favorite books

Goodbye, 2017!

Outdoor Game Collage.jpg

It's time to recap the whirlwind that has been 2017. I'll talk about my life, my books, and books I read.

Personally, this year has been kinda crazy, but also kinda great. My momma and I went to the Penguins outdoor game in February and went to the Angels & Sirens Author Event in Pittsburgh the following week (we also caught a Penguins game while we were there). We also went to For the Love of Books and Raleigh signing in August.


We made a few trips to Florida, the most exciting was for the birth of my new nephew, Perry. I also got to attend my first home opener for a hockey game, which was pretty fun, even if it was for the Canes. ;) Lastly, I graduated from college and treated myself to a Penguins game when they came to Raleigh a couple of days ago. I also finally started sewing, which y'all already know about because I blog about it.

Now, as far as publishing wise, I released 3 books and 2 novellas (all in the Carolina Rebels series). Plus, I gave my newsletter subscribers an exclusive short story from the Carolina Rebels world. I also announced 3 releases for 2018 (Steady, Carolina Rebels Series: Volume One, and Worth the Risk). I think things went pretty well this year. Thanks for another year of support!

And last, but certainly not least, my reading goals. I wanted to read 100 books, at least 12 paperbacks, and the ABC challenge, where the title starts with a letter from the alphabet.

I read 123 of books, 34 paperbacks (51 if I count the picture books I read), and I missed X and Q in the ABC challenge because time got away from me in December. Also, 21 of my total were read for school.

So, my favorites!

There's my favorites! Now, I decided to keep some more detailed notes this year, so here are some interesting (to me at least) highlights about books I read in 2017.

- Most of the titles started with the letter H, with T and F the runner ups.

- Most of the books I read were bought in the year 2017, but some were from as far back as 2010!

- Most of the books I read were ebooks, but paperbacks weren't that far behind!

- 78 were in a series and 45 were standalones.

- I finished 7 series, started 17 series, and decided not to finish 18 series.

So, there are some fun facts in addition to my favorites from 2017! I think I'll continue to keep track of books this way because it was really interesting to see some of the figures. 

What were your highlights from 2017?

Monday's Book Spotlight

I haven't read at all since my last spotlight post. It's sucked and last night, I said to myself, "If you don't read something soon, you're going to lose your mind." I don't think I was being dramatic. So, I closed my WIP and opened up the Kindle app on my laptop.

Hello, lover.

It felt SO good to read something again.

Even better that it was a book I fell head over heels with. Enough so that it's on my favorites list and I already want to reread it. And that's why Loving Mr. Daniels by Brittainy C. Cherry is today's book spotlight. Read this book, y'all.

To Whom it May Concern, 

It was easy to call us forbidden and harder to call us soulmates. Yet I believed we were both. Forbidden soulmates. 

When I arrived to Edgewood, Wisconsin I didn’t plan to find him. I didn't plan to stumble into Joe's bar and have Daniel's music stir up my emotions. I had no clue that his voice would make my hurts forget their own sorrow. I had no idea that my happiness would remember its own bliss. 

When I started senior year at my new school, I wasn’t prepared to call him Mr. Daniels, but sometimes life happens at the wrong time for all the right reasons. 

Our love story wasn’t only about the physical connection.

It was about family. It was about loss. It was about being alive. It was silly. It was painful. It was mourning. It was laughter.

It was ours. 

And for those reasons alone, I would never apologize for loving Mr. Daniels. 

-Ashlyn Jennings

Things I Highlighted While Reading:
- You know what the best thing about purses was? They could carry around books.

- Why didn’t anyone ever throw reading parties? I would be all over that crap.

Monday's Book Spotlight

This is back too! Only because I've read some books that I have to share with you! If you haven't read Sarina Bowen's The Ivy Years series yet, you're seriously missing out. Each of the (beautiful) covers will take you to their respective Goodreads pages.

I've read and loved every single one of these and I can't wait for the next one.  My favorite (even though I loved them all) is The Understatement of the Year.

Not only does it have a ton of hockey action, but the story is simply touching.

Really, they are all my favorites because they all bring something new and different and you can't help but fall in love with them all!

Go. Read. These. Books!

Monday's Book Spotlight

It feels like it's been forever since I've posted one of these, and it probably has been! I've been reading, of course, but nothing that has really stood out. (Or I forget to post about it. Oops.) Anyway, this week, I'm putting a big, fat, bright spotlight on The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen. Add it on Goodreads!!

The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.

What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

My Thoughts As Seen On Goodreads (Short and Sweet):
Loved, loved, loved it. All the characters were great and I couldn't stop reading...I had a smile on my face the entire time. So yeah, loved it.

Sarina Bowen just earned herself a new fan.

What I Highlighted While Reading:
“No,” he whispered into my ear. “No, no. Perfect isn’t real.” I took a deep, shaky breath, and the feel of his strong arms around me began to feel steadying. “There’s no more perfect, Callahan. Now there’s only really damned good.”

Monday's Book Spotlight

I read a book this weekend and I had to share it with y'all. Check out When It Rains by Lisa De Jong and what I thought about it.

When It Rains (Rain, #1)

One night changed my life forever.

Beau Bennett has been my best friend since I can remember. He was my first crush before everything came crashing down, and now he wants more, but it's more than I can give him. Things are different now. I wish I could tell him why, but I can't.

I haven’t told anyone.

I never knew how much I really needed him until the day he left for college, and I was completely alone.

Then one day, Asher Hunt rides into town with his dark, captivating eyes and cocky grin. He doesn't care who I used to be, he's simply breathing life into what’s left. People warn me to stay away from him, but he helps me forget the pain that has held me hostage for so long; something I thought was impossible before he walked into my life.

I’ve been hurt.

I’ve been saved.

And I’ve found hope.

I thought my story was written that night, but now I know it was only a new beginning. Until one secret turns my world upside down…


My Thoughts As Seen on Goodreads:
I started reading this at about 11pm last night and I didn't stop reading until I finished it. My Kindle warned me at 93% that my battery was low and I seriously almost had a panic attack at the thought it would die before I finished. I would have thrown it across the room if it had. I was too absorbed from something like a stupid battery to die, especially when my charger was in my car. So yeah, I was very addicted to this story. I need this book on my bookshelf so badly that the first thing I did this morning was order a copy.

I was swept away almost immediately and there were SO many times when I just wanted to put it down and stop because I couldn't handle reading anymore. I was crying too much. I cried constantly after a certain point. I felt all the happiness, but I felt all the pain and heartache as well. Just thinking about this book brings me to tears and makes me want to curl up into a ball and just cry.

I absolutely loved it. So much emotion. So much. I already want to reread it, but I'm still emotionally drained from last night, so I'll wait until my paperback comes.

The only other time I've felt so attached to a book, kept wanting to use "perfection" to describe a book, was when I read Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. I have favorites among my favorites that sit in a small, hard to get into, category and When It Rains now sits there too.

Without a doubt, I'll be reading more by Lisa De Jong.

Monday's Book Spotlight

You all know that I'm a fan of Sawyer Bennett. She has some new releases out and you need to read them! I've read all three that she's released with these serial romances. I'm addicted to this story, y'all! The first one in the Legal Affairs serial is free! You might as well give it a chance. I don't think you'll regret it.

Objection (Legal Affairs, #1)
One year ago, I graduated from law school and embarked on a career as a purveyor of high priced legal shenanigans. 

Six months ago, my boyfriend dumped me when I thought he might be proposing. 
Two weeks ago, I got drunk and joined a secret sex club. 
Two days ago, I had a torrid one-night stand with a stranger. 
Today? Well, today I’m contemplating having an affair with my boss. 

Matt Connover is all kinds of forbidden temptation wrapped up in a deliciously wicked package, and he’s made it clear… he’s only interested in sex. 

My name is McKayla Dawson but everyone calls me Mac. I work at the powerhouse firm of Connover & Crown, LLP, where the law has never felt so hot. 

But between you and me, I’m afraid my heart won’t survive these Legal Affairs.

Each new volume releases every two weeks and the third just came out last week! What are you waiting for? Go get your copy! If you've already read them, tell me what you think. Are you loving them as much as I am? What do you think is going to happen with these two?

Monday's Book Spotlight

This week's book spotlight is a book that I read last week and I mentioned in my January newsletter as the book I was most excited to read this month. It has two beautiful covers and I need both editions on my bookshelf ASAP. I have also added something new to this feature. At the end, I've shared what I highlighted while reading. Without further ado, here is this week's book spotlight.

Left DrowningLeft Drowning
What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

*This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.

My Thoughts As Seen On Goodreads:
Good lord. What has this book done to me? 


Jessica Park is amazing. 

Wow. I need a good cry now. I don't think any of my words are going to do this book, the writing, and how much I loved it justice. Just go read it. You'll see.

What I Highlighted While Reading:
"…while I am painful aware of my feelings and symptoms, I'm unable to shake them and move forward."

"It’s a constant struggle to stay near the surface. I have just enough air to stop me from totally going under, but not enough to thrive."

"I got myself out of hell. I dealt with it and moved on."

"I know too much not to be affected by his presence."

"My heart is a stupid asshole."

Monday's Book Spotlight

I did read some last week! Four books, in fact. Woohoo! It felt so good too. Anyway, this week's book is Back to You by Priscilla Glenn. I can not wait to read more by this woman! Let me know your thoughts if you've read it.
Back to You

When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.

Or that it would end so painfully.

Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.

As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome?

My Thoughts as Seen on Goodreads:
What an ending...and the way I just cried like that? *sigh*

I loved every thing about this book and I'm so thankful I had the house to myself today so I could read it uninterrupted. I didn't realize until I finished it that it would be one of my favorites. I knew that I really liked it, but I didn't know it would be a favorite. 

The timing is everything in the book for me. If I had of found out what happened before I did, I doubt it would have had the same effect. Glenn did an impeccable job fine tuning the timing with the scenes to build up to perfect moments and a perfect ending. It was a slow burn, warming me up and pulling that warmth together to prepare me for the satisfying heat where I feel all warm and toasty. Not too hot but not chilly either. Perfectly content.

*sigh* Let's just bask in the glow of a reading a fantastic book.

Monday's Book Spotlight

I'm currently reading the final book in one of my favorite series. I'm so sad that we've reached the end, but it has to come at some point. Really enjoying it so far, though. Therefore, I chose those books to be this week's book spotlight.

If you haven't already, check out the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent! I've shared two of the covers and the synopsis for the first book below. Let me know what you think about the series or if you plan on reading them. Also, which cover do you like best?

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)

She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.

Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.

Monday's Book Spotlight

Last week, I read a book that has become a favorite. I mentioned on the blog last week and talked about it on Facebook and Twitter a little. This book has earned the place to be this week's spotlight. I was so happy to read a book featuring a hockey player and this doesn't disappoint in the least. Go on over to Amazon and order a copy!

Delayed Penalty (Crossing the Line, #1)

A minor penalty that is not called until the offending team gains control of the puck. As long as the non-offending team maintains possession, the referee allows play to continue and signals a delayed penalty by raising his arm.

I’m Evan Mason, an NHL hockey player for the Chicago Blackhawks. I spend my nights roughing up two hundred pound defensemen and, at times, spend more time in the penalty box than I do on the ice.

That’s my job. 

One night changed everything I thought I once knew about my life on, and off, the ice.

A girl. 

A brutally beaten girl left to die in an alley.
I don’t know why or how but something made me stay that night after taking her to the hospital. I didn’t know her, nor did I have an obligation to stay but something inside of me rooted me there telling me I should stay. Saving a life is worth something. At least I thought so. And I wouldn’t have been me if I just simply left her there. 

Any man who put his heart and soul into a game of hockey couldn’t just walk away when someone needed them. She had no one else right now. The same guy who saw determination where there was desire, now saw hope where there was once despair.

I couldn’t leave. That wouldn’t be me. No, not a man that put all he had into something some called just a game. I couldn’t walk away from her holding onto life, weak and powerless to something she had no control over.

So I stayed. In a room full of family members praying for their loved ones to pull through, I prayed for a girl I didn’t know and had never met before, to have a beating heart. While others’ sorrows turned to grieving pain, I sat waiting on the words of the unknown.

No bond is stronger than the ones you’ll bleed for.

My Thoughts as Seen on Goodreads:
I completely enjoyed this book! I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't put it down all day. (Well, until I had to leave the house and that was horrible because I didn't want to stop.) There wasn't anything I didn't like about the book and there's nothing I would change about it either. This is going on my I Need A Signed Paperback list. 

I love hockey players to start with and Stahl definitely enhanced that feeling even more. Honestly, it made me want to go out and find a hockey player (Evan preferably) right that second. I also ended up cussing more than usual today. I think the players got to me, haha! This is one of those books that makes you happy and sets the mood to where you'll have a good day because you read it.

I can not wait to read the next one and more by Stahl!

Monday's Book Spotlight

I read this book a little over a week ago and I'm still thinking about it. There's no doubt that Hopeless by Colleen Hoover deserves to be on this week's spotlight. I mean, as of 1 pm yesterday, there were 54,397 ratings on Goodreads and the average rating is 4.55 stars. That's a good indication that you'll love it too, I think.

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

Recommended for readers 17+ due to sexual content, harsh language and heavy subject matter.

My Thoughts as Seen on Goodreads:
First off, my only regret about this book is that I didn't read it in paperback first. It just has a feel that you need to have the paperback when you read it, so you can hold it to you. I can't exactly hold my laptop to my chest while I bawl my eyes out and it have the same effect as a paperback. 

As I mentioned in one of my updates, Hoover has ruined me for all future books, stories, characters, couples, and everything in between. Nothing can live up to or compare to this perfection called Hopeless. She destroyed me with her words and I never want to be fixed either. I devoured it in one sitting because I couldn't stop. Now it's 4:43 AM and I have to get my thoughts out before I cry myself to sleep.

I'll be crying for these characters. Crying for their story. Crying for the emotions that they made me feel. I'll cry because I can't read this book for the first time again, and I'll cry with joy that I can reread it as many times as I want. And trust me. I will be rereading it. 

Colleen Hoover possesses so much talent in weaving together not only words, but characters that I can fall hopelessly in love with. I don't think any guy in any book is as good as Holder. I don't think any couple is as good as this one. I'm ruined for life, remember? This book has stolen the title for my all time favorite book and I doubt any book that I read in the future can get that title now that I've read Hopeless. Nothing can compare. It feels like a once and a lifetime story. Like a memory that you know you'll cherish forever because in that moment, what happened took your heart and you know that nothing can ever compare to what happened in that instant. A moment in your life where you know that you're changed forever and nothing will ever be the same. 

This is that book that once you read it, you'll never forget the story and the emotions it provoked. It's that book that stays so close to your heart. It's that book that you want to carry around every day for the rest of your life so it will always be there, just in case. It's that book that you have multiple copies of so you'll never be without it and once you wear one copy out, there's another one waiting to be reread to the point that the pages are falling out of the spine. It's the book that you want to live by the message it holds. This is the book that comes to your mind when you wonder why you love reading. This is the first book you'll think of when someone asks what your favorite book is or who your favorite author is. This is the book that if you couldn't read another book in your life, you would be okay with that because at least you were able to read Hopeless. You can't forget what you read, what you felt that first time you read it, and you can't forget the story within. 

I can ramble all night until I'm delirious with lack of sleep. I'll finish with two simple words in case you need more convincing: Read Hopeless.

Monday's Book Spotlight

Off Limits (Off Series, #2) This week's book is the second in the Off series by Sawyer Bennett. I don't think you would have to read the first book, Off Sides, to read this one, but it's probably a good idea that you do, just so you can appreciate this one fully. You can see my thoughts on Off Sides here.

From Goodreads:
“There is a vulnerability there, hovering just below the surface. And I want to pick at it until I expose it. Then I want to kiss it." 

Two years ago, Emily Burnham, had an epiphany about the shallowness of her life. And she made it her mission to become a different person…a better woman. Out from under the controlling thumb of her mother, Emily is tasting the real world for the first time. And she likes it.

Nixon Caldwell has served his time in the Marine Corps, surviving two brutal tours in Afghanistan. He is back home, surrounded by what he likes best…isolation. It's certainly the best way to avoid confrontation of the consuming guilt that is weighing him down.

When an accident brings Emily and Nix together, he soon learns he is not the master of his own fate. Struggling with his own pain, Nix tries to guard himself against Emily’s charms. He wants her in his bed, but he doesn’t want her in his heart. 

Having grabbed life by the horns, Emily wants it all. But is she willing to accept just the small part of himself that Nix is offering? Can she reach the part of his soul that he has deemed to be Off Limits?

I read this book last Tuesday and I'm still thinking about it! Okay, mostly about Nix. That still counts, right?

Why It Is Awesome: See the full review on Goodreads.

Nix, oh Nix. Where can I find my own Nix, that's what I want to know! 

Bennett swept me away in OFF LIMITS and honestly, I wish I was still there. I wanted to cry once I reached the epilogue because that meant it was ending. 

It's been a long while since I've read a book and I wanted the guy in it to be my own. I hate it for the future boys in books because it's going to be hard to compete with my love for Nix. My brain is on Nix overload. I'm like Nix Nix Nix Nix Nix Nix Nix Nix, My Nix!

Share with me your latest book boyfriend! I'm holding on to Nix for the time being. :)

My Top Ten (Twenty, Really) Favorite Books

I have 73 books on my favorites shelf on Goodreads. Today, I'm going to narrow it down to my top ten favorites in no particular order. I'm going to separate it into those in a series and those that are stand alones.

  1. Wide Awake by Shelly Crane
  2. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
  3. Love Means Zero by Daisy Jordan
  4. Aurora Undefined by Kate Hinderer
  5. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
  6. Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park
  7. I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin
  8. I Know Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
  9. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
  10. Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

  1. Summer series by Jenny Han
  2. Of Witches and Warlocks series by Lacey Weatherford
  3. That Boy series by Jillian Dodd
  4. Slammed series by Colleen Hoover
  5. Significance series by Shelly Crane
  6. Study series by Maria V. Snyder
  7. Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent
  8. The Mortal Instruments series (only books 1-3) by Cassandra Clare
  9. Insight series by Jamie Magee
  10. Wicked series by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie