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

My Top 5 Favorite Male & Female Romance Audiobook Narrators (and My Favorite Books they Read)

As you may or may not know, I’m an obsessive reader of audiobooks. A decent percentage of the books I read are on audio, and a lot of times, even if I read a physical or eBook and enjoy it, I’ll likely purchase it on audio as well.

I’ve always loved having people read to me, but I totally get that it isn’t for everyone.

I’m a really good multitasker, so listening to audiobooks actually makes me more productive and as long as I’m not reading, writing, or talking while listening to an audiobook, I get sh*t done a lot faster when I’m listening to a book.

If it wasn’t for audiobooks, I wouldn’t have read as many books as I have (200 last year! 150 the year before!). I don’t have a lot of down time to sit and read a book without feeling guilty, but with audio, I can still get what I need to get done while also getting some reading done.

In my many years of listening to audiobooks, I’ve come to love certain narrators and even will purchase audiobooks based on the narrator first, then the author/synopsis second.

I’ve become a huge fangirl of these narrators.

Of course, all of these narrators are popular in the romance genre because, obviously, that’s my main love.

Continue reading “My Top 5 Favorite Male & Female Romance Audiobook Narrators (and My Favorite Books they Read)”

Authors Who I Wish Were My Best Friends

Here’s something you should know about me: I fall into platonic love very easily and very quickly and for very random reasons.


It may be entirely superficial and 100% built upon these imaginary scenarios in my head, but still.

There have been many times I’ve had one conversation with someone and decided that I needed to be best friends with them.

Also, I’m, apparently, very dramatic.

All this to say I’ve found that sometimes an author’s personality so clearly shines through their characters and I’ve found myself thinking about how awesome they must be to have brought such interesting/charismatic/charming characters to life so (seemingly) effortlessly.

To be fair, not every book that contains an interesting character makes me feel like the author would be just as interesting, there are just a handful that have given me that vibe… and at the same token, there are authors who I have met or watched interviews with are amazing, but I didn’t necessarily get that feeling from their books.

I have no idea if what I’m saying makes sense, but just in case it does and you haven’t given up on reading this blog post yet, here is my list of authors who I want to be BFFs with because their personalities seem to shine through their characters and story-telling:

I’ve limited myself to two recs per author because otherwise this could get excessive.

Lauren Blakely

Lauren Blakely 100% inspired this post. I’ve read one of her books a long time ago, but I just recently went on a Lauren Blakely binge and I’m absolutely living for her books, now. It wasn’t until I read my 3rd or 4th book by Lauren that I realized just how much I loved the author based entirely on her characters.

Lauren has such a way with writing incredibly charismatic, self-deprecatingly hilarious heroes who are magnetic without taking themselves too seriously. They’re such a refreshing reprieve from the cocky jerks (soft side or not) that got so popular in the romance world recently.

Her characters also seem to have this inherent goodness that is incredibly attractive – and not necessarily in a romantic way. They’re the kind of characters you’d happily have as a friend or a lover and I feel like only someone who has that type of personality themselves could create characters like that so convincingly.

Clearly, Lauren Blakely’s characters have convinced me that she is an amazing human being and I want to be her best friend.

Also, when I gushed about the first couple of books I read by her and asked for more recs in my favorite audiobook FB group, Lauren Blakely HERSELF responded with her recs for me! It was really hard not to immediately be like, “OMGPLEASEBEMYBESTFRIENDILOVEYOU!”

Book Recs:

Wanderlust
♥ Most Valuable Playboy

Lauren Rowe

Between writing delightfully outrageous characters and such convincing instalove stories, it is no wonder that this Lauren made it on my list. I mean, read Ball Peen Hammer and then tell me you don’t want to just sit down and have a conversation over drinks with Lauren.

Many of her characters have that same draw-you-into-their-unusual-hyper-world-and-nickname-you vibe, it’s hard to imagine she wouldn’t also have at least a touch of those traits.

I have, in fact, met Lauren in person albeit very briefly at signings, and her warmth could be felt even at the back of her table’s line.


I met her twice… can we just go ahead and buy BFF necklaces yet?

Book Recs:

♥ Misadventures of a College Girl
♥ Ball Peen Hammer

Mariana Zapata

Mariana writes such low-key hilarious characters with fantastic inner monologues, I’m guessing that her thoughts mimic those of her characters as well and, girl, I’m right there with her. I feel like my inner monologues would speak her hers on a spiritual level.

I met Mariana for the first time at Shameless Book Con in Orlando a few months ago and OMG SHE BROUGHT HER MOM WITH HER AND I FELL A LITTLE BIT MORE IN LOVE WITH HER.

She’s so freaking sweet and absolutely adorable  in person. She has this super subtle awkwardness that makes me want to squeeze her because, I mean, how can someone who has a cult following be so humble?    

Book Recs:    

♥ The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
♥ Lingus

Sierra Simone

Ok. Sierra Simone fans. Don’t even tell me you wouldn’t want to hang out with Sierra at your house with a glass of wine and talk about all the dirty things you wouldn’t even talk to your best girlfriends about.

Honestly, I just want to pick that brain of hers and learn allllll her tips and tricks.

Sierra was also at Shameless and she seems like such a beautiful, cool person.

Book Recs:

♥ American Queen
♥ Priest

Jana Aston

It’s not often that I am absolutely dying with laughter and all sorts of other feelings while reading a book, but Jana Aston manages to bring that out of me.

I’m not usually into the slapstick funny romcoms, sometimes they can be too over-the-top for me, however, Jana is just enough without being too much.

I also had the chance to meet Jana at Shameless a couple months ago and I swear I only talked to her for a couple minutes and she already had me laughing. At one point, I was in Sierra’s line and Sierra said something about being really interested in the Catholic faith and Jana (who was at the table next to her)  just leans over and was like, “Wait… What? I would’ve never thought that about you.” It was obviously 100% sarcastic. If you’ve read Sierra’s Priest series, you’ll understand the hilarity of that comment.

Book Recs:

♥ The Wrong series

I am 100% positive that I will have left someone off of this list and immediately regret it once this posts, so don’t be surprised if you see a volume 2 of this post soon.

Authors I’m Looking Forward to Meeting at Shameless Book Con

Shameless Book Con is about a month away and I’m so ridiculously excited!

I was lucky enough to attend this convention last year with my sister and this year I’m attending with my mom and my sister. Even though we only live two hours away from where the event is being held, we’re still getting a hotel room so we can all hang out together in Orlando for a couple days.

Anyway, as I always do when I register for a book convention, I check out the list of authors attending the event and make a list of all the authors I want to meet. Usually, a few days before the event, the organizers release and map showing where all the authors will be sitting, so I go through that and map my course.

This time around, I figured I’d share the list of authors I’m super excited to meet at the convention … and one of their books that I’ve either read and loved or want to read.

New-to-Me Authors I’m Looking Forward to Meeting at Shameless Book Con

 

Alessandra Torre

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Autumn Jones Lake
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Kandi Steiner
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KK Allen
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Meredith Wild
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Olivia Cunning
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Skye Warren
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Authors I Love at Shameless Book Con

Emma Scott
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Jana Aston
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Laura Kaye
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Laurelin Paige
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Lara Adrian
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Lauren Rowe
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Mariana Zapata
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Marni Mann
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Sierra Simone
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Trisha Wolfe
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Are you going to Shameless Book Con?

 

 

 

 

How I Met My Book: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

How I Met My Book is a series in which you introduce your readers to a book on your shelf and share all about how it came to be there. I first discovered this series on The Book Dutchesses and decided to incorporate it here on my blog.

Today’s story is short and sweet and it is proof that the book community and fangirls are some of the best people to interact with.

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The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is one of my all-time favorite books, and Mariana Zapata is one of my all-time favorite authors.

So, how did I come across this book? The short answer? Flamethrowers.

No, not the weapon (well, I guess it kind of is to Joshua), I’m talking about the red lipstick that Lucy wears in The Hating Game. You see, Sally Thorne’s Facebook Fan Group is called Sally Thorne’s Flamethrowers, and the second I finished The Hating Game, please believe I joined that group.

As you might anticipate, one of the most frequently asked questions in that group is “I NEED MORE BOOKS LIKE THE HATING GAME!” And the #1 response to that question? The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata.

I kept seeing this rec over and over again and I finally gave in and bought the book. I devoured it in a day, then I bought the audiobook and listened to it in a day and I’ve been listening to it periodically for over a year now.

I’ve probably reread it about 15 times.

Have you read this book? How did you meet your most recent read?

Things I Thought I Hated in Romance Novels (And the Books That Proved Me Wrong)

I’ve seen these questions asked many times in the book blogging community:

What do you hate in romance novels?
What tropes can’t you stand?
What are your romance novel pet peeves?

I used to have several definitive answers to this question, but slowly, as I’ve read more and more romance novels, I’ve come across so many books that have proven me so very, very wrong.

Now, whenever this question comes up, I struggle.

I struggle because even though there are many books that get these things wrong, there are still those few who get them right and part of me feels like I’d be betraying those great books if I listed those pet peeves. I know, it’s silly, but for those of you who view reading books as time spent with close friends will understand where I’m coming from.

And even if I haven’t come across a book that defies me yet, I know that one may exist – I just haven’t read it yet.

Honestly, I think this mindset could go for any genre of books. I mean, if the story is good enough? The things you think you hate can easily turn into the things you love … if done right.

 

Here is a list of my romance novel pet peeves… and the books that proved me wrong:

Continue reading “Things I Thought I Hated in Romance Novels (And the Books That Proved Me Wrong)”

Book Haul: May 2018

It’s been a slow blogging month for me. I’ve been absent from the internet altogether for a couple weeks now and I’m actually pretty happy about it. It’s been nice to go to bed early with a book every night without browsing the internet or feeling obligated to do anything outside of work.

Sometimes it’s nice to take a little break without guilt. (Even if the “without guilt” part takes a little work when you love your blogging community and want to read and respond to #alltheposts.)

Anyway, it wasn’t a slow book-buying month! (Honestly, I don’t know if it ever really is.)


 

Here are the books I hauled this month

eBooks

White Knight by CD Reiss
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Catherine Barrington is a rich girl. Chris Cartwright is a poor boy.
He left her to make something of himself. A man she could be proud of. A man she could bring home to her parents. A man she could marry.
On the trading floor he became the man he knew he could be. Now, it’s time to return.
Rich girl.
Poor boy.
She didn’t care about his money, but he didn’t believe her. Soon after he left, all the money was gone.
Her life is hell.
Now he’s back, and he’s different. Pristine. Gorgeous. Rich.
Rich boy.
Poor girl.
Money was never the barrier, until now.

After reading my friend CD Reiss, King of Code, I’ve been obsessed with her books, particularly these characters and their intertwined stories.

 

Prince Charming by CD Reiss
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Keaton Bridge is exactly the kind of guy a straight-arrow like Cassie doesn’t need.

For one thing, he’s a criminal—and she fights crime for a living. And being criminally handsome isn’t helping her say no, either. Everything about him screams trouble, from his British accent to his mysterious past.

And Cassie doesn’t do trouble.

Keaton’s got his own trouble. He’s trying to go legit, and an FBI agent hanging around is the last thing that will help his credibility. All it took was one night of passion to sear her into his skin. Now he can’t imagine living happily ever after without her.

All they have to do is walk away.

But neither of them ever walks away from danger.

 

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata
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If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

I’ve already read the eBook, but I’ve been dying to re-read the audiobook! I bought it as soon as it came out.

 

Flow (Grip #1) by Kennedy Ryan
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In 8 years, Marlon James will be one of the brightest rising stars in the music industry.

Bristol Gray will be his tough, no-nonsense manager.

But when they first meet, she’s a college student finding her way in the world, and he’s an artist determined to make his way in it.

From completely different worlds, all the things that should separate them only draw them closer.

It’s a beautiful beginning, but where will the story end?

 

Swallow Me Whole: A Friends To Lovers Romance by Gemma James
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Sadie Sawyer wants to learn how to blow a guy. She’s my sister’s best friend. The girl I’ve known since grade school. The girl I’ve always considered off-limits. She’s the girl that crawled under a table in a bar one night and changed everything between us.

Now the brain in my pants is more than willing to step up. The rules are simple.

No kissing.
No screwing.
No falling in love.

But the more I let her use my body in the name of experimentation, the more I know being friends isn’t enough. Is it too much to want it all with her?

The taste of her lips.
The sweetness of her innocence.
The chance to earn her love.

I might have a real shot with her…if her douchebag ex and my past don’t ruin everything.

The Edge of Never by J.A Redmerski
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Twenty-year-old Camryn Bennett had always been one to think out-of-the-box, who knew she wanted something more in life than following the same repetitive patterns and growing old with the same repetitive life story. And she thought that her life was going in the right direction until everything fell apart.

Determined not to dwell on the negative and push forward, Camryn is set to move in with her best friend and plans to start a new job. But after an unexpected night at the hottest club in downtown North Carolina, she makes the ultimate decision to leave the only life she’s ever known, far behind.

With a purse, a cell phone and a small bag with a few necessities, Camryn, with absolutely no direction or purpose boards a Greyhound bus alone and sets out to find herself. What she finds is a guy named Andrew Parrish, someone not so very different from her and who harbors his own dark secrets. But Camryn swore never to let down her walls again. And she vowed never to fall in love.

But with Andrew, Camryn finds herself doing a lot of things she never thought she’d do. He shows her what it’s really like to live out-of-the-box and to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. On their sporadic road-trip he becomes the center of her exciting and daring new life, pulling love and lust and emotion out of her in ways she never imagined possible. But will Andrew’s dark secret push them inseparably together, or tear them completely apart?

This is my book club book this month.
 


Audiobooks

Love Hacked (Knitting in the City #3) by Penny Reid
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There are three things you need to know about Sandra Fielding: 1) She makes all her first dates cry, 2) She hasn’t been kissed in over two years, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Sandra has difficulty removing her psychotherapist hat. Of her last 30 dates, 29 have ended the same way: the man sobbing uncontrollably. After one such disaster, Sandra–near desperation and maybe a little tipsy–gives in to a seemingly harmless encounter with her hot waiter, Alex. Argumentative, secretive, and hostile Alex may be the opposite of everything Sandra knows is right for her. But now, the girl who has spent all her life helping others change for the better, must find a way to cope with falling for someone who refuses to change at all.

 

I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting
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SHE’S GOT CURB APPEAL

Rian Sutter grew up with the finer things in life. Spending summers in The Hamptons was a normal occurrence for her until her parents lost everything years ago. Now Rian and her sister are getting their life, and finances, back on track through real estate. Not only do they buy and sell houses to the rich and famous, but they finally have the capital to flip their very own beachfront property. But when she inadvertently catches the attention of a sexy stranger who snaps up every house from under her, all bets are off…

HE’S A FIXER UPPER

Pierce Whitfield doesn’t normally demo kitchens, install dry wall, or tear apart a beautiful woman’s dreams. He’s just a down-on-his-luck lawyer who needed a break from the city and agreed to help his brother work on a few homes in the Hamptons. When he first meets Rian, the attraction is undeniable. But when they start competing for the same pieces of prime real estate, the early sparks turn into full-blown fireworks. Can these passionate rivals turn up the heat on their budding romance — without burning down the house?

This was a pre-order. Helena Hunting is an instabuy author.

 
 


Hard Copies

Legendary by Stephanie Garber
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A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

This was a preorder!


 

What books have you purchased this month?

 

 

 

Favorite Sports Romance Novels

For someone who has been reading romance novels since my teens, it’s kind of surprising that sports romances are fairly new for me. Especially considering my unhealthy obsession with Tim Tebow back in his college days.

Though I read a couple of sports romances before it, The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata was the first sports romance that made me really appreciate this subgenre.

I love how inspiring these types of novels can be, reading about how hard these athletes work to be the best in their sport. (And, let’s face it, if there is a novel about it, then obviously the athlete is the best.)

In honor of that, I’ve put together a list of my favorite sports romance novels. Keep in mind that I have not read a ton by a long shot, but these are my favorites out of the ones I have read.

 

Read More

Romance Novels that Made Me Laugh Out Loud

While it’s not rare for me to squeal or sigh or groan while reading a book, it’s a bit more unusual for me to laugh out loud while reading.

When thinking about the theme of my book recommendations for this month, I decided to focus on the rare books that have made me burst out laughing while reading. The books that had my husband looking over at me as we lay in bed at night with a raised eyebrow and a shake of the head.

Here are the romance novels that gave me the giggles

Wrong by Jana Aston

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Oh my gosh, I made so many noises while reading this book, laughing was just one part of it.
Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

Pucked by Helena Hunting

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Violet accidentally yelling, “I LOVE YOU!” while having sex with Alex for only the second time and tacking on, “MONSTER C*CK!” at the end to cover up her mistake had me bursting out laughing.
Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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When Lucy tries to walk in all smooth into work and ends up tripping and dropping her lunch box in front of Josh… classic.
Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

Ball Peen Hammer by Lauren Rowe

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Keane is so ridiculous, you can’t help but roll your eyes at him, laugh at him, and love him all at once.
Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

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The. Insults. MZ outdid herself with the snark in this one! So funny!
Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

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Georgina’s demon boss takes the human form of John Cusack, but refuses to admit that he knows who John Cusack is. That’s just an example of the absurd hilarity in this series.
Goodreads | Amazon

Undead Series by MaryJanice Davidson

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To be honest, I didn’t finish this series, but oh my goodness, the books I did read in this series seriously had me bent over with the giggles!
Goodreads | Amazon

A Little Night Magic by Lucy March

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I’ve mentioned that this book is one of my favorites and I find it so underhyped and underrated. It’s such a sweet story, but the funny parts in this had me dying.
Goodreads | Amazon

What are some books that have made you laugh out loud while reading?

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

5-stars

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

[eBook Purchased from Amazon]

If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

Synopsis from Goodreads

 

Review

The Hating Game… I mean… From Lukov with Love was so hard for me to rate. I seriously deleted and rewrote 4 and 5 continuously until I finally landed on 5 stars.

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