And… she’s loves to cook. She’s my decadent foodie friend and in fact, I get a lot of my tips and tricks & ideas from her – like steaks in the air fryer!!! HOLY MOLY that turned out amazing. We love discussing kitchen gadgets (and recipes) with her, though she claims…
I can follow a recipe like a boss, but hand me a bunch of ingredients and I’ll fold like a cheap suit!
OMG LOL!!!! Oh and she’s a HUGE football fan!! 😀
1. The Browns are in the playoffs!
2. The Browns are in the playoffs!
3. The Browns are in the playoffs!
This year has been a tough one (though like me, she loves staying home all cozy-like). She’s kept herself super busy and discovered some new awesome things in the process! Like Farmer’s Markets (and how to keep an herb garden alive all winter), healthy eating, a fun new sleep schedule and plenty of fresh air since she’s out in the country right now…
Let’s look at a few of her 2020 personal highlights, shall we? 😉
I’m a natural hermit so it hasn’t been too hard for me but my husband is about to crawl out of his skin. He’s been stress shopping on amazon and we have the most random deliveries. Yesterday it was medical grade soap and fire starters. Today it was a grill cover. 😂
I used to grow herbs and would lose them every year. Now we wrap our patio in clear tarp over the winter so we can use it year round and it works like a greenhouse. We’re actually on year 3 with some summer flowers that weren’t supposed to make it past their first winter.
This is how I am leading up to my readers retreat. I do every bit of spring cleaning I have in early October, and I usually have A LOT. This year I’m determined to tackle one project per week: a closet, kitchen cabinets, shelves I never touch, etc. I also have my bigger amazon boxes lining walls and I’m filling them with stuff to get rid of. I have way too much crap!
1. I really want to read the new JEA book but I’m running out of time for my challenges so it will probably be January. 😕
2. My team is on a winning streak for the first time in over 25 yrs so I celebrated a little late last night. 🥴
3. I’m making a wine based beef stew today and I cannot wait! I’m starving! …I was going to do it in the pressure cooker but I’m too lazy to re-learn how to work the stupid thing! Every time I use it I have to get out the instructions.
I don’t usually like YA or NA characters, but there are exceptions. Some authors I’ll read no matter what–especially if they aren’t heavy on the high school/college drama. I’m fine with that age if it’s “real world” (adult) drama…
1. My election week(s) of cheating officially ends today. Back to chicken, fish, and veggies tomorrow. 😭 But tonight, brownies for dinner. 😂
2. I got in a fight with a bee yesterday over my beer and the bee won. It hurt for hours but it’s gone now. Much better than any bites that last forever!
3. I turned on A Teacher last night on Hulu and it sucked me right in. It’s a little nerve-wracking to watch though!
My dream is to own a house in Europe and for years I wanted Italy because you can get a livable house there for very little, but early this year we went to Normandy and fell in love with Omaha Beach so we are rethinking the whole Italy thing.
1. I was craving something “decadent” last night so I heated up a 4th cup of cream with a 4th cup shredded cheese, mixed it in some frozen riced cauliflower (after microwaving the bag 4 minutes), and baked it in a casserole on 350 for 15 minutes. Totally gave me a mac and cheese fix!
2. Tonight we’re grilling burgers (lettuce wrapped) with no cheese to make up for last night’s.
3. I’m addicted to Crystal Light peach tea and probably drink a gallon per day. It’s great with vodka too! But I’m trying to be good. *sigh*
I have a ninja and love it. It makes great iced coffee and tea too, which I keep forgetting about! Ours has started holding water in the filter section. It still makes a full cup but it’s like it uses too much water to make it. It doesn’t affect anything, we just have to dump it out after. I probably need to clean it somehow but I’m lazy.
I dropped my phone in the hot tub last night but my husband saved it with the rice I’m supposed to make for dinner. Then he saved the rice. I don’t know how I feel about hot tub phone rice. I suppose I could wash it! 😬😂 Assuming I save the rice, we’re having chicken katsu for dinner. I got hooked on it when we lived in Hawaii and every once in a while I crave it.
Holy moses guys! I did the drive thru farmer’s market today and for $20 got 9 ginormous carrots, 11 red potatoes, 4 tomatoes, 3 onions, a huge head of cabbage, 2 stalks of broccoli, 2 bunches of kale, 1 bunch of some other kind of greens, a bunch of fresh mint, and half a dozen eggs! 😳😳😳 I think next time we’ll get the $10 box! There was a local coffee vendor there too and now my whole house smells like a coffee shop! …We never get fruit but at the farmer’s market yesterday we got Poteet strawberries (famous around here!) and they’re sooo good! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to buying produce in the supermarket!
My 2020 Top Ten
This list was tough because I read some fantastic books last year. Several are neck and neck, which is why I didn’t number them—except for one. A recommendation from a friend managed to snag my top spot for its authentic characters and unapologetic writing.
The rest are in random order.
Until the End of the World (series) by Sarah Lyons Fleming. I should start by saying I only “read” this series because Julia Whelan narrates it and I needed to use up some audio credits. I figured her talent would override the zombie aspect. But the craziest thing happened; I fell hard for Fleming’s band of survivors and was completely gutted by the losses along the way. One in particular, a very Whedonesque death with a hurt level of Tara, almost did me in. I couldn’t imagine how the author could possibly redeem herself, but she did.
R. Renee: …Until the End of the World series is awesome on audio. It’s zombie apocalyptic, which I *should* hate, but I loved it! Julia Whelan narrates.
When You Come Back to Me (Lost Boys, #2) by Emma Scott. Scott had her own big shoes to fill with her second foray into MM romance, and I’m happy—yet not at all surprised—to say she succeeded. Holden and River’s story was everything I knew it would be: emotional with perfectly timed comedic relief; swoony, heart stopping moments; natural angst; and a well-deserved HEA that the couple had to fight for.
Rocket Science by Emily Mayer. Lennon is an absolute joy to read and Sebastian is D R E A M Y. I swooned so hard my skin tingled and my face hurt from grinning. It. Is. Adorable. Or to steal from New Girl, adorkable.
R. Renee: I started Rocket Science by Emily Mayer on a whim last night and stayed up half the night reading. It’s adorable and swoony and grin inducing! LESLIE it has your name all over it! I was going to email you but YOU’RE HERE!
…loved it!! Ended as cute as it began. I think I’m going to start her other book tonight.
The Encore (series) by N.N. Britt. The writing is top notch, every sentence crafted to elicit emotion. My heart shattered for both Frankie and Cassy. Every time I thought a character had perhaps gone too far, they surprised me, because the real villain in this story is circumstance.
R. Renee: Final Serenade! It’s every bit as good as I heard!
Wild at Heart (Wild, #2) by K.A. Tucker. This book is a gift for obsessed Calla and Jonah fans. The Simple Wild (Wild, #1) was intended to be a standalone, but readers demanded more, and Tucker delivered—not only this remarkable full-length follow-up, but a Christmas novella as well.
Midnight Sun (Twilight, #5) by Stephenie Meyer. Some books feel repetitive when retold by another character’s POV, but this isn’t one of them. Edward, who seems so confident and strong in Bella’s mind, is vulnerable and anxious in his own. Every second is a struggle, a force of will, and no matter how hard he tries to make Bella understand, she simply can’t.
He falls so much deeper and faster than I realized in Twilight, and for the brief moment he lets himself enjoy it, he’s almost childlike in his excitement. It’s heartbreaking to watch him sacrifice that happiness to keep Bella safe, Bella who’s human and naive and so very seventeen.
R. Renee: Cannot. Stop. Swooning. Gahhhhhh!!! Nothing and I mean nothing will get done until I finish, and I refuse to finish, so I have quite the dilemma.
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center. I connected with the heroine immediately—related to her in a way I didn’t expect—and it made for a very emotional read. This is my second favorite Center book, right after The Lost Husband, which I also highly recommend.
Fortuity (Transcend, #3) by Jewel E. Ann. Nate is his adorably dreamy self and I swear, every time I turned the page and saw his POV, my heart ratcheted up. Tortured men (especially widowers) and single dads are my two favorite hero tropes and Ann nails both.
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall. This one caught me by surprise. It’s slow burn, which I’m usually too impatient for, but Luc and Oliver are so swoony I could read their pre-relationship banter forever. Bonus: they’re British, which makes for great audio!
R. Renee: I’ve been reading Boyfriend Material all night and most of the day and I’m obsessed with it. Super heavy on the swoon meter! It will make my annual top ten for sure.
R. Renee: I just finished Boyfriend Material and it was awesome!! Def a top ten pick for 2020. I got the ebook on Hoopla and the audio on a different site. CloudLibrary, I think. It was fantastic as well. I read and listened simultaneously.
AND MY FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR…
Monsters: A Love Story by Liz Kay. Bottom line: this book blew me away, but it’s not for everyone.
Monsters is an atypical Hollywood Romance that follows poet, Stacey Lane, as she rebuilds her life after loss. Heavy premise aside, it’s chock full of laugh-till-you-cry moments. It’s also a little sad, a little angsty, a little cringeworthy, and a lot swoony. Heed the title, though. Tommy DeMarco is no saint and Stacey is a hot mess of mistakes, but somehow, they work. Despite their faults—and they have many—you can’t help but root for them. It just goes to show, two wrongs really can make a right.
Love R. Renee’s book taste? Check out more of her favorites:
- Reader Favorites – R. Renee’s Top Ten for 2016
- Reader Favorites – R. Renee’s Top 10 Favorite Books for 2017!
- Reader Favorites – R. Renee’s Best Books of 2018 List
- Reader Favorites – R. Renee’s Top Ten Best Books of 2019 List
- Reader Favorites – R. Renee’s “Graduating Class” Books of 2019 List
➔➔➔ Looking for more of our favorite recommendations? Browse our “Ultimate Favorites Lists” here. Are you in the mood for a certain kind of story? Browse our favorite “genre/trope categories” here and our reader favorites lists too.
➔➔➔ Do you have your “Best of 2020 list” for us? Send it to me here. 😀