This year has got off to a great start for me reading-wise. I read a total of 13 books in the month of January; 8 of which were physical, 2 ebooks and 3 audiobooks. All of the books were ones that I enjoyed, not a single book I read this month was below a 3 star, and 10 ended up being between 4 and 5 stars. If this is a preview of how this years reading’s going to go then it is looking to be a great year!
Synopsis: They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…
Why I want to read: I read Jane Harper’s ‘The Dry’ back in 2017 and really enjoyed it, and i’m actually currently reading the second book in that series ‘Force of Nature’ which is also looking to be a fantastic read so far so I already knew I was excited to see what else this author had to come but those early reviews have piqued my interest even further. I haven’t heard a single negative thing about this one yet!
Title: On the Come Up
Author: Angie Thomas
Release date: February 7th
Genre: YA Contemporary
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
Why I want to read: ‘On The Come Up’ is the 2nd novel by Angie Thomas, the bestselling author of ‘The Hate U Give’. I, like most others, read and loved THUG upon its release back in 2017 so I have been eagerly awaiting anything else Thomas had to write, and I have no doubt that this one will also be a hit.
Title: After She’s Gone
Author: Camilla Grebe
Release date: February 7th
Synopsis: For psychological profiler Hanne Lagerlind-Schoen, life is good. She and her partner, investigator Peter Lindgren, have just returned from a dream holiday in Greenland and the symptoms of her early onset dementia seem to be under control. Then they are asked to go to the small, sleepy industrial town of Ormberg to investigate a cold case: ten years earlier a five-year-old girl’s remains were found in a cairn near the town. With her dementia creeping back again, Hanne starts to keep a diary noting down everything she is likely to forget. She will go to any lengths to keep up appearances so she doesn’t lose her job, or worse: Peter. Then Hanne is found wandering around the outskirts of Ormberg lost, hurt and confused – and Peter is missing. When the body of a woman is found at the cairn and one of Hanne’s shoes is found nearby covered in the victim’s blood, can Hanne’s diary hold the key to what happened? How does this new murder connect to their old one – and where is Peter?
Why I want to read: Camilla Grebe is the author of ‘The Ice Beneath Her’ a thriller that was a massive hit amongst readers a couple of years ago but one that I never actually got round to reading, so when I heard she had a new book coming I just knew I had to get my hands on it. I’m hoping i’ll enjoy this one as much as everyone else seemed to love the last, and if I do then I can finally go back and pick that one up.
Title: The Secretary
Author: Renee Knight
Release date: February 21st
Synopsis: Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect? Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important. There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room
Why I want to read: I’m going to be honest i’ve actually never heard of this author before but I was browsing through new releases recently when I came across this and that blurb just drew me straight in! It definitely sounds like the kind of book that i’d like. Since I first heard of it I have come across a couple of great reviews aswell making me even more excited for the release of this one.
Title: The Last Letter
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Release date: February 26th
Synopsis: One letter. That was all it took for Beckett Gentry to fall for Ella MacKenzie, his buddy Ryan’s sister. Through her letters, Ella spoke to his heart, fueled his dreams, and made his days in Afghanistan bearable. Until Ryan’s life ends and so do the letters. Leaving the military, Beckett heads to Colorado with one destination in mind – Ella. Despite the guilt Beckett feels over his friend’s death, he’s determined to carry out his promise to watch over Ryan’s sister and never tell Ella he’s the one she’d been writing to. At twenty-six, Ella has lost almost everyone she loves – and now one of her precious twins is battling cancer. When Beckett walks into her tiny town – all six-feet-plus of dark, brooding, gorgeous man – Ella barely takes notice. Okay, fine, of course she takes notice. He’s come with the last of Ryan’s letters and the promise that he’d made to watch over her, but he’s insanely tight-lipped about everything else. Now Beckett is everywhere – and the most irritating part is that she likes him, despite his tough-as-nails exterior.
Why I want to read: I’d actually never heard of Rebecca Yarros until recently when I started seeing people talk about this book, all the ARC reviews starting coming in and I found myself paying attention as there has been a lot of 5 stars. Then I actually read the synopsis and just knew I needed to pick it up as I love a good emotional romance but I haven’t read for a good while. I’ve been basically only reading fun, light romances recently but this one sounds perfect for when i’m in the mood for a tearjerker.
Of the 200 books I read in 2018, I shelved 116 of them as romance, although some of these the romance may not have been the main aspect that is still a whole lotta romance so narrowing it down to just 10 was a tricky decision. First of all I will just mention a couple of honourable mentions, which are books that I did love but didn’t quite cut it to the top ten. That list includes ‘A Week to be Wicked’ by Tessa Dare, ‘Call the Coroner’ by Avril Ashton, and ‘And the Next Thing You Know’ by Chase Taylor Hackett. Now on to the top ten though:
First off there’s ‘Pisces Hooks Taurus‘ , the fourth book in the ‘Signs of Love’ series by Anyta Sunday. This series is one of my favourites, every book has been a 5 star for me, so it’s no surprise that I loved this one. This book starts with New Zealander Zane desperate to find love, and find it quickly so he can stay in the U.S. When he needs a place to stay he ends up at Beckett’s house. While Zane is a big believer in love and happily ever after, Beckett is still reeling from his divorce, adamant that love is a lie. These two together were perfect. They’re the exact opposites of each other, and watching their friendship blossom into a romance was such a beautiful journey. Whilst this book can be read as a standalone I would recommend the entire series as they’re all perfect if you ever find yourself in need of a fun, low angst, super slow burn romance.
One of the best rom-com authors out there is R.S Grey, I always enjoy her books but this one is one of my favourites of hers. ‘Arrogant Devil‘ follows Meredith, a woman who has finally left her abusive husband and run away to Ceder Creek to start her life over. She finds herself working as a housekeeper at Blue Stone Ranch under the employment of the arrogant devil himself, Jack McNight. Jack is adamant he has this spoiled rich girl all figured out and he’s sure she’ll be taking off again in no time to run back to her cushy life, so why is everyone else mad about her? I loved Meredith instantly, she is such a brilliant heroine who wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself. Jack did take me slightly longer to warm to, but once I did I really liked him and I absolutely loved the two together. R.S Grey did not disappoint with this one!
Another of my all time favourite authors, T.J Klune just had to be on this list. I’m yet to rate one of his books less than 5 stars! ‘Wolfsong’ is a beautiful story that is a romance, but is also so much more. Wolfsong is a book that spans more than a decade, taking us from when Ox Matheson is 12 to when he’s in his mid 20’s. Ox’s life is relatively lonely, he does what’s expected of him and pretty much keeps to himself until he meets Joe. Joe is a force of nature. He pulls Ox into his family, while forging a connection between them that will last forever. Joe is just a child when they first meet so there is nothing romantic between the two, it’s not something that’s ever crossed Ox’s mind, then one day Ox starts to notice just how much Joe’s grown up. This book is heartbreaking and beautiful featuring one of the most epic love stories i’ve had the fortune of reading, I can’t wait to dive into the second book this year.
‘Lover Awakened‘ is the third book in J.R Ward’s bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. If you’re a fan of anything romance you’ve probably already read these books but I only just started them last year when I read the first four books. I’ve loved the whole of the series so far but this one has definitely been my favourite. This book focuses on the relationship between Zsadist and Bella. I have been so intrigued by Zsadist since I read the first book, his back story was so heartbreaking to read about but it was lovely to see how he grew as a character throughout. I won’t say too much on the plot as it is the third in a series but if you, like me, are late on the bandwagon and haven’t picked this series up yet go and do it!
‘Rocky Mountain Refuge‘ is definitely one of the more serious, angsty books on this list but it was such a beautiful romance between two unexpected people. Huxley suffers from paranoid personality disorder which has led to him living in the wilderness as a recluse for the last five years since the murder of his husband. One time Huxley catches Aspen staring at him whilst in the store and becomes convinced that Aspen is out to get him. Aspen is a wildlife biologist working on a research project about grizzly bears when he spots Huxley at the store, he find himself attracted to him and when they keep bumping into each other he becomes determined to show him that he can be trusted. The journey to a relationship between the two is a long, fraught journey but I found myself completely immersed in them. This is such a unique romance that really shows that sometimes love isn’t easy, but it’s always worth it.
‘Mud Vein‘ begins when Senna wakes up on her thirty-third birthday to discover that she’s been locked in a house in the middle of the snow. She has no idea where she is or why she’s there so she has to try and use the clues around her to figure out, but sometimes the truth is the only thing that can set you free. It’s hard to say any more about the plot of this one without giving anything away as this is a book that is best read blind. I should say though that the premise makes this book sound like a thriller, which it is definitely not, it is a romance through and through. It’s a very slow-burning, emotionally intense novel that I just loved so much. Tarryn Fisher is one of my favourite authors and this is my favourite i’ve read of hers so far, it really is a truly beautiful novel.
‘Devour’ is the 4th book in the Unbreakable Bonds series. This is a series that should be read in order but each of the books are well worth a read. Devour is the book that I was waiting for, it tells Ian and Hollis’ story, which I have been waiting ever since I read book 1. I won’t say too much plot-wise here, as like I said, this is the 4th in a series but I will say the romance between these two was well worth the wait. This was definitely a hurt/comfort read, Ian has a lot to work through in this one but Hollis is there for him, supporting and helping him, every single step of the way. I’d seriously recommend this entire series, it’s got some of the best friendships i’ve ever read, there’s lots of action, hurt/comfort and it tells the tale of four brilliant romantic relationships.
‘A Girl like Her‘ is a contemporary romance that’s the first book in Talia Hibbert’s Ravenswood series. This is only book by Talia Hibbert that i’ve read so far but I know it won’t be the last. Ruth, our heroine, is a fierce, awkward, slightly nerdy woman. She knows what she wants and she’s uncaring about other people’s opinions. Due to a relationship gone bad and small-minded people’s gossiping Ruth is pushed away by pretty much everyone in her town. Then Evan moves in next door, and he’s not swayed by other peoples gossip, Evan wants the chance to get to know Ruth for himself. These two are one of my absolute favourite couples, they’re both just such fantastic, well fleshed out characters. I just enjoyed the hell out of this one, it really is the perfect contemporary romance!
This book is probably the one that took me most by surprise. ‘Nowhere Ranch‘ is a book that will not be for everyone, the first 50% is very sex heavy but it grows into one of the most beautiful romances. Roe is a ranch hand at Travis’ ranch. He’s never really payed much attention to his boss until he runs into him at a gay bar one night. Roe’s wary about mixing business and pleasure but the way his and Travis’ kinks line up, he finds it hard to resist. The relationship between them begins as purely sexual, very hot and kinky sex, until it begins to blossom into something more. Roe struggles to come to terms with this change, he’s always struggled with the rejection of his family, and it makes it hard for him to deal with his growing feelings. The part of this book that made me love it so much is Roe. This book is told through Roe’s POV and seeing him grow and learn to love himself, aswell as Travis, was so beautiful and wonderfully written that I couldn’t get enough.
The last book on my list is yet another Tarryn Fisher, this one is ‘The Opportunist’ the first book in the Love Me with Lies series. In this book we follow Olivia, a liar and a manipulator, as she bumps into her ex Caleb aka the one that got away. Caleb is suffering from amnesia after a car accident so he doesn’t remember Olivia or the way that she broke his heart and she intends to use this to her advantage. There’s not much I can say about this one without giving away aspects of the plot but if you like an unreliable narrator you’ll enjoy this one. Olivia isn’t a typical heroine but she never pretends to be either, she owns her crazy actions and stands by her decisions to use any means necessary to get her hands on Caleb. I completely devoured this story, I have no idea why I haven’t got round to the second one yet but I know I definitely will soon.
2018 was a strange reading year for me. In some ways it was a great reading year in that I had an average rating of 4 stars, meaning that the vast majority of the 200 books I read were ones that I thoroughly enjoyed. However, I also hit a major slump that lasted throughout the last few months of the year. This post is to talk about my absolute favourite 10 books of the year, which was hard to narrow down at times, but I did read some strong stand-out novels.
The Hearts Invisible Furies By John Boyne – One of the most hyped books of 2017, I finally got round to reading ‘The Hearts Invisible Furies’ in February 2018 and I have to say I totally get it. The hype with this one was well deserved. This is a really moving and heartfelt story following a young man named Cyril from the moment his family learned of his mothers pregnancy with him until the end of his life. Such an amazing book, at times tragically sad whilst at others just brilliantly funny.
I’ll Be Gone in The Dark By Michelle McNamara – I read this book as soon as it was released; as soon as I heard about it I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it as I really enjoy a true crime novel but this is so much more than that. This book tells the story of the crimes of the at-the-time-unidentified violent sexual predator ‘known as the golden state killer but it’s also part memoir talking about McNamara’s life and how her determination to uncover the identity of this man has consumed all aspects of it. A really phenomenally written and researched novel, the only thing that could have made it better was if McNamara had been able to see the impact it had.
Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom By Leigh Bardugo – I’m not typically a big fantasy reader but everyone had been raving about this duology so much that i finally decided to give in and just read it, and it blew me away. A fantastic duology with six brilliant lovable misfits that I just could not get enough of, I could read endless books set in this world!!
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row By Anthony Ray Hinton – An excellent piece of non-fiction from Anthony Ray Hinton, a black man sentenced to death in 1985 who spent thirty years living on death row before finally winning his release in 2015. In this book he discussed what it was like living on death row, how it changed him and the things he learned. This is an incredibly emotional read but more than that it’s an important one. If I ever had to recommend one book to everyone it would be this one.
The Wicker King By K. Ancrum – A fast-paced brilliantly told YA novel that looks at the effects of a codependent relationship when one person falls ill. When Jack begins suffering from hallucinations August is determined to help him even if that means hiding the truth from those around them and believing in Jack’s visions himself, but what happens when they can no longer tell whats real. There are so many great subjects explored in this one that i don’t often see in YA, including D/s relationships, fantastic mental health rep and exploration of an unhealthy relationship. This may not be for everyone but it all just worked 100% for me.
11.22.63 By Stephen King – This was my 4th Stephen King but it was far and away my favourite i’ve read by him. This book is fantastic in the way it crosses so many genres, on the surface it’s a science fiction novel about time travel, but it also manages to feel like a thriller, a love story and a well researched piece of historical fiction. A very long novel, like most of King’s work, but this one just flew by for me.
Lover Awakened By J.R Ward- In 2018 I finally decided to start the ‘black dagger brotherhood’, one of the most loved paranormal romance series ever. I read the first 5 books throughout the year but this one was a standout for me. I loved seeing Zsadist get his happy ending which was well deserved after all his been through, and Bella is a great heroine well deserving of such a fantastic man. One of my favourite things about this series is that during each book we also get to catch up on other characters story lines, its great to see how everyone else story is continuing. I loved starting this series and cannot wait to continue it on in 2019.
Rust and Stardust By T. Greenwood- A very harrowing read that shares a fictionalised account of the true kidnapping of 11 year old Sally Horner. This book had some of the most exceptional writing of anything i read last year and that’s what puts it firmly into my favourites of the year. The story is hard to read, it’s a very chilling novel that discusses one of the most vile crimes that can happen but the writing is beautiful and keeps the reader engaged throughout.
Mud Vein By Tarryn Fisher – I adore Tarryn Fisher so this one is no surprise. I have been meaning to read this one for a while and i’m so glad I finally got round to it. What makes this book stand out so much for me is the simple fact that it doesn’t fit into any particular genre, it feels like a genre all of its own. I don’t want to mention anything from the plot of this one as it’s best as a blind read but it was a beautiful, raw read and I just fell absolutely in love with it.