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?

Book Review: “The Bratva’s Heir” by Jane Henry and Sophie Lark

Hello.

I can be easily influenced when it comes to books. Sometimes the cover can be enough but every once in a while, I find a book that is being shared by a favorite of mine: Brooklyn. I follow her on Goodreads and somehow I found her on Instagram and she is a lover of romance books like me, but she creates edits and shares cover reveals, deals and steals and the occasional recommendation, which is how I found out about this book: The Bratva’s Heir by Jane Henry and Sophie Lark.

I still consider myself a newbie while reading these dark romance stories, it can usually be a hit or miss, especially if any kind of mafia is involved which I know a lot of these books are–I mean this series is called Underworld Kings, which the concept is both odd and superficial in a lot of ways, that being said, I find it incredibly interesting how this series isn’t written by one author. There are over 17 books but they are all written by various women! I have the first book “”Razor’s Edge” by Mia Crawford on my e-reader to hopefully get me through these cold months a little easier! The entire series is available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited at the moment so if this book seems right up your alley, you should check them out soon. Every story is a standalone as they can discuss a different gang from each ethic background and it’s not just Italian and/or Irish. This is my second mafia dark romance where it is centered around the Bratva, which is the Russian branch and this was definitely my favorite of the two so far!

WARNING: There are spoilers below, along with some trigger that I discuss in more detail, such as bondage, rape, and regular BDSM terms!


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Prison’s a dark, bleak place.
But Clare brings me light.
My sweet little bird will be my ticket to freedom.

The first time I saw her, I had to have her.
From her big, dark eyes, to the curves she can’t conceal…
The way she can only hold my gaze so long.
The way she shivers every time I move inside these chains.
And most of all, the way she’ll bend the rules when I order her to…

I know a natural submissive when I see one.

Her degrees and titles don’t change who she is: a woman who will bend to my will.
She doesn’t know it yet, but Clare is mine.

Mine to train.
Mine to protect.
And mine to control…

taken from Goodreads.

When I began, it had a similar backstory like when Harley Quinn meets and falls in love with The Joker, however, the main defense with this, Clare did not have any romantic feelings for Constantine when they first met. He scared her like he should have for any woman honestly! Despite the events that happen within that first day together, I do not believe she was interested in him as much as he was, and even after they make their escape and what happens at the club would technically be in a form of rape. I know she doesn’t give rise to either situation but this part was a bit difficult to pull away from the act itself.

I understand that this is one of the main factors of these darker romances, but this was my first time since reading Fifty Shades of Grey back in 2011 that I’ve been brought to a similar scene where both female characters are subjected to things they may not want to experience but yet do not voice the other person’s actions immediately. This was one of my reasons why I abandoned Christian Grey in the first place. What I want to explain is that, I immediately saw a different side to both of these characters than what I saw between Christian and Anastasia throughout reading Fifty Shades. Clare was understanding and become much more confident as we continued whereas Constantine was able to flourish as a person outside of his persona there within the Bratva.

My whole body fits inside his in our reflection. I’m fully outlined with raw, muscled, inked alpha male, and I. am. here. for. it.

When there were BDSM elements, and the book is full of them by the way!

They were almost sensual which I really enjoyed since that lifestyle seems so frightening to outsiders, myself included–even though I read these types of books, I don’t consider to know the ins and outs of this style! The one thing I do know is there it is mutual understanding between the couple, and the other’s limits so even though Constantine is definitely an alpha male in this story, he was amazingly gentle to Clare. One thing that I am also learning about these books is that the authors are trying to portray these violent people as real human beings. Who they allow into their inner circles, much less their bed, has to be understandable about their intentions as a whole and change can be accomplished in some form or another too.

Have you read “The Bratva’s Heir” by Jane Henry and Sophie Lark yet? If you have been reading the rest of the Underworld Kings series, do you have a favorite book?

Book Review: “Badd Ass” by Jasinda Wilder

Hello!

I am moving pretty slow through my mini Jasinda Wilder’s Badd Brothers collection on my Kindle, but after failing to find anything to cure my thirst once I finished What Passes As Love, I decided to dive back into this one and was able to include it as part of my reading goal for the year.


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I was a Sixty-Eight Whiskey—a combat medic. So when I hear someone shout “MEDIC!” training just kicks in. It’s automatic, immediate. I don’t think I even saw the guy whose leg I tended to, not really. All I saw was him. Zane Badd. His tuxedo fit him like he’d been sewn into it, and his eyes reflected the fury and the hardness of a combat veteran, but when he looked at me, he just…softened. By the time I had his brother patched, Zane and I were both covered in blood, and I knew I had to have him.

The trouble with Zane isn’t getting him, it’s keeping him. 

And the trouble with me is, even if I could hold onto a man like Zane, I wouldn’t know what to do with him. It’s not in my nature, and if life has taught me anything, it’s to not trust anyone, least of all men like Zane. He’s a warrior through and through, hard, muscular, gorgeous, tenacious, and yet oddly tender toward me.

Experience and instincts are telling me to run from Zane Badd as fast as possible, but my heart and my body are telling me to stay, to hold on and not let go. Yeah, it’s a conflict as old as humanity itself, but it’s brand new for me. 

*   *   *

Life as Navy SEAL doesn’t exactly prepare you for normality. Yeah, I can tend bar and goof off with my seven crazy brothers, but what do I do when the woman of my dreams—dreams I didn’t know I’d had until I saw her—explodes into my life like a frag grenade? I’m trained to attack, to win, to survive at any costs, and figuring out what to do about a woman like Amarantha Quinn will take every scrap of tenacity and courage I possess. Combat is easy, it turns out, in comparison to facing your own fears and scars. 

And then sometimes, just when you think you’ve got it finally figured out, fate throws you a screwball and sends everything FUBAR. 

taken from Goodreads.

I’m slightly disappointed in myself for not only taking as long to finish the book, but also getting this review. I figured by the time I got to this story of my third Badd brother I’d be moving on pretty quickly, but I guess not… I’m not terribly troubled by this since I really enjoyed reading how Mara and Zane got together. For anyone who doesn’t know, I started with the fourth brother Baxter earlier this summer, and then finally got to start over with the entire series and now I’m down to Badd brother #3 which is Brock. However, I doubt I’ll hit a dent in that one for a while!

“You’re terrible,” I said, trying to wriggle out of his clutches, but he wasn’t letting go. “No, the name’s Badd, sweetheart. Two D’s.”

I don’t know how Jasinda Wilder can create a series of eight breath-taking brothers and yet make every book feel like a standalone, but I am a fan of it! You get a tiny snippet of each of the brothers personalities in the first book, and definitely an interesting look at the second oldest Zane, as he is described as this brawly, lookalike Henry Cavil but with tattoos (which is the best way to describe any amount of men honestly!) by the lovely Amarantha Quinn after a wonderful one night stand. I thought I loved how Dru thought, but Mara took her place quickly!

Honestly, every book I’ve read so far has the premise of being a cheesy Hallmark movie but thanks to the amount of sex and swear words, it would never make it to mainstream television – much to the loss of the network… Anyways, I loved how Mara and Zane have good hearts, even though they want to make everyone around assume they would be free because they don’t think they deserve to be loved and give into those types of feelings. Oddly as it seems, I’ve been there, but I have been working on myself and believe there is someone out there for me. These characters were afraid to give in to love and decided to attempt to tricking their hearts and fail miserably!

Have you read Jasinda Wilder’s “Badd Ass” yet? Of the eight brothers and their significant others, who is your favorite?

Book Review: “Glass Sword” by Victoria Aveyard

Hello!

This wasn’t the post that was suppose to go up today–actually I had two I was tempted to work on this week! The first idea will (hopefully) go out in September but we’ll see what truly happens there. And the other was going to be a review of a novella but I honestly don’t want to talk about them. They have to be really great to get the same treatment as L.J.’s “The End Zone” and so far nothing has piqued that far yet.

Anyways, I am absolutely thrilled to talk about my thoughts on the second book in Victoria Aveyard’s “Red Queen” series, which is “Glass Sword.” I have had this book for many years, I’ve tried to read it but would always lose interest in it fairly quickly, and this always bothered me because I want to know what happens next to Mare Barrow.. The lightning girl. I am hoping I can convince my mom to let me purchase books three and four to keep me moving along and be able to finish another series for 2021.

WARNING: If you have not finished with Red Queen or Glass Sword yet, I would recommend you skip the rest of this post! There are spoilers mentioned below so be careful.


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If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.
 

taken from Goodreads.

Okay, so, we begin after the events that happened in the Battle of the Bones and we switch into lots and lots of running for both Mare and Cal. They meet the head of The Scarlet Guard, Farley and her gang of soldiers, including a ghost from the past for Mare and head back to a place called Tuck. I remember few details of chaos after arriving there, because I first started reading this part back in mid 2016–honestly much of that year is still a blur for me obviously!–but I feel like it’s fair to say it’s the headquarters of The Scarlet Guard, and Mare and Cal are not well welcomed there, even though Mare’s family are all there but since they brought back a Silver, a exiled prince as matter as fact, and the Colonel doesn’t quite know what to think of either one and locks them up.

By the end of 2019 and start of 2020, I decided to give it another chance and was moving really good for a while but then one day as I was sitting outside with the cats and the one time my cat Stormy decided to lay out next to me, he went to stretch out his front paws and literally hooked one of his dirty claws on the opposite side of where I was reading and as he pulled his paw back to normal just shredded it on both sides. I was horrified at what happened but I do not know what I did to Stormy. Thankfully for him, he hadn’t shared with us on how much he loves belly rubs! After it happened, I stopped reading it, the only reason why I went back to it this year was because my mom repaired it and honestly spoiled my chances of buying the paperback edition…

I must believe enough for all of us. I must put up my mask again, and be the lightning girl they need. Mare can wait.

My ability or imagination intensified because I was able to see majority of the structures and silhouette of the characters, and when Farley, Shade and Kilorn come to break Mare and Cal out of their stronghold, they walk out of it and immediately feel their powers coming back to them. So, as this scene was progressing I was seeing each of them step over to their rescuers while basically showing off their restored abilities of fire and lightning. Out of everything that happened in this book, this was the scene that played over on a loop everytime I wanted to give up and forget about it again.

Anywho, my overall view of this book was good. It does feel to drag on once you hit the chapters of Mare and the others go out looking for the newbloods and despite the fact that there are some powerful action between the characters and Victoria went into great detail on everything from the buildings of Silver lands and the Notch, However, it makes the reader continuing to read off and on like me, really annoying, which is probably why it took me so long to complete in the first place.

On a positive note, I am excited to get started on the third book in the series, perfectly titled as “King’s Cage” but I will be honest with you, I am worried it’ll become boring in the middle again and as much as I love these characters and want to know what happens next to each one in the next book. I am hoping I won’t have to wait too long but I do have others that can keep me interested for a while.

Have you had the chance to read “Glass Sword” by Victoria Aveyard yet? If you have, what were your favorite scenes, and how long did it take you to finish it?

Book Review: “Ruthless Creatures” by J.T. Geissinger

Hello!

Welcome back to another book review.

I have to say, I love doing these posts almost as much reading the actual books! And considering everything that went on in this one, it is a bit of an understatement. Don’t worry! I’ll explain what this means in a minute but first, read what the blurb of the first story of the Queens & Monsters series by J.T. Geissinger below.


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Five years ago, my fiancé disappeared. He left me with a wedding dress I’d never wear. Left me with the kind of scars that can’t be healed. The man I built my future on vanished like a ghost. All that remained were my broken heart and unanswered questions.

Until a mysterious stranger arrives in town.

Tall, dark, and dangerous, Kage is as full of secrets as he is sex appeal. Though I know he’s hiding something, I’m drawn to him like a moth to flame.

The intensity of our connection is addictive, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Heat crackles between us with every look, desire flares into passion, and I fall hard, unable to resist.

But when I discover how he’s tied to the darkness in my past, I learn what happens when you fly recklessly into fire:

You get burned.
 

taken from Goodreads.

I only decided to read this book because I kept seeing practically everybody talking and posting heavily decorated sexy banners about the sequel, Carnal Urges, as it literally came out two months ago. I thought it was the first book in the series because my Instagram feed was just full of it. I was slightly irritated that another story was in front of me but once I started reading Ruthless Creatures, I quickly changed my tune and just about melted on the spot.

I might only be a middle school teacher with a shitty car and a pathetic dating history and an inability to multiply single digits without a calculator, but I’m his queen now.

There is nothing vanilla about this book.

It was completely, dangerous, dark and dirty and I absolutely loved it!

I actually have another dark mafia romance on my Kindle and I remember mentioning on my Mid Year tag saying I wasn’t really interested in that type of thing, but I guess I was wrong…I will definitely give them another shot once I finish this series.

In the beginning, you meet Natalie, she’s a bit of a wreck and still heavily grieving over the disappearance of her fiance David. It’s been five years and on the day he goes missing, she goes out with her best friend Sloane (who is a damn firecracker!) and on that same day, they meet a new person in their neck of the woods. The moment the two of them meet for the first time, he is a bit of a jerk to her but then you learn why exactly he’s there and everything starts to make sense, but for Kage, something happens and he can’t exactly think straight afterwards.

Kage has a rough exterior to match his alpha personality but on top of all of this, he is very caring, which is saying something for his line of work. I mean, a part of me thought it was odd to make him this dominate figure in the bedroom because of him being in the Russian mafia and always having to be that way, but this would generally melt away with how gentle and seductively sweet he was towards Natalie. I enjoyed the banter between the two of them just as much as they did! You think that these sex scenes are for him in the beginning, when in reality, it’s all about her. She has the power of him completely and you, as a reader, become comfortable and safe with him too.

Have you read J.T. Geissinger’s first book in the “Queens & Monsters” series yet? If you have, what were some of your favorite moments about it?