuming it follows the same characters, but I’m not sure.
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hours
Goodreads

Owned (Decadence After Dark, Book 1) By M. Never
I got the physical book of this one from Shameless Book Con last year. I’m also reading it as part of a secret TBR, so it works out. This is a dark workplace romance with a master/slave relationship.
Format: Physical & audio
Length: 7 hours
Goodreads

Shy Girls Write It Better Some Girls Do It, Book 1 By May Sage
This one has such a fun premise. It’s about a clumsy, shy girl who also happens to write erotic fiction whose boss finds one of her manuscripts!
Format: Audio
Length: 3 Hours
Goodreads

Favorite Quotes from Beach Read by Emily Henry

I recently read and loved Beach Read, which came out today! So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes from the book.

 

Sometimes I just missed liking people.

 

What’s it like writing Hemingway circle-jerk fanfiction?

 

I’d had two sips of Pete’s latte, and it was three sips too many.

 

Mom’s first diagnosis taught me that love was an escapee rope, but it was her second diagnosis that taught me love could be a life vest when you were drowning.

 

1

 

But whether or not I was actually succeeding at this book, I was writing it. It came in painful ebbs and desperate flows, as if timed to the waves crashing somewhere behind that wall of fog.

 

He laughed. “You know, maybe the reason you haven’t been able to finish your book is that you keep asking what someone else wants to read instead of what you want to write.”

 

Speaking of fire, sometimes his eyes seemed to be reflecting it, even though there wasn’t any. The car was nearly pitch-black for God’s sake. His eyes should be allowed, physically or morally, to glint like that. His pupils were disrespectful to the laws of nature.

 

I always feel like she’s drowning in life. In a good way. Like it’s rushing up her nose, you know?

 

“I knew you in college, January.”

“The seems like the biggest in a series of vast exaggerations you’ve made tonight.”

“Fine, I knew of you.”

 

“That,” he said while I was eating, and pointed at a pathetically small carousel. “That looks like it would have a really hard time killing me.”

 

“You’re as small as you are ridiculous.”

“So not very?”

 

“Come on, Gus,” I bumped his arm. “You can do it. Be adorable.”

His eyes darted to where I’d bumped him, then back to my face, and he scowled.

“I think you misunderstood me. I said adorable.

 

The hardest thing had turned out to be being angry with someone you couldn’t fight it out with.

 

2

 

How the hell were people in books always taking cold showers?

 

“You mother has been a lot of people in the twenty years I’ve known her, and I’ve had a chance to fall in love with every single one of them, Janie. That’s the key to marriage. You have to keep falling in love with every new version of each other, and it’s the best feeling in the whole world.”

 

“I just remembered what you said about the bookshelf,” he said in a gravelly voice. “You can’t even stop roasting me when I’m losing my mind over your body.”

 

We’d just had sex like the world was burning down around us, but if I ever got to kiss Gus again, I wanted it to be this version of him. The one who didn’t feel so weighted down by the world around him that he had to lean just to stay upright.

 

I can miss my dad and hate him at the same time.

3

 

Gus touched the side of my face. “I don’t need snowflakes.” He kissed me. “As long as I have January.”

 

This is how life feels too often. Like you’re doing everything you can to survive only to be sabotaged by something beyond your control, maybe even some darker part of yourself.

Sometimes it was your body. Your cells turning into poison and fighting against you. Or chronic pain sprouting up your neck and wrapping around the outsides of your scalp until it felt like fingernails sinking in your brain.

 

ARC Review: Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

3-stars
Overall Rating: 3 Stars
Title: Something to Talk About
Author: Meryl Wilsner
Format: ARC provided by Netgalley in Exchange for an Honest Review

Synopsis:
A showrunner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumor in this debut romance.

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?

GOODREADS

Review

This was a pretty highly anticipated release for me, and to be completely honest, I was a little disappointed.

Perhaps it has something to do with the writing style, which seemed a little choppy to me. Or the fact that the slow burn romance was a little TOO slow (something I never thought I’d say) I mean, we didn’t even get a kiss until more than 80% of the way through the book. The chemistry between these two characters built extremely slowly and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t supposed to be the case. I think there was meant to be a lot of tension between these two characters, but instead it just seemed like stilted interactions.

I always appreciate a love interest who comes off as a little standoff-ish, but really they have a heart of gold, and I think that was supposed to be Jo. I almost wish this book was entirely told in Emma’s perspective so that Jo was less mechanical and more mysterious.

All that being said, I had so much appreciation for this book. We need more F/F romances, contemporary and otherwise. I appreciate an excruciatingly slow burn, though perhaps not quite this slow. I love the diversity and how this book brought to light some very timely issues that we have in the entertainment industry.

I think there were some really great elements within this book, though it may not have been my favorite execution of it. I absolutely can see a lot of people enjoying this one, even if I didn’t love it.


Butterfly Rating: 3 Stars

3-stars


Re-read Worthiness: Nah


Bookshelf Placement: Nah


Book Girlfriend Rating: 3 stars

3-stars

 

 

 

The Slowburn Romance Lover’s Guide to Mariana Zapata

So, you love slow burn romance or you’ve heard about Mariana Zapata, but you don’t know where to start?

I’m here to help.

I’ve read every single Mariana Zapata book she’s written and I adored them all. MZ is probably my favorite contemporary romance author and it’s even better because she’s an indie author as well.

MZ comes out with around one book per year, which is totally understandable considering all of her books are SUPER long. They all are around 500 pages of slow burning goodness.

If I had to pick one book that I would recommend to anyone who likes slow burn romances or wants to start reading Mariana Zapata, I’d probably choose The Wall of Winnipeg and Me.

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This was my first Mariana Zapata book and it is still my favorite.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is for you if you like:

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Marriage of convenience
  • Sports romance (football)
  • Quiet, misunderstood hero

 

If you think a hero couldn’t get away with sleeping with other girls, I challenge you to read Lingus. It’s a porn star romance done so right.

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Lingus is for you if you like:

  • Friends-to-lovers
  • Hilarious meetcute
  • Dogs!
  • Great cringey moments

 

Next up… one of MZ’s steamier books.

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Under Locke is for you if you like:

  • Motorcycle clubs
  • Tattoo artists
  • Bad boys
  • Enemies-to-lovers
  • Workplace romance
  • Brother’s friend

 

Another super popular MZ book…

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Kulti is for you if you like:

  • Sports romance (soccer)
  • Female professional athletes
  • Fame
  • Heroes with accents (German)

 

This next one was my least favorite, but I still really liked it!

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Rhythm, Chord, & Malykhin is for you if you like:

  • Rockstars
  • Forced togetherness
  • Brother’s friend
  • Travel

 

This book stars the heroine in The Wall of Winnipeg and Me’s best friend.

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Wait for It is for you if you like:

  • Neighbors-to-lovers
  • Kids
  • Baseball

 

The book that I would highly recommend if you loved The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.

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From Lukov with Love is for you if you like:

  • Enemies-to-lovers
  • Hilarious banter
  • Animals
  • Misunderstood heroes
  • Sports romance (Figure skating)
  • Forced togetherness
  • Caretaking scenes

 

One of MZ’s most uniquely written books – the entire first half is written completely in correspondence.

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Dear Aaron is for you if you like:

  • Military romance
  • Long-distance relationships
  • Beach reads

 

MZ’s second to last release…

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Luna and the Lie is for you if you like:

  • Workplace romance
  • Grumpy + sunshine couples
  • Brooding heroes

 

And last, but not least, her most recent release (also my Dad’s favorite!)

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The Best Thing is for you if you like:

  • Second chance romance
  • Sports romance (rugby)
  • Strong family dynamics

Books That Got Me Over My Twilight Book Hangover Back in the Day

With all the hype over Midnight Sun releasing in August, I started thinking about all the books that I read in an attempt to get over the massive hangover I had after reading the Twilight series.

While Twilight was not what “got me into reading” or even what got me into reading romance (I’d been a bit of a bookworm my entire life and I discovered my love of romance when I was in my early teens), I did develop a strong preference for paranormal romance after reading Twilight, so I sought out YA Paranormal Romances like it was my job.

In this search, I found books I loved (which I’ll list below) that both have and have not stood the test of time, some that I loved far more than Twilight, and I also discovered a few misses (sorry Sookie Stackhouse and The Mortal Instruments).

Here are the books that got me over my Twilight hangover waaaaaay back in the day:

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The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
This YA series has good vampires that are called Moroi, their guardians that are called Dhampirs, and evil vampires called Strigoi. This follows the story of a Dhampir and a Moroi princess who are best friends going to a school for Dhampirs and Moroi. It has an epic forbidden romance and a heartbreaking love triangle.
I think this was likely a lot of people’s go-to after reading Twilight, and I loved it so much more than the Twilight series. In fact, I still adore this series. It’s a series I’ve probably reread the most out of all the books I’ve ever read. I actually recently reread this series along with my niece who read it for the first time in December!
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The House of Night series by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
This is a YA series that follows witchy vampyres and a bunch of other paranormal beings. Similar to Vampire Academy, there is a school setting in this one as well. There are a ton of characters and more and more get introduced throughout the series. The romance is a little chaotic in this one.
Ohhh boy did my sisters and I devour this series after reading Twilight! I’m so tempted to reread it now that over a decade has past, just to see if it holds up to the test of time. This is one of those series that has a million books in it and I never did finish it. I got a little tired of the dialog and how somehow absolutely everyone fell in love with our main character and she definitely did not deserve it.
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The Shifters series by Rachel Vincent
This is a new adult series that follows shapeshifting werecats. There are extremely strong family and friendship dynamics, and a lot of action and angst. The romance is a second-chance-type romance along with a pretty angsty love triangle.
I adore this series, it’s still one of my all-time favorites. The character growth that Faythe goes through is similar to Rose’s from Vampire Academy. I loved her entire family and her pride (it’s like a pack). The romance made my heart pound and there were so many gasp-worthy moments. I’ve reread this series so many times I’ve lost count.
The Vampire Diaries series by LJ Smith
This is a YA vampire series that also has other paranormal creatures (like witches). There is a love triangle between vampire brothers and a human girl.
To be fair, I only read the first few books in this series and then it got super weird. I did, however, adore the TV show, though I never finished that, either.
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The Nightwalkers series by Jacquelyn Frank
This is an adult paranormal romance series that follows a whole cast of different nightwalkers, however, the main focus is on Demons, but not the red-with-horns type. These demons are beautiful and have elemental powers. They actually remind me more of fae. The romance is fated mates style and so epic.
This was my very first adult romance and whew, boy, I never looked back. I LOVE this series and I need to reread it soon. It’s super steamy and beautifully written. The spin-off of this series, Shadow Dwellers, is really good, too.
Dark Lover
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward
This is an adult paranormal romance series that follows a brotherhood of vampires that are protecting their kind from evil soulless slayers. This is another fated mates romance.
I never did finish this series because there are 8 million books in it and I just don’t think I could put up with the writing for that long, however, I did adore most of the books I read, particularly the third book in the series.
Book of Shadows
The Wicca Series by Cate Tiernan
This is a witchy YA paranormal romance series that follows a girl who discovers that she is a witch. I remember loving the romance in this one!
I have such fond memories of this series, but I’ve only read it once and I have no idea how well this series will age. I’m somewhat curious enough to reread, but also a little scared, too!
Undead and Unwed (Undead, #1)
The Undead series by MaryJanice Davidson
This is an adult paranormal romcom about a girly girl woman who accidentally becomes a vampire and doesn’t realize it.
This series had me laughing out loud so many times while reading it. I love how it has all the elements on a good vampire romance but also pokes fun of the genre as well. To be fair, I don’t think I ever finished this series, but I did really like it back when I read it. I’m tempted to give it another try to see how it holds up over time.

7-Year-Old Picks My TBR

Last month I had Roree, my 7 year old, pick out five books from my bookshelves for me to read and the order I should read them.

It took me this long to actually finish them because I had a bunch of ARCs to read and a few readathons, but I finally did it!

And this was the result:

 

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Book #1: Fall Back Skyward by Autumn Grey

Why She Picked It: She loved the girl on the front cover’s hair – she thought she looked like a mermaid.

What It’s About: This is a contemporary epic romance about a girl who moves in next door to two brothers who both fall for her, but from the beginning, her heart belongs to the quiet brother who happens to be deaf, as opposed to the charming, outgoing brother.

What I thought: I ADORED this book. Autumn Grey is definitely going to be an author I read more of. Much like Mia Sheridan and Brittainy C. Cherry, I’m determined to read her backlist.

This book was heartbreaking and swoony. I adored how it was told and how it jumped timelines. When you’re first introduced to the characters, it is right in the middle of their story. I love how I was immediately invested in these characters and when you do get to see how they met and how things progressed, it’s so satisfying, but also heartbreaking because you know how the story is going to end.

Or at least you think you do.

Contemporary books don’t tend to have a lot of epic romances, but man, this one did. I was so in love with this couple.

I can’t even tell you how many butterflies I had while reading this book and I’m so grateful that my daughter picked this one out for me to read. It truly makes me wonder how many great books are sitting on my shelf, just waiting to be read and continuously being looked over.

Rating: 5 Stars ★★★★★

 

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Book #2: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Why She Picked It: This faces out on my bookshelf and the cover drew her eye because of the metallic red on black.

What It’s About: This is a retelling of the Queen of Hearts’ origin story from Alice in Wonderland.

What I thought: Holy. Crap. Another amazing choice!

I’ve been reading Melissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and I read Renegades as well, and I really enjoyed both of them, but, in Renegades in particular, I found it to be a little immature and I think that is what I was expecting from this book.

I was wrong.

This book is such a book hangover cure for Caraval because of the whimsy and magic that has the ability to absolutely sweep you away.

I knew how this story would end. I mean, it’s a villain’s origin story, so the sense of foreboding I had while reading this was warring with how much I was rooting for the romance.

And the romance.

It was SO good. It felt so much like the romance in Caraval. Epic and effervescent. But combined with the tinge of darkness because of who our main character ultimately becomes.

Rating: 5 stars ★★★★★

 

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Book #3: Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

Why She Picked It: She liked the cover of it because it looked like “Tie dye.”

What It’s About: This is about a very old witch in a teenager’s body, who is sick of how dark her life has become and decides to hide away at a retreat for magical beings.

What I thought: The premise of this is so good. I loved the idea of a witch who has grown tired of the dark privilege her so-called friends have to the point where she escapes to this tree-hugging, everyone-pitches-in-and-earns-their-keep farm. 

However…

I hated the main character. She was so immature, yet was supposed to be something like a thousand years old! Yes, she was in a teenager’s body, but she threw tantrums and was rude and acted like a 13 year old brat.

I feel like this would’ve been so much better if it was new adult and she was in her early 20s, and, yes, being reluctant in a new lifestyle is fine, but acting like a brat – I just couldn’t handle it. And it makes me so mad because I love the title of this and I really do like this author, but I couldn’t handle the main character.

Rating: No rating. I DNF’d this book.

 

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Book #4: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Why She Picked It: She thought the girl on the cover was beautiful and she liked the flowers. She also liked the metallic blue.

What It’s About: This is a twist on the story of Mulan.

What I thought: This book was as beautiful and badass as the cover.

I’ve always been partial to the story of Mulan, but I love how much more intricate this story was in comparison.

Our main character doesn’t magically have all sorts of powers and though she is a badass, it’s because of her quick-thinking bravery, and resilience, not any magical skill.

The writing was also one of my favorite things about this book. It was beautiful and fit so well with the story itself. I felt like I was experiencing everything our main character did, right beside her.

 

Rating: 5 stars ★★★★★

 

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Book #5: Becoming Mrs. Lockwood by KI Lynn

Why She Picked It: She liked the purple spine and the guy on the cover “looked cool.”

What It’s About: A high school girl whose mom ditches her while they are on vacation in Las Vegas, so she meets this older, rich guy in her hotel lobby who takes her out to see the sights since her mom didn’t.

What I thought: How can a book simultaneously be insta-lovey and also 500 pages. I just don’t understand.

The other thing I didn’t understand was what the heck the hero saw in the heroine. He’s infatuated with her because he sees her across the room staring at her phone for a really long time and somehow she’s “not like other girls.”

On top of that, when he does talk to her, he finds out she’s 18, but still in high school, yet he pursues her anyway.

And, of course, she’s virginal and innocent, yet super inappropriately flirty for having just met an older man.

I just… I couldn’t do it. I could not do over 500 pages of this nonsense.

Rating: No rating, DNF.