How do you decide your favorites of the year? I have several things I look at. First, I look at my Favorites by Month (listed in order read). Then I narrow down my Top 15 Books of the Year. Next, I wanted to find My Favorite Series of the Year — I had four favorites! And finally, I listened to a few audios this year, but none were as good as my Favorite of the Year.
The Ripple Effect series by Keri Lake (Review)
Retrieval series by Aly Martinez (Review)
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Review)
❝Life isn’t meant to be merely survived-it’s meant to be lived ❞
Girl, Wash your Face by Rachel Hollis
YOU GUYS! THIS BOOK, I can’t recommend it enough for women who want to find peace with themselves! For women who want to find their happy! For women who want to find their dreams! Girl, Wash Your Face will inspire you to take charge of your life!
Rachel’s truth is poignant, it is devastating and it is healing. Her honesty is admirable. And she reminds us that we are the captains of our own ship. What we do and where we go is our choice. It’s up to us.
With wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, popular online personality and founder of TheChicSite.com founder Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.
Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.
Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.
From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.
BOOKS OF 2017
❝ When the world is at its darkest, somehow love still carries the light.❞
#1 Juniper Unraveling by Keri Lake
A constant rollercoaster ride, Juniper Unravelling is about what happens when you no longer accept the status quo. When you ask questions and push for answers. It is love at its purest.
Papa says everyone has a story that deserves to be told.
Most begin years ago, after the second bomb hit, unearthing a deadly contagion that divided the population into the pure, the infected, and the Ragers.
Many recount the moment we rose up from the ashes and started anew.
Others tell of the day we built a wall to keep them out.
For some, they’re nothing more than the vestiges left behind—a simple name carved into the knotty bark of a Juniper tree.
My story begins with a boy. A mute, from the other side of the wall, known only as Six, who touched my heart in ways that words never could, and gave me the courage to face my darkest truth.
Warning: This book contains explicit sexual content, and violent scenes that some readers may find disturbing.
❝A tornado, Darlene,❞ he whispered.❝I’m swept up.❞
#2 Forever Right Now by Emma Scott
Emma Scott writes the kinds stories I want to read, ones with characters whose struggles feel real and not formulaic, where the plots are unique and suck me in, and with love stories that feel like a natural progression and are not forced upon the reader.
Sometimes the one who loves you is the one who hurts you the most
Darlene Montgomery has been to hell and back…more than once. After a stint in jail for drug possession, she is finally clean and ready to start over. Yet another failed relationship is just the motivation she needs to move from New York to San Francisco with the hopes of resurrecting her dance career and discovering that she is more than the sum of her rap sheet. As Darlene struggles in her new city, the last thing she wants is to become entangled with her handsome—but cranky—neighbor and his adorable little girl…
Sawyer Haas is weeks away from finishing law school, but exhaustion, dwindling finances, and the pressure to provide for himself and his daughter, Olivia, are wearing him down. A federal clerkship–a job he desperately needs–awaits him after graduation, but only if he passes the Bar Exam. Sawyer doesn’t have the time or patience for the capricious—if beautiful—dancer who moves into the apartment above his. But Darlene’s easy laugh and cheerful spirit seep into the cracks of his hardened heart, and slowly break down the walls he’s resurrected to keep from being betrayed ever again.
When the parents of Olivia’s absentee mother come to fight for custody, Sawyer could lose everything. To have any chance at happiness, he must trust Darlene, the woman who has somehow found her way past his brittle barbs, and Darlene must decide how much of her own bruised heart she is willing to give to Sawyer and Olivia, especially when the ghosts of her troubled past refuse to stay buried.
❝You aren’t who you were yesterday or the day before. Believe that. You are not your circumstances.❞
#3 Drive by Kate Stewart
Drive is phenomenal! It was everything I want in a book; it was intriguing and captivating, it had outstanding writing that kept me engaged with a storyline that had me on the edge of my seat as it slowly unfolded.
Music . . . the heart’s greatest librarian.
The average song is three and a half minutes long; those three and a half minutes could lead to a slow blink, a glimpse of the past, or catapult the soul into heart-shattering nostalgia.
At the height of my career, I had the life I wanted, the life I’d always envisioned. I’d found my tempo, my rhythm. Then I received a phone call that left me off key.
You see, my favorite songs had a way of playing simultaneously. I was in love with one man’s beats and another’s lyrics. But when it came to the soundtrack of a life, how could anyone choose a favorite song? So, to erase any doubt, I ditched my first-class ticket and decided to take a drive, fixed on the rearview.
And the long road home to the man who was waiting for me.
❝This was perhaps my only chance to show my father I was destined for more than being some man’s wife.❞
#4 The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd
There was so much passion within the pages of this book that my heart ached! ACHED! It was filled with passion; passion for life, for love and humanity. It was a story filled with guarded intimacy, and forbidden love, a story that reminds you what it is to be human! And this piece of fiction is BASED ON A TRUE STORY!!! It was incredibly inspiring.
An incredible story of dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.
The year is 1739. Eliza Lucas is sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of their family’s three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British, and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are starting to become restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon her family is in danger of losing everything.
Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it’s the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it’s impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return — against the laws of the day — she will teach the slaves to read.
So begins an incredible story of love, dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.
Based on historical documents, including Eliza’s letters, this is a historical fiction account of how a teenage girl produced indigo dye, which became one of the largest exports out of South Carolina, an export that laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of several Southern families who still live on today. Although largely overlooked by historians, the accomplishments of Eliza Lucas influenced the course of US history. When she passed away in 1793, President George Washington served as a pallbearer at her funeral.
This book is set between 1739 and 1744, with romance, intrigue, forbidden friendships, and political and financial threats weaving together to form the story of a remarkable young woman whose actions were before their time: the story of the indigo girl.
❝Love is a wordless secret; it’s an inside joke. Only the two of you have to understand it.❞
#5 Wish You Were Here by Renee Carlino
Absolutely stunning and tragically beautiful, Wish You Were Here, is an emotion-filled love story that will hold your heart captive and make you question your thoughts on life!
This is by far, my favorite Renee Carlino book. It was poignant, it was daring and it was beautiful! I cried buckets of tears, my heart ached and I laughed a little, too.
Charlotte has spent her twenties adrift, floating from interest to interest, job to job, and guy to guy, searching for a spark but never quite finding it. All she knows is that she won’t discover it working as a waitress at a pies-and-fries joint in Los Angeles or living with her fun but aimless best friend in a tiny apartment in the Arts District.
Then Charlotte collides with Adam, a gorgeous and soulful painter who seems just as lost as she feels. Their instant connection turns into a midnight drink… and a whirlwind night of champagne, Chinese food, and the kind of conversation that only happens in romantic comedies. But the next morning, Adam gives Charlotte the cold shoulder, leaving her confused and hurt—and wondering if the few odd moments between them the night before were red flags in disguise.
Months later, Charlotte hasn’t been able to shake Adam, so she decides to find out what happened the morning after their magical night together. This fateful decision rewrites their wild love story, but what Charlotte doesn’t know yet is that the ending has already been written.
❝He smelled like my dreams. And he felt too good to be true. He is too good to be true. And you’re forgettable.❞
#6 The Cad and The Coed by L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid
The Cad and the Co-Ed is my favorite in the Rugby series, by L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid. It was heart-warming, it was funny and it was sexy. If you love to laugh, if you love witty banter and sexy goodness, then pick up this gem.
Keeping a secret this big is going to take lots of balls. Specifically, rugby balls.
Bryan Leech is a cad.
Or, he *was* a cad.
No one is quite certain.
Once the quintessential playboy, Bryan claims he’s done with wild parties and weekend benders. No more one night stands leading to mornings he can’t remember; no more binges and blackouts; no more exploits plastered all over the tabloids and rag sheets. According to Bryan, he’s cleaning up his act.
The only problem is, no one believes him.
Eilish Cassidy never thought she’d be a mother at nineteen or still in college at twenty-four. Cut off from every member of her family except her favorite cousin, she’s finally managed put her life back together. Stronger and wiser, Eilish enters her last semester of university determined to stand on her own. Now she just needs to find an internship.
The only problem is, her best option—by far—places her directly in the path of her son’s father, and he doesn’t remember her at all.
Bryan is determined to prove he’s changed. Eager to settle down with the right woman, he’s got his sights set on the gorgeous redhead who seems terribly familiar.
Eilish is determined to hide her secret. She’ll do anything to keep her child safe, even if that means ignoring her own wishes and desires.
But what happens when Bryan starts to remember? And what will it take for Bryan to convince the girl he forgot that she’s unforgettable?
❝You’re bad❞ ❝You like me bad.❞
#7 Datingish by Penny Reid
Be warned! Dating-ish is different! While there is humor as we have come to expect in a Penny Reid book (because Penny is wickedly smart and sharp with her tongue), this story is so much more. It is complex, it is deep, it is emotional and passionate. I experienced the gamut of emotions while reading about unrequited love and self-doubt. I laughed and OMG, I cried.
Now a USA TODAY BESTSELLER
There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris:
1) She’s fed up with online dating,
2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and
3) She knows how to knit.
After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of human kind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:
Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?
But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different—and crazier—solution to her dilemma . . .
As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?
❝Like it or not, she made you the man you are. And you never got over her. You just left.❞
#8 How to Save a Life by Emma Scott
If you have not already, I encourage you to read this book. Emma Scott gives us a story about love so strong that no matter what happens, no matter the circumstances, love wins Every. Single. Time. How to Save a Life, was poetic, it was beautiful and it was stunning.
Josephine Clark is trapped. A harrowing past haunts her every time she looks in the mirror, and she can’t escape the violence of her everyday life. More and more, her thoughts turn to Evan Salinger, the boy she knew in high school. The boy they called a mental case. A loner. A freak. The boy who seemed to know things no one could know. For a few short weeks, Jo had found perfect solace in Evan’s company, sneaking every night to meet him at the local pool. In the cool of the water and the warmth of Evan’s arms around her, Jo had tasted something close to happiness.
Cruel circumstances tore them apart, and four years later, the sweet memory of their time together is dissolving under the punishing reality of Jo’s life now. Evan seems like a fading dream…until he reappears at the moment she needs him most. Guided by Evan’s strange intuition, they flee her small Louisiana town, and Jo begins to suspect there is something more to his sudden return than he admits.
Over twelve days across America’s heartland, deep secrets come to light, buried pasts are unearthed, and the line between dreams and reality is blurred as Evan and Jo fight to hold on to their soul-deep love, and discover that there is more than one way to save a life.
How to Save a Life is a complete second-chance STANDALONE novel with shades of the paranormal. It carries the characters from high school through to their early twenties. It is not YA; mature subject matter, and sexual situations. TRIGGER WARNING: domestic violence (on the page) and mention of sexual abuse (off the page) For readers 18 years and up.
The Dreamcatcher novels are a series of interconnected STANDALONES, each with shades of the paranormal. It is NOT necessary to read them in order, though some characters appear in other novels.
❝I told you, trouble follows you wherever you go, Easton.❞
#9 Fallen Heir by Erin Watt
With Fallen Heir, Erin Watt provided me with the crack that I have craved since Paper Princess. This is the writing and story development that I have come to love from them. Characters that feel real, story and plot development that suck you in and don’t even let you go with THE END.
These Royals will ruin you.
Easton Royal has it all: looks, money, intelligence. His goal in life is to have as much fun as possible. He never thinks about the consequences because he doesn’t have to.
Until Hartley Wright appears, shaking up his easy life. She’s the one girl who’s said no, despite being attracted to him. Easton can’t figure her out and that makes her all the more irresistible.
Hartley doesn’t want him. She says he needs to grow up.
She might be right.
Rivals. Rules. Regrets. For the first time in Easton’s life, wearing a Royal crown isn’t enough. He’s about to learn that the higher you start, the harder you fall.
❝No woman can only fall in love with the music of jazz. She always quietly yearns for the musician behind the bars.❞
#10 Behind the Bars by Brittainy C. Cherry
I loved this story so much, it hit home on so many levels: Freeing yourself by forgiving others. Having the strength to love others, even those who might appear unlovable. Forgiving yourself enough to accept love. Realizing you are enough, just the way you are, and in doing so, discovering your passion, your fears, and your dreams.
When I first met Jasmine Greene, she came in as raindrops.
I was the awkward musician, and she was the high school queen.
The only things we had in common were our music and our loneliness.
Something in her eyes told me her smile wasn’t always the truth.
Something in her voice gave me a hope I always wished to find.
And in a flash, she was gone.
Years later, she was standing in front of me on a street in New Orleans.
She was different, but so was I. Life made us colder. Harder. Isolated.
Even though we were different, the broken pieces of me recognized the sadness in her.
Now she was back, and I wouldn’t make the mistake of letting her go again.
When I first met Jasmine Greene, she came in as raindrops.
When we met again, I became her darkest storm.
❝…death would’ve been easier. Living … now, that’s where the bullet hides its poison.❞
#11 The Time in Between by Kristen Ashley
There is nothing like the feeling I get after finishing a Kristen Ashley book. She writes strong kick-butt heroines, sexy alpha males, and romance that is heartwarming, often heart wrenching, but always sexy! Top all that off, she writes some of the best second chance romance stories I’ve ever read! This is definitely one of those books I will read again and again!
After a painful loss, Cady Moreland is coming to Magdalene to start the next chapter of her life. A chapter that began eighteen years ago but had a heartbreaking ending. The time in between was full of family and friendship, but Cady could never get the man she fell in love with all those years ago out of her heart.
Coert Yeager has learned to live without the girl who entered his life right when she shouldn’t and exited delivering a crippling blow he never would have suspected. The time in between was full of failing to find what he was missing…and life-altering betrayal.
But when that girl shows up in Magdalene and buys the town’s beloved lighthouse, even if Coert wants to avoid her, he can’t. A fire in town sparks a different kind of flame that won’t be ignored.
As Cady and Coert question the actions of the two young adults they once were thrown into earth-shattering circumstances, can they learn from what came in between and find each other again?
❝Love. The emotion that made people both soar and crash. The feeling that lit humans up and burned their hearts. The beginning and end of every journey.❞
#12 The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry
I loved every word, every sentence, every paragraph. Brittainy C. Cherry is a magician. Her words are like a slight of hand trick, just when you are comfortable she swiftly switches it up and even though you sense it coming, she magically flips your emotions over and over until you are reeling from what you’ve just seen, read, experienced.
Graham Russell and I weren’t made for one another.
I was driven by emotion; he was apathetic. I dreamed while he lived in nightmares. I cried when he had no tears to shed.
Despite his frozen heart and my readiness to run, we sometimes shared seconds. Seconds when our eyes locked and we saw each other’s secrets. Seconds when his lips tasted my fears, and I breathed in his pains. Seconds when we both imagined what it would be like to love one another.
Those seconds left us floating, but when reality knocked us sideways, gravity forced us to descend.
Graham Russell wasn’t a man who knew how to love, and I wasn’t a woman who knew how to either. Yet if I had the chance to fall again, I’d fall with him forever.
Even if we were destined to crash against solid ground.
❝I was a glass half full kind of girl. I had to be, otherwise I’d be a hand me the crack pipe kind of girl.❞
#13 Cross My Heart by L.H. Cosway
This little story packed all the punch of a full novel, it had character development, a bit of angst and steam, and a whole lot of sexual tension. With this novella, Cosway proved you don’t have to have 400 pages for a story to be good. There was no filler, just a deliciously good story!
Iris Garrigan has nothing.
Well, that’s not entirely true. She has her trusty Doc Martin boots. She has her Bowie obsession. And she has the stray cat that sneaks into her bed and keeps her company at night – it’s a quid pro quo relationship. The cat gets a warm body and she gets something alive beside her when she would otherwise be alone.
She also has a job. Sure, washing dishes hardly has her rolling in dough, but with no permanent abode, it’s the best she can do. She knows her new boss only lets her work in his restaurant out of pity, but she isn’t above cashing in on a little human compassion if it means she can survive to live another day.
Everything is going fine until Liam Cross starts to take notice of her, poking his newly minted police badge where it doesn’t belong. And if he doesn’t quit soon her not so legal living situation could find her in hot waters. Little does she know, Liam isn’t just being nosy, he’s trying to help. Iris has no idea that he’s been watching her for months, and that he’s completely enamored with her strange and peculiar ways.
When Liam discovers her secret Iris has two options: stay and face the music or run for the hills.
***Cross My Heart is a contemporary romance novella and tells the story of the youngest Cross brother, Liam Cross.***
❝Face your fears and wipe your tears.❞
#14 Menace by J.M. Darhower
This book surprised me. The plot twist completely caught me off guard. I love this author’s writing. She never disappoints. I mean, she writes about subjects that should be appalling, yet I can’t get enough!
Once upon a time, there was a guy who got so fed up with life that he resorted to murder and mayhem just to feel alive.
Lorenzo Gambini is bored. So fucking bored. Most people either annoy him or avoid him, afraid to face him. Figuratively. Literally. With his face partially disfigured, scarred, he looks every bit the monster the stories make him out to be: the notorious menace they call Scar. They say he’s a sociopath. Maybe he’s a psychopath. Whatever path he’s on, people tend to stay far away from it.
Until one day, a young woman bumps right into him–a woman just as fed up with life, but for much different reasons. With a Scarlet Letter inked on her wrist and secrets buried deep in her soul, Morgan Myers is running from something… or maybe somebody. Lorenzo isn’t quite sure.
You can bet your ass he’s going to figure it out, though.
❝Don’t make your presence known. Make your absence felt.❞
#15 Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
You know that feeling you get when you go into a book expecting one thing, but get something totally different, yet infinitely better than you could have expected? NO? Then you need to read Without Merit!
Without Merit is odd, it’s quirky and funny. It is also filled with emotional upheaval and hidden gems on which to ponder.
Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.
The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.
Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.
Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.
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