If there was ever a year I needed an escape, 2020 takes the cake. And all the pies and cookies and every other sweet baked good on the planet. Wow, What. A. Year. I know in the future, I will look back and remember how resilient we were. How we dug deep, then deeper and helped one another and…survived. We will honor those unfortunate souls that did not, remember the heroes, and focus on what helped us get through. In all honesty, there was a stretch when I struggled to read. I couldn’t concentrate and my anxiety ran free. But as the months slipped by I was forced to face the mounting uncertainties and roll with the punches. It was during that time that I turned to my kindle to rescue me. To take me away from the overwhelming stress I battled every day. I know each and every one of us will have a different story, unique in our own ways, and I’d love to hear yours. My personal quarantine days included loads of baking, puzzles, projects, and unexpected homeschooling. This post is always about reflection and celebration and despite the many hardships, I was extremely blessed this year. Thanks to all the healthcare warriors, frontline workers, my blue line family, and my book family…I am more grateful than you’ll ever know.
So let’s get this party started!
In no particular order, here are my most treasured books and series from this past year…
“Stormhaven and Necropolis” by Jordan Hawk
– As this year began, I began a journey back in time. Whyborne and Griffin quickly swept me away and I couldn’t get enough. I began a lovely book binge and devoured the first half of this series in a matter of a few weeks. These two books, in particular, knocked me off my feet. I am powerless to their charms. I relish in their affection and can’t seem to get enough of them. Whyborne and Griffins fans know exactly what I mean…and if you’re not part of this elite group….why not? Seriously, hop on this marvelously manic adventure, it’s too good to miss. I can’t wait to dive back in and finish this spectacular series!
Stormhaven AMAZON Necropolis AMAZON
“The Edge of the World” by Garrett Leigh
– As always, Garrett brings vibrant and memorable men to the pages. Exceptional writing pulls you into their lives and I couldn’t wait to discover everything there was to know. They discover that knowing and accepting your past can help shine a light on your future. Standing at the edge of the world can be scary as shit but also take you on a trip to the clouds…if you’ve imagined that’s a place filled with comfort food and breathtaking tunes you might want to check this out. Actually, there’s no might about it. Go on…and give them all my love.
“The Mating of Michael” by Eli Easton
– Loved this series and above all, I loved this book. Fan meets favorite author and falls in love? Yes, please! They had a tentative beginning that blossomed into a delicate friendship. I loved how they overcame obstacles together. I loved how they loved one another. I think Michael is a treasure and couldn’t wait for him to find his beloved. It wasn’t an easy path but the best things never are, are they? Thanks for this one Eli, it warmed me to the core.
“The Parable of the Mustard Seed” by Lisa Henry
– Stop. Listen. Do you hear that? No? Me neither. But I can tell you what’s happening in this silence. A new book scar is healing on my heart. *deep breath* Yeah, this is one of those books. So many threads are spun together and I was awestruck with each and every one. John and Caleb share a special love, nothing, and no one can ever compare or compete between these two. This book is for…only those looking for an unforgettable story about a boy and his rescuer and how one day, he rescued him right back.
“Mean Machine” by Alexandr Voinov
– When it comes to Voinov, I always expect the unexpected. This particular tale revolves around a fight. I’m not talking about in the ring. Admittedly we do witness many ringside bloody battles and I held my breath for each one. There is so much that I never knew! But the ultimate fight doesn’t involve gloves. Brook is fighting for his life, his freedom, and most importantly, his redemption. If you’re searching for something that packs a punch, this heavyweight is a sure-fire winner.
“Off Balance” by Jay Hogan
– I’m still dipping my toes into Hogan’s wonderful writing but now I want to dive straight in and immerse myself completely. There is so much heart in this book. But not only are the feels in full effect but it’s passionate, lively, and overflowing with courage and hope. I believe courage and hope go hand-in-hand. You must be brave to dream and daring to trust. Anyone interested in witnessing a remarkable counterbalance to lost dreams and the beauty of fresh wishes becoming reality…this is exactly what you need.
“His Horizon and His Compass” by Con Riley
– I love it when reading a story becomes a physical experience. I always adore slipping into one of Riley’s worlds but this particular case was special. I was sitting on the edge of my seat and biting my fingernails as the emotional storm crashed and calmed. Riley delivers a multifaceted tale with rugged terrain that swept me off my feet. I JUST finished His Compass and am still seeing stars. These stories are anything but smooth sailing but if you’re searching for a family-focused journey with heartache, humor, and heat….hop on, you won’t want to miss these incredible voyages.
His Horizon AMAZON His Compass AMAZON
“Unfinished Business 1~ The Making of Jonty Bloom 1.5~ Jonty’s Christmas 2~ A Long Way Back‘” by Barbara Elsborg
– My favorite series of the year!! I always adore Elsborg’s witty and quirky characters but Jonty slipped through a crack in my heart and nestled in for the long run. Jonty is remarkable and I dare anyone to tell me differently. Add Devan, Tay, and Ink and I was head over heels in love. For me, this was the perfect package; remarkable writing, courageous characters, and a riveting tale as they embark on sexy self-discovery and redemption. Absolutely stunning. And sandwich in a sensational and sexy holiday tale that will make you laugh and cry…possibly at the same time!
The Making of Jonty Bloom AMAZON Jonty’s Christmas AMAZON A Long Way Back AMAZON
“A Sweet Man” by Jaime Reese
– The Men of Halfway House have secured their spot on my absolute joy list and this new release was a sunny spot during a time of dark clouds. These two, Bull and Ben, made me so happy. I swooned, I full-body sighed, and I smiled almost the entire time. This spirited and sensual love story captivated me and I have all the confidence you will find yourself rapt as well. If you’re searching for a concoction of sugar-coated with a sinful center, this exceptional pairing is just what you need.
“Beautiful Beast” by Roe Horvat
– Adorable meet-cute leads to a holy-hotness-not-to-be-forgotten first kiss with cute and sexy texting in between. Kevin craves a particular dynamic and power roles that Joakim is more than happy to oblige. Explicit desires quickly went from whispered cravings to a fulfilled frenzy of passion. I’m not only devoted to Roe’s words but also this series for good reason. If you’ve savored these “other” couples as I have, you won’t want to miss their return and the newest duo joining the group.
“Sometimes There’s Stars” by Suki Fleet
– I don’t know how Suki does it, but they present their best new couple every time. This story only took me until 13% and I was overcome with a surge of emotions, left wonderstruck before it barely began. It’s a heartfelt and heartwrenching story that will remain with you long after the sensational ending. If you want to discover more about the boy who is bottled sunshine personified, this is for you. I have no doubt Peri and Echo will leave their mark on your heart. I’m happy and proud to add another Fleet scar to mine…for some scars are special.
There we go! I may have included an extra this year but all things considered, I’m allowing some wiggle room and extra book love. I always have a blast looking back at my favorites and 2020 was no exception. Since I can never keep it to just ten (ahem, eleven this year), here’s my honor list of books that shined a bit brighter and deserve a nod of appreciation: “Marc Jillson & the Gazebo” by Anyta Sunday, “Spring Strings” by Lily Morton, “Redemption” by Garrett Leigh, “Tic Tac Mistletoe” by NR Walker and “The Christmas I Know” by Nicky James. I truly adored my holiday stories this year and they lifted my spirit when I needed a boost.
2021 is a year of hope.
I hope you stay well and healthy.
I hope you find happiness and joy in the most unexpected places.
I hope we all move forward with compassion for our friends, neighbors, and strangers that cross our path.
And I hope you are showered with love, surrounded with peace, and filled with a deep faith that we can and will weather any storm…but hopefully with unlimited books at your disposal.
Thanks to all the creators for finding sunshine in the dark and sharing it with the rest of us. The comfort of a good book took on a whole new meaning this year.
Cheers to a bright new year!
And as always…
I hope the new year brings you health, laughter, love, and books that will…. shake any funk.