Reader Favorites – R. Renee’s Top Ten for 2016

by Maryse on January 1, 2017 · 23 comments

in My Book Reviews

Wait… what??? How is this R’s first ”favorites list” with us? Feels like she’s been in our book-crew forever (although now that I’ve checked, she’s only “officially” been with us since 2016. March, to be exact), so that makes sense. I feel like I know ALL about R’s favorite books (and she’s as risqué as many of us with her guilty pleasure books – except she doesn’t like when someone dies in ‘em, which we call “the death club” – eeeeep!!).

In fact I feel like I’ve known her forever. She’s hilarious and so much fun, and we adore her!!! Hmmm.. okay, so “R. Renee” gets a fun “get to know her” intro, too. :D YAY!! I love doing these!

About R. Renee (I call her “R” for short):

“After a couple years of YA, I got tired of the genre and couldn’t find anything else so I quit reading. Then when the movie came out I picked up 50 Shades to see what all of the fuss was about and *poof* started reading again! After reading it 3 times in a row, I googled “what to read after 50 Shades” and voila, here I am :)

“I don’t hardly ever give 5 stars unless the writer’s name starts with Taylor and ends with Reid”

“First person, present tense, which is my preference…”

“My dream books are: medium-high angst, appropriate heat level for book (with cringe-less words), high swoon, high heartbreak with HEA (ugly cry=bonus), no alpha, no teenagers (unless briefly). …I wouldn’t turn down an alpha book in he turns all cute and cuddly really fast, if he doesn’t, no thanks!”

“Fabi, remember how you said you like your book men to be authentic and real? I like mine to be swoony and dreamy and bring me flowers and rub my feet. There is nothing authentic or real about that.”

“A lot of the issues I have are issues I know all of you have with other books. Maybe you (readers in general) didn’t have those issues back then (when this book came out). I loved 50 Shades, but I think I’d hate it now that my tastes have become more defined. I’d really be curious to go back and read some of the books I thought I loved way back when.”

“Much of my opinion is based on the writer/writing. I DNF books right and left these days because of the writing. So truthfully, if I love the writer/writing, the story is good, and there aren’t any stupid plot decisions, it will be 4 or 5 stars…”

“I love it when something I love is loved!! Whew! That was a mouthful!”

“I’ve never said this out loud before, but here it goes… “My name is Robin and I like purple prose too.” Wow. That was so freeing!! :) Have you ever been on Twitter during #1linewed?? It’s ALL purple prose! Ok, I don’t love it throughout an entire book, but if you’re reading about a couple on a romantic beach about to do the deed, I want a purple-ey sunset!”

“I see infidelity in books like anything else. Make it necessary to the plot. Make it believable and make me CARE.”

“I am addicted to candles. I burn them constantly, but I realized the soot was coating my office and likely my lungs so I had to switch to soy candles.”

When it comes to wine she says: “…I prefer the driest I can get…

“I’m addicted to Sherry vinegar. I toss it on roasted potatoes and carrots after they come out of the oven and I use it in potato salad (sprinkle it on the hot potatoes then let them cool) YUMM!”

“I’m a sparkling water addict. I became a junkie in Europe when they kept asking me if I wanted water with gas and I kept saying ew no. Finally someone said, yes, you do, and that was that.”

“I love owning paperbacks or hardcovers for my favorite writers and it occurred to me that many of the books I love are almost the same price in Kindle, so I might as well get the pretty book for my shelf!!”

“This whole death club thing is brilliant. You guys may have saved me some serious literary mistakes. I cannot be in the death club. Maryse, I think when you read a book you need to put a little DC by it, if you know… *makes slashing throat sign*”

“I think I don’t like triangle books, or cheating, but it’s hard to say. … But I think under the right circumstances, I’d be ok with anything. Except death books. No thanks. Unless it’s by one of my 3 fave writers, then there’s nothing I won’t try.”

“I don’t have triggers, but I “typically” don’t like death books and I’m discovering I hate books with HS aged characters. If they start out young that’s fine, just not the whole book!”

“I want a swoony book that breaks my heart and drains me, but ends in an HEA. … Those are the feels I look for. The only time my mood shifts is after I’ve read those types of books and have a super huge book hangover like I have right now! Then I want something fun and painless. Some kind of guilty pleasure that I don’t have to take seriously…”

“I’ve never listened to an audio book. I think if I did it would have to be male POV and the voice would need to be smoking hot.”

“I swear this happens to me every time!…

  • *Clicks on The Martian*
  • *Overlooks awesome e-book deal Maryse found, decides to get paperback instead. But not the “movie” paperback. MUST have original cover*
  • *Logs onto*
  • *Adds The Martian with original cover to shopping cart. With shipping = $18.99*
  • *Empties shopping cart, closes browser. Reminds self, “Self, you don’t like sci-fi.”*”


And now… about her favorites:

R. Renee’s Top Ten for 2016

She says:

“WARNING: I’m a masochist. My list is not for the faint of heart. I recommend a fully stocked wine rack, a blankie fort, and Manny.

I LOVE these books in no particular order. Except for the first one. It’s pretty solid at #1.

Suanne Laqueur’s The Man I Love (The Fish Tales Book 1). This is the book that captured me, but the entire series is pure brilliance. You don’t read this series, you experience it, and if you skip Give Me Your Answer True (The Fish Tales Book 2), you can’t fully appreciate the magic that is The Fish Tales. I know it’s hard to resist jumping ahead to Here to Stay (The Fish Tales Book 3), because technically you can, but don’t. Just trust me on this.

Also from Suanne Laqueur, An Exaltation of Larks. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this one and I devoured it! It’s an epic tale of love and loss told in Laqueur’s wonderfully unique style. Clear your calendar. It’s big and it’s unputdownable.

Full Tilt by Emma Scott. Jonah, Jonah, Jonah. This one killed me, broke my heart into a million pieces, but left me oddly motivated and inspired. Expect a good cleansing cry and some self-reflection. Full Tilt is part of a duet, and you’re going to want to read the second book, All In, immediately following. I apologize in advance…and you’re welcome ;-)

One True Loves: A Novel and Maybe in Another Life: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The woman is a Marmy Machine. All of her books are amazeballs. ALL OF THEM. But if you are a TJR virgin, I recommend starting with After I Do or Forever, Interrupted before diving into these. Why? I think Reid took a risk with One True Loves, and from what I’ve seen, readers who start here are less likely to “get her.” And Maybe in Another Life is what I call TJR-Light. Don’t get me wrong, it will still knock the wind out of you, but if you’re considering reading her, you’re probably a masochist too. Start with the hard stuff!

Wolfsong by TJ Klune. Fabi recommended this one, and I’ve been on a candy cane high ever since. It’s different from anything I’ve read. It made me feel more than anything I’ve read. Every possible emotion—relief and fear, excitement and dread, joy and agony—all at the same time. Its genius is in its simplicity. And yet, it isn’t simple at all. Confused? I thought so.

Hausfrau: A Novel by Jill Alexander Essbaum. I bought Hausfrau on Amy’s recommendation. Then, after her incessant badgering (jk lol), I finally gave in and read the stupid thing. Dear God, what on earth was I waiting for? This book is perfection.

Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story by Renee Carlino. I read several of her books this year, but Before We Were Strangers was by far my favorite. It’s classic Renee Carlino, riddled with angsty, swoony goodness. This one hurt me in the best of ways.

Never Stop Falling by Ashley Drew. It’s no secret I heart the author, but it all started because of this book. I read it in beta. I loved it. I became her stalker. The end. Never Stop Falling is exactly what I look for in a romance. It chipped away at my heart slowly and steadily, and like most of my faves, it’s high angst, high swoon. But what sets it apart is the OMG WTF moment that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. The h is flawed, which is refreshing, and the H is one of the best anti-alpha/boy next door H’s I’ve read. It made me laugh as much as it made me cry, and it doesn’t get any better than that.

Amy Harmon’s From Sand and Ash. This is a last minute swicheroo. Originally, I had Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us on my list, but after finishing this one last night, I had some serious thinking to do. It came down to this: From Sand and Ash is perfect just the way it is; I wouldn’t change a single thing, and I can’t say that about It Ends With Us. Plus, it’s like The Thorn Birds set during the Holocaust. “Hello, R? Amy Harmon here. I want to write a book for you. What would it take to rip the still-beating heart from your chest? Ralph de Bricassart? Anne Frank? Ok, I think I’ve got something. Stay tuned…”


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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

bev January 1, 2017 at 1:11 PM

Hey, I’ve read one. :)
As I was reading I was wondering if I’d be able to say that.
Great list, R.
Do you own them all in hard cover?

Tessa January 1, 2017 at 1:56 PM

Um… I haven’t read any, except the one I couldn’t finish. *blushes* You are pure Marmy. Your books take me out of my comfort zone, which is always good. Though, your description of From Sand to Ash scares the living crap out of me. :D

Kathy P January 1, 2017 at 2:27 PM

I bought Sand and Ash on preorder. Amy Harmon is one of those authors along with KU that I buy that way. Sand and Ash is now FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

MichelleS January 1, 2017 at 3:12 PM

OKAY OKAY! I give in. I am downloading The Man I Love and will read it AFTER my Amazing Amy January read! It has made it on too many lists now.

You see that Maryse? She picked Wolfsong too!!! LOL. Have we all convinced you yet?

Theresa Parsons January 1, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Your list is amazing…thank you for sharing…my TBR just got bigger!

Leslie M January 1, 2017 at 4:25 PM

Hee, hee TJR is a “Marmy machine”…that made me giggle.

I’m starting Before We Strangers!!

I love that although I have very different tastes from a lot of you, there is always at least one book from everyone’s faves that is for me. :)

R. Renee January 1, 2017 at 4:41 PM

OMG Maryse! I can’t believe it hasn’t been a year yet. It feels like I’ve been on here forever.

I love it. “I don’t give anything 5 stars unless…”

Then: “As long as the writing is good it’s probably 5 stars.”

Contradict much? Ha! Guess it depends on the day :)

R. Renee January 1, 2017 at 4:44 PM

bev, I own them all in paperback except Hausfrau is in hardcover. Four are signed :)

Jan January 1, 2017 at 5:31 PM

Great list although some might be too angsty for me :/ I’ve only read Wolfsong (and floved it). I’m one of the guys that started reading The Man I Love and couldn’t get into it (no peanuts please!) but I’ve promised to have another try and it’s my May read (try, try again theme) for bev’s 2017 tbr challenge. Hopefully I’ll *get* it this time, cos there’s so much love out there for it.

Suanne January 1, 2017 at 5:36 PM

You had me at vinegar. <3

DG January 1, 2017 at 9:20 PM

R!!!! Great list! So I am asking myself how in the world I have not read Full Tilt yet….I mean it is Emma Scott! I LOVED her other books! So this is like a DUH moment for me!

Two others that I have been circling around…Wolfsong and Hausfrau. You know eventually I will buckle under the peer pressure and read them…not sure what I am waiting on…

DG January 1, 2017 at 9:22 PM

“I love it when something I love is loved!! Whew! That was a mouthful!” – ME too *grinning*

R. Renee January 1, 2017 at 9:23 PM

Thanks DG! And yes!!! Read Full Tilt RIGHT NOW!!

Jennifer January 1, 2017 at 10:15 PM

I loved Wolfsong as well….definitely a masochist!

Leslie M January 1, 2017 at 10:38 PM

I too love when a book I love is loved…but since I’m so “persnickety”, I seem to dislike many of the popular ones around here. :(

However, in the case of R’s list, I am basically too chicken to read most of them.

Fabi January 1, 2017 at 10:56 PM

“However, in the case of R’s list, I am basically too chicken to read most of them.”

LOL Leslie!!!

I am happy to say I’ve managed 2.5 of these so far. You can’t call me a chicken! (much)

Kandace M January 1, 2017 at 11:53 PM

Love your list, R!

R. Renee January 1, 2017 at 11:56 PM

Thanks Kandace! and Theresa!

Amy January 2, 2017 at 12:38 AM

Love the list, R!!! Let’s see…I’ve read Maybe in Another Life, The Man I Love, Full Tilt, and…what was that other one? Oh yeah, HAUSFRAU!!!!!!

I have Never Stop Falling and From Sand and Ash…definitely going to get to them this coming year. ;)

Grey January 2, 2017 at 9:14 PM

*taps my mic* is this thing on?? I have only read one of your faves?? How is this possible? I’ve read Before We Were Strangers and LOVED it!

I too and going to pick up The Man I Love for my try, try again book for the 2017 challenge.

Great list R., it’s obvious you put in a long time on it for us! And thank you Maryse, for rocking the blog!

R. Renee January 2, 2017 at 9:22 PM

Thanks Grey! I’m so happy you’re picking up TMIL again.

Cheryl January 7, 2017 at 5:49 PM


–>“I want a swoony book that breaks my heart and drains me, but ends in an HEA.” Couldn’t of said it better or agree more!!

I’ve read several on your list: Fish Tales, Exaltation of Larks, Full Tilt (loved it too), One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, Before We Were Strangers, and Never Stop Falling!!

R. Renee January 7, 2017 at 7:33 PM

We can be demanding readers, Cheryl!!

I love how we have such similar tastes!

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