Reader Favorites – Leslie M’s Best Books of 2018 List

by Maryse on January 10, 2019 · 12 comments

in Book Recommendations

Ahhhhh Leslie M. :D

Our resident BIGGEST TWILIGHT FAN (Team Edward!), low-angst romance lover,  and we call her “Ms. Picky-Pants” to boot! And I LOVE that she’s picky. If she loved it, I know it will be awesome. :D  I also love how some of her favorites ended up being extremely angsty indeed! *so proud* *beams*

But first… some recent highlights of Leslie’s year (books and otherwise, via of her own comments – many that I can relate to ;) ):

I am desperately trying to finish the 3 books I am simultaneously reading and there are just not enough hours in the day.

You know what stresses me out daily more than choosing what book to read next? Choosing what to cook for dinner. I’m not the greatest of cooks, so I am limited.

About one of her pie recipes: I do a Sheppards pie version all the time. Hub’s loves it. I make mine with layer of ground beef mixed with cream of celery soup on bottom, next layer is corn/creamed corn/peas, then topped with mashed potatoes. …the Shep Pie is super easy and very creamy and flavorful. My friend gave me the tip of adding the creamy soup to the ground beef. I’d prefer cream of mushroom, but hubs doesn’t like.

About a project planned for an extra room: “…I want to clean it out and make a reading nook. I picture decorating it somehow with quotes and covers of my fave books. Also make it super girly with some gauzey pink curtains, maybe some string lights, glittery pillows, etc. If only I had money and motivation. *sigh* Maybe this can be a winter project.”

I love furniture! I go “window shopping” all the time at furniture stores and antique stores. I wish I had endless supply of space and money to buy everything in a bunch of styles.

Back to coffee…its weird how some flavors/brands of creamer are just gross. I recently tried a flavored almond milk one that I was surprised I liked. I dont like soy or coconut milk in coffee. My coffee needs to be sweet & creamy.

…I need 3 cups in morning to get going or I am a total grouch. I like lots of cream as well.

About her love of Edward: I’d divorce hubs if he preferred Jacob over Edward. Twenty-two years of marriage be damned!! …did I ever tell you I have a shirt that says “what do you mean Edward isn’t real”

About sad books:

So…right before reading this I was watching my soap that had me ugly crying the last 4 episodes. I was going to comment here how funny that I don’t like death in books but watch a soap. The reason I watch the soap is because when my mom was in nursing home, I started watching with her. After she was gone, I continued watching it as sort of a connection with her still. I never admitted this as it sounds weird. However, when I read Sea of Tranquility, the MC did the same thing!! How odd as I was coming on here to post this, The Sea of Tranquility is mentioned?!?

You guys are funny with your whole “sad books are theraputic” silly talk. ;) Sad books for me are just depressing.

Why do I read books that I know are going to hurt and I don’t like hurting??? Most of you are crazy Marmies that like pain. ;) But me??? Not so much.

Things that annoy her – or as she says it “makes her crabby” (LOL!!!)

…As far as covers go…I understand from an authors marketing perspective why they would change it. But as a reader…I hate it. It’s confusing and annoying and it makes me crazy. …Anyway, apparently I am never happy because on the one hand, I hate when authors change covers…but then again, I am major cover snob and don’t want tacky harlequin-esque cover on my TBR either. *shrugs*

Me and hubs had a fight with Alexa the other night. She wouldn’t tell us what category Lady Gaga won Golden Globe. No matter how many times we re-worded question. Then when we asked her if she liked Lady Gaga and if she liked keeping secrets from us, she gave us a smarta$$ answer. We are mad at Alexa.

And now… time for Leslie M’s Best Books of 2018 List:

Leslie M: I often have hard time connecting with books and get bored easily.  But not with this list!! These sucked me into their world, wrapped themselves around my heart and made me FEEL.

Bring Down the Stars/Long Live the Beautiful Hearts by Emma Scott – This is a must read!!  Not only was the love triangle-ish romance completely unique… but the friendship between Connor/Wes?? Gah! One of the most emotional books ever.

Leslie M: *tosses ALL the glitter* I FINALLY READ SOMETHING I LOVED!!! Let’s discuss the awesomeness that is Bring Down the Stars/Long Live the Beautiful Hearts. If you haven’t read this yet, I recommend going in completely blind. Do not read the blurb as even that is too revealing IMO.

When I started BDtS, I was enjoying it but wasn’t getting what everyone was freaking out about. Then…BAM! You get smacked in the face with so much angst and emotion that you either can’t read fast enough or you have to put it down to wipe your tears/catch your breath. Then I started LLtBH and was on the edge of my seat entire book. Looking back at my updates, I was having an epic freakout. I don’t often fully connect with characters and I am notoriously picky but THIS STORY gutted me.

5+++ Sock Boy & Twice Born Stars!!!

…I NEED something good after Bring Down the Stars. Ugh! I almost hate reading something so epic as after it nothing else compares. :( Woe is me.

… Bring Down the Stars (I cry every single time I read someone’s review of this).

Behind the Bars (Music Street Series) by Brittainy Cherry – I think everyone is sick of hearing me gush. I can’t help it because it’s just that awesome! I won’t lie…it’s tough to read. The H, Elliot is severely bullied and I had a nightmare after reading this. But through the sad comes a beautiful story with so many wonderful characters. (A special shout out to Uncle T.J.) If you can handle heavy, please read this!!

Leslie M: I have to rec Behind the Bars as this is one of the most emotional, tear-jerky books EVER. If you have read any of Ms. Cherry’s books, you know what to expect. …(when you meet poor, broken Elliot, you will want to be in his head forever & ever)  ;)

…Its def not my typical book, it was very difficult to read, super emotional but I LOVED EVERY SINGLE WORD. I fell HARD for Elliot. I loved the h too and so many of the characters. Her step dad, Elliots mom, sis and uncle. Gah!!! I am getting emotional just thinking about it. It was a beautiful story and will go down as an all time fave for me.

Waiting for the Sun: Waiting for the Sun, Part One by Robin Hill – THIS is my exact type of book! I swooned, laughed, cried, and even had to fan myself!  *giggles* I cant look at infused oil without blushing now. ;) I am anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Leslie M: Waiting for the Sun…*sighs again but also shoots laser beams at R’s butt to hurry up with sequel* ;)

… The “flow” of Waiting for the Sun was perfect. I couldn’t think of the word. I am DYING for part 2 as I have no idea where story going.

Oooh, forgot to mention my beautiful, signed copy of Waiting for the Sun came yesterday! *happy dance* It’s the ONLY hard copy book I own and it’s proudly on display in my living room. :)

In Harmony by Emma Scott – If I had known this book had teenager MCs and Shakespeare in it, I would not have read it and missed a gorgeous story of healing. Thanks to Robin for pushing this one. :)

Leslie M:  both the h & H made me emotional. He lives in poverty with very abusive Dad and she has PTSD from rape she kept secret.

Full Tilt/All In by Emma Scott – Everyone knows I dislike death books…but Full Tilt was amazing! I adored Jonah and his ability to love at the last stages of his life. *wipes away tear*

Leslie M: Full Tilt!!

*dreamy sigh*

All Your Perfects: A Novel by Colleen Hoover – emotional marital strife story in classic CoHo style. (meaning your heart will be ripped out)

Leslie M: *basks in the All Your Perfects glitter* …

…AYP made me cry…quite a few times actually…but its not the same sad as like Behind the Bars or even Full Tilt. (if that makes sense). I like marital problem type books and its CoHo so I had to try it.

The Vixen and the Vet: (inspired by “Beauty and the Beast”) (A Modern Fairytale) by Katy Regnery – Why did I wait so long to read this?? A swoony romance with scarred, lonely, recluse H you can’t help falling for.

Leslie M:  I loved Vixen and the Vet …Great swoony, broken hero story.

…The H is a severely disfigured vet who hasn’t left house in 10 yrs. He broke my heart and put it back together. *major swoon*

One True Loves: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Emotional  love triangle where h’s presumed dead husband reappears. This had a past/present timeline that I love and both H’s are so wonderful you will be filled with dread over who the h will choose. Keep tissues handy.

Leslie M: I finished One True Loves last night (4.5 stars) …one of my fave “back from the dead”.

Sugar Bowl Series by Sawyer Bennett – I don’t normally like suspense, but this was unputdownable, sizzling and full of angst!  The h is a rape victim trying to get revenge on her rapist but…she ends up falling for his best friend.

Leslie M: Sugar Bowl series by Sawyer Bennett. 4.5 stars. I typically don’t like romantic suspense, but this was exciting and hard to put down.

…This series was a fast read and helped me with slump.

Pull Me Close: The Panic Series by Sidney Halston – This is about an h with severe anxiety/agoraphobia (her past will break your heart) and a sexy H that saves her. I also enjoyed: Make Me Stay: The Panic Series & Kiss Me Back: The Panic

Leslie M: Maryse, (and anyone else who has read Pull Me Close) I am FREAKING out! I seriously have anxiety. I dont like what is happening at end. Somebody come snuggle with me while I finish this!!!

Leslie M: I just finished Kiss Me Back, Sidney Halston and loved it. 4.5 *** …This is book 3 of series and I have been enjoying them all.

Steadfast (True North Book 2) by Sarina Bowen – Broken H alert!!! This H will melt your heart. However, this isn’t a standalone as there are crossover characters.  I recommend reading Bittersweet first where you meet and fall in love with the Shipley’s and the quaint Vermont town. I also loved: Keepsake & Bountiful.

Leslie M: …I am reading and enjoying Steadfast by Sarina Bowen and have come to realization that “second chance romances” are my thing.  :)

Leslie M: I just finished Steadfast (True North #2) and loved it. 4.5 **** Swoony, broken hero.

Melt for You (Slow Burn Book 2) by J.T. Geissinger – (this is complete standalone despite being #2 in series) This starts romcom-ish but also has serious elements. The h is “curvy” and has self esteem/body image issues stemming from her childhood. The H is a Scottish rugby player with tragic past. I adored the h’s sense of humor and the H is to die for!!! Make sure to read acknowledgements at the end. *sniff*

YAY!! Thank you so much for this, Leslie M!! I *snorted* when I read your “Pull Me Close – Panic Series” comment, that made you… panic. ;) Tee hee!!!

Like Leslie M’s book-taste? Check out more of her favorites:

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie M January 10, 2019 at 1:04 PM

Maryse, I am glad I did you proud with some of my big girl reads. ;)

Michele G January 10, 2019 at 1:13 PM

Wow Leslie! Great list! Can I just say that I’m proud too!! I know just how tough some of those picks are because I loved them as well (and I like the “therapeutic” sad stuff). You have a few things up there I haven’t read yet…Behind the Bars which I’m reading this month, The Panic series which I’m obviously going to have to bump up on my TBR judging from your reaction and Melt for You …cause…you had me at Scottish rugby player.

Jenn January 10, 2019 at 2:23 PM

I love your list Leslie and I actually can’t believe some of these hurty books you’ve read and omg I have not read them. Yay me! Behind the bars is the book I picked for one of our challenges and I can’t wait to read it! I think Michele is going to read it with me! I have not read In Harmony or One True Loves they are on my TBR and moving them up. Thank you for sharing your faves ❤️

R. Renee January 10, 2019 at 3:12 PM

Infused oil? Whatever do you mean? ;) Thank you Leslie! ❤️

I have The Vixen and the Vet and I’m bumping it up, especially because it’s 3rd person and I know you struggle with that, so it must be fantastic! You also have me curious about the Halston and Bowen books. And Bittersweet is free right now so I just snagged it.

Leslie M January 10, 2019 at 4:04 PM

Michele, Melt for You is on KU and comes with the free audio!

Jenn, I think One True Loves will be right up your angst-loving alley.

Robin, TVatV had a lot of dialogue, so 3rd person didnt take me out of story. For Pull Me Close, check out Maryse’s review…I think you will like that one and audio was great. Bittersweet was good, but Steadfast is my fave and also loved books 3 & 4. These were all audiobooks too. More books are out on both series that I need to catch up on.

Jan January 10, 2019 at 6:22 PM

Thank you Leslie. I keep meaning to try that Sidney Halston series. I might try Bittersweet too.

Jan January 10, 2019 at 6:24 PM

Ha ha ha. I went to download a kindle sample of Bittersweet and I already own it LOL. Don’t know why i haven’t read it yet. *moves it up the tbr*

BTW, it’s free at the moment on :D

Steph N January 10, 2019 at 7:56 PM

Full Tilt is one of my all time favorite reads of the last 10 years. It makes my heart hurt just thinking about it and you DON’T LIKE ANGST????
Side note- Emma Scott. One click author for sure.
The Vixen and the Vet surprised me with how much I loved it.
I remember you being sad when I only gave Behind the Bars 4 stars!
I have not read a bunch of your list! Where are the jobs that pay you to read???

bev January 10, 2019 at 8:10 PM

Leslie went to the dark side. You joined the club. I’m Disappointed in you Leslie. Will I be the last hold out not to swoon over death?
By the way is the death a spoiler?
Hey , what soap?

Leslie M January 10, 2019 at 9:00 PM

Jan, I’m glad Bittersweet freebie available for you. I hate that offers are not same in all areas.

Steph, I do like SOME angst…obvs from this list huh? ;) Honestly, these are probably the only angsty ones out of 130 I read.

Bev, dont be silly! I have not gone to the dark side. No spoilers…Full Tilt is promoted as terminal illness. I was able to deal with it because I was prepared. My soap is Bold & Beautiful and it’s been so sad lately. :(

JulieO January 11, 2019 at 5:50 AM

VIXEN AND THE VET is one of my all time favorites. I definitely would have been baking him some brownies!

Cheryl January 13, 2019 at 4:59 PM

Leslie, great list! I’ve read the majority. Haven’t read the Sugar Bowl series. Adding that one to my tbr.

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