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: “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: “What Passes As Love” by Trisha R. Thomas

Hello there!

For the last two months, I’ve been on what I thought would be a never-ending cycle of finding something to read to only abandon it later. I have been searching for my next great book (series) to at least excite me for a time, but l haven’t found anything like I had with the ‘Celtic Blood’ series, that is, until I found this little beauty.

I still don’t know what made me obsess over it when I saw it, because I had been scrolling through the new releases on Kindle Unlimited for days, and I just thought I would give it a try and then all of a sudden I was done with it in less than a week! Obviously, it was what I needed after so many over-the=top romance books. I was back on my trustee subject: historical fiction and I was able to dive deeply into it while suffering through chronic back pain. It was what I needed to get past everything for a time.


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A young woman pays a devastating price for freedom in this heartrending and breathtaking novel of the nineteenth-century South.

1850. I was six years old the day Lewis Holt came to take me away.

Born into slavery, Dahlia never knew her mother—or what happened to her. When Dahlia’s father, the owner of Vesterville plantation, takes her to work in his home as a servant, she’s desperately lonely. Forced to leave behind her best friend, Bo, she lives in a world between black and white, belonging to neither.

Ten years later, Dahlia meets Timothy Ross, an Englishman in need of a wife. Reinventing herself as Lily Dove, Dahlia allows Timothy to believe she’s white, with no family to speak of, and agrees to marry him. She knows the danger of being found out. She also knows she’ll never have this chance at freedom again.

Ensconced in the Ross mansion, Dahlia soon finds herself held captive in a different way—as the dutiful wife of a young man who has set his sights on a political future. But when Bo arrives on the estate in shackles, Dahlia decides to risk everything to save his life. With suspicions of her true identity growing and a bounty hunter not far behind, Dahlia must act fast or pay a devastating price.

taken from Goodreads.

When you first get into it, you will see a “Part I” page and I was unsure what this would mean while I passed each section. It wasn’t until I was finished did I realize why the author needed to spread things out into three acts.

You first a young Dahlia Holt, a sweet and resourceful girl who is swept up in the deep south, raised by her fellow slave family and the Holt family. Lewis Holt seems like every other slave owner of his time, but he has some secrets. One of which is that Dahlia is his daughter, so he has her come to the house to live along her sisters Annabelle and Leslie, and beloved grandmother but she’s also there to help serve them as well. Dahlia is somewhat unique as she is biracial so she could pass as both white and black, but choosing which side to be is proving harder to do than she thought. She has a friend though. Another slave, by the name of, Bo. They live separate lives on different parts of the plantation, but neither one are free.

In the second part, Dahlia goes out with Mother Rose and her sisters as they enjoy a day out into the city.

You want everyone to see through your eyes, but your eyes ain’t like the rest.

It’s there that Dahlia strays away from her family and finds two men, or well, they find her. They seem nice as regular gentlemen but Dahlia isn’t too convinced as she’s been warned to be careful around strangers, but she seems enchanted by Timothy, who wants to protect her when the city erupts in a panic over a robbery and she knows she needs to get back to the carriage, she is pulled by Timothy to escape with him and his brother Ryland. She sees this as an opportunity and takes it. Unfortunately for Dahlia, this was the only easy part of her journey.

As the final section begins, we see Dahlia finally make her way beyond what she knew about herself, the people she’s come to love and trust and find a solution on her quest for ultimate freedom.

There are not many books that allow me to dwell on the past, my American history, because it is disgusting on how my ancestors treated slaves – although I’m not sure how many family members in fact owned anyone, but there is a big possibility that it happened and it’s just better to understand that aspect of it. This book is a good insight on what it was like to be owned, and the prospect of being a women in those times and the fear of being raped by the master or overseer, having to serve ignorant people, and the thought of running away only to be brought back to harsher conditions than before.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, I highly suggest you check out this book. You will love it just as much as I did, trust me! It will make you think about everything once you finish, both about the book itself and how you love and treat people too.

Have you read “What Passes As Love” by Trisha R. Thomas yet? If you have, what to like about it? What section was your favorite too?