Ellie reads fiction

19 Dec 2014

Best Reads of 2014 Part I

I've started sharing my #BestReads2014 one by one on Twitter and Facebook and will continue to do so all through December. This was a fantastic year for me in terms of reading and I found some little jems, discovered some amazing author and their stories which brought so much emotion, both joy and tears in my life.

I've divided my best reads of the year in twoposts since they are too many for a single one. The books are listed in chronological order of reading them. I read a lot of romance, some m/m, some New Adult, a little bit of fantasy and it's all reflected here. I hope you will find something you like and give it a try in the New Year.

Best books of 2014 Part I

Read my review / Add the book on Goodreads 
Buy the book on Amazon
The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #1) by Brian Staveley - I loved this first book in a debut epic fantasy series. Gomplex world-building, intriguing plot and great characters, what's not to like. Book 2, The Providence of Fire releases on 13 Jan 2015.

Read my review / Add the book on Goodreads 
/ Buy the book on Amazon
The Chocolate Temptation (Amour et Chocolat #6) by Laura FlorandI find this series just delicious and Patrick and Sarah's story was no exception. Emotioanlly intense and beautifully written.

 
Read my review 1 and review 2 / Add book 1 and book 2 on Goodreads 
Buy book 1 and book 2 on Amazon
Move the Sun and Behold the Stars (Signal Bend #1 and #2) by Susan Fanetti. This is a great biker romance (both books deal with the same couple) which stands out with its strong heroine and powerful writing. 

Read my review / Add the book on Goodreads 
/ Buy the book on Amazon
It Happened One Wedding (FBI / US Attorney #5) by  Julie James. Another favourite series of contemporary romances this time involving lawyers and FBI agents. 

Read my review / Add the book on Goodreads 
/ Buy the book on Amazon
Snow-Kissed (Snow Queen #1) by Laura Florand - Another title by Ms Florand made my list this year and this little novel just broke my heart. The story resonated deeply with me.

Read my review / Add the book on Goodreads 
/ Buy the book on Amazon
The Kraken King (Iron Seas #4) by Meljean Brook - My first steampunk romance and I loved everything about it - the action/adventure, the world building, the amazing characters and their romance
Read my review / Add the book on Goodreads 
/ Buy the book on Amazon
Between the Sheets (Boys of Bishop #3) by Molly O'Keefe - A surprise small-town romance by a new-to-author which was raw and gritty and emotional and all-around fantastcic
Read my review / Add the book on Goodreads 
/ Buy the book on Amazon
Complicated creatures (Part 1) by Alexis Lawless - This intense romantic suspense with strong characters was another woderful surprise and I can recommend to anyone


16 Dec 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Hero by Samantha Young


Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: Hero
Author: Samantha Young
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 3 Feb 2015

Pre-order links: Amazon / iBooks / B&N 

Add on Goodreads





Synopsis

Alexa Holland’s father was her hero—until her shocking discovery that she and her mother weren’t his only family. Ever since, Alexa has worked to turn her life in a different direction and forge her own identity outside of his terrible secrets,. But when she meets a man who’s as damaged by her father’s mistakes as she is, Alexa must help him.

Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and explosive affair.

Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for. And when they’re on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again

*** *** *** 

Why am I waiting for this? - I really like Samantha Young's On Dublin Street series and this enemies-to-lovers story sounds just irresistible. I've read the first two chapters on Ms Young's website and now I can't wait to read more and discover the story of Alexa and Caine. 

Review: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen

Title: The Understatement of the Year (The Ivy Years #3)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre: NA Romance, College, M/M 
Release Date: 29 Sept 2014

Author's links:

Add on Goodreads



Synopsis

What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.


Review

This is the third book in the New Adult series, The Ivy Years, by Sarina Bowen. I've read the two previous novels (my review of book 2) and the novella, Blonde Date, and I really enjoyed them all a lot. My personal favourite remains, book 1, The Year We Fell Down (my review). This installment features a m/m romance between two hockey players in college and I found it just as good as the previous books.  was also very good. emotional, intense, a bit ansgty. 

It's an emotional friends-to-lovers sort of story starting back when the characters were teenagers and they meet again 6 years later as team mates in the college hockey team. They story is told in a dual POV and we get both sides to an event that pretty much shaped their lives up to the moment.

I liked both Rikker and Graham a lot, though i may have a tiny bit more love for Rikker. He was outed against his will and was forced in the role of a symbol, flagbearer for gay athletes. Despite being comfortable in the knowledge who he was, he didn't want the publicity and the attention. he just wanted to be a regular gay guy in college, playing hockey. In a way he was doing his own hiding, trying to blend it, avoiding by all means any more drama for himself and his teammates.

Graham was his polar opposite. He was so deep in the closet that he denied even to himself who he was. His hatred for himself and his desires were completely suffocating. His whole life is a form of evasion and he is so focused on playing the role of a straight guy all the time, that he is failing to form his won personality.

I found the inner struggles of the two main characters were deftly presented and I got deeply engaged in their story.

The girl in the story, Bella, was a great supporting character. I like how she was presented as a true friend and generally a nice human being, instead of the evil bitch woman we often see in m/m romance. I felt bad for her and Graham's obliviousness was no excuse for the pain he cause her and all the other people who loved him.

On the negative side, I felt that Graham self-loathing was too much at times. He seemed stuck in the past and couldn't really move forward for a big portion of the story. This also made Rikker seem far too patient with him. He forgave past and present mistakes far too easily. While I sympathize with them both for what they had to go through and very much enjoyed the dynamics of their relationship, how complicated, yet easy it was, I would have loved if they talked more often and more openly with each other.

The ending felt rushed. I would have loved to see more of Rikker and Graham as a couple, how the others saw and accepted them being together. The tentative reconciliation between Rikker and his family we see in the end felt a bit out of place and forced. I didn't really need it and don't think it added anything to the story itself.

The next book in the series will be about Bella and for all her love of hockey playes, I hope she ends up with a cute nerdy guy who knows nothing about sports :)

Purchase links: iBooks / Kobo / Amazon / B&N / ARe / Buy from SARINA

12 Dec 2014

Review: Dictatorship of the Dress by Jessica Topper

Title: Dictatorship of the Dress (Much "I Do" About Nothing #1)
Author: Jessica Topper
Date of publication: 6 Jan 2015
Genre/themes: Contemporary Romance

Author's links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

Add to Goodreads

My rating: 4 stars


Synopsis

As the dress-bearer for her mother’s wedding, comic book artist Laney Hudson has a lot more baggage than the bulky garment bag she’s lugging from New York to Hawaii. Laney is determined to prove she’s capable of doing something right, but running chores for her mom’s fairytale nuptials is proving to be a painfully constant reminder of her own lost love.

So when she’s mistaken for the bride and bumped up to first class, Laney figures some stress-free luxury is worth a harmless white lie. Until the flight crew thinks that the man sitting next to her is Laney’s groom, and her little fib turns into a hot mess.

The last thing Noah Ridgewood needs is some dress-obsessed diva landing in his first-class row. En route to his Vegas bachelor party, the straight-laced software designer knows his cold feet have nothing to do with the winter weather.

When a severe storm leaves them grounded in Chicago and they find themselves booked into the last available honeymoon suite, Laney and her in-flight neighbor have little choice but to get better acquainted. Now, as her bridal mission hangs in the balance, perhaps the thing Laney gets right is a second chance at love.

Review

I really enjoyed this book though it turned out to be different from what I expected. Based on the cover I thought it would be a light romantic comedy and while it had its funny times, it was much more serious and thought-provoking. It's not dark or depressing, but there is some sense of sadness, a lot of regret and a wonderful HEA.

I really enjoyed Ms Topper's debut novel, Louder Than Love (my review) and I can see some similarities in the writing here. It's a complex story with well developed characters who undergo profound changes in their lives - real people with real problem, easy to relate to and understand the decisions they make.

On the surface this story shouldn't work for me, he is engaged, they meet under extreme circumstances and are forced to share a room/space, fall in love in matter of 2 days, turn their lives around, still I'm surprised how much I enjoyed it. Ms Topper has given both the characters and their romance some depth and authenticity which made them very appealing. 

Laney is lost, grieving, insecure, a quitter. Noah seems her polar opposite - he is in control of his life, knows who he is and where he is going. As it turns this is pretty much an illusion, a lie he keeps telling himself.

There is subplot, the story of Laney and Allen, which I found very moving and emotional. We see just bits and pieces but they are enough to create a powerful vision of their romance which I absolute loved.

The story goes between present and past and this is where I had some issues. It was confusing, the transitions between Laney's memories and her present day situation were too abrupt sometimes and I needed time to figure out who is talking and when the said events are taking place.

Another weakness for me was the way things with Noah's fiance were handled. The problems there were resolved too neatly and everybody got their HEA, which took away from the realistic aspect of the story. 

I'm already excied about the next book in the series coming in the summer of 2015. It's be about Laney's best friend, Dani, and to my surprise not Noah's army buddy Ben. Ms Topper keeps twisting my expectations with this series! I recommended this read if you are looking for a contemporary romance with a touch of humour, some sadness and nostalgia but ultimately with a lot of passion, love and hope for the future.

 Pre-order links: Amazon / BN.com / iBooks / Kobo / Penguin

9 Dec 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Liberty and other stories by Alexis Hall


Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: Liberty and Other Stories
Author: Alexis Hall
Genre: Steampunk, queer romance, short stories
Release Date: 5 Jan 2015

Pre-order links: Riptide

Add on Goodreads




Synopsis

For the delight and edification of discerning readers, we present diverse stories concerning the lives, histories, and adventures of the crew of the aethership Shadowless.

Lament! as an upstanding clergyman falls into the villainous clutches of a notorious criminal mastermind.

Question your sanity! as a dissolute governess confronts blasphemies from beyond creation.

Wonder! at the journey of the dashing skycaptain Byron Kae across sapphire oceans, through smog-choked streets, and to the depths of the sky itself.

Gasp! at an entirely true and accurately rendered tale of pirates, cavalrymen, aethermancers, scientists, and a power to unmake the world.

Plus, hitherto unseen extracts from the meticulous and illuminating journals of Mrs. Miranda Lovelace, rogue scientist and first of the aethermancers.

This collection includes:

- Shackle (A Prosperity Story)
- Squamous with a Chance of Rain
- Cloudy Climes and Starless Skies
- Liberty

*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this book? - Actually, I already have a review copy of this and I'll be reading it very soon. This is a sort of sequel to Prosperity which I loved, with separate stories about all the main characters. I discovered Alexis Hall's books just recently but I'm completely blown away by his writing and can't wait to read more of it. 

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