Best Books I've Read In 2017 So Far

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I am linking up today at The Broke and the Bookish's link up "Top Ten Tuesday".  They have a different topic every week and it's a lot of fun to meet some new bloggers and find a bunch of new books to add to my list!  This week's topic is: Best Books I've Read In 2017 So Far.

Oh man, this was hard!  I kept adding and taking away books. lol!  I tried to only include books that I read that were released in 2017, but I loved a couple earlier books too much to not include them. I put a * in front of any books that were published before 2017.

Surrender the Dark by Tibby Armstrong
* Cinder * Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
* Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

Have you read any of these?  What is your favorite read so far this year?

Review: Make Me Stay by Sidney Halston

Monday, June 26, 2017

Title: Make Me Stay
Author: Sidney Halston
Series: Panic, #2
Genre: MF Romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Publishing Date: June 27th 2017

 April: Walking away from Matt Moreno was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Lying to him was a close second, but for his safety, I had no other choice. I was undercover, working to put some nasty people behind bars. But when Matt nearly recognizes me on Lincoln Road a year later, all those very real feelings come rushing back. Now that my assignment’s almost over, will he understand why I lied? Why I had to leave? Most important, can he ever forgive me?

Matt: I was madly in love with June Simpson . . . or, at least, with the woman I thought was June. Then she just disappeared while my family’s nightclub went through hell. And after months of searching, when I think I’ve finally found that sexy, raspy voice and those exquisite blue eyes, she slips away once more. Turns out, “June” is actually Detective April White. She’s been playing me the whole time. And she’s about to rock my world all over again.

Make Me Stay is the second book in Sidney Halston's series, Panic.  They can be read as standalones but I would recommend reading book one first because the couple from the first book are in this one a lot, and there are also events that are mentioned that happened in the first book.  The first book in this series, Pull Me Close, was about Nick and this book is about his twin brother Matt. Matt is a lawyer who also helps to run his family’s night-club, Panic. Matt first meets June at Panic and is instantly drawn to her. They have a ton of chemistry together and begin dating, when things finally start to become serious and Matt falls for her she disappears.  I don't want to give too much else away about the story because I think it would ruin it.  The book is split into two parts. The first part is set in the past with Matt meeting June at Panic. The second part of the story is told in the present (about a year later). 

I loved Matt in the first book and have been eagerly waiting for his story. In the first book Nick is the grumpy bear who always seems stressed, and Matt was shown as the fun-loving one that never lets anything get to him.  In this book, we see that isn't really the case and he hides his emotions well.  I have to be honest, it took me a while to warm up to June. I, personally, wouldn't have been able to get past what she did to Matt, but I liked how everything was dealt with in the end, and they could each see the other's side of things.  I liked June's attitude in the first half of the book and how spunky she was, but in the second half of the book I felt she lost a lot of that.  

I don't think I loved this one quite as much as the first book in the series, but I still liked it a lot.  I thought this one was a lot more angsty than the first one, so that may be why I didn't love it as much.  A big portion on the second half of the book is Matt dealing with his anger and hurt over what June did to him.  He values honesty and he had to decide if he could trust her again, or if he could even let go of the past. There were a couple other issues I had with this one but they are really spoiler-y so don't read past this point if you don't want to know!!!  SPOILER! I didn't love that April getting hurt is what brought them back together, and I REALLY didn't enjoy the amnesia trope.  I feel like that's so overdone and way to "convenient". END SPOILER. All of that being said, I did end up enjoying this one, angst and all. lol!

*I received an ARC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. *

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Stacking the Shelves & Sunday Post

Saturday, June 24, 2017

I am linking up again this weekend with Tynga at Tynga's Reviews for Stacking the Shelves and Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer for Sunday Post to share all of the books I picked up lately, share my posts for the past week, and also share what's coming up soon! 

For Review:

Freebies from Amazon:


Life Lately:
I had REALLY bad migraines week this past week.  I had an ocular migraine on Father's Day, and ended up in bed for the rest of the day.  Monday I was migraine free, but after that I had a 3 day long migraine that didn't let up until Friday morning.  It was horrible.  I almost went to the ER for help with the pain.  I tried my 1st appointment with a chiropractor and massage therapist, and felt REALLY good afterwards.  I think I will try to keep a regular schedule with those types of appointments and see if it helps keep them away.  I have my piercing appointment later today so which me luck! lol!  I mentioned last week that I am getting a piercing in the cartilage of my ear (called a daith piercing) because a lot of people have said it helps migraines.  I'm willing to try anything at this point. lol!

I have A LOT of  catching up to do on my blog.  I barely got to do anything blog-wise since the migraines kicked my butt yet again.  

Oh on a random note, yesterday we had a tornado that touched down about 10 minutes from where I live!  I love watching storms but I don't think I want to be that close to a tornado.  We live in an area that tornadoes really aren't common at all.  We've been having such crazy weather lately.  I think the storms have been part of the reason that my migraines have been kicking my butt so bad.

Recently on my blog:
Wedding Favors by Anne Tenino - Review
Trusting You & Other Lies by Nicole Williams - Review
12 Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't...Yet!
Waiting on Wendesday - Irresistible You by Kate Meader
Strays by Garrett Leigh - Review
Wired by Julie Garwood - Review
Hostile Ground by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov - Review
Dark & Dazzling by Elizabeth Varlet - Review

Coming up next on my blog:
Make Me Stay by Sidney Halston - Review
Best Books I've Read in 2017 so far
Mature Content by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell - Review
Chief's Mess by L.A. Witt - Review
Monthly Review
Oversight by Santino Hassell - Review

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What have you read lately?

Review: Dark & Dazzling by Elizabeth Varlet

Friday, June 23, 2017

Title: Dark & Dazzling
Author: Elizabeth Varlet
Series: Sassy Boyz, #2
Genre: MM Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 7th 2016

Z doesn't need a hero…

Azariah "Z" Hayes is a diamond. Equal parts strength and sparkle, he's more than capable of standing on his own stilettos. So if waiting tables and stripping at The Vibe are what it takes to keep a roof over his head, well, there are worse ways to earn a living. 

Connelly is a white knight with a badge…

For NYPD detective Connelly Reid, to serve and protect is just another day at the office—even if that means protecting himself from his own true desires. He's been curious about Z, his waiter, for months, but it's not until he sees him in his makeup and heels that the curiosity becomes a fierce attraction. Z, despite all his over-the-top dazzle, might just be the man Connelly has been waiting for his entire life.

But when Connelly investigates underground porn and drug activity with ties to The Vibe, one thing becomes very clear—acting on what he knows is going to hurt Z, financially and emotionally. And though Connelly would love nothing more than to fix all of Z's problems, no amount of mind-blowing sex can make Z comfortable becoming dependent on his lover. Yet if there's one thing Connelly knows from his years on the force, it's this: when things go bad, you need a trusted partner to have your back.

This actually the second book of the Sassy Boyz series, but I accidentally read them out of order...oops!! Lucky for me, these books can be read as standalones so I didn't feel lost at all. It did make me really excited to read Ansel's story tho!

Connelly often goes into the diner where Azariah works because he can't keep his eyes off of him and he intrigues him, but it isn't until he finally sees Azariah fully decked out in his makeup and heels that he makes his move. He keeps telling himself that he shouldn't start anything with him but every time he sees him the pull of attraction gets harder to resist. Azariah's roommate bailed on him, making him short on the rent so he pushes himself harder and takes on more shifts at the diner. Things seem to be going well until he hurts himself practicing for one of his new dance numbers, making it impossible for him to dance or continue waiting tables, so he falls farther behind on rent and bills. He makes a serious of bad (and frustrating) decisions and he pushes Connelly away. Connelly has a bit of a hero complex and Azariah does not want to be treated like a damsel in distress. They both have to learn to trust and talk to each other.

Azariah, or Z (his nickname), is feisty and full of attitude. He makes no excuses or apologies for the way he is, and I love that. Z is fiercely independent and doesn't know how to OR want to accept help from others. I loved his sassy remarks, and I had to smile every time he used his nickname for Connelly (Hot Fudge). 

Connelly has your typical knight in shining armor complex. Every time his sister calls and is in a jam, he rushes to her rescue. He was also guilty of doing the same thing in all of his past relationships. He's a fixer. I thought he was super sweet even when he was being a bit of a bonehead at times. lol! When he set his mind to winning Z over, he was determined and refused to give up. He said the sweetest things...even though Z didn't know how to take his compliments. He was a giant sweetheart.

There were a couple moments in their story that had me cringing and I didn't love some of the things that happened, but that's more of just a hangup of mine, I guess. I still enjoyed MOST of their love story. I'm excited to go back and read the first one in the series, since I'm a dummy and read the wrong one first. lol!

*I received a free cooy of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. *

Quickie Review: Wired by Julie Garwood

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Title: Wired
Author: Julie Garwood
Series: Buchanan-Renard, #13
Genre: M/F Romance, Suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 4th 2017

Allison Trent doesn’t look like a hacker. In fact, when she’s not in college working on her degree, she models on the side. But behind her gorgeous face is a brilliant mind for computers and her real love is writing—and hacking—code. Her dream is to write a new security program that could revolutionize the tech industry.

Hotshot FBI agent Liam Scott has a problem: a leak deep within his own department. He needs the skills of a top-notch hacker to work on a highly sensitive project: to secretly break into the FBI servers and find out who the traitor is. But he can’t use one of his own. He finds the perfect candidate in Allison. Only, there’s one problem—she wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down flat. 

What Liam doesn’t know is that Allison is hiding secrets that she doesn’t want the FBI to uncover. But Liam will do nearly anything to persuade her to join his team, even break a few rules if that’s what it takes. A temptation that could put his job—and both of their futures—on the line…
and longing for more . . .

 This is the first book from Julie Garwood that I've gotten a chance to read.  I've seen her books everywhere and wanted to give one a chance.  Unfortunately, this one just wasn't for me.  I really thought this sounded like my type of book.  Computer hacker and FBI agent, what's not to love, right?!  Not so much.  Wired is the 13th book in the Buchanan-Renard series, but all books can be read as standalones.

The two biggest issues I had with this one was the plot and the romance, so that pretty much ruined the story for me. Because this is a book involving an FBI agent and hacker combo, I really expected more suspense.  Allison hacking for the FBI felt REALLY anticlimactic.  I also felt no chemistry between either of the MCs.  It was really strange.

I didn't love that Allison had that "special snowflake" quality about her either.  She's apparently the most gorgeous person EVER.  We repeatedly hear how gorgeous she is and how everyone can't help but stare.  Oh and she's also a model part time.  Then there's also the fact that without any proper training at all, she is a better hacker then anyone else in the know, the guys that actually HAVE been trained.  She's just way too perfect!

* I received an ARC of this title via First to Read and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. *

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Review: Hostile Ground by L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Title: Hostile Ground
Authors: L.A. Witt & Aleksandr Voinov
Genre: MM Romance, Suspense
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: May 12th 2014

After the deaths of three undercover cops investigating a drug ring in a seedy strip club in Seattle, Detective Mahir Hussain has been sent to finish the job. He joins the club's security team in the hopes of finding enough evidence to bust the operation before the men in charge find a reason to put him in a shallow grave.

To protect the strippers, only gay men can work the club. Ridley, the cold and intimidating head of security, knows exactly how to test potential new hires-including Mahir. From the minute they meet, Mahir and Ridley engage in a dangerous dance of sex and mind games. Mahir needs to find his evidence before Ridley figures out he's a cop-and before they both grow too close to betray one another.

As the game goes on, Mahir burrows deeper into the operation, where he learns there's much more happening than meets the eye . . . and why every cop who made it this far has been silenced with a bullet.

Mahir Hussain is a cop that is tasked with being sent undercover inside a possible drug dealer's strip club to investigate the deaths of three other undercover cops before him, and to get more more information on the illegal activity going on in the club.  The first day there, he isn't expecting to find himself instantly attracted to a dangerous man who happens to be head of security of the strip club/operation.   Mahir is warned that David Ridley is a stone cold killer and to keep his distance. Mahir has been told that Ridley is second in command to Lombardi and is the one who pulls the trigger on traitors.  Despite the warnings, they both can't help but act on their attraction to one another.  As if Mahir doesn't have enough on his plate, his nephew has run away from home and decided that he's going to stay with him until things calm down at home.  Mahir now has to juggle his attraction to Ridley, worry about his nephew, and he has no idea who he can really trust.

What I liked:
I loved the diversity of the characters. Mahir is a gay, practicing-Muslim character. I've never read a mm romance with a Muslim main character.

If I'm being honest, the I really loved the steamy scenes!  I love the dirty talk and power plays between the two of them.  They had some sizzling chemistry.  There was an added danger element since they didn't trust each other.

I also really loved how gradual the feelings built between the two of them.  At first all they had was a ton of chemistry and some rough sex but then they started having more tender moments, and I loved that.  They both had to worry about pretending to be someone else and it was nice to see them break character sometimes and show their vulnerabilities.

What I didn't like:
There were some pretty unbelievable moments in this one, and some pretty significant plot holes.

I also thought most of the suspense of the story was really predictable.  I like to be at least a little surprised, and I wasn't really at all with this one, so that disappointed me.

I don't want to give too much away with this one, but there is something that happens involving Mahir's nephew that really rubbed me the wrong way.  I didn't like the way that was handled at all, and it felt really unrealistic to me.

I've read a lot of L.A. Witt's books, and I will definitely keep reading just about every book she puts out.  I can't keep myself way. lol!  This one was co-written with Aleksandr Voinov, and I'm new to his books but I may have to check out some of his other books in the future after reading this one.  The beginning part of this story was my favorite, but as the story went on I felt like there were just more and more plot holes and it bothered me.  While I didn't absolutely love this one, I guess I still found it pretty entertaining at times.  It had great potential.

* I received a free copy of this title via Riptide Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  *

Find It Here: 

Review: Strays by Garrett Leigh

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Title: Strays
Author: Garrett Leigh
Series: Urban Soul, #2
Genre: MM Romance
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: March 25th 2017

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd's Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

Strays is the second book of the Urban Soul series, but each book can be read as a standalone.  I did not read the first book in the series before reading this one and I didn't feel as if I was lost at any time.  It did make me a little curious about the previous couple tho.  There relationship is a M/M/M romance, and all three of them are also in this story as secondary characters.  This is only the second book by Garrett Leigh that I've gotten to read and I hope to read more soon.  I do have to admit that I think I enjoyed the last book of hers just a little more than this one.

Things that I liked:
This story starts being told from Lenny's point of view, but it switches between both main characters.  I like stories that give both MCs perspective because it gives a better idea of what's going on in their heads.

Lenny.  I loved that Lenny was just who he was and that's all there was to it.  He liked bright clothing, eyeliner, pink hair, and glitter but it was never a overly talked about subject.  I feel like a lot of the time, that's made in to a huge deal in MM romance.  I also really loved his personality.

I loved the sweet moments between the two main characters.  Nero is a very closed off person and hides behind his grumpy attitude, but Lenny is able to eventually able to break down his walls.

Things that I didn't love as much:
I thought the story felt really drawn out at times and like there were some slow moments.  It probably could have ended a couple times before the true end.

I found it really hard to connect to Nero.  Normally I really love the broody, gruff types but he was really hard to figure out and came off emotionless a lot...except for his anger issues.

I wanted Nero to open up a little more emotionally.  I will say that he does a bit, but I wanted him to show it a little earlier.  It wasn't until the very end that he got really affectionate.

While I had a few little issues with this one, I still ended up enjoying it and I definitely want to read more by Garrett Leigh in the future.

*  Thank you to Riptide Publishing for giving me a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. *

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Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme where we have the opportunity to let others know about books that we are eagerly waiting for.

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Irresistible You
Author: Kate Meader
Series: Chicago Rebels, #1
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Pocket Star

Releases On: August 14th, 2017!

Harper Chase has just become the most powerful woman in the NHL after the death of her father Clifford Chase, maverick owner of the Chicago Rebels. But the team is a hot mess—underfunded, overweight, and close to tapping out of the league. Hell-bent on turning the luckless franchise around, Harper won’t let anything stand in her way. Not her gender, not her sisters, and especially not a veteran player with an attitude problem and a smoldering gaze designed to melt her ice-compacted defenses.

Veteran center Remy “Jinx” DuPre is on the downside of a career that’s seen him win big sponsorships, fans’ hearts, and more than a few notches on his stick. Only one goal has eluded him: the Stanley Cup. Sure, he’s been labeled as the unluckiest guy in the league, but with his recent streak of good play, he knows this is his year. So why the hell is he being shunted off to a failing hockey franchise run by a ball-buster in heels? And is she seriously expecting him to lead her band of misfit losers to a coveted spot in the playoffs?

He’d have a better chance of leading Harper on a merry skate to his bed…

Why I'm waiting: I decided to mix things up a little this week and go with a romance because I LOVE Kate Meader!  She writes a great steamy romance.  This one is the first book in her brand new series, "Chicago Rebels", and I'm sure I will be reading each and every one of them. lol!  I also really love hockey romances.

What books are you waiting for?

12 Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't...Yet!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I am linking up today at The Broke and the Bookish's link up "Top Ten Tuesday".  They have a different topic every week and it's a lot of fun to meet some new bloggers and find a bunch of new books to add to my list!  This week's topic is: 10 Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't., I actually gave you 12 series that I want to read instead of stopping at 10.  I probably could have kept going on forever. lol!  I got carried away.  Do duologies count as series??  Oh well, I counted them. lol!  Making this list reminded me that I have so many series that I started and haven't finished yet.  I will have to make a list post of those ones soon!

Red Queen series 
by Victoria Aveyard

Throne of Glass series
by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses series
by Sarah J. Maas

The Grisha
by Leigh Bardugo

The Selection
by Kiera Cass

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

The Illuminae Files
by Amie Kaufman

The Wolves of Mercy Falls
by Maggie Stiefvater

Rebel of the Sands
by Alwyn Hamilton

Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo

by Nicole Castroman

by C.J. Redwine

Have you read any of these?

Review: Trusting You and Other Lies by Nicole Williams

Monday, June 19, 2017

Title: Trusting You and Other Lies
Author: Nicole Williams
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 20th 2017

 Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years—do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?

On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum—the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out—and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?

Phoenix is a teenager who is more than a little unhappy about spending the summer at Camp Kismet with her family after her dad lost his job.  Things with her family haven't been all that great so this is supposed to be a way to sort of work through it all.  The silver lining for Phoenix is that she got a job as a camp counselor, so she can save up for the car she's been wanting and possibly avoid her parents at the same time.  She didn't plan things being so hard, and meeting Callum along the way.

This book had a cute romance, but I felt like it actually took a backseat to the tension between the family members. I wanted a little more romance, if I'm being honest.  There was a nice slow build between the two main characters but it felt like it took FOREVER for either of them to mention the attraction/feelings.  I did really love the sibling bond between Phoenix and Harry.  He looks up to her a lot and Phoenix has definitely cast herself firmly in the role of his protector. The parents (mostly the mom because the dad was absent for most of the book) were a little bit frustrating, but I could tell where they were coming from.  They didn't want to worry their children about their financial situation, but I hated that they pushed them away in the process.  I really loved the growth in all of the characters involved in this story.  That is one thing that I believe the author did really well.

Another thing I enjoyed about this one was the setting.  Just about the entire book takes place at summer camp, and it was really fun atmosphere.  I'm an outdoorsy girl so I can connect with a lot of the fun activities and things like that.  I was a little disappointed that we didn't see the parents interacting with Phoenix and Harry more since that was one of the reasons for going to the camp in the first place.  I know the biggest reason was just to escape problems for a while but I would have liked to see the family bonding a little more.

While I thought the characters were written well, I didn't actually love any of them.  The ones I enjoyed the most were Harry and Callum.  I really didn't care for Phoenix much.  She seemed to spend most of the first half of the book acting really immature with her parents.  She is a very intelligent and driven character but she never confronts her parents once on what she's truly upset about?  She's pretty outspoken (in typically snotty teenage fashion) with them most of the time, so I found it hard to believe that she didn't demand answers from them at some point.

I have never read anything from Nicole Williams before this but after hearing so many great things about her, and seeing this super adorable cover I decided to give her a try.  Honestly, I felt a little underwhelmed by this book.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.  It's very middle of the road for me.  I feel like I spent the book waiting for something big to happen and then it never does... I don't know.  Maybe that's just me.  All of that being said, I would probably still give another Nicole Williams books a chance.

* I received an ARC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. *

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