I’m not a big fan of cake. Actually, as a kid I wouldn’t even eat it. Cupcakes are a different story, though—I swear they taste better. See, cake is great in theory but it never tastes as good as it smells. Or as good as the batter.
I tend to keep things casual with cake, but I’m always craving it. More specifically, I’ve been looking for a tea that tastes like cake. While grocery shopping, Bigelow’s vanilla caramel blend caught my eye. I was actually looking for something else, but I think I still walked out a winner.
Here are some other things I’m obsessed with this month.
I’ve been watching Once Upon a Time, which I’d caught in brief episodes here and there but never watched from the beginning. It’s a fun show that retells all of the fairytales. I also watched Bright, which was amazing. Most recently, I went to see the new Star Wars movie. I liked it… but didn’t like it. I have complicated feelings. What else is new?
I’m in somewhat of a music rut. I tend to be a snob, so probably don’t bother giving me recommendations. I’ve just been listening to the Atheists Who Kneel and Pray book playlist on repeat, which I’m deeply in love with. I’ve been listening to it over and over for months, to be honest. I have a book playlist hangover. 😂
What I’m Waiting On
My work wife J.C. Hannigan has a novella coming out in February that I’m dying to get my hands on. Even the title is badass: The Key to 19B. It’s coming out in an anthology, though, so I have to be patient. *sits on hands*
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One thing I was determined to do in 2016 was read more. I often get caught up in the “should”s, as in I should be _____ instead of reading. (Really, you can replace “reading” with anything. I so need to stop “should”ing on myself!) My goal was to read 25 books; I read 31—or at least, that’s what Goodreads says. I didn’t track all of my reads, so I’m sure this number is a bit off.
The following 10 are my favorite reads from this year, in no particular order. Check them out, and load up your Kindle!
F*ck Love, by Tarryn Fisher
F*ck Love would, gun to head, be my favorite book of 2016. I read it during a weekend while Mike was away at an art show, and I couldn’t put it down. Helena and Kit’s story was absolutely insane, in the best way possible. Months later, I still can’t stop thinking about it. This dark and gritty romance is exactly the tone of book I hope to write someday.
What’s better than a revenge story? A best friend’s revenge story! Lex Talionis also joined F*ck Love in my list of all-time favorites. This was another one that I couldn’t put down. It’s also got a romantic element that had me rooting hard, plus an ending that is super rewarding.
My mom kept recommending I watch Luther, the show on BBC about a detective who might be just as crazy as the killers he chases. I borrowed this from her and had to seriously reign myself in from reading it in one sitting. I then proceeded to binge half of the series; it’s going to be a while until the next season comes out, so I’ve slowed down quite a bit to savor it. Complex, mysterious, and smart, Luther is one of my all-time favorite characters. It doesn’t hurt that Idris Elba is so damn sexy.
These books are a back-to-back must. I can’t imagine having to wait for the sequel. I borrowed If I Stay from the library and basically cried my way through it. It was so poignant and heartwrenching. Where She Went was just beautiful, and worth running back to the library for.
The final book in the Collide series, Collateral was quite the grand finale. I’ve loved Harlow from the moment J.C. told me about her, and it’s been such a great experience watching her grow and come into her own. A suspenseful romance, Collateral is raw and real. And don’t even get me started on how freakin’ hot Jax is. He’s seriously the perfect boyfriend—and my all-time favorite book boyfriend!
This was the first book—that I can remember reading—with a disabled heroine that fully captures what it’s like to live in a limited body. I devoured it in one sitting because I loved Corey and I absolutely had to know whether she and Adam would be together. Though Adam is only temporarily injured, he’s the epitome of the perfect partner. I haven’t read the rest of the series yet, but I really need to get on that!
My sister brought this over one day, urging me to read it. I’d been wanting to, so no argument there! Malala tells the story of how she defied the Taliban and fought for girls’ education alongside her supportive father. It was such an inspiring and enlightening read. I was 13 on 9/11, so I remember it well but there was still a lot that I didn’t know; it was fascinating to read about the global effects of the so-called “War on Terror.” More importantly, Malala’s bravery was so empowering and uplifting.
Going in, I didn’t know that this was a breast cancer book, but I figured it out pretty quickly, as I have several loved ones who have fought breast cancer. Though it’s in a series, Pretty Pink Ribbons is a complete standalone. It’s quite the rollercoaster, emotionally speaking, but the ending is so worth every second of heartache.
This was another one that I devoured. Contreras writes so beautifully, and I fell deeply in love with Estelle and Oliver. I related to a lot of their problems, and I got really attached to their friends and family members. I picked up the complete series box set, so I’m still making my way through the rest of the books. Kaleidoscope Hearts was just lovely.
And now for something completely different! If you’re new to self-publishing or have been at it for a while and looking for a refreshing book with some publishing and marketing tips, Let’s Get Digital is an insightful, quick read. I promptly grabbed Let’s Get Visible to widen my education, and have already learned a lot.
There were some books that I started but didn’t finish because I just didn’t get into them, and there were others that were re-reads of old favorites. Honestly, I’ve been watching a lot of TV; by the end of the day, I’ve got too much brain fog to focus on reading. Still, I’m really happy with my reads for 2016.
What were your favorite books this year? Let me know in the comments below!
Even though summer isn’t officially over, the PSL is back within my reach and the weather has turned a little cooler. Mornings and evenings are now for soft sweaters, and I’ve broken out my boots again. It’s back to reality, and I’ve been busy writing a new book. My iPad is loaded up with books to be read as soon as I type The End, but I’m still mooning over these brilliant New Adult books that I read over the summer.
Kick back, and prepare to load up your Kindle!
Lex Talionis, by S.A. Huchton
Standalone. New Adult suspense / romance.
Let the punishment fit the crime.
When Lexi receives a message from her dead best friend after Randi is senselessly murdered, she decides to take revenge into her own hands. A dangerous and calculated cat and mouse game begins, with Lexi holding the strings. I cheered Lexi on, even when her moves were morally questionable. The romance is a small element of the story; it mostly focuses on the friendship between Lexi and Randi. This was a stellar read that I couldn’t put down. A standing ovation for S.A. Huchton.
The Year We Fell Down, by Sarina Bowen
First in a series. New Adult romance.
The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else. What now?
I read this book in one sitting, staying up late into the night because I couldn’t stop. It was the first time I’ve read this author but now I’m determined to read every word she’s ever written. Unlike your typical college sports romance, this book tells a love story between Corey—ex-hockey player who was permanently sidelined after a life-changing injury—and Adam, a hockey star out on temporary injury leave. The author perfectly captures both the frustration and beauty of disability, and the HEA romance that unfolds is a rollercoaster worth the ride.
Fuck Love, by Tarryn Fisher
Standalone. New Adult dark romance.
This book, this book, this book. Another first for me, but I’m itching to read everything by this author now, too. I ripped through it, pausing only to sleep a little. It was like a good but strong drink that goes down like water. I got a little buzzed off Tarryn Fisher’s words; she truly is a fantastic writer. The story is about Helena, a Harry Potter obsessed door mat who begins pursuing her best friend’s boyfriend after she has a dream about what their life could look like. The whole thing is so insane, but I couldn’t help but root for Helena and Kit. This is another rollercoaster that will frustrate you but the ending is so very satisfying.
Rebel Soul, by J.C. Hannigan
First in series. New Adult romance.
Disclaimer: J.C. is my good friend who I’ve dubbed my “work wife” because even though our publisher closed, we still do a lot of strategizing (and laughing and commiserating) together. I love all of her books, but her latest release is just beautiful. It’s not as heavy as her other books are, though there are still plenty of social issues woven in. Tessa is enjoying her last summer before college when fate shoves her into the arms of bad boy Brock. This book encompasses that hazy, warm summer love feeling, complete with bonfire parties and tender nights full of burning, slow kisses. Though this book is HEA, there’s plenty of aching push and shove between these two. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!
Kaleidoscope Hearts, by Claire Contreras
First in series. New Adult romance.
This NA is a bit different from the usual, because the main character Estelle has recently graduated college. But that whole “adjusting to being on your own” element is still there, because Estelle’s fiancee died in a freak accident, leaving her alone in their house and the gallery they co-ran. Estelle has to pick up the pieces of her broke heart, and just when she thinks she’s recovered, a flame from the past walks back into town. There are a few chapters in Oliver’s point of view, but mostly the story is told through Estelle’s eyes. It’s a beautiful novel with some really brilliant lines.