Tag: Best of 2014

Best of 2014: The Books

Posted January 9, 2015 by Rowena in Features | 8 Comments

best of 2014_books

Rowena: I read a lot of fantastic books this year so picking just five of them as my top favorites was really hard but I did it and here’s my list.

  1. The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen. This book did everything to me. It made me laugh, happy sigh, cry and then ugly cry. When Bridger finds out that his Mom died and what happened to Lucy? My heart broke in a thousand pieces and I didn’t think I’d ever be the same again but boy did I close that book with a big ol’ happy smile on my face. I loved it.

  2. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. I couldn’t wait for this book to come out and even when I was scared that it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype that I gave it in my head, I was still anxious for it. Stephanie Perkins delivered another outstanding story with this one. I LOVED this book. I loved Josh. I loved Isla. I loved Kyle. I loved everything about this. Just flat out loved it.

  3. Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh. Nalini Singh knows how to write a damn good story. She brought Fox and Molly’s story to life and I wanted to live with them and BE them. Fox was a freaking fox and I wanted to lick him up. I absolutely loved this book and cannot wait for more from this series. Love, love, loved it!

  4. It Happened One Wedding by Julie James. It’s not a surprise that Julie James wrote another winner for me. Her books just do it for me. I love her stuff and every year her books just keep getting better and better. I don’t ever want to stop reading her books. So Julie James, please don’t ever stop writing.

  5. The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kelly Oram. This was another fantastic book that I read with Ames. It took me no time at all to get this book read because I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I loved the characters, especially Grayson. This book was so fun and so cute that I feel a re-read coming on. I adored this one to pieces.

Honorable Mentions: The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan, All Broke Down by Cora Carmack and Before You Break by Christina Lee.

Holly: It’s so hard narrowing these down every year.

  1. The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen. This book made me ugly cry. It was the only book I read all year that did that. Bridger and Lucy, his baby sister, really got to me. I just adored them. And Scarlet’s family drama really made me think. Bowen is definitely an author I’ll be looking for in 2015.

2. Count on Me by Lauren Dane. Dane is an author who rarely writes a book I don’t love. This one really stood out, though. I loved how strong and fierce Caroline was and how Royal took such care with her.

3. The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre. This book really grabbed me. Max was such an awesome hero, and Courtney was a great, unconventional heroine.

  1. Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh. The first time I read this, I liked it but didn’t love it. The second time I completely devoured it. It definitely stands out as one of my favorites of the year.

  2. Make-Believe Wedding by Sarah Mayberry. This was such a cute story. I really loved that the heroine was so nontraditional.

  3. Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs. I’m adding a 6th entry for a book, which is cheating a bit, but I figure I can get away with it since it doesn’t release until 2015. This is the next installment in the Alpha and Omega series featuring Anna and Charles. It’s my favorite book by Briggs to date, across all her series’. The plot was well executed and the relationship development between Charles and Anna was extremely well done. Not to mention the personal growth on both sides. (R: What a freaking cheater!!)

Honorable Mentions: Tempting the Player by Kat Latham. Taken with You by Shannon Stacey. Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha Young. The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan.

What were your favorite books of 2014? Can you narrow it down to 5(ish)?

Tagged: , , , , , ,

Worst of 2014: The Books

Posted January 9, 2015 by Rowena in Features | 8 Comments

worst of 2014_books

Rowena: I read a lot of great books this year, but I also read some duds. Here are the books that made my not so best list of 2014.

  1. An Outlaw in Wonderland by Lori Austin. I read this book for a buddy review with Ames but I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. The whole thing started off boring and by day 3 of trying to force myself to read it, I threw in the towel.

  2. Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins. This book pissed me off. Colleen got on my nerves, Lucas’ Aunt and Uncle got on my nerves and so did Lucas. I hated that Colleen got diarrhea of the mouth every time Lucas was in the same space as her and I hated that Lucas never told his Aunt and his Uncle to shove it. I hated the games that Colleen played to get Paulie and Bryce together and then as if that wasn’t enough, we find out some dirty crap went down between Colleen and Bryce? Ugh, this whole book just didn’t work for me. At all.

  3. Irresistible Force by D.D. Ayres. Every time I start a Romantic Suspense, I hope and pray that stupid shenanigans don’t go down. The kind of shenanigans that make me want to roll my eyes down the street. You know, the whole we’re fleeing for our lives because the bad guys are shooting at us and trying to kill us but I can’t stop thinking about the heroine’s ass in those jeans. Let me stop dodging bullets so that I can push the heroine up against the wall and bang her real quick. That happened in this book and I wanted to throw my iPad at the wall. On top of that, I got a good chunk into the book and still didn’t care about either the hero or the heroine.

  4. Before We Fall by Courtney Cole. I couldn’t get into this book. I’m not even sure why. I just kept trying to get into the story and then I’d get thrown out of the story because stupid crap kept happening until finally, I just quit. I thought Dom was such a dick in the beginning and after a while, I just stopped caring.

  5. I’ve Fallen and There’s a Tentacle in My Butt by Edward Naughty. I have no words for this book and I’m not even going to explain why I read this book…just know that I hated it. A lot. Probably the most of all the books I hated this year.

Holly: I still can’t believe Rowena read I’ve Fallen and There’s a Tentacle in My Butt. Hilarious. I read some really great books this year, but most of them were just okay. There were a few that definitely made my “worst of” list, though.

  1. Rhett by J.S. Cooper. Y’all, this book was  a trainwreck. The writing was choppy,  editing was terrible, the characters were a hot mess and the plot made zero sense. Not to mention the misogyny, double standards and plain old wtfery.

  2. Meeting Trouble by Emme Rollins. The premise was good, but the lack of maturity on the part of the heroine, poor editing and blatant disregard for the merits of safe-sex killed it.

  3. Torn by K.A. Robinson. The heroine was an immature baby who whined a lot and made terrible decisions, and the hero was controlling and acted the jerk more often than not.

  4. Against the Cage by Sydney Halston. I wanted to like this book, but the characters all read like teenagers, even though they were all established adults in their (near) 30’s. The lack of communication, constant giggling and avoidance tactics used by all parties drove me crazy.

  5. The Promise by Kristen Ashley. This wasn’t the worst book I read in 2014, but it was the one that disappointed me the most. I’d been waiting years for Benny and Frankie’s book, and I was severely disappointed. Benny acted like an inconsiderate jerk and Frankie allowed herself to be walked all over. I really expected more.

There you have it, our worst reads from 2014. Have any wallbangers you want to share? 

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best of 2014: The Authors

Posted January 8, 2015 by Rowena in Features | 5 Comments

best of 2014_authors

Rowena: I realized that while I was picking my favorite authors of the year that I read a LOT of contemporary books. Contemporary romance, YA, NA – I read a whole lot of all of that. So one of my goals in the new year is to read more genres outside of my comfort zone. I’m pretty sure that I’m missing out on a whole lot of goodies.

  1. Mhairi McFarlane. I read three books by McFarlane this year and I’m really impressed. I really enjoyed all of her books and am looking forward to reading more from her in the new year.

  2. Kristen Callihan. I’ve only read one book by this author but it was so damn good that I’m anxious for more. I feel like singing So Anxious by Genuwine to all of her books.

  3. Sarina Bowen. I went through every single book in The Ivy Years series just a couple of weeks ago and I’m still not over them. I loved that series and in turn, came to really love the author. I can’t wait for more from this series and from this author.

  4. Jill Shalvis. Jill Shalvis is like a staple on my favorite authors. She writes like crazy and entertains me with every single book. I adore her books and I was so sad to say goodbye to the Lucky Harbor series. I’m looking forward to what’s next though.

  5. Christina Lee. Christina Lee is one of the newer to me authors that I came to love in 2014. She continually impresses me with each of her books and I’m still sighing all over the damn place at Nate and Jessie’s first love scene in Promise Me This. Dammmmnnnn Nate. I can’t wait to see what she brings in 2015.

Honorable Mentions: Julie James, Stephanie Perkins, Jen Frederick. I have read and loved books by each of these authors this year and I’m pretty stoked to read more from them in the new year. I couldn’t find a picture of Jen Frederick online but it’s all good…she gave us Bo Randolph. swoon

Holly: Like Rowena, I also read a lot of contemporary romance. I finally started to burn out on them toward the end of the year, so I’ll be focusing more on PNR in early 2015.

  1. Kristen Ashley. I don’t love every single book I read by Ashley, but I get sucked into them regardless. She was the author I re-read the most in 2014.

  2. Lauren Dane. She’s one of the few authors I pick up knowing I’ll love her book no matter what. Some I love more than others, but I can’t think of a Dane novel I haven’t liked.

  3. Patricia Briggs. I came late to Briggs’ novels, but I adore her Alpha and Omega and Mercy Thompson books.

  4. Nalini Singh. I was already a huge fan of Singh’s paranormals, but her switch back to contemporary romance reminded me what a well-rounded author she is.

5. Christina Lee. Lee was a new find for me in 2013 and she’s consistently put out fabulous, emotionally engaging reads.

Honorable mentions go to: Jill Shalvis , Meljean Brook and Thea Harrison. All three are auto-buy authors for me who never fail to deliver.

Authors I’m going to be keeping an eye on in 2015 include: Sarina Bowen, Colleen Hoover, Kat Latham and Jen Frederick. I read books I enjoyed by all three authors (Bowen even made it into my top books of 2014).

Who were your favorite authors of 2014? Did you find any new authors to love?

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Best of 2014: The Series

Posted January 7, 2015 by Rowena in Features | 27 Comments

best of 2014_series

Rowena: There were a lot of fantastic series introduced to me this year and some of my favorite authors continued or ended some of my favorite series. Here are my favorites of the year.

  1. Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis. I adored this series and was sad to say good bye to the town and characters that I’ve loved year in and year out for the past few years. I’m going to miss these guys so much! Shalvis really cranked the Lucky Harbor books out this year and each book entertained the socks right off me like only Shalvis can do. If you haven’t read this series, you should fix that because how can you not know who Tanner, Sam and Cole are? They’re awesome!

  2. The Ivy Years series by Sarina Bowen. I read this series in less than a week and toward the end of the year but holy crap did I love the heck out of these books. Every single one. There were a couple of things that broke my heart (basketball related things) but other than that, I adored this series. I’m SO looking forward to more from this series and from this author. She’s freaking rad.

  3. Rusk University series by Cora Carmack. Cora Carmack has introduced another winner of a series for me. She did a remarkable job of redeeming Silas’ character in All Broke Down because I thought he was a douche in All Lined Up and then his book came out and I wasn’t excited at all but then I thought it’s a Cora Carmack, she’ll fix things…and she did. I cannot wait for more from this series.

  4. On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young. This year we got Cole’s book and it was another winner for me. I loved Cole and thought his book was fanfreakingtastic. Young delivers the goods with this series and every time I finish a book, I want another one. I’m so excited for Logan’s book.

  5. Between Breaths series by Christina Lee. Holy cow this is a good series. It’s one of my favorite series of the year. I loved each book and cannot wait for more. I’m pretty anxious for anything Christina Lee and am so thankful to Holly for pimping this series out to me. I can’t get enough of these characters and their stories.

Honorable Mentions: FBI/U.S. Attorney’s series by Julie James, Wait for You series by J. Lynn and the Castles Ever After series by Tessa Dare.

Holly: There were so many good series that started and ended in 2014, it’s hard to narrow them down.

  1. The Kowalski Family by Shannon Stacey. This family has become near and dear to me over the years. I’m sad to see the  end of them, but so glad I got to journey with them along the way.

  2. The Ivy Years by Sarina Bowen. This was a new-to-me author and series this year. I really loved the premise and Bowen’s writing. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

  3. Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis. Man, there have been some truly fabulous books that came out of this series. Though I expect to see great things from the new directions she goes in, I’m so sorry to see the end of this series. Lucky Harbor has become like a second home to me over the years. The inhabitants will always have a special place in my heart.

  4. On Dublin Street by Samantha Young. The books is this series have been hit and miss for me, but I can’t deny they’re compelling reads I end up falling into.

  5. Rock Kiss by Nalini Singh. I used to read Singh’s contemporary category romances years ago and I was very pleased to see her go back to her roots. The series is early yet, but I’m already hooked.

Honorable mentions: Petal, Georgia by Lauren Dane. Between Breaths by Christina Lee. Stage Dive by Kylie Scott.

What were the best series you read in 2014?

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Best of 2014: The Heroes

Posted January 6, 2015 by Rowena in Features | 13 Comments

best of 2014_heroes

Rowena: This is always my favorite category of the year. I mean, how can it not be with all of the hot guys we read about every year? It was pretty easy for me to choose my favorite heroes of the year which surprised me.

  1. Bo Randolph from Unspoken by Jen Frederick. There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe how much I love this guy. He was everything that I hoped he would be, maybe more. I loved the fierceness of his love for Ann Marie and his protectiveness toward her made me swoon all over the place where he was involved. He was such a huge sweetheart that was hella good in the sack and really, you can’t go wrong with that guy. I just loved everything about Bo. Love, love, love him!

  2. Drew Baylor from The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan. Drew Baylor won me over the minute we got into his head and he said, “I’m not going to say that it was love at first sight. No, it was more like, oh, hell-yes-please, I’ll have that. With a helping of right-the-fuck-now on the side.” He said things like this and getting to know him was such a freaking treat that I ate up every single scene with him in the book. The way he felt about Anna and the fumbling he did in the beginning where she was concerned made me fall more and more in love with him. He was one of my favorite heroes of 2014 because I couldn’t get enough of him.

  3. Adam Hartley from The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen. Sarina Bowen is probably my favorite new to me author of 2014 and my love for her writing started with the introduction of Adam Hartley. He was one of those characters that came to life in the story and my love for him was real. He was so real to me. He drove me crazy when Stacia returned from abroad but I got over my annoyance with him because I loved him as a person. He wasn’t perfect but I loved that about it. I loved that he was hobbling around and humbling himself at the same time and I absolutely adored the way that he loved Corey. Loved him!

  4. Bridger McCaulley from The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen. Bridger’s story broke my heart. Right from the very beginning I adored Bridger. I loved the relationship he had with his little sister Lucy. I loved the love he came to feel for Scarlett and I absolutely adored him for the lengths in which he went to protect those near to him. His wasn’t an easy life and it would have been understandable for him to be bitter and mad at the world but Bridger didn’t have time for that. He was much too busy keeping secrets, raising his younger sister and trying to keep his grades up in school. Bridger’s story made me cry buckets and he stayed with me long after his story ended because dammit, I loved the hell out of him.

  5. Daniel Quinn from Before You Break by Christina Lee. When we first met Quinn in All of Me, I had no idea that I would come to love him as much as I did by the time I read his book. I was completely unprepared for how much I’d love his book and how much I’d love him. I loved seeing him grow over the course of his book and I loved seeing the man that he grew up to be. I loved the chemistry he had with Ella and their phone conversations. My heart completely went out to him and by the time his book ended, I was sad because I wasn’t ready to let him go. LOVED HIM!

Honorable Mentions: Tanner Riggs from One in a Million by Jill Shalvis, Max Cooper from The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre and Zachary Fox from Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh. All three of these guys made me all swoony in one way or another. They made my 2014 just a little bit better. 🙂 I just noticed that my top 5 heroes of the year are all from NA books, does that make me a Cougar? Haha.

Holly: I didn’t have trouble picking my favorite heroes of the year, but I sure did  have trouble narrowing them down to five.

  1. Drew Baylor from The Hookup by Kristen Callihan. Drew was refreshing in that he wasn’t adverse to finding true love. He wasn’t necessarily looking for it when it happened, but he didn’t back away from it once it did. I loved how devoted to Anna be was, and how he fumbled with her. I also loved seeing his vulnerable side. He wasn’t perfect, and that just made him more attractive.

  2. Max from Falling for Max by Shannon Stacey. Max is another unconventional hero. He’s shy, sweet, mildly OCD and unlike any hero I’ve read before him. He was nerdy and adorable, and I just wanted to wrap him up and put him in my pocket.

  3. Bridger McCaully from The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen. Bridger. Oh, Bridger. I don’t even know where to start with this guy. He was strong, loyal, funny and unafraid to stand up for what he believed was right, or to take care of the people he loved. His desire to care for his baby sister and his willingness to do whatever he needed to give her the best life possible really touched me. I adored him.

  4. Zachary Fox from Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh. Fox was bold, passionate, a little bit wild and sexy as hell. He’s possessive and jealous, but also tender and caring. If you’re looking for an alpha hero, he’s the one.

  5. Max from The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre. Max really surprised me. He started out as such a bad boy – leather jacket and motorcycle included – but he turned out to be so much more than a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He pulled himself up and out of a poor, rough beginning and was working hard to make something of himself. He wasn’t afraid to go after what he wanted, or to make himself vulnerable. I loved how quick he was to admit his feelings and how eager to work on his relationship. I admired how he stuck to his convictions and didn’t let anyone walk all over him, the heroine included.

Honorable Mentions go to: Sam Brody from It’s in His Kiss by Jill ShalvisDavid from Rock Courtship by Nalini SinghXavier del Torro from Night’s Honor by Thea Harrison

Who were your favorite heroes from 2014? Can you narrow them down to five?

Tagged: , , , , , , ,