Blogmas | Top 7 Books of 2022!

Hello!

In the beginning of 2022, I created my yearly challenge on Goodreads, where I set the goal to read 40-45 books. The reason why I added on another five onto the list was because I wasn’t just doing one challenge, I decided to mix it up with keeping track of the books that had a movie and/or show out in the world. As of 12/18, I’m still trying to complete the 20 books I allowed for myself for this, and honestly, I really enjoyed having both of them going on at the same time. I’m very proud of myself on these successes, but I haven’t exactly made my decision to continue it once the new year comes, but I’ll be letting you know my plans soon!

When I was getting ready to write this post, I was going to discuss my top 12 books, but I wasn’t sure on the time allotted for this week, so I just broke down and made it the top 7 like I did for the last two years.


1. The Best of Us by Kennedy Fox

This is the second year in a row where the authors of Kennedy Fox have claimed first place.

I truly loved this story of these characters, and as I mentioned in the review, I am not much into male characters, especially in the romance genre. I’m quite picky but I think the fact he seemed more relatable than Kendall. The story itself takes place after COVID-19 hits, which I think is what drew me into Ryan more because my mom is a registered nurse and worked her butt off in those early intense days. My heart went out for him and his selflessness and struggles during that time.

Besides all of this, it is also set around Christmastime, so it is literally perfect for this time of year. I wish anyone who is still looking for a steamy holiday themed book, this is what you should be getting into next.

Sidenote: I recently found the first and third books in the series for free on Amazon, so when I get in a mood for a little Kennedy Fox, I’ve got these babies to keep me company!

2. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

This year I wanted to explore children’s books because I still feel the sting of my own struggles with books as a child and it cost me a lot of great stories in the end, so I felt like I needed to explore my horizons and then I found this little gem.

I felt really conflicted to make this #1 because I fell in love with this story of a young girl, who becomes a refugee with her mother after violence in Syria begins. It wasn’t just Jude and her new world that got me, but I also fell in love with the writing style too. It was in verse, and I had never read poetry before, and I liked how the author was able to bring them together like this. It was a magical experience!

3. The Raven and The Dove by K.M. Butler

When I began reading this one, I didn’t really know what I was doing because at the start of the year, I wasn’t into books about the Vikings. I’d tried in the past, but nothing could grab me as inviting until I found K.M.’s debut scrolling through Kindle Unlimited back in January.

The Raven and The Dove is the story about a group of Vikings raiding on small villages in what is now Normandy, France. A shieldmaiden by the name of Halla is a part of the crew and the best way to describe her is restless. She is a warrior, but she doesn’t just want to be that, and while she and a small party go to scope out a village that could be a great way to trade goods, she finds herself put into an odd situation.

She actually volunteers to stay and wed a Christian, Taurien. He is a very conflicting character as he was raised to hate these Northmen, but he also wants to protect his home and its people from any other raids, so he does what any desperate man would do, he decides to wed Halla. Halla oversees her fellow Vikings and attempt to keep the will of the Gods of her people, but that becomes very difficult with their Christian neighbors.

I am all about seeing how the other one lives type of person, and this reflects in the books I read of course, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these two characters fight their feelings of right and wrong; their faiths and trust for one another are tested many times, but it was still enjoyable as a reader because we still have issues seeing past the other person’s origins and religions. I definitely recommend anyone who loves to be a little nosy at times.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

While I was wanting to explore more classics, I knew Little Women would pop up some time, the book is very popular on Jeopardy, and I think that’s why I wanted to just devout myself to it and the best way I did that was through audiobook on YouTube. I had actually found a channel on there that had multiple people acting out the various characters and I loved this type of reading; it reminded me of how they use to tell stories on the radio before television was invented.

This book was lovely and honestly perfect in the springtime. This truly made me happy and excited to see what would happen to these characters–until that chapter about Beth though, boy, did I cry like crazy! After I had completed it, and that was another sad night, because I had grown to dig into it after my mom put me to bed, I tried to read “Little Men” but unfortunately, it didn’t have the same magic as the first but I am willing to give it another try in 2023 because I loved the character Jo so much, I want to see what happens in the later years.

5. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

After I finished with “Other Words for Home” I dove into other children’s books, but my focus was generally on classics. I had read Little Women, the Harry Potter series, and a few by Roald Dahl, so my plan was stay in that lane for a while longer and I ended up reading three and half books of the “Little House On The Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My favorite among them was the one about her future husband, Alonzo Wilder.

I found this story unique compared to the ones written about Laura and her life. “Farmer Boy” was set in Alonzo’s point of view and even though it was fictionalized, I was still amazed by how this little boy lived in these times; readers get a chance to look into the differences between boys and girls on the prairie. My favorite scene was Christmas, they would spend it with one another in absolute silence and eat apples and popcorn with warm apple cider. I’m not much on any kind of cider but I found this interesting and peaceful.

6. Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak

Apparently, it’s not a book list without a book by Kennedy Fox or Melanie Karsak. This year alone, I read 8 books by Melanie. but only three of them were written by Kennedy Fox.

Anyways, as a couple of months since I had finished The Raven and The Dove, I was itching for another book that discussed the Viking world, but I was still a bit hesitant because I didn’t think I would find anything that could hit that bar and then I went through Melanie’s work and found out she had two series about shield-maidens, so I thought about it a bit, but ultimately went for it.

The story of the shield-maiden Hervor was everything I needed at that time. I love a good badass heroine and Melanie makes a lot of strong but relatable female characters. I was very upset once I was done with the final book, and then I did something totally stupid, I decided to dive headfirst into the sequel “The Shadows of Valhalla” which focuses on Princess Blomma’s children Prince Loptr and Princess Hervor aka Ervie. I was bawling my eyes from the events that happened in “Under the Dark Moon” and then I went into “Gambit of Blood” where they were talking about characters previously featured in the other books and I began crying again. I was truly a mess, and my mom laughed at me! I’m currently waiting on the four and final book in the series as I just finished the most recent installment and I’m already semi depressed about leaving these people for good.

7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling

I am very happy to say I have finally read all of the Harry Potter books. I did believe I would actually do this because before I went on this journey, I was just a fan of the films, and I was too afraid I wouldn’t enjoy watching them if I read the series. I was forced to read “The Sorcerer’s Stone” back in 2006, and my teacher had us watch the movie a few days after so everything was still fresh in our minds to do comparisons between these formats, so you can understand why I was hesitant going into it in the beginning.

When this book came out, there were a lot of mixed comments about it, the most significant was it isn’t written in the same way J.K. wrote the original seven books. This is a screenplay of the play that appeared in 2016 by John Tiffany It still has the spirit of Rowling with familiar characters jumping in here and there. I found this way of writing better oddly enough. It is different, but after coming out of reading “If We Were Villains” by M.L. Rio, I was able to picture the entire thing in the same way I did when they were doing Shakespeare’s work. I didn’t like this book unfortunately, but I thought it was a lot of help while I was into this one instead.

When I finished “Deathly Hallows” back in July, I felt the epilogue wasn’t that satisfying for me. I wanted to know how Harry and the gang were doing in their lives after the Battle at Hogwarts, and so when I went into this story about Harry’s middle son Albus Serveus Potter and how he deals with being a son of this hero of the Wizarding World, Harry is an adult and father now, so as much as he doesn’t feel like it, his children are faced with making their own legacies or in Albus’s case, attempting to fix a wrong and that in itself was absolutely amazing! It was heartbreaking, between the scene Albus meeting Professor Snape and the final scene at Godric’s Hollow will break you whole, that is, if you weren’t in the first place!


If I hadn’t waited majority of the month to write this post, I would have made it longer. My original plan was to do Top 12, but I didn’t want to rush getting everything done in a short number of days, so I went with seven books total, and I’m still shocked I was able to shrink it down enough for today.

I am excited on what kind of books I discover in the new year. I do hope to get started on my Goodreads Challenge on the first of January and after that, I will type up my goals for 2023 because I know everyone is wondering on how many books I want to read, if I am truly doing two challenges again, and honestly, I enjoy writing those posts for you too, so be on the lookout for that, okay?

How many books did you read this year? Did you hit your intended goal or not? What are your Top 3 books for 2022 as well?

snowflake

Book Review: “The Duchess” by Danielle Steel

Hello!

Last month, while I was away, I was able to start and finish two books and they were “Murder On the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie and Danielle Steel’s “The Duchess” and they also were my first reads for both authors, so I might be interested in reading other books in the future. The only reason why I will not be sharing a review on MOTOE is because I’ve already seen the 2017 film and it is considered a classic so thought it belonged in my other journal, but I thought you’d love to know my thoughts on this book instead.

To be quite honest with you, I thought this would be a different story, in my mind I thought it was about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I saw the words “The Duchess” and immediately became excited to finally read the actual book based on the film that came out in 2008, but it wasn’t. The author who wrote that book is Amanda Forman. What I didn’t expect was continuing to read this other story and absolutely loving it!


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The incomparable Danielle Steel breaks new ground as she takes us to nineteenth-century England, where a high-born young woman is forced out into the world—and begins a journey of survival, sensuality, and long-sought justice.

Angélique Latham has grown up at magnificent Belgrave Castle under the loving tutelage of her father, the Duke of Westerfield, after the death of her aristocratic French mother. At eighteen she is her father’s closest, most trusted child, schooled in managing their grand estate. But when he dies, her half-brothers brutally turn her out, denying her very existence. Angélique has a keen mind, remarkable beauty, and an envelope of money her father pressed upon her. To survive, she will need all her resources—and one bold stroke of fortune.

Unable to secure employment without references or connections, Angélique desperately makes her way to Paris, where she rescues a young woman fleeing an abusive madam—and suddenly sees a possibility: Open an elegant house of pleasure that will protect its women and serve only the best clients. With her upper-class breeding, her impeccable style, and her father’s bequest, Angélique creates Le Boudoir, soon a sensational establishment where powerful men, secret desires, and beautiful, sophisticated women come together. But living on the edge of scandal, can she ever make a life of her own—or regain her rightful place in the world?

From England to Paris to New York, Danielle Steel captures an age of upheaval and the struggles of women in a male-ruled society—and paints a captivating portrait of a woman of unquenchable spirit, who in houses great or humble is every ounce a duchess.

taken from Goodreads.

After I quickly found out this wasn’t at all what I wanted to read originally, I never thought to turn away from it. I had surprised myself in a way because I’ve DNF’d (did not finish) a lot of books this year, and I was half expecting this to be added onto that list.

“She had no idea where the future would lead her or what it would look like, but whatever happened, she was determined to survive it.”

And then I learned more about Angelique Lantham’s story, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages and I started to really hate sleeping at night because the pull to hear more about her and the world Danielle was able to create was so strong.

As familiar as relearning the customs of that time, which as a reader you should take note early on because this is based in an earlier setting than most historical fictions. This is set in the later period of the Regency, after George IV is actually king and it goes on until the start of Queen Victoria’s reign. So, being a woman–a daughter, wife, and/or aunt was rough because you were not entitled to inherit anything, especially if you were a daughter of a duke. The young daughters and orphaned nieces of the wealthy were subjected to find a suitable husband during the Season and were introduced to others in their social class, plus the royals of the time.

For Angelique, she was the favorite of her only living parent, the Duke of Westfield, but she had two older brothers Tristan and Edward who knew they were next in line to their father’s titles, houses and wealth after he died. And their little sister would get nothing, or so they believed. Once their father passed away, he couldn’t protect her from their wrath, much less the law keeping her away what should have been hers in the first place.

What I found interesting, and mesmerizing was Angelique’s will to fight the odds in her own little modest way.

Every time I thought where the story was going, it would twist around and lead into a new direction just like life had been for her. After being forced to leave her little world at her beloved home, she was sent to a family who needed a nanny for their five children. As a reader, this puzzled me because taking care of that many children under the age of five–despite the changes in history–seems very daunting, and in the beginning, Angelique was nervous about this prospect too, but she pushed through it with grace until her final day.

Related to kings in two countries, and daughter of a duke, banished by her brother, she was reduced to working as a domestic, and at the mercy of anyone who would hire her.

Afterwards, she travels to France, another ancestral home but with the same heartbreaking results. She finds no job, and everything feels so numb until she comes across a young woman named Fabienne battered and beaten, and she nurses her back to health. Fabienne has had a rough life and has resorted to prostitution, and this part of the book is where things become slightly more interesting, as these two young women decide to create a high-class brothel in Paris, and as the reader, you never see it coming until afterwards; this was the first twist of the story to me and I was stunned by the fact that Angelique would want to do it in the first place and that really threw me for a loop, but then again we are at the last stages of the Regency period–despite being settled in another country!–so the story of brothels, madams, and hookers wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but don’t get me wrong, it was frowned upon respectable women, but sex work has always been available and people (mostly men) have engaged in this sort of act for every part of history!

However, as Angelique has been quick to find out, life can change in an instant, and she has to abandon her life in France and start all over again, but this time she moves to America, and as she’s on the boat, she meets a nice young man by the name of Andrew and he definitely changes Angelique’s piece of mind about what it means to be in love and suddenly wants everything she’s never wanted in the beginning of the story. This relationship was different compared to all of the others she had in Paris, and it’s in this section that two more things turn for this character that makes you feel very happy inside for a while.

For anyone who has never read anything by Danielle Steel, I think you should consider looking into this book and seeing if it had the same effect on you as it did on me. I have picked out a few other books by her to check out in the future. Maybe I’ll find a chance to read them in 2023?

Have you read “The Duchess” by Danielle Steel before? If you have, what were your thoughts on it?

snowflake

Blogmas: Top 7 Books of 2021!

Hello!

This is my final post of 2021, and I thought the only way to end out the year is talking about all of the books I read this year, plus give you my all-time favorites at the bottom. This may turn out to be a chunky blog post so get ready for the rambles I’ll be doing throughout this thing.


For my Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2021, I decided to read over 30 books, since that is the age I turned this fall, and I was particular surprised on my speed at which I hit the yearly goal. On October 28th, I finished my last book to hit my goal, but of course I couldn’t stop reading in general. I ended up taking reading five other books of different genres and length afterwards; that is another thing that happened, towards the beginning of summer I started reading novellas and I know they helped me get over that hump a whole lot faster, but I learned quickly to live with it because I have really enjoyed the last two months since I’m not rushing to finish out the rest of the year.

It’s actually kind of hilarious when I look back to my reading plan at the start of the year looked fairly cool, as I was going to continue various series and then I watched Chelsea Palmer’s haul within two days of scheduling that post and I found out that Scarlett St Clair’s Hades x Persephone series was on Kindle Unlimited on my original idea quickly went to hell and I did not finish the four books I initially bought for myself as a late Christmas present! If I had the control to stay off of KU, I think I would be able to get into those books, but I couldn’t get over the pull and that’s why I’m leaving them for 2022 now.

When the month of August came around, I went through a small phase of thinking I could complete four book series this year. I had already gone threw one series a couple of weeks earlier so I began to feel a little overzealous with confidence in my reading ability, and honestly, I probably could do it, but not this one. I still have the final book in “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes and “Sinners On Tour” by Olivia Cunning series and I hope to make time for them because I truly adore those characters and want to see how they all end within their stories.

I did add on to last year’s limit because I made my own goal bigger, and I thought it would also ease the pressure of giving every book a spot if I truly believed they deserve it. I didn’t want to do like I did in my previous post and make my two favorite books of the year share the same number when I could just add on to the list itself.


1. This Is War by Kennedy Fox

I was in thick of my romance craze when I got to this book, I didn’t even plan for it to happen but was fairly glad for the amount that came my way in the end.

For my first Kennedy Fox book ever, this was amazing! I found out something interesting about myself and what I love about explicit romances and that is, I really enjoy funny banter between the characters: the enemies to lovers’ kind of topic. It was a thing I searched for while sticking to the goal, and I’ve only found three others that could rival the antics of Travis and Viola big time. It has become a bit of a standard in my choosing future books, especially for the new year. I have yet to get the next book in its duet series but maybe I can persuade Santa Claus to grant me this one.

2. Highland Blood by Melanie Karsak

After completing Jenny Han’s “To All Of Boys I’ve Loved Before” series, I wondered what the next batch of would be, and if I had kept reading “After You” by JoJo Moyes in January, this might have an even more confident spell in my brain but instead I wanted to chase my Scottish roots a little bit more and ended up finding the “Celtic Blood” series by Melanie Karsak. These books were available on KU and made the whole process of reading go very quick. Once I got the first book, I was gone! There wasn’t a moment I’d take back because I just adored the story of Gruoch so much.

I did have somewhat of a hard time picking between Highland “Raven” and “Blood” because I loved them equally, but I had to give it to this book because of the number of emotions I went through along with Gruoch. I enjoyed almost everything about it. I became interested in Celtic mythology, witchcraft, etc. for the majority of the year. I’ve been learning a lot about their beliefs, and I think seeing Gruoch become a strong woman in this story was amazing! I loved her relationship with Gillacoemgain, and wanted to stay in that Castle of Moray with the two of them forever, but then the ending came and she and I cried together in those last couple of chapters.

3. What Passes as Love by Trisha R. Thomas

By the time I came across this one, I was coming through a small slump. I had just finished the fourth and final book in the CB series, so I felt very lot and sad, but I went looking through the books in the genre historical fiction since I had a great turnout before, and I found this gem and it made me stay off KU for at least a week or two because I didn’t need to look for books, this was what got me through to the finish line.

I am one of those people who is attracted to the cover than anything else. The day I found this book was very boring, I had been searching for something to get me out of the slump for a while and it wasn’t long before I found “What Passes as Love” on Kindle Unlimited. I remember looking at the cover and thinking, this is really pretty, and clicking to see what it was about, and after learning about it, I thought it sounded great but I was still so unsure I was ready for it so I left it and could not stop thinking about it for two whole days! They always say, if you can’t stop thinking about it, get it and that’s what I did and I did not look for another book until I finished it about a week later!

4. A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St Clair

At the end of 2020, I came across the Hades x Persephone series through Chelsea Palmer’s YouTube channel. It was new and steeped in Greek mythology, and this is how I ended up getting into the Celtic Blood series as it is somewhat centered in Celtic mythology as well, but this series is a modern take on those stories of the Underworld God, Hades and The Goddess of Spring, Persephone.

Anyways, I kind of cheated when I started reading the first book, which is “A Touch of Darkness” because I began reading it a week or so before the first day of 2021. I couldn’t stop myself from diving all-in with it and I didn’t. I’m glad I read it because it gave me a chance to really enjoy the prospect of another set of goals within the new year. I want to say it me over a week to finish this book and probably two months to complete the first three books between the two characters before I started on my CB journey.

5. Rough by Renee Rose and Vanessa Vale

I had the most difficult time figuring out which of my erotica books I loved the most, I could have done a Top 5 post of just those books honestly!

You might have noticed, Vanessa Vale was another big author for me as I read four books in total but my absolute favorite out of all those was Rough, and she wrote it with Renee Rose. Before this one, I had never read anything by Renee, but I loved the book so much that I literally got her “Holiday Gift Box” that has The Director (Chicago Bratva), Alpha’s Temptation (Bad Boy Alphas) featuring Lee Savino, King of Diamonds (Vegas Underground), His Human Slave (Zandian Masters) and of course Rough (Wolf Ranch) as an early Christmas present for myself. Technically it was free, so it wasn’t like a big deal on that part.

Back to this though. I go back and forth on whether I love cowboys–and it’s only with Vanessa Vale’s books that I really question it because they are always so damn dreamy! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m still embarrassed about the fact that I confused the male character’s last name “Wolf” to be for his ding-a-ling, but it was actually because he is a wolf…

6. Queen of Oak by Melanie Karsak

If the name Melanie Karsak seems familiar to you, well oddly enough, I read five books by Melanie this year. I’ve only had four other authors in total hook me with multiple books and/or series, and they are Kennedy Fox, Vanessa Vale, Jasinda Wilder, and J.K. Rowling.

This book is about Queen Boudica and her journey, and by the time I was able to read it, I was going through withdrawl because I loved the CB series so much! It was nice to come back into that world again and even though it wasn’t Gruoch as I’ve gotten to know her, I still enjoyed Boudica as a whole, but she actually wasn’t my favorite in the book though. I really enjoyed Don and Ula the most as they reminded me of “Gramma” from Moana, she was in my head for the character Ula, they are a little weird, but you never doubted their power as a woman. As for Don, she came across to me like, the Northuldra leader Yelena from Frozen II as she was very stoic but laidback too. They were two different personalities, but I just loved them so much.

7. The Boleyns at Hever Castle by Claire Ridgewater and Owen Emmerson

Shockingly, I only read a handful of nonfictions this year. I started out my reading journey with two distinct genres: historical fiction and biographical/memoirs. As I’ve mentioned above, I had a fairly good selection of the historical fiction but only three memoirs though!

I thought the book about The Duke of Windsor was interesting, but I felt it just dragged on and on as it continued that I almost gave up on it twice! After I was done, I took a very long break and then I saw this while on Goodreads earlier in the year, as it was being released to the public and I put it on my TBR list but figured I’d never get it, so imagine my face, the day a few months later when I discovered it on Kindle Unlimited! I was so happy that I literally stopped whatever I was doing to read it. I think it took me three days to finish it. I still don’t like the beginning of the book as Claire and Owen explain Hever’s medieval blueprint and how it changed up until The Boleyn family lived there. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. It was different from what I normally read, and I hope I can find more books like it in the new year.


Later today, I have a little countdown of this list going up on my blog’s Facebook page. I had specifically made this banner for that video but I forgot to put it in so I thought I would share my thoughts on my favorite recent reads on the last bit of this post.

The first book I read after completing “Queen of Oak” was Mario Escobar’s “Auschwitz Lullaby” and it was a beautiful disaster. I always have a difficult time explaining how much I love a book about stories from World War II and the aftermath of the Holocaust, so that is why I called it like that. Anyways, this tells the story of what happened in the Gypsy camp of the Auschwitz II camp from 1941-42. I explain more in my mini review on Facebook if you’d like to check that out afterwards.

Secondly, we have Melissa Gilbert’s memoir “Prairie Tale” and I just finished it a few weeks ago and I am still reeling from it. I was a casual watcher of Little House on the Prairie growing up, and even as an adult, I’ve never seen it all the way through so when we got to certain parts like talking about her close relationship with Michael Landon really took me by surprise because I would just start bawling on myself and Chapter 21 definitely kicked my ass, but really, the entire book is so much fun and even a little hilarious here and there!

And finally, my most recent read, which if you enjoy holiday centered books, you should definitely check out “A Very Bossy Christmas” by Alexis Winter. Not only did I find out how much I adore Christmas books, but apparently like everything else, I liked the steamy romance books more than anything else, as you may noticed in last Friday’s blogmas post. I am in love with this book so this might be a worthy purchase after Christmas for me.


I’m officially done with all of my blogmas posts. I hope you have enjoyed everything I’ve published this month, and I already have some ideas coming to me for 2022 blogmas.

I do have a slight plan on what I want to do for the upcoming year, but I will not talk about it until I come back for the end of January as I am going to continue my blogging schedule, I’ve done for the last two years because it works very well for me. I will say I have an idea to do something different for the new year though, so I hope you have a lovely Christmas and enjoy the rest of your weekend too.

How did you go about your reading for 2021? What were all-time favorite book(s)? And do you have an idea on what you’re doing goal wise for the new year?