2017 In Review

Hello my fellow bibliophiles! I hope you’ve had a lovely holiday season so far and are about to embark upon a wonderful New Year. Personally, I’m more than ready to greet 2018 and see what kind of adventures it has in store.

I know I’ve been a bit MIA lately, and I apologize. Life outside of my books and the blog has been hectic and exhausting. Not always in a joyful way. That being said, my reading (and posting) took a real hit for most of the year, and especially in the last few months. I’ve known for awhile that I need to make some changes and I’ve been spending some time trying to re-group and prepare to take an aggressive approach for a clean slate in the new year.

Enough of my blabbing. I just thought I would let you know why the site has been sitting a bit stagnant in the last few weeks. I really am going to try to do better for you lovely readers! Please just bear with me for the time being!

In honor of the celebration and ring in New Year’s Eve properly, I figured rather than writing up a review for you (I do have a few still sitting around that I need to get to), I’d list my favorite reads of 2017. While I didn’t come anywhere close to completing my goodreads challenge, I was extremely fortunate to lose myself in some gorgeous novels this year and reviewing them just doesn’t seem to do them proper justice. Just a quick disclaimer: these books will be in no particular order of favoritism, and while I’ve picked some of the books that really moved me this year, this by no means rejects any of the others I’ve read that aren’t on the list. I just picked a handful of books that really made me say, “wow” and really stuck with me after I set the to rest on my shelves.

  1. Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher

This was just such a thrilling read. Fisher is one of my favorite contemporary authors and her words just really stun me every single time. Mommy was no different. What a rollercoaster of a read!

When Fig Coxbury buys a house on West Barrett Street, it’s not because she likes the neighborhood, or even because she likes the house. It’s because everything she desires is next door: The husband, the child, and the life that belongs to someone else.

 

2.  Lost In Scotland by Hilaria Alexander

If you know me or follow me on social media, you know how much I adore and long to travel. Not only that, you’re familiar with my Outlander obsession. This book covers alllll of those little facets and just spoke so beautifully to my wanderlust heart. As a sweet bonus, I got to enjoy a blossoming romance in the main characters as well.

Just when you think you’re lost, you might end up falling in love.

Sam Farouk is having a bad year. Things have gone down the drain ever since she found her boyfriend cheating on her at the Golden Globes. An unfortunate turn of events forces her to trade sunny Los Angeles with the rainy, chilly highlands of Scotland. She has the chance to work as one of the makeup artists on a new TV series based on a fantasy saga everyone is bananas about, but she can’t help feeling lost and a little bit homesick. Until she starts falling for Hugh MacLeod, the actor set to impersonate the titular role of Abarath, dragon slayer and part-time Casanova.
Hugh MacLeod is ready for his big break. After more than a decade taking every possible acting job just to stay afloat, he can finally show his range in a series to be proud of. Hugh’s commitment to his career comes before anything else, and that’s part of the reason why he hasn’t had a serious relationship in a while. But the more he’s around Sam, the more he knows he’s in deep, deep trouble. How is he supposed to not fall for the sexy, mysterious brunette who works all over him every single day? Every touch, every look is torture.
Getting lost in each other might be wrong, but it could end up being just what they need.

 

3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I always wondered why this classic was never a part of my reading curriculum in all my years in school studying English Lit. Well, I finally got to it and got my answer. This book is a lot to handle, but extremely relevant. With the political and social turmoil happening in to only America, but also other parts of the world, I could see chilling similarities between fiction and reality. While I haven’t gotten around to watching the show on Hulu just yet, it is on my To-Do List! This is a powerful and slightly disturbing read, but really important and significant as well.

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

 

4. Mists of the Serengeti by Laylah Attar

I have no words for this one. It was heart wrenching and just packed of gorgeously vibrant and poetic words. I loved the love story, and I loved losing myself in Africa. This book stuck with me and buried itself deep in my soul. This is the way all books (and all romances) should be written. What a breathtaking read!

Once in Africa, I kissed a king…

“And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newborn butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”

When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.

Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.

Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.

But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?

“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”

A blend of romance and women’s fiction, Mists of The Serengeti is inspired by true events and contains emotional triggers, including the death of a child. Not recommended for sensitive readers. Standalone, contemporary fiction.

 

5. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris 

Another book that left me speechless because it left me shaken and practically terrified. If I really concentrate on a thriller/suspense novel, I can put the pieces together and see where the characters are going. Here, I had no outs, I had no options. I felt as trapped as the heroine in the situation, and I closed this book feeling shaken.

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

6. Too Late by Colleen Hoover

I consider myself a pretty avid fan of Colleen Hoover’s. I got to meet her at Book Expo in NYC this past June and she was wonderful. I’ve read most of her novels, and like most people, I enjoyed some of her stories more than others, but this one blew past my 2016 favorite, It Ends With Us, and took the top spot and hasn’t moved since. Too Late was a warped read, a sexy read, and a scary read. I loved every single rollercoaster minute of this story. It’s unlike any other Hoover books I’ve ever read and I’m glad for how different and unique it is. If you don’t mind a dark read, please check out this book asap!

Sloan will go through hell and back for her little brother. And she does, every single night.

Forced to remain in a relationship with the dangerous and corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has what he needs.

Nothing will get in her way.

Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the only good thing to ever happen to Asa. He knows this and he never plans on letting her go; even if she doesn’t approve of his lifestyle. But despite Sloan’s disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to get what he wants. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top.

Nothing will get in his way.

Nothing except Carter.

 

7. America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Drey and Laura Kamoie

I love my history and I love the era of the American Revolution. This was a fantastic novel I nursed for a long time because I didn’t want it to end. Although a bit fictional, the authors did their research from Jefferson’s own correspondence and built a beautiful tale from there. Absolutely enchanting read!

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father’s reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

 

8. The Ghost Writer by Alessandra Torre

Torre is one of my go-to contemporary authors. I’ve read almost everything she’s published and she always astounds me with a compelling story. The Ghost Writer may take the cake. Many people put this on a romance list, but I didn’t understand why. This is simply fantastic fiction that left me with a tear in my eye. It’s rare that books make me shed actual tears, but this one got the job done.

Four years ago, I lied. I stood in front of the police, my friends and family, and made up a story, my best one yet. And all of them believed me.

I wasn’t surprised. Telling stories is what made me famous. Fifteen bestsellers. Millions of fans. Fame and fortune.

Now, I have one last story to write. It’ll be my best one yet, with a jaw-dropping twist that will leave them stunned and gasping for breath.

They say that sticks and stones will break your bones, but this story? It will be the one that kills me.

 

9. A Little Too Late by Staci Hart

This book checked all my boxes. Writing I just envy and wish I could emulate. Travel and stunning descriptions of foreign lands and beautiful traditions. A compelling and emotional love story. I just obsessed over every single page in this book and couldn’t get enough!

For nine long months, I’ve been fighting to figure out how to be a single dad, how to be alone.

For nine long months, I’ve been failing.

When Hannah walked through the door, I took my first breath since I’d found myself on my own. She slipped into our lives effortlessly, showing me what I’ve been missing all these years. Because Hannah made me smile when I thought I’d packed the notion of happiness away with my wedding album.

She was only supposed to be the nanny, but she’s so much more.

The day my wife left should have been the worst day of my life, but it wasn’t. It was when Hannah walked away, taking my heart with her.

*This contemporary romance features Charlie from A Thousand Letters*

 

10. On the Way to You by Kandi Steiner 

This book really spoke to me and told me to live in the moment. Stop wishing for things and stop overthinking life. When an opportunity comes your way, just take it. I loved the journey I encountered in this story and really learned a lot in the braveness of the characters.

What makes you happy?

That was the question Emery Reed asked me the day we met, and I couldn’t give him a single answer. I could have said my dog, or my books, or yoga — but I just stared.

And then, I got in his car.

It was crazy to take a road trip with a stranger, but after years of standing still, he was my one-way ticket to a new life, and I wasn’t going to miss it.

We shared the same space, the same car, the same hotel room — and still, we were strangers. One day we’d be laughing, the next, we wouldn’t speak. Emery was surrounded by impenetrable walls, but I wanted in.

Discovering his journal changed everything.

I read his thoughts, words not meant for anyone’s eyes, and the more I learned about him, the harder I fell. It turned out nothing made Emery Reed happy, and I wanted to change that.

I earned his trust by violating his privacy, and as wrong as it was, it worked — until one entry revealed a darkness I never knew existed, a timer I never knew was ticking.

Suddenly, what made me happy was saving Emery from himself. I just didn’t know if I could.

How about you? What were some of your favorite books of 2017? What reads are you looking most forward to in 2018? I know I have too many to list already! For now, cheers to a happy and healthy new year, and I hope we all get lots of reading done! I’ll see you guys with plenty more reviews and literary adventures in 2018!

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