Best 18 of 2018

In 2018, I wrote one novella (New York Engagement) and three short stories, published three of them, and started on a novel. In doing so, I had to curtail my reading by a lot compared to previous years (465 in 2016, 208 in 2017).

One hundred twenty-one is still decent. I’ve actually accomplished the goal I set out at the beginning of the year of reading ten books a month. For the most part, those books were excellent with only a couple of duds among them. So good that I rated 55 novels five-stars in Goodreads, Amazon, NetGalley, BookBub, Edelweiss, etc. That’s nearly half of them, that’s why it’s so hard for me to choose the traditional Top 10. The bare minimum I could do is eighteen. These books made me laugh, cry, feel, and love. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev
  2. The Ones Who Got Away and The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren
  3. Dark in Death by J.D. Robb
  4. Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai
  5. Making Up by Lucy Parker
  6. Undone by You and Hooked on You by Kate Meader
  7. Breathless by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan
  8. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  9. The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard
  10. When a Duke Loves a Woman by Lorraine Heath
  11. The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne
  12. The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
  13. Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
  14. For the Duke’s Eyes Only by Lenora Bell
  15. Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh
  16. The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
  17. Beautiful Sinner by Sophie Jordan
  18. Fierce, Funny, and Female by Marti MacGibbon

 

 

Looking forward to 2019 and more five-star reads. Happy reading!  

My January 2018 Reads

I was 8 for 10 in January for my Reading Challenge. I have three Works-In-Progress and finally joined Twitter; my reading time was severely curtailed. The good news is that I thoroughly enjoyed the eight books I read in January.

My first five-star read was Sonali Dev’s A Distant Heart. I tooa-distant-heart-sonali-devk my time reading this book even though I had a deadline to rate and review it within two weeks of its release. I wanted to not only delve deep into the story and characters, but also study the writing style and learn from it. I’ve decided that the majority of my books will be set away from the US and this is a perfect model for me to emulate. Sonali transported me to Mumbai from the first word. She deftly weaved the Indian culture into the story without the need for a glossary and lengthy explanations.

a devil in scotlandFrom India, I traveled to the Scottish highlands in Suzanne Enoch’s A Devil in Scotland. I enjoyed this action-packed Highland story of redemption and second-chance love. I especially liked Callum’s growth from a drunken irresponsible youth to a sharp businessman, loving father figure, seductive lover, and worthy clan leader. I adored little Margaret and her pack. I appreciated the slow(ish) build up of trust between Callum and Rebecca. The realization of their mutual attraction came as a natural progression due to their shared history and re-acquaintance rather than the lightning strike of instalust. Four stars. This was an ARC from NetGalley.

I love that I’m traveling through space and time with my reading. My next book Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan took me to one of my most favorite cities in the world, during what’s quite possibly my favorite holiday –moonlight-over-manhattan-by-sarah-morgan Christmastime. I rated it four stars. I love that both hero and heroine are self-aware, mature individuals yet they still both grew in the telling of this story. I adore that there are several cases of misunderstanding, but they were discussed and resolved right away. There’s a lot to admire in both Harriett and Ethan, that you just have to root for them to be together. I also appreciate the dogs, the friends, the family who played important roles in the MCs romance. If I have a critique, it would be that the pacing could have been a bit “faster” and the hero and heroine could have more flaws.

beyond scandal and desireWe go back to Victorian England with Lorraine Heath’s Beyond Scandal and Desire.  I loved loved loved that the romance between Mick and Aslyn is at the center of this book and Lorraine Heath never strayed from it. The revenge angle never overwhelmed it as I’ve seen in some other books I read recently. I cried at the end with the reveal and the discussion of baby farming. Ms. Heath has always been able to do that to me and I love her for it. A four-star read for me, this book sets up the new series very well. I’m looking forward to the stories of Mick’s foster siblings. Edelweiss kindly provided me with the Advance Review Copy of this book.

Back to present-day Napa Valley with Love Me Like love me like thisThis by Bella Andre. This was another ARC. Love Me Like This is incredibly sweet and unabashedly romantic. This story of a second-chance love between college best friends, who mistakenly thought their love for the other was not reciprocated, is the very definition of a romance novel. I always enjoy Bella’s books and Love Me Like This didn’t disappoint. I recommend this to everyone who wants to be reminded that there are positive stories out there, stories of generosity and kindness, stories of love and hope. They can be found in the pages of romance novels. Four stars.

heretics of thran

I haven’t taken a break from reading romance in a while so I decided to check out this series prequel by Tai. It turned out to be a great choice because it was a quick, fun read. What I loved is the world-building is happening without excessive info-dump at the start. I’m seeing it unfold as the scenes happen. Also, the characters are introduced in such a way that the reader is not confused by their sheer number, each distinct and easily identifiable. Heretics of Thran is a fast-paced action-packed adventure-fantasy romp and I cannot wait for the Distant Stars series to begin. I hope Edrich gets a love interest somewhere along the way. 😉 That’ll make my romance-loving heart happy.

After the futuristic sci-fi/fantasy, I’m back to romance the ones who got awaywith Roni Loren’s The Ones Who Got Away. Ms. Loren is a new-to-me author and this is the first one I’ve read of her work. It will certainly not the last. I gave this book five stars because it ticked all the boxes for books I enjoy the most. It was satisfying. There’s angst, hot sexytimes, family dysfunction, lots of humor, and what I love best, female friendships. The theme of taking one’s fate in hand and going for your dream in the present is something that parallels my own motto of Carpe Diem that’s why I have such an affinity with this book. “… I won’t play it safe. I won’t be practical. I’ll live a passionate life … I promise, Class of 2005, to live the life that scares me.”

unraveled

The last novel I completed in January is the first book of Lauren Dane’s Whiskey Sharp series – Unraveled. I was conflicted with this book. I love everything that had to do with Maybe and Alexsei. They are wonderfully well-rounded characters, who are real people and highly relatable. I adore their interactions and the sizzling chemistry between them. Their journey to love was funny, sweet, and oh-so sexy. On the other hand, I didn’t love the storyline with the parents. It overpowered the book. In the end, I will still follow this series, but I’m hoping the villains are gone quickly in the next novel.

 

To start February, I already have four books opened, both ebooks and paperback. I’ll try to catch up this month and read 12 books. Good thing, one of my WIPs will go to the editor in the middle of the month. I’ll have a little bit more time to read and be able to scale my Mt. TBR.

See my full reviews on Goodreads.

Happy New Year – 2018 Goals

A review of my 2017 Goals/Plans:

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  • Rewrite and edit Boracay – Done
  • Write New York and Singapore – partially done
  • Publish Boracay and New York – Boracay Done
  • Set-up a blog – Done
  • Set-up a Facebook Author page – Done
  • Join Romance Writers of America – Done, plus the San Antonio Romance Authors chapter, too
  • Win NaNo again – Not done
  • Read 180 books – Read and reviewed 208.
  • Spend only $240 on books – Success! Spent only $190.
  • Attend a writing conference – Not quite. Attended a one-month editing workshop and four reader events all over Texas.

Based on these results, I consider 2017 to be a successful year.

 

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For 2018, here are my goals/plans:

  • Finish writing New York Engagement, have it edited and published. Target date: Saturday, March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)
  • Finish writing Singapore Fling. Publishing target: July 2018.
  • Achieve full PAN status at RWA.
  • Get Boracay Vows into independent bookstores all over the US.
  • Secure local distribution for Boracay Vows in the Philippines. Attempt a movie deal.
  • Read and review at least 120 books for Goodreads Reading Challenge:
    – 1 craft book on writing/editing/publishing
    – 1 male author/non-romance
    – 4 historical romance (2 from my Mount TBR, 1 ARC, 1 new/new-to-me)
    – 4 contemporary (2 from Mount TBR, 1 ARC, 1 indie author)
    Rereads will be after the 10 have been fulfilled.
  • Attend a writing conference.
  • Spend only $180 on books.
  • Register a profit on all books.

So, here’s to 2018. May it be the Best Year Ever.