2017 is finally here, which means that December is over and this book challenge with it. It’s been fun, although I had to catch up a couple times due to life getting in the way, and it gave me a reason to revisit all the books I’ve read during the year. 2016 has been such a peculiar year for me. I spent the first 5 months in Denmark on an exchange program and reading took the backburner, other adventures becoming the priority. I have a very hazy recollection of when I read what or what certain books were even about during those 5 month. Then in September my reading life took another twist as I got more serious about connecting with other readers/authors, leaving more conscious reviews, and finally in October starting this blog. It’s definitely been an eventful year and I couldn’t had been happier about the way it turned out reading-wise.
This challenge was created by @AnnReads for Bookstagram.
This is my recap. (Long post alert!!!)
First read of the year:
Shortest book I read:
Since it said book and not novella, I chose the shortest book that I didn’t consider a novella. Don’t know exactly how it’s officially classified, but I’m counting it as a book. Gotta say I loved Ellie and Adam’s story even more than Joss and Braden
New favorite authors
There were so many other authors deserving of the mention: K. Webster, Erin Watt, etc. But these four are the ones that truly stood out, and since I’m still in the exploring phase of their work, I have many wonderful books written by these incredible ladies to look forward to in the near future.
So… I’d say these five books where the ones that surprised me the most this year. Not saying I didn’t have high expectations, because they all have high ratings on GR and amazing reviews, but I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting to love them as much as I did.
- “This is War, Baby” by K. Webster was my first plunge in Dark Romance. Gotta say, when I go Dark, I really go Dark (and will never eat cucumbers again in my whole life).
- “An Exaltation of Larks” by Suanne Laqueur is undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best book I’ve read this year, but it doesn’t fit any of my safe go-to labels, hence my surprise when I actually discovered how much I was enjoying it.
- I went into “Heart-Shaped” by Tracey Garvis-Graves Hack looking for a fun, quick read and came out with my heart half shredded and half gooey.
- Last, but not least, the “Royals” trilogy by Erin Watt is some kind of mix between YA and NA with some suspense thrown in the mix. YA and I are not on the very best of terms lately, so before diving in I was a wee bit wary it would fall short and I would end up being in the minority. It didn’t and I wasn’t.
Best sequel you read
I’ve made no secret of my love for Miss Hebert’s style and characterization. In my eyes, that woman can do no wrong. Trent and Drew (or Frat Boy and Forrester <3) are one of my favorite couples by her, second only to Romeo and Rimmel, and if I definitely enjoyed #Junkie, #Rev blew me away. Here, we finally see their relationship growing, no more holding back, no more doubts or blurred lines. The lines have been completely obliterated, and I couldn’t had been happier to finally see them as an item.
New fav female characters
Ella Miranda Bree Chelsea
Baylee Soraya Kate Paradise
The definition “Diverse Book” is quite hazy to me, since I haven’t found a proper one. I gather it has to do with minority, namely sexual orientation and ethnicity. Thus I based my choices on these two factors.
Drew and Trent, the main characters of #Junkie are two men, so yep, MM. A finely written, turned me into a puddle me on the floor, MM romance. I need a re-read. Pronto!
Same thing goes for Him.
An Exaltation of Larks is a bit more complicated. One of the main characters comes from Chile, while another comes from a Dominican family. This last character is also “bi-curious”, as he defines himself, so I guess this book checks both boxes.
Lastly, “The Game of Sexes.” Here we find an hermaphrodite character, Sirocco and if there’s a book I’d classify as “diverse” in every sense, this would be it.
Books I didn’t finish
I remember it used to be unheard of me to DNF a book during my first years as a bookworm, especially since my reading habit was so dependent on paperbacks. Now, with e-books and ARCs falling from left and right begging to be read, I find myself more and more inclined to skim or DNF if the novel doesn’t hold my interest. I still try to soldier through and, if it’s an ARC, I will read it. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to finish these six books. Why?
City of Sin: I skimmed through it, at least the last third. I’d come to hate the H and was seriously annoyed with the spineless h.
The Wall of Winnipeg and Me: highly recommended, I couldn’t bring myself to love the H, which IMO was the definition of an asshole. Also, the narration was so slow I got easily distracted and bored.
Outlander: I admit at reading it (or trying to) after watching the tv show, which I adored. For how great the style was, I couldn’t feel a connection to the characters and the Scottish slang didn’t help matters. It all seemed too distant for me to get lost in their world.
Woman on the Run: I’d waited ages to read this book, thinking it would be a hit given how I love the “on the run” theme. The style was better than average, but the story wasn’t what I was looking for.
My Sweetest Escape: after loving the first instalment in the series, I came into this with high expectations, all of which crumbled to the ground as I was confronted with childish, annoying MCs with zero chemistry.
Magic Bites: please, don’t kill me for this. I thought this series would be similar to the Night Huntress series by Frost, which is an absolute favorite of mine, but I saw very little romance and too much world-building. I love myself some PNR, but the R part needs to be preponderant for me to thoroughly enjoy it, so Kate Daniels was a miss.
Best character development
Everyone Archer Liz & Tristan
Sela Hannah War
In An Exaltation of Larks, we follow the path of many characters through the decades. We see their struggles and also the people they become because of them. I think this book is the epitome of character development.
Archer goes from being a recluse to a family man and pillar of society.
In The Air He Breathes, it is shown the journey back to life of two people who’ve lost their spouses and are trying to move forward in life. This journey is not devoid of grief and drama, so that once the HEA comes around, they are truly changed characters.
I also included Sugar Daddy because, even if I didn’t love it, I appreciated beyond measure how Sela decided not to act on her revenge anymore after she and Beck got serious. She starts the book as a desperate, driven woman whose only goal in life is killing her rapist to a character who’s healing and trying to move on with her life.
This Isn’t Over, Baby is practically a book about the train-wreck that is Hannah spiraling down and giving in to her crazy more and more as the chapters fly by.
Lastly, I loved how War, instead, started as a broken, obsessed character and found its way back to, if not sanity, a more serene state of mind. His development was probably one of the most blatant.
New favorite friendships
Trent & Rimmel Easton & Ella Drew & Trent
Damien & Chelsea Caroline & Mimi & Sophia
These choices need a bit of explanation, because I kind of mixed love and friendship with a couple of them.
1- #Bae, by Cambria Hebert. Rimmel and Trent haven’t had many chances in the past books to develop a meaningful friendship, while in this last instalment, with Trent helping Rimmel getting away from the paparazzi and his overall protectiveness, they grow tight. It was so nice, because they’re quite a match: both kind, quiet people that are anyway fiercely protective of their family.
2- Broken Prince, by Erin Watt. It’s no secret that in book one all the Royal boys loathed Ella. Still, in Broken Prince self-destructive, arrogant but funny and vulnerable Easton finds an ally and a friend in Ella. It was such an odd pairing, yet I loved seeing how he would rely on her and how she would slowly start to trust him more and more. It was a gradual build-up that surprised me in the end.
3- #Junkie, by Cambria Hebert. Now, here an explanation is needed. Trent and Drew are the couple featured in the book. But in this first novel, their relationship is still highly bound to their friendship. In truth, it’s not correct to say that they move from friendship to love. Their first relationship is rather the foundation of everything romantic they build afterwards and if you’ve read the book you noticed how much they know about the other. It’s the kind of knowledge you only acquire with a sincere friendship.
4- Neighbor Dearest, by Penelope Ward. During the first half of the book, Chelsea and Damien are just friends and even though you can tell they want to jump each other’s bones, they don’t do anything about it. I liked this part of the book because of their budding friendship, the late nights together talking, the way Damien helped her when she didn’t know who to ask for a favor, etc. I know in hindsight it’s all to be chalked up to their not-so-friendly feelings, but I like to think of their initial friendship as a spring that allowed them to overcome the obstacles that kept them from being together.
5 – Last Call, by Alice Clayton. This novella is the conclusion of Simon and Caroline’s story, that first started in Wallbanger. Anyway, in everyone of these books, one amazing side-dish of exhilaration was always delivered by side characters. Honestly, I named the girls, but also the boys could have been easy nominees. Their whole gang of friends is so fun and over the top it had me laughing to tears.
Book that deserves more attention
This book was a surprise. It was a fun romance with a male character that is as brilliant as he is a jerk, at least at first. It was nice to see him butt heads with the heroine and eventually warm up to the her, a very independent, confident woman who won’t take any of his shit.
Also, he’s a computer genius and video-games programmer. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a thing for guys who know their way around a computer, at least in books Hackers are the new football players.
Most Read Genre
I’m going out on a limb here and say Contemporary Romance. If you’d asked me this question one year ago I would have probably said New Adult, and I’m still a big fan, but one way or the other, it’s actually quite rare for me to pick up a NA book nowadays. Shame on me! There are so many NA series I need to finish, so many college boys to still fall in love with. Alas, I hope 2017 will bring new balance in my reading habits.
Also, PNR used to be my “first and foremost” in the past. My roots are in PNR, but unfortunately, while I’m willing to go in blind for so many contemporary books, I’m way pickier when it comes to PNR. That’s why as of now the only PNR I read is the trusty brand of authors I’ve followed and loved for years.
Best Conclusion to a Series
The awful moment you realize you didn’t really read a full series and barely finished any of the old ones. Sad times, people. Truly sad times. Anyway, I managed to find two amazing conclusions to a series among those in my dismal list. N. #1 is everything a true romance fan could want. #Bae by Cambria Hebert was a sweet, emotional ride featuring my favorite couple in the hashtag series, Romeo and Rimmel. It was a full-length novel focusing on what happens after the HEA. It’s about life’s curveballs and how they’re not always kittens with rainbows drawn on them. It’s about struggles and the power of love, not of the flighty kind, but the type that when the ride gets bumpy, buckles up and holds tight. Needless to say, I didn’t think I could fall more in love with Romeo, but that’s what happened.
The second “conclusion to a series” is Outtakes from the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. This book is not a novel, or a novella. It’s a compendium of extras, cut scenes and the Sacred Graal for all of us Frost Lovers. Seeing some “behind the scenes” that got cut during editing was like finding a pirates’ bounty in your backyard. I’d read many of the scenes online when the author had shared them, but having all of them together, as well as very new long sections of “alternate versions” was truly a gift. And I am truly glad that in the final version Cat didn’t sleep with Noah or agreed to marry him!!! Still, there were so many hilarious, or heart-wrenching moments that I would have loved to see in the books, like the wedding dress shopping. Or the after S&M’s club scene (who thought that cutting that off was a good idea?), or when Bones finds out about Cat almost jumping. That scene was priceless! And do we want to talk about their Wedding? It’s one of the things fans were more excited about but then the author said it didn’t really fit in the story anymore. Well, you find it here, along with their first night together as vampire and… weird ex-half-breed-now-turned-into-even-weirder-vampire…
So yeah, I guess I should had been a better reader and dedicate more time to finishing old series instead of plunging into so many standalones or debut authors. Still, I’m quite happy with my choices for today. Two amazing reads that were easy 5 stars.
Last Read of 2016
Since studying for my exams in Jan at uni has swallowed me whole, I think the historical novel I’m currently reading will be my last book this year. I didn’t think it would be my jazz, but I’m totally digging it so far (weird, anachronistic hair-dos notwithstanding).
Book you finally read this year
I guess one of the reasons I waited for so long to start this one was bacause I knew it would be crazy good. Still, there’s a part of me that curled its nose at the whole “summer training camp” thing. I didn’t know how to feel about them re-meeting after years… and well, what I’m trying to say is that it smelled of second-chance romance, and I’m not a fan of those. Still, I could tell it would be epic. It was an inner conflict.
This book has been on my TBR list since… ever! It’s one of those books you know are going to be a light read, nice, but nothing more. Turned out the H checked all my boxes, but I was right about the story in general: it didn’t blow me away.
As a fan of the BDB series, I was told this one would curb my cravings for Ward’s world. It did, partially. It didn’t compare, but it wasn’t a total failure.
On Dublin Street. This cover has kept flashing on my GR’s feed forever but I never got around to reading it because, well, because that’s what it happens when your TBR is taller than you. I eventually read it and wasn’t really impressed. I’d thought of this book as the poster book for romance (I don’t even know why) and I didn’t enjoy it 100%. It was good, just not epic.
The first time I saw this book, it was one of GR’s giveaways. I didn’t win, but it sat on my “to-read” shelf for years. I liked the concept of getting stranded in the Amazonian rain-forest, but could never find the time to pick this one up. This year I finally did and I really loved it. The romance took a while to develop and at times I wanted to shake the heroine, but there is something intrinsically romantic about survival and sacrifices and the hope that love can give birth to even in the most arduous of conditions.
Most anticipated release of 2017
Xcor and Layla. How long have we been waiting for this one? Ages. My fingers are itching to finally touch this sacred book. Even without being a fan of Layla as a character in general, I love her dynamics with Xcor.
It’s gonna be a good one!!!!!
I already have an ARC of this one and can’t wait to read it. When I found out Kennedy and Bowen were going to write a spin-off of the Him series, I was over the moon. These two ladies sure know how to tug at my feelings and how to make me squeal with laughter.
I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for years… oh, what? That’s what really happened. Yup. So now I’m ready.
My body is ready, my heart is ready, my soul is ready.
I’m more than ready for Vlad and Leila’s last book.
Favorite read of 2016
At first I thought I’d put them in order, from the least favorite of my favorites to the bestest of the best. Then I looked at all the covers and thought I loved every single one of them for a different reason and couldn’t find it in me to discriminate. Also, they are an awful lot, and isn’t that amazing? I read 102 books this year and 15 books totally blew me away. These weren’t just 5 stars. These were books for which there should be a special button on GR, the “I want to have your book babies” button.