Happy Thursday, friends, and welcome to another of our Best Books of 2017 lists, this one from Jules! She’s got an outstanding bunch of books on her list and, in fact, she had such a hard time whittling her picks down to just ten that she wants to throw out an honorable mention to Santino Hassell’s Illegal Contact, TJ Klune’s Into This River I Drown, and Garrett Leigh’s Strays.
Now, here’s the official list of Jules’ Best Books of the Year!
Imago by N.R. Walker – I loved, loved reading this book because of how it made me feel. As I said in the beginning of the review, it made me smile. It gave me that silly, swoony feeling you get when you read a really great romance. It also got my adrenaline going toward the end. You’ll have to read it to see what happens, but let me just say that the final twenty-five percent was very exciting.
The bottom line is, I want you guys to read this one. Pick it up. Stare at the cover. Dreamy sigh your way through the story. And, then lemme know who you love more, Jack or Lawson, because I just can’t decide. One thing I know for sure, though, is that this will, without question, be one of my go-to comfort reads.
Mongrel Trilogy by K.Z. Snow – I remember when I became aware of KZ Snow’s Mongrel Trilogy. The second book, Merman, had just been released, but at the time I was still in my contemporary romance bubble, so it just seemed too “out there” for me. I know. Lame. However, I did go check out the info on Mongrel, and it was definitely intriguing. That cover, right? And, the blurb: Hunzinger’s Mechanical Circus…Fanule Perfidor—how cool is that name?—Purinton vs Taintwell…Sooo much intrigue. BUT, I still held off. Fast forward to last spring, when Dreamspinner was releasing the trilogy bundle. I said to Lisa, “Hey, I’m thinking about jumping on this Mongrel Trilogy Bundle…” Before I could even get all the words out, she said, “DO IT!” So, I did it. And, then last week I did it again.
I loved this series, folks. I’m so very glad I read it; and read it again. If you haven’t yet picked it up, the trilogy bundle is an unbeatable price, and so worth your time. Go get it!
Lord of the White Hell: Volume One and Two by Ginn Hale (from Vol. One) – This is shaping up to be the year where I finally read a bunch of books that have been on my list forever. I dunno how I sat on this particular book for so long, but thank goodness I finally got to it because Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale is an absolute feast. I couldn’t be more stoked to have had the opportunity to read and review this book. As with any of Hale’s stories, once you begin it, you find yourself immediately and completely immersed in the world she has created. I could picture the grounds of the Sagrada Academy, smell the pies that Kiram and Javier stole from the kitchen windowsill, hear the blows and grunts during the battles in the autumn tournament. Every scene is so rich, every character so real and memorable, the sensations and emotions just leap off the page.
Into the Blue by Pene Henson – This book was just so quiet and lovely. I adored so many things about it. I loved the diversity. I LOVED the surfing stuff. Tai’s board shaping business was so cool; I loved, loved how proud Ollie was of Tai’s boards and how he always talked them up. Ollie’s new agent was fabulous. And, all the competition stuff, including the amazing locales, was fantastic. Do yourselves a favor, and add this one to your summer reading list!
Riding with Brighton by Haven Francis – I LOVED this book, you guys. It has a strong Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibe, which was so fantastic and fun. And, reading it reminded me of reading Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is like the highest of compliments. Just that feeling, right from the get-go, that the author has nailed it. Mostly I couldn’t stop smiling and giggling the entire time, but I also cried at the end. There was so much humor and love in the story, and so many awww-inspiring moments; I truly, completely adored it. Haven Francis absolutely won me over with Brighton and Jay. It’s tough to write a YA/NA book with the authentic voice this one has. I have no doubt I’ll end up reading it again at some point.
Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer – Lots to love here. So much. I could go on and on. Instead, I’ll simply encourage you to go out and get this book. I read the new, expanded version, which is an absolute steal on Amazon for ninety-nine cents. I don’t know what the new content is (I actually owned the first version, but bought this one also when I saw the price point), but I have to believe that fifteen-thousand-plus more words of this awesomeness has to be a good thing. So, go get it. And, also, go check out the author’s website! He has little snippets called Bauer’s Bytes that are totally fabulous. Just be sure to check out the time stamps, or the reading order, so that you don’t get ahead of yourself in the series. The author recommends reading the first four Bytes between Enemies of the State and Interlude. I absolutely can’t wait to dig in to the rest of this series!!
And It Came to Pass by Laura Stone – I loved how much this book made me think, how much it made me feel, and how much I learned from it. But, what I loved most of all, was that neither Brandon nor Adam lost their faith. They felt the iron fist of the Church looming over their heads, but they never lost their love for God. This line, that Brandon says to Adam, was so spot on: “It’s like the Church is about the Church and not about Heavenly Father.”
Ok. I can’t quote you the whole thing…and I don’t want to give too much away…so, I’ll leave it there. But first, I have to quickly also say how much I loooved Brandon’s parents, and how fabulously, wonderfully amazing they were—Adam’s parents, not so much—and that the setting of Barcelona was completely beautiful and fantastic! There.
Necessary Medicine by M.K. York – I love how realistic the book comes across. Obviously, the author knows what she’s talking about, as her bio says she’s a med student herself, but it definitely feels authentic. And, I enjoyed the medical stuff a lot. I didn’t find it tedious or boring whatsoever. I saw some early reviews wherein people were unhappy with the heavy load of medical information in the book, and the amount of time given to Neil’s experiences as a med student; the issue seeming to be that the romance suffered because of it, that it wasn’t a romance at all because they don’t truly get together until late in the book. I wholeheartedly disagree. To me, the content and pace were great, and the love story was beautiful. And, the ending was sooo good! I had a huge lump in my throat when I finished.
The Consumption of Magic by TJ Klune – So, yeah, this one was definitely rough in quite a few places. My feels were shredded at the end. Shredded. But, there was so much that was great about it. Oh! Speaking of awesome things about this book…A quick shout out to the EPIC prologue. Klune paints the whole picture for us of when Morgan came to get Sam and his parents out of the slums and, guhhhhh. It was so good, guys. Morgan is beyond amazing. His love for Sam or his intentions should just never be questioned. Also, the dragons are all so fabulous and cool, and I loved how Klune wrapped things up in this one and setup up the next chapter of the story. A Wish Upon the Stars is undoubtedly going to blow us away. I can’t wait.
Circle by Garrett Leigh – Stunning. Absolute perfection. I just want to savor this one, and keep it with me for a bit. Maybe even immediately read it again. It’s been three and a half years since I spent time with Ash and Pete from Garret Leigh’s Roads series, but Circle quickly reminded me why I love them so damn much. I didn’t have a chance to reread Slide and Rare before reading Circle, but I wish I would have. It’s definitely not necessary…I was able to get right back into the groove with these guys, even though so much time had passed. But, I would say that if you do have a chance to revisit them, it might make reading this one even more special. Also, if you haven’t yet read Only Love, or have time to revisit it before reading Circle, I would highly suggest doing so. I soooo wish I would have reread it first. Again, it’s not strictly necessary—but, Jed and Max from Only Love play a HUGE role in this part of Pete and Ash’s story, so meeting them and knowing their story first will only enhance the reading experience here.