Saturday, December 31, 2016

Michelle's Top 10 Favorite Reads of 2016


What an incredible year in books! I have so many favorites this year, it took me hours to narrow my top faves down to fifteen and the selection of just ten of those books nearly tore me apart! I couldn't stand not to mention all my beautiful book babies so I've included a few honorable mentions at the end that are just as near and dear to my heart as those in the top ten. Thank you to each one of these amazing authors for making my whole year, both individually and collectively. ~Michelle

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Quite possibly my favorite book in the entire BDB series, The Beast had me swooning and sobbing, grinning and panicking, laughing and biting my nails. I was frustrated and grief-stricken, elated and overjoyed, anxious and exhilarated. With all the feels accounted for and more than a few shocking twists and turns, The Beast is another absolutely brilliant addition to an incomparable series that will have you relishing each moment, begging for more before you've even reached the end, and suffering more than just the dreaded book hangover, mourning a trusted companion upon the completion of the book. Let numerous rereads commence and let the countdown clock for the next book begin!

The Beast by J.R. Ward:

Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…

For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…

And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world...and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from...

Michelle's Review | Buy The Beast

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There honestly isn't a whole lot I can say about It Ends With Us without giving something away so let me just say this. The boy, and the situation, ugh! Then the other boy and that thing that happened! Gasp! Then the other thing! Sigh... Then the other thing that's still kind of the first thing. Grr. Then the third thing...again! Wail! Then, "In the future..." Blubber. And the past! Sob! And the surprise. Whoa. I was so inundated with feelings of every kind that I didn't even know what to think, which choice I would make, or even which path I wanted for Lily. The only thing I knew was that I was more confused than ever with some pretty severe chest pains going on. And then came it ends with us. Oh...my...goodness. I've never been compelled to say this before but, I. Can't. Even!

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover:

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.


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Retrieval is amazing. Aly Martinez is amazing. If there was ever a question as to why I am such a crazy fangirl willing to drop everything the moment I can get my hands on a new Aly Martinez story, Retrieval is the perfect example why. Angsty, emotional, suspenseful, intense, and completely unexpected, Retrieval is everything you love about Aly Martinez and then some!

Retrieval by Aly Martinez:

One story. Two couples.

I proposed on our first date.
She laughed and told me I was insane. Less than a day later, she said yes.
It was a whirlwind, but we were happy…
Until we got greedy and wanted a family.

It was a life I couldn’t give her, not for lack of trying. Fertility just wasn’t on our side. We sought out doctors and treatments. Spent money we didn’t have. Lied to our families. Smiled for our friends. Put on a brave face for a world that didn’t understand.
Finally, we were successful…
Until we were forced to bury our son.

We were left broken, battered, and destroyed.
They say love is in the details, but it was the details that ruined us.

This is the story of how I took back what had always been mine.
The retrieval of my wife and our family.

Michelle's Review | Buy Retrieval

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With all the angst and emotion and incredible and inspiring characters that we've come to expect after Bright Side and Gus, So Much More everything I could have asked for from Kim Holden and SO MUCH MORE! If you were to look up emotional rollercoaster in the dictionary, you would find a picture of this book, with endless ups and downs and a rawness and intensity that will leave you both drained and exhilarated by the time you round that last corner and turn the last page. If you haven't had the chance to read this phenomenal book yet, I recommend you push it straight to the top of your TBR, you will be so glad you did!

So Much More by Kim Holden:

Love is strange. It comes out of nowhere. There’s no logic to it. It’s not methodical. It’s not scientific. It’s pure emotion and passion. And emotion and passion can be dangerous because they fuel love…and hate.
I’m now a reluctant connoisseur of both—an expert through immersion. I know them intimately.

When I fell in love with Miranda, it was swift and blind. She was the person I’d elevated to mythical status in my head, in my dreams.
Here’s the thing about dreams, they’re smoke.
They’re spun as thoughts until they become something we think we want. Something we think we need.

That was Miranda. She was smoke.

I thought I wanted her. I thought I needed her.

Over time reality crept in and slowly dissected and disemboweled my dreams like a predator, leaving behind a rotting carcass.

Reality can be a fierce bitch.
So can Miranda.

And I can be a fool...
who believes in dreams.

And people.

And love.

Note from the author: Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is recommended for mature audiences only.

Buy So Much More

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An intricately and brilliantly pieced together story within a story that will have you enraptured from the start and wholly and completely wrapped up in this unique story until the very last word. Renee Carlino never disappoints, but she reaches all new heights with this gripping, consuming, spellbinding read.

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino:

From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?


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So completely overwhelmed by this rollercoaster of emotion, so invested in these engrossing characters and the anxiety of this unique and spellbinding situation, I could not put this book down if I tried. A marvelously compelling, exceptionally emotional, stunningly beautiful story of love after loss, perseverance, growth, and self discovery, One True Loves is a remarkable and thought-provoking book with absolutely every feel imaginable and it is not to be missed.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid:

From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA Today—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

Michelle's Review | Buy One True Loves

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Guaranteed to make you laugh one minute and tug at your heart strings the next. Packed with feels of every kind, The Baller is an addictive masterpiece that is not to be missed. If adorably arrogant is really a thing, it would describe Brody Easton to a T. Endearingly overconfident? Delightfully cocky? Charmingly full of himself? Yes, yes, and yes. Brody Easton is one heart-melting, panty-dropping, drool-inducing, swoon-worthy, devilishly delicious bad boy with an ooey gooey center.

The Baller by Vi Keeland:

The first time I met Brody Easton was in the men’s locker room.
It was my first interview as a professional sportscaster.
The famed quarterback decided to bare all.
And by all, I don’t mean he told me any of his secrets.
No. The arrogant ass decided to drop his towel, just as I asked the first question. On camera.
The Super Bowl MVP quickly adopted a new hobby—screwing with me.
When I pushed back, he shifted from wanting to screw with me, to wanting to screw me.
But I don’t date players.
And it’s not because I’m one of the few women working in the world of professional football.
I’d date an athlete.
It’s the other kind of player I don’t date.
You know the type. Good looking, strong, cocky, always looking to get laid.

Brody Easton was the ultimate player.
Every woman wanted to be the one to change him.
But the truth was, all he needed was a girl worth changing for.
Turned out, I was that girl.
Simple right?
Let’s face it. It never is.
There’s a story between once upon a time and happily ever after…
And this one is ours.

Michelle's Review | Buy The Baller

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An intriguing story of murder, mystery, lies, and betrayal. One in which double lives are led, everyone is a suspect, and no one can be trusted. The first half of He Will Be My Ruin is a steady, meticulous stream of information that will keep you hooked as you frantically search for the next clue, while the last half is a real page turning, nail biting adventure that will make your pulse race, leave your palms sweaty, and keep you glued to its pages.

He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker:

The USA TODAY bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series makes her suspense debut with this sexy, heartpounding story of a young woman determined to find justice after her best friend’s death, a story pulsing with the “intense, hot, emotional” (Colleen Hoover) writing that exhilarates her legions of fans.

A woman who almost had it all . . .

On the surface, Celine Gonzalez had everything a twenty-eight-year-old woman could want: a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a job that (mostly) paid the bills, and an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art, where she would finally live out her dream of becoming an antiques appraiser for a major auction house. All she had worked so hard to achieve was finally within her reach. So why would she kill herself?

A man who was supposed to be her salvation . . .

Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a lethal cocktail of pills and vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers a scandalous photograph in a lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man Celine believed would change her life.

Until he became her ruin.

On the hunt for evidence that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer. A killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.

Michelle's Review | Buy He Will Be My Ruin

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From the moment you meet Paris and Mr. McQueen you will be hooked, but once Tamara and Levi are introduced there is absolutely no chance of putting this book down or even taking a breather. You will be flipping pages so compulsively, so absorbed by this shocking tale, the real world doesn't even stand a chance of seeping in or luring you away until the very last word. Then comes the fun part. Try moving on any time soon. No matter how hard I try, I still find my mind wandering back to this story, recounting events, and getting caught up in all of the emotions time and again.

The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz:

From the internationally celebrated author of the Original Sinners series comes a brand-new tale of betrayal, revenge and a family scandal that bore a 150-year-old mystery

When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it's to discover he's been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it's property of the Maddox family who owned and operated Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.

In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. But the family tree is rooted in tainted soil and has borne rotten fruit. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. The Maddoxes have bourbon in their blood—and blood in their bourbon. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.

Michelle's Review | Buy The Bourbon Thief

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Aleatha Romig never ceases to amaze me with her unique and brilliant stories, her immensely clever and addicting plotlines, and her awe inspiring ability to captivate from beginning to end. Be warned, this is a one sitting read so be sure to clear your schedule before starting and don't even think about opening this book up right before bed as you are virtually guaranteed to be sleep deprived the next morning after being completely absorbed by the story and unable to put this book down for anything, least of all sleep.

Away from the Dark by Aleatha Romig:

Nine months ago, Sara Adams awoke with no memory. The man holding her hand told her she’s a member of The Light, a tight-knit religious group led by the terrifying and charismatic Father Gabriel. As a woman in the community of The Light, her duty is to be unquestionably obedient and to submit to the will of her husband.

But as Sara’s memory starts to return and she remembers her past, she sees that everything she’s been told is a lie. The Light is an insidious and dangerous organization, and its corrupting influence reaches well beyond the confines of the remote campus where Sara is being held.

With everything at stake, Sara struggles to sort out her true memories from her indoctrination. The desire to escape consumes her, but who can she trust? And which other followers of The Light were forced into this life, brainwashed to believe they belonged? The more she remembers, the more it becomes clear that Jacob, the man who calls himself her husband, is keeping shattering secrets of his own.

But Sara cannot flee alone, leaving innocents behind. She must fight to extinguish The Light.

Michelle's Review | Buy Away from the Dark

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Bonus! Honorable mentions: Beneath These Lies by Meghan March | Stealing Home by Nicole Williams | Where Lightning Strikes by A.L. Jackson

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