Tag: Best Reads

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?

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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?

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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?

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Best of 2014: The Heroines

Posted January 5, 2015 by Rowena in Features | 14 Comments

best of 2014 heroines

Rowena: I read about some pretty kick ass heroines in 2014. Some were grown women and some were teenagers or young adults just starting their lives. The one thing that they all had in common were, I loved them to pieces.

  1. Natalie Clayton from The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane. Natalie was an independent woman that I really enjoyed getting to know. I thought she was refreshingly real and just freaking awesome. I loved seeing her fall in love with Paddy and I really loved seeing her make room for him in her life. She was a very relatable character, one that I came to love.

  2. Hazel Grace Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Hazel Grace was the YA protagonist that I really loved. Her story was heartbreaking and it was fun but what made her stand out from the rest of the heroines over the year was her story. She’s a cancer kid who fell in love with another cancer kid and she really lived life to its fullest with Augustus. She wasn’t one of those YA heroines that you can’t for the life of you figure out why the love interests likes them so much. She was sarcastic, witty and fun. A lot of things that even she didn’t think she was. I loved her.

  3. Clio Whitmore from Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare. Clio Whitmore was another fantastic heroine that I loved in 2014. She was known as Lady Waitmore because her fiance took his sweet ass time coming home to get married. Instead of sulking like a helpless little ninny, Clio inherits a castle and gets to work making plans for her future. I loved the way that she tackled life and the way she fell in love with Rafe. She was fierce, strong and I loved her to pieces.

  4. Scarlet Crowley from The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen. Scarlet’s story was an interesting one. It was a story that made me think. It made me take stock of the kind of person I am and the kind of mother I am. Scarlet was completely innocent in everything that happened in her life and she was extremely strong to endure what she went through. I closed her book with such admiration for her as a person because she didn’t let what happened to her turn her into a bitter and awful person. She came out of her situation as an amazing young woman and I like her a whole bunch.

  5. Iris Smythe-Smith from The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn. Iris was always my favorite Smythe-Smith cousin. She was sarcastic and witty in the other books and I had such high hopes for her book. I thought she was just as amazing in her story and my heart really went out to her. Her story wasn’t an easy one to get through because of the things that happened to her but I really, really liked Iris as a person, as a heroine and I thought she was one of the most exceptional heroines of 2014.

Honorable Mentions: Sophie Wells from The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell, Lady Georgianna from Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean and Jessie from Promise Me This by Christina Lee. All three of these ladies were pretty fantastic. I couldn’t imagine coming out of the situation that Sophie found herself in with her first marriage and Chase was a straight up boss. Jessie was just great. I liked that she was just so normal and not bogged down with a bad childhood, dark background and blah blah blah.

Holly: Every year, this is the category I struggle with the most. I tend to be really hard on heroines. I have high expectations for them and, more often than not, end up disappointed. Thankfully we’re seeing a shift in how women are written in romance novels. This year I had a better selection of strong, independent women to choose from.

  1. Caroline Mendoza from Count on Me by Lauren Dane. She was strong, independent and dedicated to her cause. Yet she also has vulnerabilities, which made her seem more real. I would love to sit down and have a beer with her.

2. Andie Bennett from Make-Believe Wedding by Sarah Mayberry. She was a complete tomboy who worked as an electrician, cursed more than her male counterparts and wasn’t afraid to be herself. I loved her.

3. Jessie from Promise Me This by Christina Lee. Jessie is another heroine who was comfortable with herself. She didn’t have a problem owning her issues. I wish more people in real life were as self-aware.

  1. Zenobia Fox from The Kraken King by Meljean Brook. She spent most of her life in one small town, yet thirsts for adventure. She was smart, had common sense and wasn’t afraid to do whatever she needed to survive.

5. Aubrey Wellington from Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis. She was on a journey of self-discovery and really grew throughout the novel. I liked how quick she was to own her mistakes and how willing she was to right past wrongs.

Were there heroines who stood out for you in 2014?


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Best of 2013: The Authors.

Posted February 2, 2014 by Rowena in Features | 4 Comments

(I have no idea how we missed posting this at the beginning of January. Better late than never?)

Best of 2013

Rowena: I have my favorite authors who have never let me down but this year, I was also introduced to some authors that I have seriously come to love.

  1. Julie James
  2. Jill Shalvis
  3. Jessica Sorensen
  4. Samantha Young
  5. Tessa Dare

Honorable Mentions: Sarah MacLean, Cora Carmack and Kristen Ashley.  Each of these authors have written some winners for me this year and they definitely deserve to be mentioned.

Holly: I made an effort to read more new-t0-me authors this year. As a result I found some new favorites. Of course, I still love many of my old favorites.

  1. Samantha Young
  2. Kristen Ashley
  3. Thea Harrison
  4. Lauren Dane
  5. Meljean Brook

Honorable mentions or authors I plan to watch in 2014: Jessica Scott, Jennifer Ashley, Jessica Clare, Tammara Weber and Christina Lee.  Clare, Weber and Lee are all authors I discovered this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to offer with their next releases.

Which authors made your favorites list this year?

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