Well, 2016 is almost over and all I have to say is thank goodness! This year was crazy, and while I had some good times, I also had a lot of stress. Depending on how long you’ve been following the blog, you may or may not know that I moved this summer. We only moved an hour away from our old location but we made the move because the Mister’s job relocated him to a new office and that office was an hour away… in horrible city traffic. It was taking him at least two hours to get home every night. So, we decided to pack up our stuff, in the middle of the summer heat, and move. I’m pretty sure we moved during a heat wave. Anyways, that was brutal and not something I ever want to do again. Mainly because the Mister refused to drive the massive moving truck we got, which mean lil ol’ me drove that behemoth. And let me tell you, the people in SoCal do not like to use their garages or driveways for whatever reason. So I had to maneuver this thing through small residential roads with cars lining both sides. It was not fun.
One thing I LOVED about 2016 was the fact that I finally got to go to RT convention. I’d been following it for years watching it bounce all over the map but never making it to my neck of the woods. Then, when they announced it was going to be in LA, only a six hour drive for me, I bought a ticket and went. I had a blast. Granted at the time I was wondering why anyone in their right mind would do this year after year. I mean, it is stressful and oh so overwhelming. You had multiple classes, parties, and panels going on at the same time, then you only had like ten minutes to rush to the next event. However, if it was a party, there were people lining up for it like an hour in advance. So, there were a few times where I got in line for something only to not make it in, not get a goodie bag, or not get a seat. It was all about sitting in lines for parties. Which was the fun part because you got goodie bags with books and author swag. Plus, those goodie bags were reusable tote bags (which I love!), AND most of the time it was a way to interact with your favorite authors one-on-one. Not going to lie to you though, the most rewarding thing I found were the panels. Sitting in a small room while you favorite author, or maybe even an author you’d never heard of before (happened to me a lot since my roommates and I were mixing our schedules together), and you got to listen to how they created something that thousands of people now read. Anything from, how to write humor, where it comes from (lot of it they take from personal conversations), how to write a steamy scene that’s believable, how to co-author a book when you don’t even live in the same state, how to write suspense, how to write sports romance when you are not in fact a pro-athlete. I mean, there was just so much behind-the-scenes stuff I learned that I honestly found that to be the most rewarding.
I could go on and on about all that happened this year behind the scenes and that would probably explain why I’ve been a bit absent here and there. 2016 has been poppin’ and while I’m sad to see it go, I’m ready to see what 2017 has in store. However, I would like to take a moment to list some of my favorite books that I read in 2016. I mean, this is a book blog after all. I have to talk about books. 😉
Top Ten Books From 2016
First up we have Ruled by Elle Kennedy. I’ve enjoyed the Outlaws series but this is by far the best book yet. I mean, Elle can write some steamy and suspenseful scenes but this one tops the cake. I loved that this story not only surprised me with its outcome, but it exceeded all my expectations. I mean, the character development was on point. I learned so much about these characters that I didn’t know from reading the previous two books. Not to mention that there was never a dull moment with this book. Ruled had me either on the edge of my seat or fanning myself off. The author took this story in a whole different direction that I thought it would go. And if there’s one thing I love about books, it’s when an author surprises me. Check out my review HERE.
Finding Fraser by KC Dyer is a must read for any Jamie Fraser (Outlander) fan. I mean, it’s essentially a story about a woman who drops everything and takes a trip to Scottland with a rough draft idea of all the places the character Claire went while in the books. Emma’s goal is to find a Jamie of her own. However, what ends up happening is a lot of craziness. I mean, she gets robbed, stranded, almost trampled by a bunch of Jamie Fraser fanatics. Plus, because Emma is experiencing Scottland for the first time and going to all these landmarks and touristy things, you sort of get to experience Scotland through her. I enjoyed the story immensely and found myself laughing at the absurdity of it all. Check out my review HERE.
I actually had the awesome opportunity to meet Jen Crane at RT this year. A friend introduced me to her since they write in the same group back home. So the group kind of hung out a lot and so I kind of tagged along to outings. Anyways, I will admit that I hadn’t heard of her work before but she was sweet enough to give me a copy of her book to read. Which I was ecstatic about because I had been ogling the cover when I first saw it. I have a thing for dragon shifters. Anyway, this was a great story. It had good character development as Stella learns about her dragon powers, it had romance, and it also had some pretty gnarly dragon fight scenes. If you’re a dragon shifter fan, snag a copy of this book! Check out my review HERE.
On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton blew me away. It’s the third book in a trilogy, and you really have to read the other two in order to fully appreciate this. These two, their story had been brewing since the first book and I was so happy to see them get their story. Not to mention that the author writes a REALLY good military romance. I’m really picky about my military romances and don’t tend to read them because so many authors get it wrong, but Chanel gets it right. She tied this trilogy up beautifully and there wasn’t anything I would have wanted her to have done differently. Check out my review HERE.
This is another case of a good trilogy ending on an amazing note. I have to admit that when I started reading the Captive Prince Trilogy, I wasn’t sure it was for me. I mean, a prince being captured, beaten, and then sold to a neighboring enemy prince as a sex slave… let’s just say it could either be really interesting but also be really bad. I had nothing to worry about though because this trilogy is amazing! The story is so rich with character development. I mean, you are right there while these two princes not only figure out their new predicament, their growing feelings for each other, but also as they try to stop a war… together! I just, this story was awesome and definitely one that even almost a year after reading it, I still think about it. Check out my review HERE.
I’m a big fan of Christina Lauren’s. I just find their writing to be hilarious. I also got a chance to meet them this year at RT and I sat in quite a few of their panels and these two are awesome. They are super sweet to their fans, engaging to an audience, and you can just tell that they honestly love what they write and that their characters are real to them. Anyway, my bad, onto the book! When a book’s synopsis starts off with a “bookworm” and a “chronic Casanova” being paired off, you know you are in for a good time. Not only that but this is one of my all time favorite tropes, the best friend’s little sister. Oh and the best part is, Hanna has no filter. So the crazy whacky and usually highly inappropriate things that pop into her head, well, they pop right on out of her mouth. One thing I can always count on with these two authors is a lot of laughs and a lot of sexy times… and Beautiful Player did not disappoint. It may actually be my favorite from the series. Check out my review HERE.
Oh man, Sustained… how I love you. I actually had never read any of the author’s work previously but my roommates at RT talked her up to me and I knew I had to get a copy of her book before I left the convention. I’m really glad I listened to them because it’s amazing. If you love to laugh your butt off then you have to get this book! I mean, you have Jake who is a defense attorney, and then you have Chelsea, who’s brother and sister-in-law were just killed in an accident, and is now the guardian of her six nieces and nephews. Jake’s a player who doesn’t want commitment and Chelsea’s been yanked out of college to become a single mother to a brood of kids who are all acting out over the loss of their parents. Which is how these two meet, when her nine year old nephew tries to pickpocket Jake on the street. Now, you wouldn’t think a circumstance like this would be funny but just imagine six kids with no filters all running around with a guy who doesn’t know a thing about kids. The book is told all in Jake’s POV so you get all his inner thoughts of these tiny monsters running around, snotting, screeching, talking foreign languages, and hitting each other. He soon finds himself stepping in and trying to help Chelsea out however he can, even though they aren’t even dating. I mean, he’s singing them One Direction songs to get them to go to bed, he’s practically burning the house down trying to make them soup and things to eat when they all fall sick, he even takes the kids to their different after-school activities. In the 267 pages of the story, you see Jake make a huge change. This is a really wonderfully written story and I loved every second of it. Check out my review HERE.
Just picture Pretty Woman as an erotica… and you kind of have The Master. You see, Cat is a newbie when it comes to being an escort. Like, this-is-her-first-time-ever newbie. She fills in for her friend and day-time employer to cover her “date” that night. What’s only supposed to be a one and done thing, turns into an extended deal with Cat staying with him for the remainder of his time in Miami. Sure, Richard Gere’s character was a legit businessman while Maxim is a bit more shadier with his Mafiya ties. And while Julia Roberts’ character was really a hooker who was just in it for the money, Cat wasn’t really a prostitute leading up to her encounter with Maxim and she’s got a deadly past looming over her head the whole time. However, the relationship between them is the same. A billionaire finds love with a prostitute on a business trip. I seriously loved this story. It’s right up there with my favorite movie. Check out my review HERE.
Holding Up the Universe was a tough book to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean, this book was very powerful and I wouldn’t change a thing, but the kids in the story were little shits! I mean, gah! I would be horrified if my kid were one of the bullies in this book. Okay. Okay. Let me rewind and start over. So Holding Up the Universe is a story about two teens who both struggle with their bodies. Libby has always been on the bigger side. However, after her mother suddenly passes away from an aneurysm, Libby turns to food. Which resulted in her weighing 653lbs and needing to be evacuated from her house via a crane. Even though she’s lost a lot of the weight, she’s still viewed upon as the “fat girl” and she struggles with that every day. Meanwhile, Jack is the popular kid who everyone knows. The only problem is, he doesn’t recognize anyone, not even his own family. He has something called Prosopagnosia which is essentially face blindness. He kind of falls on the extreme side to where he can not recognize anyone and has to use identifiers (hair, skin color, voice) in order to “recognize” the person. Both of these teens struggle with their own problems and come from two completely different social circles, but they somehow come together and form a friendship. This book left me speechless and one of the things I absolutely loved about this book was the author’s note in the beginning of the book. The author wrote a letter to the readers talking about the characters we are about to meet. The author struggled with her weight and thus was bullied in school. Her sixteen year old cousin has prosopagnosia and struggles with the same things as Jack. That letter really brought it all in and made you look at the characters in a certain light because this isn’t just some crazy fictional story. Check out my review HERE.
Beast was a great story. Is it a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast? I guess. I mean, if we are going by the whole don’t-judge-a-person-by-their-appearance aspect of it? Then, yes. I can see the comparison. You see, we have Dylan who is a 15 year old boy that is over 6 feet tall, weighs 272lbs, and is literally covered in a thick hair from head to toe. He’s not really accepted by the kids around him and he is somewhat considered a freak. He meets Jamie at a group therapy for self-harmers and they hit it off. Jamie is this fun-loving girl who is also looked upon as being different. Beast was a wonderfully written story about a boy going through life and finding out who he really is inside. I loved that all the characters within the pages had flaws. They all had something to work through. Check out my review HERE.