Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Racquel's Top Books of the Year

Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This Week's Topic:
Top Ten (HAH!) Favorite Books of the Year

Racquel's picks
01. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas: favorite book, boom. Done. We can all go home now. I 10000% hesitate to put Dangerous Girls on the list because it's not a "favorite". It's a "all time, to infinity and beyond favorite, I will be buried with this book along with what I treasure most in life: Blue-Eyed Devil, Nutella, and my favorite red lipstick". There are only two books and a chapter on that list: Blue-Eyed Devil, Dangerous Girls and the last chapter of What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long. Yeah, it is not easy to get on the list. Books like this only come every few years if not more. 

02. There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos. Out of Reach by Arcos was in my top faves 2 years ago and I didn't have a doubt her next book would also be on here. Thanks for always making me cry, Carrie.

03. Audrey, Wait! It's 2014 and I finally read this book! and I loved it! I would never doubt y'all again. It was cray cray but in the best way possible that even seemed realistic. See: cray cray.

04. The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt: VEGAS! Cutest dialogue ever ever ever. I put sticky notes on practically every page of the book.

05. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols: I HIGHLIGHTED in the book. I took a highlighter and put it down to the page. When sex positive statements come at you, YOU MUST HIGHLIGHT THEIR GLORY! Jennifer Echols, you're the queen.

06. The Fiery HeartSilver Shadows by Richelle Mead. ADRIAN IVASHKOV. SYDNEY SAGE. THE OTP OF OTPS!!!! My true favorite of the two is The Fiery Heart, which is now my second favorite of the series after The Indigo Spell. Silver Shadows ranks third but its a favorite because omg REASONS. I read these back to back and they put me in a reading slump that lasted 4 months. When I read The Ruby Circle, I will be ruined forever.

08.  Love, In English by Karina Halle. Fucked up romance. Of course I loved the heck out of it.

09. Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase. R-E-S-P-E-C-T! The hero respected the heroine and what she does! What is this miracle?! Okay the respect came when they grew to know each other but STILL! It was glorygloryglorious.

10. How the Marquess was Won, It Happened One Midnight and Between the Devil & Ian & Eversea by Julie Anne Long. Julie Long is in the impossible to break to "not even death will do us apart" favorite list so DUUUH! the three new-to-me books by her I read in 2014 are new favorites. And I've already reread them too. Duh.

Sloppy Firsts (joint review) (JESSICA DARLING! MAAARCUS!).
Audacious (awesome, amazing, bold verse YA novel. Diversity peeps, read it).
Bright Before Sunrise (has all my favorite things: alternating POV, set in 24 hours, I hate misunderstandings but it was so well done here!)

Boomerang, the perfect summer, cute, funny read!
Hard Time by Cara McKenna, the hero is in prison and the heroine is a librarian. WIN!
The Unexpected Duchess, I never wanted it to end.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Be Good To Me: Another Round of Birthdays!

R: October being over is crazy because the year is ALMOST over but HELLO NOVEMBER! It's mine & Sharon's birthday month! The holiday season will start soon, school will be winding down... this is definitely the best time of year.
S:  What she said! I'm so excited November is here! Even though that means I've already had another birthday, and that's CRAZY. I'm so excited for the crisp fall weather (it's been pretty warm here thus far) and Thanksgiving and Christmas and just YAY!

Racquel read: 
So it was month of the romantic suspense! This started ever since I read In Death book by J.D. Robb. Since I'm an extreme moody reader, I have to continue reading romantic suspense until this obsession is over. Any recs?
  1. Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard (B)
  2. Without Words by Ellen O'Connell (A)
  3. Fallen by Leslie Tentler (B)
  4. Finding Mary Blaine by Jodi Thomas (C)
  5. Don't Tell by Karen Rose (B)
  6. Have You Seen Her? by Karen Rose (B-)
  7. Raid by Kristen Ashley  (B)
  8. Lay It Down by Cara McKenna (B-)

Racquel's October favorites: 

—Without Words by Ellen O'Connell: I mean it's Ellen O'Connell. Of course this book was going to be a subtle, slow burning amazing romance. By far my favorite of the whole month.
—Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard: I skipped around this one because I just wanted to read about the couple, who are a new favorite.
—Lay It Down by Cara McKenna: I also skipped around this one but focusing solely on the couple, I love them! Plus, Cara McKenna writes my favorite sexy scenes and dirty heroes. FAVORITE.

Other things Racquel did:

I went to see Arctic Monkeys! I did a lot of fun things in October but that definitely wins. I LOVE Arctic Monkeys and they were just as good in concert as they are on record. Plus I wasn't sure if they were going to sing one of my favorite older song by them, Cornerstore, but they did. It was a magical night.

Sharon read:
01. He's So Fine by Jill Shalvis
02. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Re-read)
03. Wallflower Gone Wild by Maya Rodale
04. One in a Million by Jill Shalvis

I also made progress on A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin and read a good chunk of Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. I'm rereading both of them before Heir of Fire, which is hanging out and looking pretty on my shelf. As you can see, though, I was clearly not on the top of my reading game in October. I was busy with work and other things, but mostly? I was distracted. See further down for the oh-so-important reason.

Sharon's MONTH favorites:
Um, all of them? No, really. What it lacked in quantity, October made up for in substance. I thoroughly enjoyed every book I read. I mean, it's the third time I read Throne of Glass. I've never read anything by Maya Rodale before, but I really liked her style a lot. I'll definitely be looking her up in the future. And I finished the last full Lucky Harbor book. *sniff* I haven't been able to make myself write the review of it yet, but it will come! No worries.

Other Things Sharon Did
Now, the answer you've all been waiting for. Although if you follow me on Twitter, it's probably not exactly a mystery to you. But trust me, I held back like 98.8% of it. Well, except for Judith. She happened to respond to me once, and I exploded all my feels toward her. Sorry about that, lovely! Without further ado, the object of my obsession:

Once and I started innocently enough. I had held off watching a long time, though it seemed like a very "me" show. I finally gave in, but after 4 episodes, I was ready to throw in the towel. Though I was intrigued by the characters, I was frustrated because nothing was happening. But my cousin encouraged me to give it another shot, and I had a good chunk of time one day after a trip to the dentist where I didn't want to do anything but lie on the couch. It took another two episodes, and BOOM. I was hooked. Things started happening, more characters were introduced, etc. And the rest is history. I kept it healthy for a week or so, with only one or two episodes a day. But then I fell down the hole completely, full-out marathoning and fic-reading and mix-making and apple turnover-baking. Hence, very few books. But oh well. It's freaking AWESOME. I heartily endorse it. Just make sure you give it six episodes before you decide if it's for you or not. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some fic to read books to catch up on.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

(Review) He's So Fine by Jill Shalvis

Title: He's So Fine
Author: Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor, #11
Published: September 30, 2014 (Grand Central Publishing)
Rating: Staying in Tonight
Format: Egalley provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review (Thanks!); paperback borrowed from my sister, borrowed from the library.
Summary: For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It's the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she's rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she's ever laid hands on.

Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to "save" him. In fact, he'd like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He's just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole's heart, or will it be the end of Olivia's days in little Lucky Harbor?
I had He's So Fine for several weeks before I finally read it. I would look at it, get excited, then stop before I actually read the first line. Why? Because reading it would mean there would only be one more Lucky Harbor book for me to read ever, and that's just a terrible thought. Thankfully, the release date came around, and my cousin devoured this book faster than you can say "sa-woon." This, of course, prompted me to finally crack it open (figuratively speaking, obviously, as it was on my Nook), so we could discuss it!

As always, it was wonderful to be back in Lucky Harbor. I always like seeing it through the eyes of characters who are both new to town (Olivia) and those who grew up there (Cole). And, of course, those who make the town as quirky as it is (Lucille, who had recently navigated the transition from Facebook to Tumblr, due to their less restrictive photo policies, all the better for posting shirtless photographs of our favorite resident ship captain).

Oh, Cole. He is what made this book for me. Truthfully, I was surprised to learn this book was about him, because in the Lucky Harbor mini-trilogies, the most intriguing hero of the three is usually saved for the last book, and I was drawn to Cole immediately. (I am certainly eager for Tanner's now! Who knows what amazingness Shalvis has been holding out on us?) Far be it from me to complain, though! I'll take a nice, sexy, honest, comfortable-in-his-own-skin handyman any day of the week. Cole had some things he had to work through, but he was definitely the star of the show.

Olivia was a little difficult to get to know as a character, because she was hiding a lot of her past. She had been a child star named Sharlyn, but her super popular show was canceled when at age 16, she finally looked too old to convincingly play a young girl anymore. After this, she had a typical Hollywood meltdown, went into hiding, and rebuilt her life as Olivia. She was scrappy, smart, and dedicated, but she was also used to being secretive and hiding her past. This created a problem when she started to get involved with Cole, who was all about the honesty.

Their interactions were spectacular! I mean, really. Their first official meeting happened because she jumped into the water to rescue Cole after watching him fall from a boat, only to make matters worse because he was actually fine, and she had no idea what she was doing. It was hilarious! She had the best of intentions, though, you had to hand it to her. Though they got started on kind of a crazy foot, Cole and Olivia fell into something like friendship pretty quickly and naturally, but although they had some pretty sizzling attraction, things had to be worked out before either was ready for a real commitment.

I only had a few small problems with this book. One is that the book felt kind of thrown together at times, the writing a little rushed. I would have liked to see some of the details a little more fleshed out, and I definitely wanted more interaction between the three main guys.

However, I was super excited to see Callie, Becca and Olivia's new neighbor, show up! She's clearly going to be the third heroine, and I'm already anticipating her story. Especially since she used to have a crush on Tanner AND is related to Lucille. I know the next book is going to rock. If I can ever convince myself to read it, that is. But if He's So Fine - and all the previous Shalvis books I've read - taught me one thing, it's this: Saying "yes" to a Jill Shalvis book is always the right answer.
For a guy balancing his weight between the stern of his boat and the dock, thinking about sex instead of what he was doing was a real bonehead move.

“You’re engaged to be married,” Callie reminded her.
“Yes, but it’s Captain Jack Sparrow,” Becca said. “He’s a fictional character. You’re allowed to lust after fictional characters when you’re engaged. It’s in the Engaged Handbook somewhere.”

“Just because we’ve done...it,” she said, “doesn’t mean–”
“We discussed your sexual vocabulary. ‘It’ is not on the list of acceptable descriptions for what we did.”
“Fine,” she said. “We had wild monkey sex that ruined me for all other men. Happy?”
“Getting there.”