Tag: Five Books Everyone Should Read

Five Books Everyone Should Read: Reader Tori of Smexy Books

Posted November 29, 2015 by Holly in Features | 2 Comments

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

Today we have Tori from Smexy Books here to share her list of five books. Her list includes a couple I wish I’d included in my own list.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now….

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

I first read this when I was bored and stuck at a symposium with my mom. She handed it to me and told me to stop annoying her. This dystopian speculative fiction tells the story of a young woman’s life (from her POV) in a Christian totalitarian society after they overthrew the U.S. government. Everyone should read this book; especially those who don’t see the attempted subjugation of women by certain government parties as an issue we are facing right now. Atwood writes a poignant yet curiously disconnected story that shows the use of religion to justify the systematic repression of rights and individualism (using language and patriotic fervor) to force people into tidy little boxes labeled duties and to cull the herd to make persecution of undesirables easier. It shows the subtle rebellions that will almost always occur when a group of people are left with little to nothing. It’s as if Atwood looked into the future and wrote us a prophetic warning.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
2. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

A teen plunges into a downward spiral of addiction in this classic cautionary tale.

January 24th

After you’ve had it, there isn’t even life without drugs….

It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth — and ultimately her life.

Read her diary.

Enter her world.

You will never forget her.

For thirty-five years, the acclaimed, bestselling first-person account of a teenage girl’s harrowing decent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left an indelible mark on generations of teen readers. As powerful — and as timely — today as ever, Go Ask Alice remains the definitive book on the horrors of addiction

I read this as a teenager and it impacted my life. This presumed diary chronicles a young girl’s descent into drugs, addiction, and eventual death. Raw, poignant, and heartbreaking, her voice cuts deep into you as she opens the doorway to the realities of drug addiction and the serious consequences that occur because of it. She touches on the difficulties of adolescence and the extreme pressures one must deal both socially and personally. You feel her confusion, sorrow, and happiness, and eventual acceptance. Even with it’s dated references, it maintains a classic presence.

Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
3. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon

Don’t miss the thrilling novel from #1 New York Times bestselling award-winning author Robert McCammon, in a book that Publishers Weekly calls “both a mystery that will satisfy the most finicky aficionado and a boisterous travelogue.”

Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson—a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake—and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible vision of death that will haunt him forever.

As Cory struggles to understand his father’s pain, his eyes are slowly opened to the forces of good and evil that are manifested in Zephyr. From an ancient, mystical woman who can hear the dead and bewitch the living, to a violent clan of moonshiners, Cory must confront the secrets that hide in the shadows of his hometown—for his father’s sanity and his own life hang in the balance.

Southern fiction that appeals to the imaginative child in all of us. An entertaining coming of age story wrapped in an engaging veneer of mysticism, mystery, and love. The narrative is that of a young boy named Cory. We watch him as he struggles to understand the undercurrents of racism, jealousy, and murder that has infiltrated his life and his beloved small town. I love the blending of realism and fantasy that McCammon uses to help Cory. From a voodoo queen with a secret recipe for courage to a monster who lives in the local canal and demands tribute, McCammon shows us the joy and sorrow of life through the eyes of a child.

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
4. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

This is Book 1 of the Time Quintet Series

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

This coming of age story revolves around a young girl trying to cope with being the oddball in a family of extremely talented geniuses. I do believe this may have been my first time reading science fiction. The story is unique not just for the fantastical subject matter, outstanding world building, and realistic characters but because it had a female protagonist (Meg Murry) in a science fiction novel which was almost unheard of at that time. I loved the many sides of Meg Murray. Her fearlessness. Her need to question the world around her. Her unwillingness to change in order to fit in. Her unfailing love for her family. Meg never gave up, no matter how many times someone tried to convince her she was a failure. To this day it remains one of my most treasured childhood reads.

Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
5. Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

Enough time has passed for the young girl Jaenelle, heir to the magical Darkness, for her physical wounds to heal, while amnesia keeps her frightening memories at bay. But with Saetan–a Black-Jewelled Warlord Prince and Jaenelle’s foster-father–to protect her, she will continue to grow. Her magic will mature. Her memories will return. And Jaenelle will face her destiny when she remembers Daemon, Saetan’s son, who made the ultimate sacrifice for her love….

Dark fantasy at its finest; I reread (the series) at least once a year. The second book in Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy is the most exciting and outstanding of the three in my opinion. Though I do recommend reading the entire trilogy for a story that will elicit the strongest of emotions from you-love, laughter, fear, hope, hatred, and soul-crushing heartbreak. It’s strong modern base blends well with the fantasy, giving us a world that mirrors ours in some ways yet differs in others. For me it embodies everything a book should have. Adventure, romance, laughter, sorrow, action, suspense, ordinary events, unforgettable characters, and an arc that leaves you enthralled. I honestly don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to express just how much I love this series.

About Tori:

I am a biblio-bimbo, booze hound, and blasphemer who reviews for SmexyBooks, Heroes & Heartbreakers, and RT Book Reviews. I support mediocrity because we can’t all be 5 stars.

Visit her on the web: SmexyBooks | Twitter | Goodreads

Five Books Everyone Should Read: Reader Tasha

Posted November 22, 2015 by Rowena in Features | 1 Comment

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

This week, we have one of my good friends sharing the books she thinks everyone should read. Tasha is a busy mother of six who still finds time to read a whole lot of books. She’s also one of the coolest Moms you’ll ever meet. Check out her picks:

9992532Tasha: Wow, when you asked me to choose 5 books, I hadn’t realise how hard it was going to be. I found myself adding more and more titles and then I’d have to go back and cross some of them off and really narrow it down. So for now, at this moment, here are the five books I’ve chosen that you must pick up…

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh1. Slave To Sensation (Psy-Changeling #1) by Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh dives into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind-and none of the heart.

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation” – the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was…

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy coexistence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion – and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities – or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.

Aside from the Twilight Saga, this was one of the first sci-fi/paranormal romance I read and I fell in love with it. It was completely out of my norm type of reading, which was mostly historical romances and all the ones with the fairytale happily ever after type of books. If you’re looking for something thats different and out of the norm, this is the one for you. You’ve got a big bad alpha shifter who falls in love with a psy – a person incapable of feelings or emotions. Can you see where I’m going with this? Exactly, these two come from completely different worlds, brought up to view the other as the enemy and here they are with this unexplainable attraction towards one another…what to do, what to do! There’s so much going on around them added the the chemistry these two ignite, this is surely one read you won’t soon forget.

1077742. Honor’s Splendor by Julie Garwood

In the feuding English court, gentle Lady Madelyne suffered the cruel whims of her ruthless brother, Baron Louddon. Then, in vengeance for a bitter crime, Baron Duncan of Wexton—the Wolf—unleashed his warriors against Louddon’s main. Exquisite Madelyne was the prize he catured…but when he gazed upon the proud beauty, he pledged to protect her with his life. In his rough-hewn castle, Duncan proved true to his honor. But when at last their noble passion conquered them both, she surrendered with all her soul. Now, for love, Madelyne would stand fast…as bravely as her Lord, the powerful Wolf who fought for…Honor’s Splendour.

Julie Garwood has to be one of my most favorite historical romance authors of all time and after reading this book, you’ll need no further explanation. In this books, I found myself laughing at the outrageous-ness of the scenes to wanting to club the hero in the back of his head for being such a big bonehead. By the time I finished this book, I felt all warm and fuzzy and was ready to cuddle up to my husband. Looking for one of those happily-ever-after-fairytale-endings, with a bit of humor here and there, this is the one for you!

136288123. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working. Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the bad-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money–a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one woman’s journey to save her son and another woman’s chance at redemption.

This was not a book I would’ve picked up on my own. Actually, this was one of the books I had to read for a book club discussion and it was a phenomenal read to say the least. Reading this book made me want to stop for a moment, take a look at my life and really appreciate all that I have-no matter how little or how irrelevant it may seem. Before you start complaining about how terrible things in your life, pick up this book and see if you can still whine about your troubles afterwards. I must warn you, there are moments in the book where it may seem to drag, but once you get past those parts, you’ll be glad you pushed through. I was so grateful for the opportunity to have read this book and hopefully you’ll understand why some day.

austenland4. Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Okay, I’m not a big fan of the “ton” period, with the men going about doing whatever the heck they want without any consequences to worry about, while the ladies must sit around and learn how to sew, sing or play a musical instrument as a means of entertainment. Ugh, not sure if I would’ve been able to survive living like that. But here in this adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, she made this totally worth the read. It was funny, quirky and oh so swoon worthy (sigh). The setting is during modern times but all the action and drama happens when they are on a retreat that’s set up for those who wish to live the experience as if they were part of the “ton”.

TheGamePlanbyKristenCallihan5. The Game Plan (Game On #3) by Kristen Callihan

A beard-related dare and one hot-as-hell kiss changes everything.

NFL center Ethan Dexter’s focus has always been on playing football and little else. Except when it comes to one particular woman. The lovely Fiona Mackenzie might not care about his fame, but she’s also never looked at him as anything more than one of her brother-in-law’s best friend. That ends now.

Fi doesn’t know what to make of Dex. The bearded, tattooed, mountain of man-muscle looks more like a biker than a football player. Rumor has it he’s a virgin, but she finds that hard to believe. Because from the moment he decides to turn his quiet intensity on her she’s left weak at the knees and aching to see his famous control fully unleashed.

Dex is looking for a forever girl, but they live vastly different lives in separate cities. Fi ought to guard her heart and walk away. But Dex has upped his game and is using all his considerable charm to convince Fi he’s her forever man.

And finally, this one! There’s no way I couldn’t add this one to the list especially since I’ve just finished it and absolutely loved it!!! I read a lot of romance novels with the hot dominating alphas, or the scary bikers and even some of the tall slim languid rock super stars but not often do you read about big, bearded, professional football players who are as humble as they come.He’s quiet, caring, very protective of what belongs to him and you can’t help but want to cuddle up to this beautiful specimen. And doesn’t that just make him even more sexy-MY GOSH!! Guy crushes on girl for 2 years and doesn’t say a thing. Also, they couldn’t be more opposites, he’s super tall and bulky (like the Incredible Hulk) and she’s so short, dainty with curves (like Tinkerbell). He’s more likely to hide off in the corner with his bottle of water, where she’s out there having the time of her life. Watching these two come together and face their fears made for an awesome read!

So there you have it! My five choices 🙂 Hope this works out for ya! Thanks for thinking of me…I really enjoyed it!

Five Books Everyone Should Read: Author JoAnn Ross

Posted November 15, 2015 by Holly in Features | 1 Comment

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

Today we have contemporary and romantic suspense author JoAnn Ross here to share her list of Five Books. Her Shelter Bay series is one of my favorites and I’m so pleased to see some of my favorite books on this list.
JoAnn Ross

I’m not the first in this wonderful series to find choosing only five (!!!) books nearly impossible. There are so many wonderful ones I’ve enjoyed, many that other authors have already named. So, I decided to select five that have had a lasting emotional impact on me.

The Passion of Patrick MacNeil, Virginia Kantra
1. The Passion of Patrick MacNeil by Virginia Kantra

Dedicated burn surgeon Kate Sinclair shields her tender heart behind a white coat and a coolly professional manner. But something about the little patient the nurses dub “Iron Man” and his vital flyboy father challenges her as a doctor and a woman.

Since the car crash that killed his wife and almost took his son, pilot Patrick MacNeill’s life has revolved around his little boy. No one—no woman and certainly no interfering doctor—can intrude on their bond, forged in love and pain.

When little Jack’s care brings these two together, it ignites a passion they can’t ignore. But their growing involvement threatens Patrick’s emotional barriers and Kate’s professional future. With so much at stake, will she trust her judgment…or her heart?

The Passion of Patrick MacNeill is the first book in Virginia Kantra’s fabulous MacNeill brothers’ series. Whenever I pick up one of Virginia’s books, I remember why I write and read romance. Despite having suffered a horribly tragic loss, former Marine fighter pilot Patrick MacNeill remains doggedly protective of his beloved, terribly injured son. Unfortunately, any brief description can’t begin to do justice to the man or the story, which is why you must read it for yourself. Patrick loves unconditionally. Passionately, which makes this such an emotional book that’ll warm your heart even as it brings you to tears. It’s also why Patrick and Dr. Kate’s so well-deserved happy ending is all the more satisfying.

When I culled my thousands of books to move from Arizona to Tennessee, this one came with me. When, thirteen years later, I gave away hundreds more books to finally move back home to the Pacific Northwest, Patrick came along again, this time on my Kindle. He’s a true hero and a keeper. (And did I mention the book’s free this month?)

Leaving Time
2. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Throughout her blockbuster career, Jodi Picoult has seamlessly blended nuanced characters, riveting plots, and rich prose, brilliantly creating stories that “not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us” (The Boston Globe). Now, in her highly anticipated new novel, she has delivered her most affecting work yet—a book unlike anything she’s written before.

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.

I buy Jodi Picoult’s novels because she sets up complex moral and often legal conflicts that have me turning pages late into the night, trying, as both a reader and a writer, to see how she’s going to write herself out of the characters’ dilemmas she doesn’t stop throwing at them. But Leaving Time was different. I had no idea what kind of story I was reading, but was quickly hooked and just kept following what often seemed like an impossibly twisted path.

The fact that elephants play important secondary characters in the story was emotionally moving for me. Even more so when I learned in the acknowledgments that the often tragic events were taken from lives of elephants living at a Tennessee refuge. That alone might have landed this book on my list. But then the story took an abrupt twist I never saw coming. Looking back on it, I realized the author had sprinkled breadcrumbs all along the way; I was just so caught up in the story, I didn’t pick up on them.

Secret Girlfriend
3. Secret Girlfriend by Bria Quinlan

Since her mom died, Amy Whalen’s been invisible—but not in the cool, superpower kind of way. Overlooked at school and ignored at home, Amy holds tight to her few constants: running, painting, and her long-held crush on soccer god, Chris Kent. But as senior year nears, Chris doesn’t just notice her, he needs her.

Amy will agree to almost anything to be with him.

Everything is great—sort of—until Luke Parker shows up for soccer tryouts and sees through every one of Amy’s defenses. When Luke decides he wants Chris’s spot on the team and wouldn’t sneeze at the captain’s jersey either their rivalry spins out of control.

It doesn’t help that Luke also wants the girl Chris kept hidden all summer: AMY.

I also enjoy reading contemporary Young Adult because the characters are at an age when EVERYTHING seems life or death important and emotions always run high-octane. Anyone who reads or thinks about writing contemporary YA has probably read John Green, and I’m no exception. But in my opinion, Bria Quinlan (who also writes contemporary romance as Caitie Quinn), is right up there with him. This is another case where I could have named any of her books, but Secret Girlfriend resonated with me because, along with being like a trip back to high school (but without the cool DeLorean), it was the perfect mix of humor, teenage angst, the deeply emotional issues of loss, and how you can feel totally alone even when you’re with someone.

I personally write to themes, and there are so many in this book: self awareness, self value, family, the yearning to fit in, wisdom born from experience, emotional healing, and what we’re willing to do for love. And there’s even a love triangle! This is not just a perfect YA book. It’s a beautifully written perfect book for all ages. And fudging the five book rule, I have to add that the sequel, Secret Life, is equally wonderful.

Jane Eyre
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

A novel of intense power and intrigue, Jane Eyre has dazzled generations of readers with its depiction of a woman’s quest for freedom. Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved? This updated Penguin Classics edition features a new introduction by Brontë scholar and award-winning novelist Stevie Davies, as well as comprehensive notes, a chronology, further reading, and an appendix.

My English honors’ thesis topic was the Brontës as feminists and Jane Eyre is a book people continue to argue about. Based on many of Charlotte Brontë’s own experiences, one of the reasons this book was first published in 1847 under the gender neutral pseudonym of Curren Bell is that Victorian society was male-dominated with women expected to be subject to the voice of men.

Did Jane make mistakes? Like Amy, from Quinlan’s Secret Girlfriend, absolutely. But in a sexist, class-driven society, she never surrenders to those who ruthlessly despise the poor and don’t believe them worthy of dignity. Under continued difficult pressures, she doggedly pursues economic and social equality, independence, and true love. (That insistence on a perfect love is a reason many contemporary feminists don’t believe that she belongs in the club.) Still, holding to her belief that true love should be based on equality, mutual understanding, and respect, she walks away from Rochester, whom she loves, but can’t have on her terms.

Later, not willing to lose herself in an affectionless marriage, she turns down the proposal of a good and decent man who, while admiring her tenacity, still expects her to be a docile partner in his missionary work.

Intelligent and unwilling to be treated unequal in any situation, Jane continues to rebel, daring to voice her own beliefs, never giving in. Admittedly, there are those who believe that she only acquires equality once Rochester has been brought down, but I’m in the camp who believes that in the end, Jane receives the happy ending she’s fought for all her life. On her own terms.

The Great Gatsby
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.

When F. Scott Fitzgerald conceived this story, he announced that he was going to write “something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” Which is a very ambitious goal. The fact that he actually pulled it off intimidated me for a very long time until I read back-and-forth editorial letters and telegrams and realized how many revisions went into creating Fitzgerald’s finest work.

The Great Gatsby (ironically no one at Scribner, but Maxwell Perkins, his editor, liked the title) is often viewed as a Jazz Age novel, but I find it timeless in its depiction of a society’s obsession with money, greed, and ambition; the vast gap between wealthy and poor; and self-invention. Like the best Greek drama, it also depicts an eventual fall from grace after a rise to glory. Another still-current theme.

For a novel that’s less than two hundred pages (when Fitzgerald sent the manuscript to Perkins, he said that although it was only fifty-thousand words, he wanted it published and priced as a “full-sized” book), the writing style is intricately patterned, with page after page of imagery, metaphors, similes, and alliteration. But his word choice, while poetic, is so crystalline, it somehow manages to make for easy reading. Which is how I’ll find myself pulling it off the shelf, planning to read a few pages, only to realize I’ve read it to the end. Again. It’s a truly beautiful book and what I consider not just the best I’ve ever read, but the best of the twentieth century.

About JoAnn:

JoAnn Ross wrote her first novella— a tragic romance about two star-crossed mallard ducks— for a second grade writing assignment.

The paper earned a gold star.

And JoAnn kept writing.

She’s now written around one hundred novels (she quit keeping track long ago), has been published in twenty-six countries, and is a member of the Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll of best-selling authors. Two of her titles have been excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine and her books have also been published by the Doubleday, Rhapsody, Literary Guild, and Mystery Guild book clubs. Among her awards are RT Career Achievement awards in both category romance and contemporary romance.

JoAnn lives with her husband and two fuzzy rescued dogs, who pretty much rule the house, in the Pacific Northwest.

Check out her latest release: Sunset Point

Sunset Point

New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross returns to Shelter Bay with a story of destiny, desire, danger, and a sea captain’s ancient curse that’s become local legend. Someone to Watch Over Me Independent, strong-willed Tess Lombardi has dedicated her life to fighting for justice. As a deputy district attorney, threats are merely part of the job. This time, with several high profile cases on the line, she reluctantly agrees to protection. Only to discover that Nate Breslin comes with his own risks. How can she trust a bodyguard who’s stalked her? And lies for a living?

Former Marine sniper Nate Breslin has managed, at least most days, to leave danger and death in his past. Nate has his own reasons for tracking Tess down, but when her life is threatened, this mission becomes personal and he’s willing to risk anything to keep her safe. As the danger escalates and her would-be killer closes in, Tess must learn to trust Nate. With her life. And her heart.

Five Books Everyone Should Read: Mandi from Smexy Books

Posted November 8, 2015 by Rowena in Features | 1 Comment

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

Today we have Mandi from Smexy Books on the blog to share her list of books that she thinks everyone should read. I’m a huge fan of Smexy Book’s Smex Scene Sunday so make sure you visit her blog to check it out.

Broken by Megan Hart

This month my name is Mary

My name is different every month—Brandy, Honey, Amy…sometimes Joe doesn’t even bother to ask—but he never fails to arouse me with his body, his mouth, his touch, no matter what I’m called or where he picks me up. The sex is always amazing, always leaves me itching for more in those long weeks until I see him again.

My real name is Sadie, and once a month over lunch Joe tells me about his latest conquest. But what Joe doesn’t know is that, in my mind, I’m the star of every X-rated one-night stand he has revealed to me, or that I’m practically obsessed with our imaginary sex life. I know it’s wrong. I know my husband wouldn’t understand. But I can’t stop. Not yet.

Intense, erotic, devastating. This book will haunt you for a long time. This author always makes you work for the happy ever after, and even then, sometimes the happiness is a slippery thread. She writes beautiful words and makes me feel all the things. It’s deep and dark and pushes boundaries.

cut and run
Cut & Run by Abigail Roux

A series of murders in New York City has stymied the police and FBI alike, and they suspect the culprit is a single killer sending an indecipherable message. But when the two federal agents assigned to the investigation are taken out, the FBI takes a more personal interest in the case. Special Agent Ty Grady is pulled out of undercover work after his case blows up in his face. He’s cocky, abrasive, and indisputably the best at what he does. But when he’s paired with Special Agent Zane Garrett, it’s hate at first sight. Garrett is the perfect image of an agent: serious, sober, and focused, which makes their partnership a classic cliche: total opposites, good cop-bad cop, the odd couple. They both know immediately that their partnership will pose more of an obstacle than the lack of evidence left by the murderer. Practically before their special assignment starts, the murderer strikes again – this time at them. Now on the run, trying to track down a man who has focused on killing his pursuers, Grady and Garrett will have to figure out how to work together before they become two more notches in the murderer’s knife.”

This is book one of a must read series. Two male FBI agents who hate each other and then fall deeply in love. One has never been with a man before. Oh Ty and Zane. They make me laugh, they make me have anxiety and they have really, really hot sexy times. I adore them. While I think the first two books of this series are the weakest, stick with it. The series just concluded and the author did a great job with this couple. A treat to read.

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on MacKayla Lane’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

Another must read series, this one is a dark urban fantasy. I think most romance fans have at least heard of this, if not have already read it. The most alpha, brooding hero I’ve read. A naive heroine who turns totally bad ass. Cliffhangers! Twists! More twists! The best.

slightly dangerous
Slighty Dangerous by Mary Balogh

All of London is abuzz over the imminent arrival of Wulfric Bedwyn, the reclusive, cold-as-ice Duke of Bewcastle, at the most glittering social event of the season. Some whisper of a tragic love affair. Others say he is so aloof and passionless that not even the greatest beauty could capture his attention.

But on this dazzling afternoon, one woman did catch the duke’s eye—and she was the only female in the room who wasn’t even trying. Christine Derrick is intrigued by the handsome duke…all the more so when he invites her to become his mistress.

What red-blooded woman wouldn’t enjoy a tumble in the bedsheets with a consummate lover—with no strings and no questions asked. An infuriating lady with very definite views on men, morals, and marriage, Christine confounds Wulfric at every turn. Yet even as the lone wolf of the Bedwyn clan vows to seduce her any way he can, something strange and wonderful is happening. Now for a man who thought he’d never lose his heart, nothing less than love will do.

With her trademark wit, riveting storytelling, and sizzling sexual sparks, Mary Balogh once again brings together two polar opposites: an irresistible, high-and-mighty aristocrat and the impulsive, pleasure-loving woman who shows him what true passion is all about. A man and a woman so wrong for each other, it can result only in the perfect match.

The final book in her Bedwyn series, they can be read as stand alones but I enjoyed all of the Bedwyn siblings. Wulfric is featured in this book, and oh did I love him. Quiet, intense, the head of the family. So cold and aloof – but then he meets Christine and his frozen little heart starts to grow. It’s a quiet romance that suits him perfectly. I think it’s about time I reread this one.

motorcycle man
Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley

Get ready to ride . . .

Tyra Masters has had enough drama to last a lifetime. Now, she’s back on track and looking forward to her new, quiet life. Until she meets the man of her dreams. The tattooed, muscled biker plies her with tequila-and the best sex of her life. She knows it isn’t the tequila and hot sex talking. He’s the kind of man she’s always wanted. Unfortunately, he’s also her new boss . . .

Kane “Tack” Allen has a rule. He doesn’t employ someone he’s slept with. So when he learns he spent last night in bed with his new office manager, he quickly fires Tyra. Yet when Tyra stands up to him and fights for her job, Tack is intrigued. He tells her she can keep her job on one condition: no more sex. Ever. But as things heat up between them, Tack finds that he’ll be the one breaking all the rules…

Tack stole my heart – at first I thought he was the biggest jerk but by the end I about swooned off my bed. He’s still a jerk, but his devotion and love for Tyra knows no bounds. I always have a blast reading Kristen Ashley books, and Tack and Tyra will always be my favorite. I would read another 1,000 pages about them easily.

Rowena: Thanks to Mandi for sharing the books that have resonated with her enough that she wants us all to read them as well. If you want more goodness from Mandi, please stop by her blog Smexy Books and say hey.

Five Books Everyone Should Read: Author Samantha Young

Posted November 1, 2015 by Holly in Features | 2 Comments

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

Today we have contemporary New Adult and romance author Samantha Young here to share her list of five. I adore Young’s books and I think her list is well-rounded.Samantha Young

The Knife of Never Letting Go
1. The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness.

The riveting Chaos Walking trilogy by two-time Carnegie Medalist Patrick Ness, reissued with compelling new covers — and a bonus short story in each book.

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

The unique narrative and overall writing style, young hero and heroine Todd and Viola, the worldbuilding… I could go on and on about the many reasons everyone should read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. The book is as beautiful as its title. Even if it wasn’t packed full of originality and exceptional style, TKNLG would be a winner because of its characters. They are characters you fall in love with and root for throughout the book, they develop and grow up during book one and the trilogy overall, and you feel like you’ve lived months, years even, with them in the course of three books. Gripping, thought-provoking and extraordinary—one of my favourite novels of all time.

Archer's Voice
2. Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan.

A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling book. Archer’s Voice is a full-length, standalone romance.

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer’s Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.

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

One word: Beautiful. Mia Sheridan’s Archer’s Voice is hauntingly lovely. It’s a romance for the ages with a carefully crafted hero and heroine that truly touched me. There aren’t many romances out there with swoon-worthy mute heroes with epically tragic backstories and even if there were I’m sure Archer would still stand out strong among them. He’s one of the most well-drawn romantic heroes ever and one of my favourites. If you want a book to get lost in for hours, this is definitely the one.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone
3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Epic. Imaginative. Did I say EPIC?? Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor is one of my favourite modern fantasy novels ever. Vivid, luscious world-building and a kick-ass blue-haired heroine are just two of the reasons to read this book. Every character, every location, every piece of dialogue and the stunningly crafted original mythology draw you into the pages. Taylor is an incredibly vibrant writer and this is my go-to for fantasy! Every fantasy fan should have this on their favourites shelf.

Unholy Ghosts
4. Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane.


The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

Gritty, darkly humorous, fantastical and yet incredibly real, Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane is one of the most truly original urban fantasy/dystopian series I’ve ever come across. Ghosts, drug dealers, drug enforcers, murderers, thieves and fraudsters, the world of the downside ghosts has it all… including Chess, church witch, drug addict and heroine extraordinaire. Expect the unexpected with this book. It’s fast-paced, filled with action, chemistry and the most perfectly flawed heroine in adult UF dystopian (and that makes her my favourite)! I adore this series and everyone should read it so we can fangirl together.

the hooker and the hermit
5. The Hooker and the Hermit by LH Cosway and Penny Reid

New York’s Finest
Blogging as *The Socialmedialite*
April 22
LADIES AND GENTS! I have an announcement!
You know that guy I featured on my blog a few months ago? The really, really hot Irish rugby player who plays the position of ‘hooker’ in the RLI (Rugby League International)? The one with the anger management issues, the body of a gladiator and the face of a movie star? The one with the questionable fashion choices leading me to ask whether he was the lovechild of a leprechaun and a hobbit? Ronan Fitzpatrick? Yeah, that guy. Well, I have a confession to make…

Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much.

Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite…

When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together.
What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is?

The Hooker and the Hermit is a collaboration between authors L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid, is a full length 110k word novel, and is a standalone.

Take two funny, witty, smart romance writers and this is what you get: a funny, witty, smart, sexy contemporary romance. Irish author LH Cosway and American author Penny Reid are individually two of my favourite contemporary romance writers and I first discovered them when I came across The Hooker and the Hermit. The hilarious title caught my eye and then I was drawn in by the seamless dual POVs (the hero is written by LH and the heroine by Penny Reid)

About Samantha Young:

Samantha Young is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author from Scotland. She’s been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Author and Best Romance for her international bestselling novel ON DUBLIN STREET. ON DUBLIN STREET is Samantha’s first adult contemporary romance series and has been sold in twenty eight countries.

Check out her latest release:

One Kings Way (An On Dublin Street Novel)

One Kings Way

The New York Times bestselling author of On Dublin Street returns to the bar where it all began with Braden and Joss for a white-hot new novella full of passion and drama.

When he’s not working at the club, Craig Lanaghan looks out for his mother and little sisters. So when it comes to women, all he wants is a good time. But once Rain Alexander walks into his life, there’s no denying that this woman could be worth much more than a one-night stand….

Rain’s lifelong regret is having left her sister Darcy alone years ago with a guardian who turned out to be abusive. So when Darcy’s boyfriend publicly humiliates her in a cruel way, Rain’s overprotective instincts kick in and she follows him to Club 39—where she meets a guy who just might be her perfect match.

The chemistry between Rain and Craig is explosive, but Rain is out for revenge, and refuses to be sidetracked by flirtation. As things between them heat up, she’ll have to make a heartbreaking choice between giving in to the man of her dreams or putting her sister’s happiness first….