2018 – My Favorite Reads

pile of books

Photo by Pixabay

Another year is in the books…literally! Last year I read a total of 109 books. 91 of these were new books; 2 were books I beta-read (they’ll be out this year); 16 were rereads (including my own books for editing/formatting purposes).

As always, the overall winner is the Romance genre (no surprise there). But I added 10 books that weren’t in my normal genre. I’ve picked my TOP 10 for 2018, as well as 20 Honorable Mentions.

My Top 10 Reads

  1. Book of Mormon – I’ve read this a ton of times, but this year I had the most life-changing experience doing it, and came to love my Savior so much more than ever before…so I’m counting it in my Top 10, even though it’s a reread.
  2. The Brothers Maledetti Series Nichole Van – A paranormal romance (slightly), set in Italy. I inhaled all of these books, and became a true fan of Nichole Van. She’s not only a gifted writer, but a magnificent photographer as well. She lives in Scotland right now; I adore her pictures she posts on FB.
  3. dec14gHeart of Red, Blood of BlueRebecca Belliston – A unique, beautiful, and heartwrenching medieval romance. The heroine is a despised albino princess, who feels that the 10 year war between her country and the Blues is all her fault. I loved the undertones of prejudice, hate, bias, mistaken identities, fear, and seeing beneath one’s surface to the treasure beneath. I adored Gisela…and the many characters that intertwine with her life as the tale weaved its way around my heart. A masterfully told story.
  4. z5The Secretive Wife – Jennifer Peel – A celebrity romance (once the secret comes out). This book is the 2nd in her More Than a Wife series, and it was AMAZING! I will definitely reread this one. The characters are fantastic and the story is a roller-coaster ride of swoons, crying hiccups, and all that kind of crazy. Loved it!
  5. A Me and You ThingTaylor Dean – Another roller-coaster romance with a unique, heart-breaking twist that almost shattered me. I love when a book surprises me. I love even more when a story sticks with me long after I finish. This one did that for me.
  6. A Dangerous LegacyElizabeth Camden – A historical forbidden romance set in the early 1900’s in New York. This author always captures my heart and imaginations with her layered characters, detailed historical scenes and events, and heart-tugging romance.
  7. The Smallest PartAmy Harmon – A contemporary heart-wrecker. Seriously, Harmon’s books always MOVE me. I feel almost every emotion under the sun as I read her books. This was no exception. Themes included: suicide, friendship, and enduring love (sigh).
  8. setThe House of Oak SeriesNichole Van – Another series I fell in love with by this author. Book 4 made me laugh so hardch. I want to reread it just for the funny dialogue between the hero and heroine. They were to-die-for hilarious. This book is historical-paranormal. A magic oak transports people through time to 1800’s from modern day. It makes for some fantastic plots and characters. I can’t say enough good about this author. I’ve read everything she put out since I found her…and she never disappoints.
  9. decnew3#StarstruckSariah Wilson – A celebrity Hollywood romance. This author is beyond skilled with creating heart-pounding movie star/girl-next-door type relationships. So funny & completely swoonworthy. Every page.
  10. My Brother’s BrideRachael Anderson – This Regency romance was a fun one. I’ve read tons of Regency that never gives me the swoonworthy moments I crave from contemporary romances. But this one managed to do it. I really, really, loved the characters and writing in this book.

Honorable Mention

  1. Stormlight Series – especially book 2, Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson (fantasy)
  2. Saints – Standard of Truth (181-1846) – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (historical nonfiction)
  3. Seeing Miss Heartstone – Nichole Van (Regency romance)
  4. #Moonstruck – Sariah Wilson (Celebrity)
  5. The Sidelined Wife – Jennifer Peel (contemporary romance)
  6. Narcissistic Tendencies – Jennifer Peel (contemporary romance)
  7. When I’m Gone – Emily Bleeker (contemporary romance)
  8. The Dragons of Alsace Farm – Laurie Lewis (women’s fiction)
  9. The Bone Curse – Carrie Rubin (thriller)
  10. Hawaiian Holiday – Michelle Paige Holmes (holiday second chance romance)
  11. The Shipbuilder’s Wife – Jennifer Moore (historical romance)
  12. Love Remains – Sarah Eden (historical romance)
  13. Violin Words – Taylor Dean (holiday mystery romance)
  14. The Lincoln Hypothesis – Timothy Ballard (historical non-fiction)
  15. My Dearest Enemy – Jennifer Moore (historical romance)
  16. My Sister’s Intended – Rachael Anderson (Regency romance)
  17. Second Chance in Paradise – Jennifer Peel (contemporary second chance romance)
  18. The Songs that Brought Me Back – Mylissa Demeyere (contemporary romance)
  19. Long Journey Home – Sarah Eden (historical romance)
  20. The Promise of Home – Michele Paige Holmes (historical romance)

Below I’ve listed all the books I read this year (* shows those I rated 5 stars on Amazon; bold titles are shown above in the Top 10 or Honorable Mention).

Nonfiction (6)

  • *Saints – Standard of Truth (1815-1846) – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Historical)
  • *The Lincoln Hypothesis – Timothy Ballard (historical)
  • *The Like Switch – Jack Schafer (how-to influence people)
  • The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens (historical)
  • Creating Your Forever Family – Rachel Sullivan (inspirational)
  • Million Dollar Outlines – David Farland (writing)

Thriller (2)

  • *The Bone Curse – Carrie Rubin
  • *Slave Queen – H.B. Moore

Fantasy (2)

  • *Words of Radiance #2 – Brandon Sanderson
  • *The Way of Kings #1 – Brandon Sanderson


Medieval Romance (1)

  • *Heart of Red, Blood of Blue – Rebecca Belliston

Chick Lit (2)

  • *Just a Name by Becky Monson
  • Dating the Prince – Alina Snow

Suspense Romance (2)

  • *Tripwire – Traci Hunter Abramson
  • To Love a Spy – Laura Beers

Young Adult Romance (3)

  • *The Avery Shaw Experiment – Kelly Oram
  • *Perfectly Oblivious – Robin Daniels
  • *The Libby Garrett Intervention – Kelly Oram

Holiday Romance (4)

  • *Hawaiian Holiday – Michelle Paige Holmes
  • *Violin Words – Taylor Dean
  • *A Christmas Carol in Romance – Franky Brown
  • The Christmas Stand-in Date – Rachel John

Paranormal Romance (8)

  • *Lightning Struck #3 – Nichole Van
  • *A Madness Most Discreet #4 – Nichole Van
  • *Lovers and Madmen #0– Nichole Van
  • *Love’s Shadow #2 – Nichole Van
  • *Gladly Beyond #1 – Nichole Van
  • *Lady of Breken Manor – Heather B. Moore
  • Brightest Kind of Darkness – P.T. Michelle
  • Beauty and the Clockwork Beast – Nancy Campbell Allen (steampunk)

Historical Romance (13)

  • *A Dangerous Legacy – Elizabeth Camden
  • *The Shipbuilder’s Wife – Jennifer Moore
  • *Love Remains – Sarah Eden
  • *My Dearest Enemy – Jennifer Moore
  • *Long Journey Home – Sarah Eden
  • *The Promise of Home – Michele Paige Holmes
  • *The Heart of Thornewell – Anita Stansfield
  • *Scarlet – Jen Geigle Johnson
  • *Lady Fallow’s Secrets – S.G. Rogers
  • *Saving Marilee – Annette Larsen
  • Blemish – Jewel Allen
  • The Fox of Cordovia – Linda Weaver Clarke
  • Tailor Made – Annette Lyon

Regency Romance (17)

  • *Refine #4 – Nichole Van
  • *Divine #2 – Nichole Van
  • *Clandestine #3 – Nichole Van\
  • *Intertwine #1 – Nichole Van
  • *Outshine #5 – Nichole Van
  • *My Brother’s Bride – Rachael Anderson
  • *Seeing Miss Heartstone – Nichole Van
  • *My Sister’s Intended – Rachael Anderson
  • *Incognita – Jaima Fixsen
  • *A Highlander’s Hidden Heart – Julie Coulter Bellon
  • *The Husband Mission – Regina Scott
  • * *The Stars Above Northumberland – Anita Stansfield
  • *A Night in Grosvenor Square – several authors
  • *A Grand Tour – collected authors
  • Loving Lieutenant Lancaster – Sarah Eden
  • Tabitha’s Folly – Jen Geigle Johnson
  • Night at the Opera – Stacy Henrie

Contemporary Romance (31)

  • *The Secretive Wife (Celebrity) – Jennifer Peel
  • *A Me and You Thing – Taylor Dean
  • *The Smallest Part – Amy Harmon
  • *#Starstruck – Sariah Wilson (celebrity)
  • *#Moonstruck – Sariah Wilson (Celebrity)
  • *The Sidelined Wife – Jennifer Peel
  • *Narcissistic Tendencies – Jennifer Peel
  • *When I’m Gone – Emily Bleeker
  • * The Dragons of Alsace Farm – Laurie Lewis
  • *Second Chance in Paradise – Jennifer Peel
  • *The Songs that Brought Me Back – Mylissa Demeyere
  • *Beauty IS the Beast – Jenni James (fairy tale retold)
  • *At the Stroke of Midnight – Kate Palmer (fairy tale retold)
  • *Love for Keeps (Sports) – Maria Hoagland
  • *Far From Falling – K.D. Garcia
  • *Torn Canvas #2 – Donna Weaver
  • *The Songs of You and Me – Mylissa Demeyere
  • *Love’s Journey Home – Julie Coulter Bellon
  • *The Practically Romantic Groom – Maria Hoagland
  • Seeking Mr. Perfect – Jennifer Youngblood
  • The Unwanted Assistant – Evangeline Kelly (fairy tale retold)
  • Where I Belong – Heather B. Moore
  • The Combustible Engagement – Maria Hoagland
  • Moot Court – Jennifer Griffith
  • Engaging Mr. Darcy – Rachel John
  • Unforgettable – Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen (mystery)
  • Worth the Risk – Heather B. Moore
  • Hawaiian Masquerade – Rachelle Christensen
  • The Bodyguard’s Fake Marriage – Bree Livingston
  • Write Me Home – Crystal Walton
  • Seeking Mr. Debonair – Cami Checketts

Rereads (16)

  • Book of Mormon (nonfiction)
  • Eyes of Light -Stastny (suspense)
  • Secret Keepers -Stastny (suspense)
  • Game Changer -Stastny (contemporary)
  • Package Deal -Stastny (contemporary)
  • Collateral Hearts -Stastny (contemporary)
  • Between Hope & the Highway -Stastny (contemporary)
  • Pimpernel-Royal Ball -Wilson (suspense)
  • Cheyenne -Peel (contemporary)
  • Unlovable -Guymon (contemporary)
  • Unbelievable -Guymon (contemporary)
  • Unbearable -Guymon (contemporary)
  • How to Get Over your ex in 90 Days -Peel (contemporary)
  • The Songs of You and Me -Demeyere (contemporary)
  • A Me & You Thing -Dean (contemporary)
  • Violin Words (contemporary)

Reading Year in Review (2016)

dsc04045It’s a new year. Whew! 2016 was rough for me and my family, but reading-wise, it was wonderful. Thank goodness for books! They save my sanity. I read 108 books last year. That’s down from 2015, but still nothing to spit at. My favorite genre is romance, so the majority of my books fell somewhere in that category. But I did branch out and read a few different genres, and some of those turned out to be my favorites. Here is a breakdown of how many books I read in each genre. At the end, I’ve listed my top picks and links to find them. There are a few FREEBIES, so grab them if you’re interested. 

Continue reading

Tour de Hands – Day 4

file5231241720377It’s been a crazy race of words this week. My Bending Willow Books have traveled from Texas to Cape Cod, and back to Texas. They’re hanging out at Taylor Dean’s blog for the next week until Phase 2 of our Tour de Hands begins. My books need time to rest their legs. (Yes, they have legs, and they’re tired). Currently, Hands of Mercy is in the lead, so go cheer Hands on (hee hee–no pun intended). Continue reading

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop (Week 21)

There are books like Twilight and Hunger Games that everyone has heard about; but what about all those books written by people you’ve never heard of? Some of them are treasures, just waiting to be found, and that’s what this blog hop is all about–the books you might NOT have heard about, but that you might end up loving.

This blog hop is like a game of tag. One author posts and tags other authors who link back to their website the next week and tag new authors. If you follow the blog hop long enough, you’re bound to find some books you’ll love–maybe even one that ends up being the next big thing. Continue reading

How to Unsell yourself–Lesson 2

I want out 1971

I want out 1971 (Photo credit: Thierry Bonzon)

Are you ready for your next lesson? Hopefully, you’ve internalized the MOM RULE! If you want to UNSELL yourself, then don’t tell your Mom what you do. She’ll brag and sell you to fame. That’s not what we want to do. We want to be unknown, unsellable, and overlooked.

Rule #2 for unselling yourself is:

Don’t enter contests

Contests are bad! They put your creative work in the limelight to be judged and noticed by others. You don’t want to do that. Continue reading

Life on Hold–or Kidnapped by Books

When I read a book, something scary happens!  I get KIDNAPPED.

It’s not scary for me.  I have the time of my life, I can assure you.  But for my family who sees my body sitting on the couch reading a book, but cannot reach me no matter how hard they try…because I’ve been kidnapped into another dimension…it’s a little scary.

This doesn’t happen with every book I read…just the REALLY, REALLY good ones.  Mediocre books don’t suck me in and I’m able to hear what’s going on around me and answer questions and stop for a moment to empty the dryer when it rings, and pay attention to the clock so I know when to fix meals.

But if I get hold of a REALLY, REALLY good book…my home and family suffers.  The book literally kidnaps my mind…and my life is put on hold until I am ransomed. Continue reading