2020 Favorite Reads – Sheri

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!

….*dum-ba-badump*…
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.
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“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.
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“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.

AMAZON

 

“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.
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“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.
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“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.
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“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.
AMAZON 

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.
AMAZON

 

 

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.

Hugs,

sheri

“Sometimes There’s Stars” by Suki Fleet

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One lost soul graffiti artist. The sweetest boy ever. Will they save each other or go down in flames?

Echo is a brilliant artist but he’s not a good bet. He’s running from a suspended sentence and trying to pay off a debt that’s about to cripple him, literally. When he gets involved with a drug gang, his life goes from bad to worse. Until he meets Peri.

Peri is like sunshine. He’s innocence and good things—he’s home. Spending time with Peri is saving Echo’s life in so many ways. Peri teaches him sign language, teaches him the important things in life don’t always need words to express them. And more than that, Peri shows him how even the most broken heart can heal.

But Echo is trouble and he wants to save Peri from getting hurt. If only falling in love wasn’t so bloody impossible to stop.

If you like lost boys being found and love redeeming even the most hopeless of situations, you’ll love Sometimes There’s Stars.

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“For Sam, times infinity” by Suki Fleet

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After growing up in care, all Sam wants is to make a home for him and Tommy, his kid brother by choice. But it’s not as easy as he thought, especially when his social worker finds him a job miles away. And falling for the surprising boy at work only makes things harder.

Evra is different, his past a mystery. Being truly himself is not something he’s ever felt safe enough to be with anyone, not until Sam, the shyest boy ever, saves his life at work and Evra finds himself inexplicably trusting him. Wanting him.

Problem is, Sam is leaving, unable to stand being so far away from Tommy. And Evra can’t leave, not when he has consequences to face.

Making things work might seem complicated, but sometimes falling in love has its own consequences.

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“Everybody In The Place” by Suki Fleet

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Alfie Adams comes at life sideways.
After unexpectedly losing his job in television, and having the script he’s worked so hard on unceremoniously dropped, Alfie turns up at his oldest friend, Jam’s, birthday party drunk, pretty sure his world has ended, and that he’s about to hit rock bottom with a bone-cracking thud.
But it’s funny how Jam’s little brother, Benji, seems to know exactly what Alfie needs. For the past twelve months Alfie has thrown himself into his job and tried hard not to think about beautiful punk-loving Benji—tried not to see how the sweet kid he used to look out for, and who used to trail so adoringly after him, has grown up into a big lad with an even bigger heart. As Alfie sobers up, he begins to see things with a new perspective, and Benji has his full attention.
If only Alfie can admit what it is he wants.

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“The Glass House” by Suki Fleet

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At 17 Sasha is a little lost and a lot lonely. He craves friendship but his self-destructive tendencies cause problems and he pushes people away.
Every day he collects glass for the sculptures he makes and every day he dies a little more inside. Until he meets Thomas.
Thomas is shy but sure of himself in a way Sasha doesn’t understand. He makes it his mission to prove to Sasha that everyone deserves to be loved, and doesn’t give up even when Sasha hurts him.
Their friendship becomes more than Sasha ever thought possible. And when Sasha is forced to confront his past he realizes that accepting he is worthy of the love Thomas gives him is the only way to obliterate the darkness.

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“This is Not a Love Story” by Suki Fleet

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When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.

Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough.

This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy).
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“Light Up The Dark” by Suki Fleet

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For two years Nicky has wandered the dark empty corridors of the overgrown Thorn Hall, unseen and untouched, feeling like a ghost. His only company, the cold man who promised to keep him safe from harm, Lance. But when Lance dies, Nicky’s assurance of safety disintegrates and his world suddenly becomes a lot more real and a lot more dangerous. Scared to leave the house, Nicky longs for daylight. He employs a gardener to clear the over-grown bushes and vines that have nearly swallowed Thorn Hall whole. The last thing Nicky expects a little light to do is show him something to fight for.

Eighteen months in a young offenders’ institute has taught Cai two things: he occupies the playful puppy end of the How Dangerous Are You? spectrum, and he has an unfortunate knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Desperate for a job, he takes the first offer he gets. Even though Thorn Hall creeps the hell out of him and he barely knows one end of a pair of garden shears from the other.

Things start to fall apart when Cai is drawn into Nicky’s strange world of sticky notes and secrets. Cai finds he is now a target, blamed for a crime he didn’t commit. Desperate not to go back to prison, he digs deep and risks all the good things in life to help Nicky run. But now Nicky has someone he wants to protect, he knows he can’t run any more.
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2016 Favorite Reads – Sheri

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Looking back on my year of books from 2016 brings me great joy. It was a slower year but definitely not lacking in emotions, which I suppose sums up my year in general. I found myself gravitating towards comfort authors and sifting through older titles that I had previously missed. This perhaps was the most exciting; stumbling upon gems from years ago. I marveled as I uncovered truly amazing stories that were just as shiny despite not being brand new. I struggled to let go of a few captivating books and allowed myself to stay, transfixed with their beauty. Altogether, it was a wonderful year jam-packed with amazing books.

Without further ado, here are my favorites from this past year…..

 

“Brute” by Kim Fielding – Everything about this story rocked my world. I was utterly addicted and savored every word while listening to it on repeat. I had an audio book awakening this year and it was due to my infatuation of this book. If you haven’t read it yet…you must! AMAZON

 

Big Love” by Rick R. Reed – My adoration for this story stems from an individual character but all in all it’s a fantastic story. Reed is by far one of my favorite authors and it’s no surprise my top ten includes his triple R initials. This story is bursting with love and should not be overlooked. AMAZON

 

“Imperfection of Swans” by Brandon Witt – Slow and steady wins the race, right? It certainly did with this story! Witt is a fresh face for me and I really enjoyed his style. A powerful story with a personal touch and it left me overflowing with emotions. AMAZON

 

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“Foxes” by Suki Fleet – I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again….Suki Fleet is vastly underappreciated. Her words have great power and everyone should know them. Danny deserves infinite love and he’s got it from me. If you don’t know Fleet’s work, trust me, you really really should. AMAZON

“Selfie” by Amy Lane – Oh my! This is an amazing yet tragic story that doesn’t pull its punches. It is long and full of emotional afflictions but I connected with Noah and was completely vested in his story. Con demonstrates that broken hearts can indeed heal enough to love again and I was overwhelmed with his revival. So good. AMAZON

 

“SPECTR Series” by Jordan L. Hawk – Hawk is another new-to-me author and I was thoroughly impressed. I’m perplexed that I missed her before but grateful I was introduced to this series. John, Caleb & Gray create some seriously badass paranormal romance and I blissfully got my freak on with this trio. If you aren’t familiar, I recommend putting it on your list. AMAZON

 

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“A Mended Man” by Jaime Reese – Wow….this story was a labor of love. It’s an intense ride with intense men. It’s not an easy journey but it’s very much worth it. The Men of Halfway House are an obsession I am happy to surrender to. If you haven’t met these men yet, you’re sorely missing out.  AMAZON

 

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“Glasgow Lads” Series by Avery Cockburn – These sexy Scots stole my heart. I binge-read this series and grieved the final pages. Avery has a knack for creating the ultimate ‘opposites attract’ couple and they were dangerously dirty. And score! …Another new favorite author to add to my list! AMAZON

 

imperfect harmony cover

“Imperfect Harmony” by Jay Northcote – I adore nearly every story Northcote delivers but this one especially touched my heart. I believe it was simply because it opened my eyes a little wider and I truly appreciate when a story leaves you with a different perspective. Kudo’s to Jay and I can’t wait for what he has to come next year. AMAZON

 

Wolfsong cover

“Wolfsong” by T.J. Klune – This book is my…beloved this year. I loved absolutely every single thing about it…except the long tortuous wait for the sequel. I’ve never experienced anything like it and doubt I ever will. Klune creates the paramount of PNR and if you haven’t read it…please do. AMAZON

 

This wraps up my best of 2016 but I can’t go without shout outs to: “Just Drive” by L.A. Witt, “Diamonds” by Nash Summers, “The Last Thing He Needs” by J.H. Knight, “Drawn In” by Barbara Elsborg and “Perfect Imperfections” by C. Cardeno. These are all remarkable stories that deserve high praise and just barely missed the cut this year.

2016 was a year full of highs and lows and I always find it best to focus on the many blessings I’ve received. I hope you were as fortunate as I was and 2017 brings you many joys, smiles and books that will shake any funk.

Hugs,

sheri

 

2016 Favorite Reads – Susan

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I didn’t get through as many books this year as I typically have in the past, but looking back, there really were some gems. And for that I’m so thankful. If ever a year needed some escaping, 2016 was a doozy.

I also ventured back into the worlds of “Chick Lit” (ok, ok…”women’s fiction”), YA (man, there are some REALLY amazing YA authors out there!), and dipped my toe in a bit of fantasy. But, my number one love is still the classic Contemporary. 🙂

So here they are, my favorite books (erm…snuck in a couple series onto the list) of the year:

Bittersweet

“Bittersweet” by Sarina Bowen – dirty-talkin’ farmer who makes his own cider? Yes please! Sarina Bowen’s heroes are always so swoon-worthy and Griff is my favorite of the bunch. This was pretty much the most satisfying contemporary romance I read this year. AMAZON

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“The Rifter” Series by Ginn Hale – An impossible series to describe. But…MIND. BLOWN. Possibly one of the best worlds I’ve ever read. I can’t scream “YOU MUST READ THIS!” loud enough! AMAZON

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“The Borders War” Series by SA McAuley – a military dytopian-esque series w/ two sworn enemies who have the sexiest relationship EVER. Each book in the series gets better and better. This one HURT…but it was so worth it. AMAZON

foxes cover

“Foxes” by Suki Fleet – If you aren’t reading Suki Fleet, you are missing out on something beautiful. She writes characters and stories that haunt me long after I’m done with the book. God…Danny and Micky…still can’t shake them. AMAZON

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“Bounty” by Kristen Ashley – Because this year was so tough all around, having comfort reads saved me this year. And when KA comes out w/ a new Colorado Mtn book w/ all my favorite characters? It was like a balm to my soul. AMAZON

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“The Mermaid Murders” by Josh Lanyon – I don’t think I’ve gone a year without a Lanyon book on my favorites list. 2016 was no exception. The Mermaid Murders was the best of what Lanyon does…mystery, moments of scariness that had me hold me breath, imperfect men who struggle to allow themselves to love…and just really great writing. So good. AMAZON 

“Wildflowers” by Suki Fleet

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Xavi doesn’t believe in love anymore. Love has never changed the outcome of anything. It has only hurt him.

Sam is sick, and he wants one last thing. He wants Xavi to be with him, to stay with him until the end. Xavi drops everything and promises Sam he will be there.

As they travel across the countryside in a stolen sea-green Cadillac, they search for something neither has the courage to admit he’s looking for. But as the days slip away, Xavi isn’t sure he can keep his promise; he isn’t sure about anything. He can’t help Sam do this. He can’t stand by and watch Sam suffer, can’t be content to let Sam give up.

Saving Sam becomes the only thing that makes any sense, the only thing Xavi wants. Loving Sam becomes the most important promise he will ever make. Now he just has to convince Sam that life—and love—are worth fighting for.
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