Reader Favorites – Grey’s *9* Five-Stars of 2018, Plus 5 Honorable Mentions

by Maryse on January 1, 2019 · 15 comments

in Book Recommendations

OMG DO WE HAVE A TREAT TODAY!!! Grey has graced us with not only her “best of” list, but an incredibly detailed and hilarious post (such amazing reviews from one of our dearest friends!!), right here to devour. I just couldn’t stop giggling as I read this one!

Ready? Let’s dig in!!! Take it away, Grey! ;)

*waves* Hi everyone! Are you ready? I mean… have you turned off the Roombas and made sure the Instant Pots are okay with a slow release? Word to the wise, you should probably grab a snack and a drink too, this is going to take a while.

Commencing launch sequence in 3, 2,… *Glitter and confetti explode everywhere* You’re welcome, by the way, it’s the kind that doesn’t stick in any crevices, because I’m thoughtful like that.

So, 2018. It was an interesting year for me. Personally, I had kind of a rough year, and I struggled with a dreaded slump. Although, goodreads tells me that I read more this year than last. I’m a bit perplexed over that, I think maybe I was just a little bit better at keeping track. *shrug*

True 5 star reads for me…well, it seems I was a little easier to impress this year, because I had nine 5 star reads. Although, I guess it could be argued, that I just chose my books more wisely. Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe.

I’m going to list these in chronological order, because I feel that works the best for me. (And I’m lazy, thanks goodreads for helping me out here…)

American Prince (New Camelot Book 2) by Sierra Simone

Wow, alright, are you sitting down? Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Sex. Holy Mary, Mother of God, sex. This book was deliciously filthy…sex. Make sure your will is up to date before you read this book…because sex. When I reviewed American Queen (book 1) on goodreads, I was deliberately pretty vague. I had some strong opinions on certain characters in the book and I didn’t want to let that stuff out into the general populace and color anyone else’s opinion, plus…spoilers. However, wanna know who I didn’t feel guilty about? Embry. I was so in total lust with Mr. Man…oh yeah, I said it. Total. Lust. I may have felt guilty about it in book 1… but I didn’t feel even the teensiest shred of guilt about it while reading American Prince.

Sure, the graphic sex should have made me feel guilty for reading it in the pick-up line at my kid’s school… but I voluntarily decided to pick up the carpool and arrived a few minutes, *read 35*, early. Oops. I must have mistakenly gotten the time wrong, *shrug* It happens to everyone, right? Boy, it was an awfully good thing I had my kindle with me and the Spotify playlist downloaded to help pass the time. *wink, wink*

Yeah. What was I saying? I was having a flashback of those blissful minutes spent reading and listening in my car. I’m surprised the windows didn’t fog up…because this book could possibly be the hottest thing I’ve ever read. Ever. And I’ve read some spicy merchandise, people. I actually worried that maybe there might be a touch too much of the hibbity jibbity going on… I know. I’ll put myself into timeout later for my antiquated notions. I do kind of feel sex just for sex’s sake is… meh… but anyway.

Oh, my broken little Prince… back to Embry, I so need to hug him. It’s always these so-called broken bad boys… they’re my kryptonite. He’s pretty much perfect in my book. I know, I know… he’s not really… but to me… the author did a fantastic job with character and character canon. With all of them. I did not feel ambivalent about anyone in this world she built. I have VERY strong feelings about the whole damn lot of them!

So instead of me getting fired up…let’s look at Ms. Simone’s words for a moment.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Embry holds my husband’s heart in his hands and he doesn’t even know it. He’s too busy looking at the details of Ash’s faces to see the expression, too busy being in love to see how loved he is.”

And I know in that moment that Embry and I have something Ash can never have with either of us— which is, of course, the experience of being loved by him. Embry and I share a secret path, a secret knowledge, and the cause is Ash, but it exists outside of him too.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Gah… my poor battered heart! I was almost afraid to open American King. But the cliffy at the end of American Prince demanded immediate resolution! I don’t know how readers survived the long drought between books, I would have been stalking Ms. Simone for any crumb of literary substance! I barely made it through dinner that night before grabbing my Kindle and hot-footing it to bed to read!

It’s funny, I know this is supposed to parallel the Camelot story… loosely, of course… but I still cannot shake the Scandal undertones in my head. I heard the camera shutter sound in my mind when the scene was changing and I half expected Olivia Pope to pop out with her white hat on… it’s nuts!

You need to suspend belief a bit… it’s fiction… I’m cool with that. I took it for what it was. An erotic BDSM fiction that blurs a lot of lines. And so, I hung on and enjoyed the hell out of the ride.

The Darkest Sunrise (The Darkest Sunrise Duet Book 1) by Aly Martinez

Gah! Right from the beginning this one was like a runaway train. Masterful, poignant and rawly magnetic. I didn’t want to put this book down for a second. I could barely be bothered enough to write a short place holder of a review up so that I could move onto book 2, because I was *ALL IN*. I had to know how they were all going to handle everything that life was throwing in Porter and Charlotte’s direction. And it felt legitimate, like these could be your neighbors you see this situation unfolding for. Or you. Gah, it could be you!? *cue the waterworks* Just brava, dear writer.

Believability is so important, it can make or break a story; and in this story, it was making it all over the place. Ms. Martinez didn’t hold back, and I held on tight—to everything: Manny, my Puffs Plus and all the Godiva I could get my grabby little hands on. Maybe I should send her a bill for the increase in my pants size? Anywho…onward, we go!

Transcend (The Transcend Duet Book 1) by Jewel E. Ann

Fair warning, kiddies… there is a MAJOR cliffhanger at the end of this book. Be advised.

Now that that’s out of the way. This was actually the first Jewel E. Ann book I’d ever read. *ducks from the impending peanut avalanche that I am certain is incoming* Where had I been living, under a rock? No… just high up Mt. TBR in a glittery blankie fort…it’s been rectified, and I certainly plan to check out more of Ms. Ann’s books, because she is something quite extraordinary. I have to thank the book club girls; Robin, Lisa, Nay, Kooloo, Paula, and our new gang coming in from Robin’s FB group and then, of course, it was really the discussion on right here on Maryse’s blog that gave me the final nudge in the direction to pick this masterful bit of storytelling up before the second book had even been released.

There is a Spotify playlist. It is EPIC. The musical correlation to the story as I was reading was eerie…. I consider myself a very fast reader… but still, the timing of songs was so inventively nuanced, I quite literally had the hair brought up on my arms a couple of times. I’m not sure if it was happenstance, or … yeah. Damn.

Where was I going with this rambling review?? I laughed, I cried, I fanned my face, I threw my kindle. I cried some more. Yep, go ahead, read that last part again. Yep, I threw my kindle. It was my own fault. I was inhaling the chapters so fast I didn’t read carefully… and missed ONE key word. I was *real* pissed at that one crucial point… I had a mini meltdown and was out of Godiva, the store didn’t have any… I wound up buying discounted jellybeans and threw out all of the black jellybeans in the fricking parking lot garbage can after I bought them; because I knew I would have an uber tantrum if I accidentally shoved a handful of jellybeans into my mouth and ate a black licorice jellybean by mistake. Anyway, you’ll see. LOL. It’s all good. No cracked screens. My sugar craving was sated. And I devoured this truly phenomenal tale of love and what it means to be in love and feel the whispers of transcending love through space and time.

If my words haven’t been enough to convince you… maybe hers will… a couple of quotes from the book.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I’m late, but I take a few seconds to bask in the moment of being so incredibly in love with this man. If …’s death taught me anything, it’s that last good goodbyes don’t RSVP. Take lots of mental pictures of favorite moments. And being present with the ones that matter most is the wisest investment of time.

I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to convince myself I was too young to really love her. It has to be the trauma of losing her so suddenly at such a vulnerable age. Some people think kids are resilient. They heal faster because their cells divide faster. It’s true on a physical level. But …emotionally, I think what happens to us when we’re young changes us forever. A broken bone is nothing compared to a broken heart. One is a scratch. The other leaves a scar on your soul.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Yeah, wow, right??? I was enthralled by the mythical mystery and planted very firmly in ONE camp. There was no other option for me. Which could possibly be why I loved this book and not the next one, but that’s just me.

Painted Faces by L.H. Cosway

This was another of the book club’s ATF challenge reads. Thank you, Jean. I should never worry. You truly are my book twin. I’m going to let this review be a little shorter and more succinct than my more normal rambles ad nauseum… Let’s let the author’s words speak for themselves…

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Isn’t that what every girl wants? To be loved by someone uniquely, to make a man feel something he hasn’t yet felt for anyone else. The female need for true love is a fickle bitch. It forces itself into your life and shapes your actions, always driving you to find that one guy who’ll love you unconditionally. Some of us seek it in the worst of places too, in soulless pubs and night clubs filled with guys who can’t see past their own shallow egos, who only see the surface of a woman. They don’t look for what’s underneath because they don’t want that; they want the aesthetic, the long hair and the tight little dresses.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Let me tell you something… this book was written 6 years ago, and it still is relevant. It is original, atypical, and I have never read anything like it. I absolutely loved it. Ms. Cosway is a genius. Period. There is no other explanation. I know she’s written more…I simply must move them up my TBR mountain. *scribbles note to self*

The Raging Ones by Krista and Becca Ritchie

This was another one of those incredibly unique and original books that I didn’t even know I was craving, until I opened it up and started devouring it.

So, bullet points: Spotify checklist- yep, amazing! Some Spotify playlists I love because I love music. This playlist I love, because it signifies so much about what the book is truly about. It just encapsulates the spirit of what I believe the authors were trying to portray with their words. Just my opinion, of course, but this was an excellent addition to the “main course” of the book.

Cover art: I love bookcovers that, again, are a little different. Still classically beautiful and interesting, pleasing to my eye… this one has *it* too. And again, it fits the theme. Love it.

Characters: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! The three main characters, they are as different as different can be… but not. However, these characters are written so supremely well. Their individuality is stellar, the way they stay true to themselves–while evolving into what they must in the crux of the storyline–masterful. Obviously, you all know, I don’t do spoilers. Sorry, not even bending my rules… although it is SUPER hard with this book because I want to tell you *ALL* of the things. Even the supporting characters are fantastic, and you really can’t feel ambivalent about anyone.

World building: top-notch. With a YA Sci-Fi book, just like with any type of Sci-Fi or Fantasy, the world building can make or break a book. You can suffer and struggle under the weight of too much–or too little– information. Those info dumps, or black holes, can leave you weighted down or lost. I felt this book had just enough of tiny ones of both of these scattered throughout that I never wanted to put the book down and walk away from it. Not to say it was perfect, there were a couple little blips in the road… but the story, guys… the story!

Let me reiterate, this is definitely YA. But I would LOVE to see it in on a big screen… seriously, that’s the kind of thing I was thinking while reading this book. Just amazing. I loved it. Prepare yourselves… there is a cliffy. Quite a big one…and it’s a plot twist that I don’t think you’ll see coming. I didn’t, and I’m usually pretty good with that sort of thing.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“You’ve stolen my heart, you little crook.”

His smile only stretches further and brighter. “My most valuable theft.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Instead of that being a quote from the book, it could be a hallucination I’ve had about a conversation between me and the authors regarding this book…except that we’re all women. And that pesky little fact that it *is* in fact, a quote from the book… Details, details…

If I could have a personalized, printed copy of this one for my very own, it would join my most-prized collection. That’s how much I love it!

Execution: A Forbidden Gymnastics Romance (Off Balance Book 2) by Lucia Franco

Hot diggity dog. *wolf whistle* So, if you read my review for Balance (Off Balance #1), you’ll remember that I was a bit of a “focused” individual. Uh, I dare say I was just as focused on this book…maybe even more so. *wipes brow*

Words…what are they and what order am I supposed to put them in? *falls over in hot mess of hormones*

I’m kidding, sorta. I inhaled these two books… almost 1200 pages in just over 2 days. Execution is the 2nd book in the Off Balance series and you absolutely need to read these books in order. Ms. Franco’s writing style is infectious. And truthfully, the books are like my own personal catnip. A bully…forbidden love… gah. The sexy times. Sound the alarm! And no, not just sex to up the word count. It was hella hot, but I felt like it was used well, if that makes sense. The angst… yes, please… the angst, I love it. It’s soul food, right there! I had almost a perma-pretzel tummy. I know, there’s probably something to be said about that… take it up with Freud, it’s his fault.

While we’re here though… let’s talk about style. Ms. Franco’s style is top-notch. While I still felt it was a bit heavy-handed with the technical gymnastics jargon, I can appreciate that in her perspective it probably felt necessary to include. It certainly added more to the authentic feel of the book, although at times it read a little bulky and weighted. There were still a bit of editing/proofreading things that need to be fixed, but nothing to detract from my enjoyment of the story. With this particular book being almost 600 pages, of course there are going to be a few little oopsies.

Hot. So amazingly melt my kindle screen hot. Contact fever hot. Do not read this in public hot, because when your face gets flushed… people will ask you if you’re ok… then ask what you’re reading… and then you have to put up or shut up. *side-eyes everyone* Not that that’s ever happened to me.

But then… there’s also passages like the ones I’m going to quote below. Amazing.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sometimes the moments in life that caused the most damage to the heart put us on the path of reward and gratification. To the greatest glory.

Where there was perfection, there was pain hidden in darkness. Most days were brutal, and I often questioned my sanity. Others filled with regret, but then something magical happens and everything falls into place. All the heartache and pain once dealt with washes away and forgotten when that one moment you’ve been chasing your whole life is caught and becomes reality.

Feel that between us? That chemistry, that fire. The harmony of two people who are so wrong for each other but somehow come together, throwing everything off balance to the point that nothing makes sense but it feels right. That is us. That is trust.

Your silence will be your success. … Strength didn’t come from what you could do, it came from the power within one’s heart, a determination unlike no other to thrive.

The love of money was the root of all evil and I hated it.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Adrianna and Kova both need a good ass kicking. In fact, I think everyone in this book needs a good swift boot to the rear. No one is safe from me right now.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but I’m going to say it anyway. I feel the author probably took a lot of heat for book 1… she’s probably taking more flack for this one due to the taboo/forbidden love aspects of the story. Again, I’m not here for that. What I am going to say is… read the warning at the front of the book. She spells it out quite clearly, if this subject matter makes you uncomfortable…it is quite simple… put the book down and walk away. There is no one forcing you to read the book and certainly no one forcing you to rate/write a review for it. Blasting an author with a low rating and/or a scathing review because you think the subject matter is “vile” or whatever, is inappropriate. No one forced you to read the book. On the flip side, I do understand free speech…and freedom of expression, so if you have constructive feedback, by all means, I’m sure that Ms. Franco would love to see it. Remember above all else, this is fiction, and more importantly, writing is probably a large part of her livelihood… so be helpful not hurtful. *steps off soapbox*

Cliffy. Big one. I’m ready to stalk the author already… can’t hurt, right? Thank goodness for Kindle Unlimited. The only thing that could have made this better for me, would have been a soundtrack, LOL! Well, that’s not entirely true… but spoilers, you’re not getting them… haha! Sorry. Even though I have a couple little bitsy things that I could pull off for, I have to give this one 5 stars, it really did completely snag my attention. And for a 2nd book in the series to make this much of an impact on me… well, that’s saying something.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

*happy sigh* Okay, seriously. I should know better. Why don’t I gobble up every single book that Christina and Lauren write? I am sitting here with the biggest smile on my face right now, even months later as I think about this book. Was it perfect? No. But then again, is love perfect? No. Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, without a doubt.

What this writing duo have mastered, other than a style, grace and flow of writing that is so smooth it reads like silk; is a key ingredient…they make you care about their characters. You want to know what happens to them, you become invested in them as people.

Hazel, the quirky, third-grade teacher is someone that you would be friends with. And Josh, the quiet, physical therapist, is someone that you respect and want to have his respect and friendship in return. And the secondary characters… I just adored it all. This book, for me, threw off a distinctive Beautiful Player vibe, which is one of my top ten books ever. It wasn’t a copycat, or even anything blatant or even remotely similar; I just felt that same pull, you know?

Dirty Headlines by L.J. Shen

L.J. Shen is one of those almost automatic one-click authors for me. And I don’t say that lightly. It takes a lot to get my devotion, I’m a pretty tough critic, if I’m being honest and I think most of you’d agree. In fact, if you went back and looked at my reviews of her previous works… I’ve never even given her a 5 star before. Regardless of the fact that I do enjoy the type of book that she typically pens. Or maybe it’s *because* of the books that she writes. However, Dirty Headlines was a game changer for me. In my opinion, this is the best book that Ms. Shen has ever written.

Célian and Jude had chemistry, there was angst… gah, was there angst. He’s a bully (we know my soft spot for them, although Ms. Shen’s certainly written much more ‘Vicious’ ones). She’s a sassy, confident…yet, slightly broken, young woman. The smut was nuclear. I mean… beat feet to the bomb shelter with your rations, nuclear. The Spotify soundtrack totally fits the book. Le sigh. I listened to it long after I was done with the book. Secondary characters were inspired, but not caricatures that were insipid or irritating; it is quite obvious that Ms. Shen put work into this book. The writing is top-notch, it sucks you in, I inhaled it in the span of a few hours, barely breathing…let alone doing anything else that required much more than a few nods and murmurs of acknowledgment to the other members of my household, I was held hostage to story…enraptured by the intrigue of her words.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Time is too precious not to be spent with those you love the most. I learned that the hard way.”

If Célian met chivalry in a dark alley, he would beat it to death, then find its sister, generosity, and kill her too.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I know, I know… way to ruin a pretty review with a line like that… but seriously… it fits. Anyway, this book was fantastic.

My last 5 star read of the year goes to Heartbreak Warfare by Heather M. Orgeron and Kate Stewart. This book is also in the unique category of being my very favorite book of the year. In addition, it is the only book that was pushed up onto my All-Time Favorites List. It broke me. Unique, because I was a proofreader for Ms. Stewart on this book, so I had hands on it before the general public did- and in a couple different forms. What do I think? I think you all need to be prepared. This book will take you on a journey. For me, the journey was littered with Puffs Plus and Godiva wrappers. The dedication in the very beginning of the book set the tone: “With the utmost respect, we give this to you, our love letter to the American soldier.” I was practically a hot mess from the onset.

There was so much in this book I could write about, but really, I won’t. It’s an experience you need to have for yourself. Take one piece of advice from me though, load the soundtrack. Seriously, if there was ever a soundtrack you *need* in your life, it’s this one. I have never had a playlist affect me as much as this one has. I know most of us are familiar with the way Ms. Stewart can effectively nuance music with the written word, but it’s never hit me quite as hard as it did with Heartbreak Warfare. Not even Drive compares… I know, a pretty high bar, right?

I should probably stop waxing poetic and let you see some of the insane talent that Ms. Orgeron and Ms. Stewart are spilling all over the pages… yes?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

What I’m feeling is dangerous. … Loving her is costing me my sanity, and I can’t deny that in a way I’m beginning to blame her for it.

Love is supposed to be enough.

It shouldn’t be this hard to love someone so much,

It was the way she kissed me—not with just her lips, but with her whole being. I’d never felt so much strength in a kiss. She branded me with the first,

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I was there, right in the thick of things the whole time. Not once was I disconnected and in a story like this, it hurt. You’re a hostage to your feelings. The mastery of the storytelling was so astoundingly crafted and believable that I truly ached for these people…these characters who became real to me. A true testament to the ladies that had the guts to write this no-holds-barred tale.

Hoping for SUNNY skies tomorrow. Because Lord have mercy, I can’t wish for cloudy ones. Kate and Heather, you two ruined me in the best way possible. You, me and Houdini…woo, you ladies slayed me. Let’s save some horses and ride some cowboys next time, sound good? I’ll remember this story forever. Raw, gritty, heartbreaking and yet…inspiring at the same time. Thank you for this. I truly loved it.

As you can see, this year has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. I reread a little, that’s new for me. So with that being said, I feel the very pressing need to include three books that were rereads for me; however, it should also be said that I loved them as much, if not more, on these subsequent readings.

Beautiful Player (The Beautiful Series Book 5) by Christina Lauren

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read this book. Several is a good enough estimation. Back in February I picked this book for Melinda as her Pick-for-Me choice for the month; and then the book club girls tossed around the idea of a group read (reread for some of us). I don’t think my eyes had finished scanning the idea sentence before my fingers had already opened a new tab to start the thread! I hadn’t read this one in a long time… however, the feels were instantly *there*. I remembered how much I loved Player Will… and his unfiltered, socially awkward Plum.

Their organic relationship, the way it built up from a most casual orbit to the hot and steamy adult romance we’re treated to… *This book* is why I’m a romance fan. “This is precisely the danger of Will Sumner.” And the reason that he’s been on the top of my all-time book boyfriend list since 2013!

I laughed so many times in this book. Truly, laughed out loud. I just enjoyed every single page. It was like coming home again. Revisiting my family between the pages of a book. Thank you to Christina and Lauren, for their mastery in creating characters that endear them to us and make us keep coming back! They know how to write a rom-com that hits on all the feels. I’d give this book more than 5 stars if I could!

Playing with Monsters: Playing with Monsters by Amelia Hutchins

Rereading this title on my goodreads list gives me pretzel tummy. I’m not sure I can even talk about it. Except I must, because I actually am going to reread it again in anticipation of Becoming His Monster (Playing with Monsters #3) which releases on New Year’s Day. Playing with Monsters was nothing short of mind-blowingly epic. Absolutely everything that I love in a paranormal story. It was hot, action-packed, witty bantered, alpha-filled, angst-loaded, intriguing fascination. And I devoured it with even more relish the second time I read it.

Then the second book was released. Yep, cue record scratch. While Sleeping with Monsters was a phenom of a book, it annihilated me. I sobbed for a straight and solid hour while reading. And that is by no means an exaggeration. It was absolutely gut-wrenching, just thinking of it now gets me all sorts of knotted up. But that’s just it, isn’t it?

A fantastical world that the mere mention of the title in a brief review can wield such power over a reader’s emotions that they actually feel a physical manifestation of symptoms…is nothing short of true brilliance. And why, even now…Playing with Monsters still has my 5 star flag flying high and why Sleeping with Monsters should probably get a bump in its rating.

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses Book 2) by Sarah J. Maas

Do you all remember last year? I went a little nuts and read this entire series in the span of 4 days. 2200 pages in 4 days. I don’t think I ate, slept or showered more than once…maybe twice? But it was Feyre…the Courts… the beautiful tortured angst, and Rhysand, come on, y’all? Anyone who has read this series before completely understands me right now, and is nodding, I’m sure of it. So anyway, there was a little novella, A Court of Frost and Starlight, that came out this year…and I simply had to reread the entire series before it did. My love for this 2nd book in the series didn’t wane a bit, if anything I fell deeper into my love for certain characters. And now I hear murmurings that Ms. Maas is releasing an adult fiction, Crescent City, late in 2019, so I’ll be sure to keep my eye out for that as well.

And it needs to be said, I have some books that deserve an honorable mention category, simply because of the fact that I am pretty stringent with my 5 stars.

The Brave Line by Kate Stewart

June 2018… the month of Maryse in our TBR challenge. One of our book club challenges this past year was to pick a favorite of Maryse or a fan recommendation that is frequently touted on the main blog page. The only catch was that it had to be something we had already on our TBR’s for the month. Lucky me… I had cheated, and this one I loaded up on my Kindle Unlimited before June started, LOL! I honestly couldn’t believe I didn’t own this one already… because it had been on my radar forever!

I had been having a bit of a dry spell… pretty much forcing myself to read and not feeling it. Not the case with this book, however, I can tell you that! I was hooked much like Rowdy hooked that shark in the very beginning! Having first-hand knowledge of dispatching and being very close with numerous police officers, this book was nothing short than a brilliantly-written fictional snapshot of what their lives look like.

The jerk-faced male main character and the spicy, strong female main character who doesn’t back down from anything… it was a powerful and steamy combustion of two souls desperate to live their own lives in their own way. Did I mention it was hot? I’m talking big bang type of explosion – HOT. *fans self* Dang, Ms. Stewart… you should hand out complimentary fans along with your books.

Wanna decide for yourself…Let Ms. Stewart’s words convince you.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Crazy never explained itself and human nature was the most f***ed up beast imaginable.

Honesty with oneself isn’t always the best thing when you’re in a no win situation.

You can begin again anywhere you want to in life, but you can’t recreate your past or the way it shaped you.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sigh, crazy good…right?

Anyway, 4.75 stars for amazingly accurate perception and an absolutely intriguing storyline.

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre

On a snowed-in day last January, I picked this book from the “Best of 2017 ~ 5 Star Favorites Spreadsheet” and just read. Some hours later I surfaced…

This book hurt my head. No wait, hear me out. I got a headache because I spent the last 20 minutes crying my fool little eyes out. I read the warning… I knew what I’d signed up for. I should have heeded the warning. It was a good thing that Kid #1 was fortifying me with homemade chocolate chip cookies, because this book… oh, the feels, I needed to feed them in a bad way and I was out of Godiva, and it was a blizzard outside my house!

One suggestion! Go in blind, don’t read the reviews… except for mine… because I won’t spoil a blessed thing for you, haha! I’m going to tell you the initial set up and plot building for me was super slow… and that was the only thing that detracted me a bit and had me pulling back from an unadulterated 5 star rating. Helena and her Ghostwriter… the whole thing had a very eerie, almost Opportunist/Jezebel undertone for me, but not… I don’t know, it had something and it was crazy wonderful, I really enjoyed it… obviously, as I inhaled it over the course of several hours and then paid the price with the feeling of a toddler banging a drum inside my head. I loved the mind-messery of it all! 4.75 stars.

Here we are, another year later. Thank you for indulging my long-winded wrap-up of my 2018 reading year and congratulations if you’ve made it through without falling asleep! Thank you, Maryse, for being the captain of our ship. You’re amazing and we appreciate everything you do for us! Best wishes to all of our book buddies and here’s to making 2019 the best reading year yet! *blows glitter kisses to all*

XOXO,

Grey

YAY!!! Thank you SO much Grey, for this. THIS IS INCREDIBLE!! And I LOVE your choices and I agreeeeeee!!!

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Nay January 1, 2019 at 1:53 PM

Great list, Grey! I’ve loved many of these. Painted Faces was among my 2012 top 3 (I can’t believe it’s been SIX years!), and I’ll stand tall with you on the Execution review soap box. PREACH!

bev January 1, 2019 at 2:31 PM

So….R is where all these people are coming from???

I have read 2 on here. Painted faces brings back memories. I was just a baby lurker then I think.

Great list Grey. Can tell you put a lot of thought and work into giving your favorites some love.

R. Renee January 1, 2019 at 3:11 PM

They’re my mermaids from my readers group on FB. Grey’s invited them to participate in the GR challenges! Hopefully they’ll join us here too!

R. Renee January 1, 2019 at 3:12 PM

Gah Grey! The whole New Camelot series! I can’t even. I need to read that again start to finish STAT!!!

MichelleS January 1, 2019 at 8:14 PM

Great list & great commentary. See a lot of my faves up there, and new ones to add to my list!

MichelleS January 1, 2019 at 8:15 PM

I have started The Darkest Sunrise at least theee times. What am I missing? Does it take a while?

Jan January 1, 2019 at 10:05 PM

OMG Grey. Love your detailed commentaries. Thanks for sharing and for all the effort you put in!! Glad to see one of my favs up there, Beautiful Player. If anyone out there hasn’t read it yet, go do it now! I’ve read three of your others too, but BP is the standout for me.

Leslie M January 1, 2019 at 10:33 PM

“Hibbity jibbity”

*howls with laughter*

Grey, your comments crack me up!

Jenn January 2, 2019 at 6:16 AM

Thank Grey so much for the laughs and your list! I have read a few of them-Transcend, The Darkest Sunrise and of course Heartbreak Warfare and could not agree with you more. However I definitely have to look into the others, I think most of them are on my TBR somewhere just have not gotten to them.

Steph N January 2, 2019 at 7:53 PM

The Darkest Sunrise- one of those books where I was “there is no way book 2 can ever come close to what book 1 was” and it DID!! I need to do a re-read. I’ve read others on your list, but I definitely have a few up there to check out. Thanks for the very long review. I have the opposite problem. (example- 5 stars-WOW- Read it! Ok. )

Maryse January 3, 2019 at 10:10 AM

LOL Steph!! Short and sweet works too! :P

marina January 3, 2019 at 12:47 PM

Loved a bunch of books on your list so excited to read the ones I haven’t read! LOVED and have reread Beautiful Player numerous times as well!

Michele G January 3, 2019 at 3:08 PM

Grey!! That was an awesome and super entertaining list!! *Sprinkling some glitter back on you*

You & Nay pulled me into the Balance/Execution “club” this year….I think you just wanted company impatiently awaiting Release (book 3)….

You have a few up there I haven’t read yet…but I know they are all my TBR…sooooo I better get to reading!!

Jennifer January 5, 2019 at 2:20 PM

Wonderful list Grey. I think I read The Raging Ones because of your love for it. Also loved Ms. Franco’s books and can’t wait for the next. Will have to dive back into Ms. Hutchin’s world soon….it’s that whole “drag on releasing new books and me not wanting to lose interest once the series begins” thing.

Cheryl January 5, 2019 at 9:22 PM

Wow Grey loved how you wrote your list! Read several on your list but still haven’t built up the nerve to read Heartbreak Warfare.

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