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Well, another year down. There were definitely some highs and lows, but I’m ready for a new year. I know I’ve talked about how my blogging has dwindled in these posts for the past few years, but 2018 was the worst. I only posted 20 times. I have several review posts prepped, but just can’t seem to push myself to finish them. I still update with Goodreads, though. I honestly doubt I’ll ever post frequently as I did the first years I blogged, but I don’t want to give it up completely.

Even though blogging is low, my reading has been pretty solid. I set my goal to 60, skeptical I’d even reach that, but I exceeded it and read 78 books. Wish I could’ve rounded it up to 80. Overall, the year was filled with good books & only a couple of disappointments.

2018 was all about the series for me. Several beloved series came to an end, but I also made it a goal to catch up on or finish any that I had neglected. Also, since so many came to a close, I decided to start in on those that I’ve accumulated over the years but never got around to, like the Arcadia Bell series by Jenn Bennett. I loved it and am so glad I was able read them all without waiting in between books!

Now, for my top reads. I read a lot of good books, but these are the ones that had that extra something. They’re in no particular order and they link to my review if there is one.

Books published in 2018





Technically published in 2019

Books published in previous years


There it is! I recommend them all!

Have you read any of them?

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Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Published by: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Format: eARC
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

Oh. My. Gosh. This was so stinking good! I absolutely loved it. I was adamant that it would be a top read for 2018 at 8% in, and it only continued to get better.

I immediately fell for Hazel. She easily latched on to my heart with her love tentacles (haha – read the book), and her exuberance was infectious. She’s fantastic on her own, but paired with Josh, these two made me laugh out loud and completely fall in love with them. My heart soared, and how much I smiled was just ridiculous!

Loath-to-love is my favorite, but I’m always down for some good friends-to-lovers, especially when they’re as delightful as this one.

Entertaining doesn’t even begin to describe these book. I think fans of The Hating Game would enjoy it. I’m not comparing the content, but the feels are on the same level.

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Iron and Magic
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: The Iron Covenant #1
Published by: NYLA
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Format: eBook
Pages: 406
Source: Purchased

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.

I’m a huge fan of the Kate Daniels series and loved Hugh d’Ambray’s character in it even though he’s one of the bad guys. He does bad oh so well.  So I was ecstatic to read a new series that revolves around him. I didn’t realize until recently that people didn’t like him because of his bad guy status, but I’m telling you that even if that’s the case, you must read Iron and Magic.

Like I said, I loved Huge, so I was eager to see what happened after the last time we saw him. We really get a good understanding of Huge and who he is, which only made me like him more. Don’t get it twisted though, the guy is deadly and someone to be feared for sure, but there’s definitely more to him. And then add Elara to the mix … holy crap!  Elara is no pushover and is extremely scary in her own way. I loooove her! Plus, the loath-to-love trope is my absolute favorite, and boy, do they do it well. They are so perfectly matched with amazing chemistry, great banter, and a well-earned mutual respect. Also, a couple who fights side-by-side as partners is sexy af!

Really, the whole story was freaking great! There’s also some nice crossover with the Kate Daniels series that was needed. I’m so excited for more of The Iron Covenant series, especially looking forward to discovering more of Elara’s story and what exactly she is.

Magic Triumphs
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #10
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: eARC
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She's made friends and enemies. She's found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate's doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

Ahhhh … it’s the end of Kate Daniels. Or is it? Okay, yes, Magic Triumphs is the series finale and I’m very sad it’s over, but at least it isn’t the end of this world. It’s definitely bittersweet, but damn, was it good!

Kate’s life has certainly gone through some major changes since we first met in Magic Bites, and now she has a lot more to lose. We knew everything would have to come to a head regarding Roland, but I was nervous! I like how it all went down, though!

This series has some of my favorite characters, not just individually, but I love them as a group and how they’re always there for each other. I was so happy to see everyone made an appearance, and I love how everyone had a part to play in what transpired. And of course, Kate remains one of my top favorite heroines – deadly, witty, loyal, intelligent … what’s not to love?

It wrapped up really well, but there’s still a few threads left open that have me excited for what comes next with certain characters.

     

FYI: If you are a fan of the Kate Daniels series, then I strongly suggest reading Iron and Magic before Magic Triumphs. In fact, treat it as book #9.5 in the Kate Daniels series, because honestly, I would’ve been a bit miffed and felt out of the loop had I read Magic Triumphs first.

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The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
Author: Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
Format: eBook
Pages: 768
Source: Purchased

When Melisande Stokes, an expert in linguistics and languages, accidently meets military intelligence operator Tristan Lyons in a hallway at Harvard University, it is the beginning of a chain of events that will alter their lives and human history itself. The young man from a shadowy government entity approaches Mel, a low-level faculty member, with an incredible offer. The only condition: she must sign a nondisclosure agreement in return for the rather large sum of money.

Tristan needs Mel to translate some very old documents, which, if authentic, are earth-shattering. They prove that magic actually existed and was practiced for centuries. But the arrival of the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment weakened its power and endangered its practitioners. Magic stopped working altogether in 1851, at the time of the Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace—the world’s fair celebrating the rise of industrial technology and commerce. Something about the modern world "jams" the "frequencies" used by magic, and it’s up to Tristan to find out why.

And so the Department of Diachronic Operations—D.O.D.O. —gets cracking on its real mission: to develop a device that can bring magic back, and send Diachronic Operatives back in time to keep it alive . . . and meddle with a little history at the same time. But while Tristan and his expanding operation master the science and build the technology, they overlook the mercurial—and treacherous—nature of the human heart.

Neal Stephenson is easily becoming a favorite author, and now Nicole Galland is definitely one I want to see more of. I can’t even tell you how excited I was when I read the blurb for The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. It sounded perfect for me, and it absolutely was!

This is science fiction that includes mystery/thriller with history, science, magic, and my ultimate favorite … time travel! I know, it sounds like it could be really busy and take on too much, but that’s completely false. These two authors spun a truly cool and unique tale that had me hanging on to every word of the 700+ pages. I absolutely love the way they mixed the hard science with witches and their magic and the whole concept of how the time travel works. Also, the historical aspects are phenomenal! It’s almost embarrassing how giddy I was about certain historical figures and events that appeared. Plus, I got the biggest kick out of all the Shakespeare shade – too funny! Oh, and the naked Vikings – hahaha!

Also, the characters are fantastic and I enjoyed what each one brought to the story. Best of all, I laughed quite a bit throughout the book. Some of the humor is so subtle that it made me laugh even more. Seriously, I found it to be highly amusing!

I honestly don’t have one bad thing to say about this book. In fact, I’m smiling right now just thinking about what a good time I had while reading it. 700+ pages went by way too fast.

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All Your Perfects
Author: Colleen Hoover
Published by: Atria Books
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
Format: eARC
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

Damn, I binged All Your Perfects in a few hours and I feel like I cheated myself. I should’ve paced myself and made it last longer, but I COULDN’T! It’s a fairly quick book anyway, but I could not put it down once I started. That’s the way it is when I read any of Colleen’s books, honestly.

Graham and Quinn were genuine characters that I absolutely fell for. This book beautifully follows the ups and downs of their relationship that took me through a wide range of emotions. It’s definitely an emotional read that caused some waterworks, but it produced plenty of laughs and feel-good moments.

I really like how this was told in alternating timelines of then and now until they converge. Truthfully, I wasn’t in the mood for some of the now chapters at the beginning of the book. They were very sad at times, and I just wasn’t in the mood for the downer feels. I preferred the then chapters a lot more, but came to love them equally as the story progressed.

Really, though, I loved All Your Perfects.

P.S. I love how Colleen inserts little Easter Eggs in her books.

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White Trash Zombie Unchained
Author: Diana Rowland
Series: White Trash Zombie #6
Published by: Audible Studios
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Allison McLemore
Length: 14 hrs and 22 mins
Source: Purchased

Angel Crawford has finally pulled herself together (literally!) after her disastrous dismemberment on Mardi Gras. She’s putting the pieces of her life back in order and is ready to tackle whatever the future holds.

Too bad the future is a nasty bitch. There’s a new kind of zombie in town: mindless shamblers, infectious and ravenous.

With the threat of a full-blown shambler pandemic looming, and a loved one stricken, Angel and the “real” zombies scramble to find a cure. Yet when Angel uncovers the true reason the plague is spreading so quickly, she adds “no-holds-barred revenge” to her to-do list.

Angel is busting her ass dealing with shambling hordes, zombie gators, government jerks, and way too many mosquitos, but this white trash chick ain’t giving up.

Good thing, since the fate of the world is resting on her undead shoulders.

I always have the best time with these books, and White Trash Zombie Unchained is no exception. It was indeed another great time filled with laughter, excitement, and outstanding characters.

I love zombies! Always have and always will. However, as I said many times before, this is not your typical zombie book and is great for people who normally shy away from the whole zombie thing. The Walking Dead this is not! This definitely has more of an urban fantasy feel.

I can’t even tell you how much I adore Angel! She is without a doubt one of my favorite heroines. Angel started out as an underdog, but certainly proved she’s not to be underestimated, even proving it to herself. The growth Angel went through makes me so freaking happy! She’s smart, loyal, scrappy, has a huge heart and always stood up for what’s right. Oh, and best of all, her snark is on point!

This series is filled with a lot of wonderful characters beside Angel. Just as Angel evolved, so do the rest of them. I love the fantastic dynamic she established with so many of them, and what a kick-ass support system they became. These supporting characters really do take the series to another level.

This does appear to be the final book in the series, and if it is, then I feel completely content and happy with the way it ended. I truly enjoyed the story in White Trash Zombie Unchained, but it also did a great job closing the overall series storyline. However, I’d love more Angel!

I can’t recommend listening to the audiobook enough! If you’re a reluctant audio listener or think they aren’t for you, this is one of those series/narrators that will prove otherwise. Allison McLemore is queen! I do listen on a faster speed, but I do that with all audiobooks.

Also, the cover is freaking badass and GORGEOUS! It’s absolutely my favorite of the series.

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