GREY!!!!! How I LOVE GREY! The shade (grey), the books (grey) 😉 and… my very own awesome book-bud (aka Grey), that’s as much as an earlybird as I am, loves to toss glitter and confetti and sparkly things in the air to rain upon us… LOVES these “best of” lists as much as I do, and she has AMAZING taste in books. In fact…
OMG GREY!!!! This list is AWESOME. Loaded in awesomeness that I loved too, but I LOVE that you let us know WHY, and HOW you were affected by each one of your “best of” choices. I am SO honored that you are sharing this with us, my friend. <3
But first!!! Let’s enjoy some “2017 Grey commentary”, shall we? 😉
Her AWESOME message to authors:
To any of our authors that may be peeking in…keep writing ALL of the words! We need them in case of an apocalypse! In all seriousness though, thank you all for your time and talent that you share with the world… Your books are what brought us together! You’re all amazing and we so appreciate you.
Grey’s super-awesome reader confession that makes me wanna snuggle her!
I think my most touching reader confession is that I have made these friendships… real friendships with women all over the world. People, that for the grace of God, I would never have gotten to know, without the power of the written word. To me… that is worth so much. *You all* mean so much to me. *happy tears* <3
About her Christmas tree tradition…
“Our tree and all signs of Christmas… must be down and put away before yesterday. My son’s birthday is the 30th and we’re always extra cautious that he never feels slighted or like his birthday is a “leftover” Christmas celebration. His birthday is just as much a reason to celebrate as any of the other kids… so yeah, our tree and everything was down on Thursday, I think.”
And Grey’s answers to bev’s Christmas quiz 😉
Fake tree or real tree? Fake… although I love the look and smell of a real tree, we’re pretty allergy-ridden around here, so we keep it fake and friendly, lol!
Fat tree or thin tree? aw, why do we have to give the fat shame the tree…lol. It prefers the term fluffy….
Multicolor lights or white lights? White lights came on the tree, IDC personally…
Candy canes or ribbon candy? Candy canes
A hula hoop or a plane that loops the loop? Hula hoop
B.B. gun or leg lamp? Leg lamp! I have one actually! No hiding Amy, I’ve got your back on this one!
Best dancer Snoopy or anyone else? No one like the original Snoop Dog…haha
Should Frosty have been named Oatmeal? No, definitely not.
If a bell rings does an angel get his wings? Sure, why not!
Is that you Santa Clause? LOL, absolutely, in my red suit and everything.
Y’all ready for this?
Grey’s Top Twelve of 2017 List
“Incoming!!! *tosses glitter bomb*
So, I went through my Goodreads listings and discovered that the Grinch’s (aka Grey’s) heart has shrunk 40% this year… I’ve only given out six 5 star ratings, compared to 10 in 2016. *throws more confetti* Inside, I’m actually cringing at my own critical nature, and hoping the glitter and confetti will distract you all and hopefully balance out my grumpy cat-titude.
All things considered, I’ve actually read quite a bit less overall… All together now, let’s say it loud, say it proud. The great slump of 2017?!? However, I’ve proofread quite a bit MORE… so maybe it all balances out in the end? I’m reaching here, aren’t I? Ok, enough excuses, and on with the show! I’d ask R. to make us a fancy cocktail or something, but she’s a busy girl getting ready for a book release!! Straight up shots it is, unless someone else takes over on the bartender duties, Bueller? Bueller? Line up, girlies and get comfy… you know how ridiculous and unnecessarily wordy I am.
As far as my 5 star reads for the year go, I’ll dish them out in chronological order, I think that’s the easiest way.”
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
I guess what my not-so-short review should say is… I gave The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo 5 stars for masterful storytelling, world building, ceiling shattering, heart-mending (or is it heart breaking?), just truly awe inspiring words. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC; although I was fairly certain at the time R. was ready to raffle off unnecessary organs to get her hands on it… and could have possibly been throwing darts at pictures of my face.
This was my very first TJR – ever. I know, insane…right? Trust me, when I say, I understand the appeal now. I had been going through more than a bit of a dry spell. 6 months… roughly, 60- 65 books, without a 5 star read and I have to be honest, I was nervous. No, let’s be frank, I was terrified. I wanted to be impressed; yet, was the build-up going to ruin it for me? This was, after-all, *the Taylor Jenkins Reid* we were talking about. “Everyone” loves her books, she’s like a magical genie in the literary world and what if *I* didn’t like this book? Maybe I was broken and I’d never have a 5 star read ever again. See… terrified. But, I shouldn’t have worried. This book was all that, and then fairy dust sprinkles added on top. So, thank you to TJR… for creating such multifaceted characters that you can’t help but breathe their story, especially when it hurts.
I don’t like to give spoilers in my reviews, so I will just tell you I ran the gamut of emotions in this book. Up, down, left, right, loops, swoops and turns… I cried, cheered, raged… and simply stared in numb bewilderment, wondering where in the world some of these people could possibly come from. The simple answer is, they came from the creative genius, that is the author, Ms. Jenkins-Reid. It is with my most humble respect, that I predict this book will wind up on many ‘Best of 2017’ lists at the end of the year; my own, most definitely included, as you can plainly see. A fictional tale… but will many wonder, like I did, could there be a kernel of truth buried deep somewhere amongst the pages? Oh, my hat is off to you, Madam Story-Teller Extraordinaire!
Mists of The Serengeti by Leylah Attar
I don’t think I have ever highlighted as many passages in a book, as I did in Mists of the Serengeti. I wish I could just copy and paste all of them here, but my review would be PAGES long, people. PAGES! So, I will narrow it down to a few… because, trust me… worth it.
The very first thing…
“Growing old isn’t for sissies,” she said softly. “You lose the people you love. Over and over again. Some get taken away from you. Some walk away. And some you learn to let go.”
A few chapters later…
“how we’re all connected in strange, mysterious ways. Pull a thread here and a life unravels there.”
All these hauntingly, prophetic phrases that touched my soul.
The one you’ve probably seen the most in reviews… “Once in Africa, I kissed a king…” and sure, it made me *squee* too. But the ones that actually brought tears to my eyes and I had a true to life, hand to chest moment… and even now, rereading it, I can still feel my tummy pretzel knot right up.
“I closed my eyes and thought how there really ought to be a word to describe the sensation when your lungs fill up with the sweetest air, and yet you’re left completely breathless.” … “The most profound, most memorable moments of life are the ones that make you feel.” … “I wish you could see the world through my eyes…”
Ms. Attar, you’ve got a gift… this story was not pretty. Although the words, certainly were stunning and magnificent. The story behind the words was gritty, it was hard and difficult to swallow at times; but thought provoking and life affirming at the same time. A love that blossomed under the most horrific of circumstances. I tip my hat to you too, for raising awareness of causes not well known. I will remember this story for a very long time to come. It was like I was there. Caught in the rain… in a tent, on a hot afternoon. *whew*
How many of us still, how ever many months later, can vividly picture what color those balloons were? *sob*
The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent
Shifting gears now, I hit the ‘Want-to-Read’ button on Goodreads as soon as this book hit my radar. You see, certain book themes have that ‘book catnip’ appeal for me. The words, taboo, forbidden love, obsession… check, check, check! I just had to have this book! Somehow, the wheels of fate spun in my favor, and I was given an ARC by the author in exchange for my honest review.
You’re not supposed to want to love this book. It’s dirty. It’s brutal and HOT. It’s intense and wicked. But I did. Love it, that is. Raw and gripping, I was tangled up in the twisted eroticism of it all. It is deliciously angsty. There’s also an AWESOME Spotify playlist…in case you like to listen to a musical soundtrack as you read.
Layla has her own brand of stalker crazy going on…she’s starting over as a college freshman, in a new town, with a fresh slate. But then there’s Thomas, who’s her professor (sorta), her married professor – eep!, her married professor with a new baby – double eep! and obviously completely off limits. He is just kind of an arrogant jerk/bully to her, and you guys know how I feel about bullies. They are both so complex and flawed and I felt them both.
I highlighted so many sections I had a hard time deciding which of them to use in my review, because you all need to *see* Ms. Kent’s unparalleled mastery with her own words for yourself… don’t just take my word for it.
“Art is painful, Layla. It’s potentially dangerous. Explosive. It takes everything from you, sometimes more than you can afford. It’s a beast, and it’s always starving. You feed it and feed it… until you have nothing left.” He sucks in a breath. “But you don’t mind because you’d rather chase the high of creating something than live in darkness. It’s insanity.”
And I keep coming to the same conclusion: that bravery is not the absence of fear, but the courage to do something despite it— taking that first step despite the danger of falling, creating a piece of art knowing that people might not appreciate it. Bravery is like falling in love. You don’t know if the person will reciprocate, but still you fall.
Gah! See what I mean! Again, 5 ‘heart pounding, pretzel tummy inducing, screen melting’ stars! Definitely a trigger warning to some that should be a warning of some elements that aren’t for everyone. Read the author’s note for that one 😉
A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses Book 2) by Sarah J. Maas
Omg, yes! So really, I was going to cheat and throw the WHOLE series in here because I read something ridiculous like 2200 pages in 4 or 5 days in July. Adulting be damned. But for me, book 2, A Court of Mist and Fury was just *IT* for me!!! I knew I was going to have such a massive book hangover from this series I could feel it practically from the initial pages of book 1, but it was totally worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I am going to do it again… because some of the girls in the goodreads group are doing a buddy read, and what do you know, I signed my name right up on the dotted line, like the fool I am… SO MUCH WIN here though! Anyway, for as much as I thought I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses…. I was so totally engrossed into A Court of Mist and Fury even more.
Anyway, I am completely and totally in love with them. I don’t want to give spoilers. I don’t want to ruin this for anyone. However, I am a total fangirl of ‘the bond.’ *squee* Ms. Maas certainly is a master of the slow burn, isn’t she?
I highlighted so much. I cried… literally cried. My heart hurt so much for who you would think, surprisingly enough. So many characters won me over in this book… and as many of you know, the 2nd book in a series can sometimes be the death knell… so I went in with a completely open mind. And when it was a decidedly dark undertone in the first few chapters, I was practically beside myself with glee.
I wished I felt nothing.
I wished my human heart had been changed with the rest of me, made into immortal marble. Instead of the shredded bit of blackness that it now was, leaking its ichor into me.
“I will say this once-and only once,” … purred, stalking to the map on the wall. “You can be a pawn, be someone’s reward, and spend the rest of your immortal life bowing and scraping and pretending you’re less than him, than …, than any of us. If you want to pick that road, then fine. A shame, but it’s your choice.” The shadow of wings rippled again. “But I know you-more than you realize, I think-and I don’t believe for one damn minute that you’re remotely fine with being a pretty trophy for someone who sat on his ass for nearly fifty years, then sat on his ass while you were shredded apart-“
And then there was practically a whole chapter I highlighted… just re-reading the passages…
So, yes, I was jealous of him-because it will always be easy for him. And he will never know what it is to look up at the night sky and wish.” … “To the people who look at the stars and wish,” “To the stars who listen-and the dreams that are answered.”
“You think I don’t know how stories get written-how this story will be written?“
Whew, just rereading my own review I got choked up… makes me want to make a repeat visit to Prythian! My Spotify still has the playlists saved. Oh yes… there are playlists too for each book. It really is too perfect. Why are you still here reading my rambling?? Ok, fine, you can finish reading my best of 2017 list, but then seriously; you should build yourself a blankie fort, make sure you’ve got Godiva and Pink Moscato and hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign if you haven’t read them already…because it is everything!
A Charm of Finches (Venery Book 2) by Suanne Laqueur
“I think love is a big wisdom made up of small misunderstandings.”
Take a second… let Ms. Laqueur’s words sink in. She is a far more eloquent wordsmith, than I. In fact, I had sat on the review I wrote for my ARC copy for a bit; wondering what exactly I could say that would entice people to read a book that changed me.
This book, even more than its predecessor, An Exaltation of Larks, reached places that few books have been able to touch. I was held hostage to the precise and exacting words… I can’t even explain any more than that. This is book 2 of a series… but it is WORTH it. Trust me on this. Book 1 was amazing in it’s own right, but for whatever reason to me… A Charm of Finches just … it broke and healed me. I savored the words like a fine wine, and when I realized I was getting close to the end I purposefully dragged out my reading because I wasn’t ready to be done with their lives yet.
“Common must become extraordinary to survive what cannot be understood.”
If you want to take a journey… if you want to live the hopes and sorrows and lives of multidimensional and deep and faceted characters…. pick up this book and prepare to *experience* it. Breathe it in, live it. You won’t regret a second. 5 easy stars.
Full Tilt by Emma Scott
What do *I* think? I think that I sent out a distress call for Manny and Godiva and you guys did not respond quick enough, is what I think! I resorted to wiping my tears with the flaps of the blankie fort… It had been a while since I’d handed out an unadulterated 5… who would have thought a book that had me looking like a raccoon for a good portion of it, would earn that distinction??? I know, I am really LATE on this one. Full Tilt had been featured on a lot of best of 2016 lists last year…
I felt each achingly wistful hope, the soaring highs, the staggering lows… the raw desperation. Ms. Scott’s innate gift for showing and not telling, let us, the reader, live in the moments…those thousands of little moments. Truly magnificent.
I won’t be the same after reading this book either… Masterful storytelling. 5 beautiful, even in the things that scare you, stars
So, being as though I only had six 5 star reads in 2017, I’m adding in some from the top of my honorable mentions list as well.
Hideaway (Devil’s Night #2)by Penelope Douglas
I knew it. Back in the summer, Ms. Douglas told her readers that Hideaway would be pushed back from the original release date and she wasn’t sure how long it was going to be held up because *she* wasn’t satisfied that her book baby was ready for the world’s public consumption of it yet. As thirsty as I was… I gave her mad props for that. She knew that her words needed more TLC and she gave it to them, much to the disgruntlement of the masses of her fans. I knew then, this book was going to be mind blowing.
I was not at all upset. Then I was gifted an ARC copy of Hideaway from Ms. Douglas herself, and was even less than not at all upset, LOL! At an impressive almost 500 pages, it kept my attention firmly entrenched on the Horsemen and their new friends… I was honestly a bit bummed when the story was over. Really, *only* 500 pages, bring it on! And I am already chomping at the bit to know where the next installment in the Devil’s Night Series will take us with Kill Switch.
Dark. Dangerous…and did I forget to mention HOT? holy friggin’, hold on to your panties, my friends, because… dayum! So, so, so, so hot! Confessional. That’s all I’m saying. Con-fess-ion-al! *fans self*
Guess what?? *tap dances* There’s a playlist!! *Squee* It’s awesomely, amazingly, in sync with the chapters, as well…
Now, the part I know you all have been waiting for… Ms. Douglas’s words, because let’s face it…she’s the pro here.
“I know you’re not there,” I told the empty air on the other side. “I know I’ve been doing this too long to keep making excuses, but…” I paused, searching for words. “But sometimes I can only talk when no one is listening.”
“We’re only ever good, because there are consequences,” I told her. “Take those away, and everyone shows their true self. Kind of like taking off a mask.”
I didn’t want it to be over, so that should tell you a lot. I had a couple little, tiny things that kept me from throwing my 5 flag up… but you know… I was so *in it*. 4.75 stars. However, when I was thinking back earlier today to make my list, I immediately knew that Hideaway was going to be included on my list… even though it hadn’t technically earned a 5 star rating from me. Me thinks I may need to adjust it’s rating…
The only author to appear twice on my list… but with very good reason. Because Emma Scott is like a real life unicorn!
Forever Right Now by Emma Scott
What to say, what to say… I had the distinct pleasure of reading this book five or six times prior to its release. I was approached by Ms. Scott and asked if I would proofread for her. Not as a favor… but as a job. However, I was *not* paid to write a review. In fact, I don’t think she was expecting me to write a review. (Ha! As if *I* could keep my mouth shut about this story!) I wrote a review, because… I couldn’t stop thinking about the messages that had so deeply resonated since I had finished with Sawyer the Lawyer, Darlene and Olivia.
Forever Right Now is a love story that embodies the perfection of personal truths mired in circumstance and growth; that show us, the reader, that life is what happens when you’re caught up in the frenetic pace of daily ‘doing’, doing whatever you have to -be it treading water or scaling that corporate ladder- to achieve your own individual goals.
I don’t like to give spoilers, so I won’t. I will simply say, that Forever Right Now has a soundtrack, people! It’s awesome. You know I love that! It has grand descriptions, you’ll feel like you’re right there living in San Francisco. In addition to the main characters, which are AMAZING, btw, if you’re anything like me, you’ll fall *head over heels* for the secondary characters. My man, Max… I’ve got you, dude. You and I have unfinished business!
There will be laughter, there will be tears… sometimes at the same time. Be prepared. Have chocolate and tissues on hand. Do not confuse the two… not that I’ve ever done that. *side-eyes Godiva wrappers*
“The Universe is listening…” And thank God it is, because I believe that it gave us this. I truly enjoyed this story. Thank you, Emma Scott, for giving us this masterful bit of fiction and allowing me to become part of this world, part of your world, for a while. 4.75 stars.
True Abandon by Jeannine Colette
I had the distinct honor and privilege of reviewing an ARC of True Abandon by Ms. Jeannine Colette and I must say, I think it is probably my favorite of all of the books I’ve read of hers, thus far. Not that I’m throwing down a gauntlet or anything. *giggle* I mean seriously, what isn’t to love… a book that starts with a natural disaster and it’s a romance… it’s a match made in heaven for me!
I love natural disasters, I mean, not to get all weird; but I’m one of those people that get all zoned out during hurricane or blizzard coverage on The Weather Channel and will suddenly look up and realize I’ve been watching the TV for 3 hours in the middle of the night. *blink, blink* So, this book, when I read the first chapter, I was *ALL IN*. To anyone, who started to tiptoe out of my review just now, no worries, it isn’t a natural disaster book at all, LOL… but that’s how it hooked me initially!
No spoilers… other than I will tell you that Ms. Colette could write the hell out of a grocery list and make the laundry soap aisle appealing. She has a ‘True’ gift… see what I did there? LOL. No, but seriously, the vivid pictures she paints with her words made me see the action like it was unfolding right in front of me, instead of taking place on my kindle screen. Her characters are people… not characters, and you will love them… or HATE them, with a vengeance. I didn’t feel ambivalent about anyone in this book.
I’m sure you noticed the ‘Abandon’ theme… but it isn’t necessary to have read the other books in the series, these are all standalone novels. I, myself, haven’t read all of them. *hides from the incoming peanut launch that I am sure is coming from my fellow Marmy-friends*
And now, a little snippet.
“What’s this for?”
He took a second too long to answer, as if lost in his own thoughts as well. “Anatomy. We have to create a 3D model of any organ in the body.”
“Why the heart?” I asked. It was a simple question, but the answer I got would stay with me forever.
“Because it’s what controls our emotions, courage, and wisdom.”
I furrowed my brows and slowly shook my head. “No. That’s the brain.”
His finger tapped his head. “The heart stresses when we’re mad or sad, and it beats steady and true when we’re happy and content. The heart influences processing, perceptions, and emotions. The brain tells us what we know.” He placed his hand over my heart, and I nearly died. “The heart tells it how to feel.”
Right…. right?!?! Gah! My heart <3
4.75 ‘all the advanced prep’ stars!
A Lover’s Lament by K.L. Grayson
Another month for the Pick-for-Me challenge. Anyone that hasn’t been following along in my rambling type of reviews, let me give a brief, (haha), explanation. Each month, members of our book club sign up to let other members pick a book from our own prepicked “pick-for-me” shelf. I have taken it a step further and combined my five star favorites shelf and pick-for-me shelf into one; practically guaranteeing myself an amazing read…and truthfully, I wanted to read all of these books in 2017 anyway, so win-win!
In July, Lisa was my picker… and she picked, ‘A Lover’s Lament’, which I had tagged as Jean’s 5 star favorite. A no-brainer, right? Being as though, Jean and I are pretty much book twins. The bigger question remains, why had this one sat on my TBR so long??
This is a dual POV story, co-written by male and female authors. I actually went completely blind into it. I’m not even really sure how this happens, other than the fact that I put unquestioning trust into my book buddies and when they give a book 5 stars, I pay attention to that. But I didn’t remember anything about this story, the blurb or truly *anything* when I started reading, and it was awesome! So, if you want to be like me… skip this next little bit and add it to your TBR, you’ll thank me later.
A Lover’s Lament is a second chance military romance that intertwines with the medical field and is accurate! (Everyone knows how important that is to me!) The main characters, Katie and Devin, had been high school sweethearts but life happened and they’d been apart. She writes him a letter and… yeah, read the book!
It is very obvious that Ms. Grayson and Mr. Urruela put a great deal of time, effort and heart into this story… I felt it. I struggled briefly in the beginning – almost as Katie and Devin were struggling, finding their footing with the path their choices had led them to. But then, it clicked and I was *in* it… I laughed, I held my breath, I fanned my face (hella hot!), and I cried my eyes out. It literally engaged all of my feels.
“Love doesn’t have an expiration date, Katie. There is no cookie cutter for it, and there sure as hell aren’t instructions. It just is.”
4.75 ‘not a cookie cutter romance’ stars. This came so close to being a 5 star for me. The choppy beginning and uncertainty I felt about a couple of bit players is the only reason it wasn’t.
Lucky by Carina Adams
You all know I sometimes struggle with the male POV. But, I’d just come off the LONGEST book EVER, see my review of The Last Hour of Gann, *side-eyes Maryse and Amy for leaving me all alone* and I was in desperate need of a good contemporary romance, so I was willing to risk it. And boy was I glad I did!
This book switches back and forth between the male and female POV’s of Lucky and Sunny. Anyone who follows me, knows that I generally don’t do spoilers, so I will just say, that this book is crazy hot… it has some of the BEST lines and I truly LOL-ed in parts. The snappy, rapid fire banter did not disappoint. The part where the male MC thinks back on when he will tell his grandchildren he knew he was in love with their grandmother… *snort*, pure comedic genius!
As well as one of my fave lines from the book… “You can’t stop the inevitable, and the sun always rises.” Seriously… *squee* But, more than that, it had a solid plot, a great hook and kept me interested throughout. I was intrigued by the side characters as well, and would hope that Ms. Adams would think about writing a companion book about the rest of the cohorts. To quote our lovable MC, “One night stand, my ass.”
Drive by Kate Stewart
The first thing I have to start out by commenting on is, if I could give Ms. Stewart a standing ovation for the soundtrack/playlist feature that accompanies Drive; I would be on my feet, my hands red and sore, my arms screaming from the exertion of clapping. It was unparalleled inspiration and I *truly, truly* enjoyed it! If I was rating this book strictly on the musical complement; it would be an easy 10 stars, because that is how beautifully nuanced and almost magically entranced I could find myself slipping under the soundtrack’s spell…especially when it aligned with the written words of a particular chapter.
Not that I am trying to take anything away from Ms. Stewart’s words, because I’m not. She is a very gifted writer that weaves a story that makes you question which side you want to be on. Angst in spades. Spicy smut and witty, intelligent dialogue rounded out the important bits nicely.
I am not a spoiler queen, so I won’t be sharing any of the nitty gritty… however, I will drop a couple of Ms. Stewart’s lines here that sparked a case of pretzel tummy in me. Oh yes, friends, I said it… I had pretzel tummy in this book. More than once, actually!
“Because music is the heart’s greatest librarian. A few notes had the ability to transport me back in time, and to the most painful of places.”
Love doesn’t die, even when you stop feeding it. There is no expiration date on the ache of missing someone you shared your heart, life, and body with.
Gah, on that note. I’m going to go eat my feelings and send Kate Stewart a bill for a box of Godiva. 4.5 ‘playlist of my life’ stars!
“There you have it…. my top 12 this year. Congratulations if you’ve made it this far. *tosses glitter and confetti* Much love and may we all have 2018’s that are filled with books that make it difficult to narrow down which ones to include on our Best of 2018 lists!
Wanna know more about Grey and her favorites?
- Reader Favorites – Grey’s Crazy Ridiculous Top List of 2015
- Reader Favorites – Grey’s Best of the Best of 2016 List