Top Ten Tuesday : Best Reads of 2018

Happy 2019, everyone!!! Here’s to a better and more amazing year to all of us. I was gonna do a separate post on my favorite reads of 2018. But I’m guess I’m gonna use the TTT topic this week for that, after all. Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl for the unacquainted. Okay, here we go.


The Simple Wild

This was such a beautiful surprise of a book! I loved it for a lot of reasons. But mostly because of the setting that the author could portray so perfectly. I also loved the characters and the emphasis on the theme of family and self-growth.

You can read my full review here.

 

 

Sadie

Another book that totally took me by surprise! Sadie is probably the best crime-suspense I read this year. Highly recommended

You can check my review here.

 

 


Look The Part

This wasn’t an easy read by any means, nor was it the most perfect book. But it captivated me with its flawed characters and their flawed decisions. One of my favorite romances of the year.

 

 

 


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

This was released back in 2017 and became of my favorite reads of 2018. I loved it because it thwarted my expectations at every turn. I love Eleanor and this beautiful tale of her growth and an even more beautiful friendship.

You can check out my review here.

 

 


Vicious 

Another non-2018 release that I was a late to the party for. There are a lot of reasons I love this book. The main being Victor Vale.

Here’s my review.

 

 

 

 


The Cruel Prince

I’ve seen so many mixed reviews about this book! So I guess that it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But I loved it. I know that people had a lot of problems with the protagonist and the (anti)hero. But I love this about the book that these characters are all flawed and fucked up. Makes the ride all the more interesting. I find that this series holds a lot of promise and I can’t wait for The Wicket King to come out next week!

 


Transcend Duet

I am not a fan of reincarnation tropes. Only Jewel E. Ann could convince me to give this trope a shot and love it. There’s a this feeling of yearning and ache in this duet that I just can’t get over. I also love that the covers actually have a meaningful story behind them.

Find my review here.

 


The Start Of Me And You

I read this 2015 release beginning of the 2018. I went through a phase of a lot of YAs back in January and February. This one remained as my most favorite of them.

 

 

 


Josh & Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating

Probably my favorite romance of the year. Christina Lauren does the friends-to-lovers trope so well here! I absolutely love Josh and Hazel. This one’s for the keeps. !

Here’s my review.

 

 

 


Muse of Nightmares

This is arguably my best read of 2018. I guess that sums it up.
Here’s my review.

 

 

 


I enjoyed this trip down the memory lane! Honestly speaking, I’m not entirely happy with my reading for 2018. I feel that I stayed in the safe zone and didn’t experiment too much. I hope to change that in 2019! Happy New Year again, everyone! And Happy Reading!

Book Review : Muse of Nightmares (Strange The Dreamer #2) by Laini Taylor

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice–save the woman he loves, or everyone else?–while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.


It looks like Laini Taylor can never disappoint me. This sequel did things I’d never imagined it would. I’m thoroughly satisfied.

I was at my wit’s end, when I finished Strange The Dreamer, thinking about how Lazlo and Sarai would be able to escape the predicament they were in at the end. It’s not even a predicament. Sarai is dead. A ghost! How do you even overcome that? But I forgot that it’s Laini freaking Taylor! She can make anything possible and that too convincingly.

Right at the beginning, we get thrown into the story of two brand new characters. And I never like when that happens in a sequel. I find it very difficult to invest in the story of new characters when there’s already-established favorite characters I’m worried about! It was the same for me here when we get introduced to the twin sisters Nova and Cora. But Laini weaved such a beautiful tale that slowly and surely I was hooked.

The plotting is done brilliantly. Every little detail is made relevant. The way Taylor connects everything and executes her ideas is nothing short of genius. The book lives up to its title. It’s the Sarai Show. I’d actually thought that with Sarai being a ghost, it would all be up to Lazlo to save the day. But that wasn’t the case. Rather, he takes the backseat to Sarai more often than not in this book.

I can’t remember the last time I was this satisfied with character development in a book. There isn’t one character I couldn’t empathize with. There’s no villains here. Even the characters I absolutely despised in Strange The Dreamer undergo such growths that one can’t help but feel for them. At times I didn’t even need any character-growth to feel empathy. For instance, I found myself empathizing with Miniya even when she was unleashing her cruelty on Lazlo and Sarai. But I think the character-growth that most pleased me was Thyon. His arc was one of the most interestingly written ones.

Lazlo and Sarai were as amazing as ever. Their faith and love for each other was beautiful. I especially loved how Lazlo played a big part in Sarai building her self-confidence. And their capability to empathize and be inherently good earned my appreciation even more. Though, I gotta say that most of their romance scenes were a bit on the fluffier side. Not something I could enjoy when there was so much at stake. It also made for a slower pace at the middle. I think I’ll enjoy those fluffy scenes more my second time reading it as I won’t be in a rush to find out the answers to my questions.

The second half was more tightly paced and only then I could realize how brilliant the build-up to it was in the first half. I loved the epilogue too. There was a part in the end with a clever reference to Taylor’s Daughter of Blood and Smoke. That had me grinning widely!

(Funnily enough, I couldn’t help but think of an adventure game scenario when I was reading the climax. That actually made me realize that this series could be adapted perfectly into a RPG/adventure game.)

Only Laini Taylor can combine a character driven story and a strong plot with enough twists and turns to make it exciting. I would give this 6 stars if I could.


My Rating: ★★★★★

Book Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating By Christina Lauren

 

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?



Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating 
has been on my tbr list since I found out about it in June. My past experience has mostly been disappointing with books I get excited about. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for this one.

This is now on my top 3 best contemporary romances I read this year. I absolutely adored this book. Josh and Hazel were perfect! Their friendship and love for each other warmed my heart.

Hazel was wonderfully weird. I could relate to her at so many levels! I like to think I’m embarrassing and lack no mouth filter just like Hazel. (Well, maybe not to the extent she is, but close.) Hazel was no-nonsense and loved herself. It was so beautiful to see her knowing that she’s too much for a lot of people and still determined to not change herself.

“The world seems full of men who are initially infatuated by our eccentricities, but who ultimately expect them to be temporary.”

We see people throughout the book being embarrassed by her and trying to tone her down. The way she handles these people and yet hides the pain she feels from that was so heartening and sad to read. Yes, I loved her larger-than-life persona, but her vulnerabilities won me over. It was also sad how she wouldn’t let herself entertain ideas of something more with Josh because she thought she wasn’t good enough for her.

“I realize that finding the perfect person isn’t going to be easy for me because I’m a lot to take,” she says, “but I’m not going to change just so that I’m more datable.”

And Josh Im? Josh, oh Josh! Josh really was the perfect guy that Hazel liked to call him. He might be the epitome of all things nice, stable and dependable. He was the antithesis to Hazel’s craziness. And yet, he wasn’t boring. The way he let Hazel shine and just be, made butterflies flutter in my stomach. And every time someone said something remotely negative about Hazel, Josh’s protectiveness springing up melted my heart. It was great to see a hero so in tune with his emotions.

“He doesn’t need me to change or pretend to be someone else. He’s my person. He’s my best friend.”

The plot was good. One thing I really appreciated was that although Josh and Hazel are forced to become roommates for a while, that’s a temporary. I’ve read enough books where something or other forces the protagonists to stay roomie permanently. But no, the friendship between Josh and Hazel was a lot more than being forced roomies.

There was no rivalry or misunderstandings. It was nice to see mutual respect and consideration between two protagonists, which is such a rarity in contemporary romances these days.

I’ve been all praises for this book so far but the direction it took at the end kind of dulled the awesomeness of the book for me. That twist wasn’t as bad as to change my love for the book. I didn’t hate it. But I think I’d have preferred a different direction than the one it took.

In short, if you like contemporary romances that are laugh-out-loud funny; have slow burn, great chemistry, steamy scenes, healthy relationships; then this is the one for you.


My Rating: ★★★★☆

Book Review: Epoch (Transcend #2) by Jewel E. Ann

 

Who do you choose between your soulmate and the love of your life? What are the limits that you can cross for your love? Should you cross them? At what point do you stop looking for answers and let go?  Can you defy your fate? Do you have the right to decide the fate of someone else’s life?

“I think a part of you will be mine to love in every life.”

These are some of the questions that went through my mind while reading Epoch. I never thought I’d be thinking such deep thoughts when I’d read the first of the Transcend, the prequel to Epoch.

Swayze has dreams for her life. Dreams that involve Griffin, the love of her life. And yet, she can remember memories from another life. Memories that makes her aware of exactly who the reason was of the death of the person whose memories she remembers. And although she loves Griffin from the core of her being, she also can’t let go of Nate. Nate who tells her that she is the reincarnation of Daisy, his first love. Daisy – who died the year Swayze was born. Daisy – whose life is so entangled with Swayze that she can’t escape those memories.

Epoch is all about Swayze fighting to learn more of her past. Swayze is not the brave and carefree Swayze we saw in Transcend. She is scared for her life. She knows the man who was responsible for Daisy’s death is roaming freely and she has nothing to prove her claims. She loves Griffin. She wants to grow old with him. But she can’t stop thinking about Nate. He has an allure to her that goes beyond her soul. And Nate’s daughter Morgan too. These two are her connection to a past she can’t let go of. And Griff is the future she wants.

“What if some people are meant to pass through our lives instead of walking along beside us?”

Griffin knows Swayze is the one. He is ready to start his life with her. But Swayze is so hell bent on finding the truth behind her memories, that Griff feels like he’s losing her. He is ready to do anything to make Swayze feel safe. But is that enough?

“I’m not going to watch you self-destruct. I’m not going to watch you fall in love with another man.”

Nate has lost the two loves of his life. He only had his third and final love, his daughter Morgan before Swayze stormed into his love. Discovering his first love and his best friend in her was a relief for him. But now he is conflicted by the separate space Swayze has created in his heart, separate to the part of her that is Daisy. But Swayze is not his and he can’t selfishly keep her from her life, a life which was perfect before she met him.

“It’s just what’s always been in my heart. You died, but I lived and so has my love for you.”

We see these three characters struggle with the curveball life threw at them in Epoch.

This book wasn’t perfect. Many readers might be frustrated by Swayze’s indecision throughout the book. I was frustrated too. But I never got annoyed with her. The author was successful in conveying Swayze’s inner turmoil to me, and I really felt for her. At one point, when Swayze reaches a decision, my heart broke. And then when another twist comes, my heart mended and slightly broke again. But then the epilogue mended my heart again and some more.

This book had a shocking twist that made me actually stop and think about how I felt about it. I didn’t expect that twist from this book. But by the end of the book, I was comfortable with that twist.

Normally, I detest love triangles. And I’m always on a team. But this duology felt more than a mere love triangle to me. It was more than about who she ends up with. I was invested in a happy ending for all three of them, even if neither of them got the girl.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget Swayze, Griff or Nate.

In the end, neither Swayze nor the readers do not get all our questions answered.  But I think there’s a beauty in that. The beauty in letting go.


 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Book Review: Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10)

 

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

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.

Okay. So, this is the tenth and final book of this particular series. A small intro for the people who are not familiar with this series – These books are pure Urban Fantasy. There are not only vampire or werewolves. You get your pick of shapeshifters from wererats to werelions. And that’s only the beginning.

To put it in TV show terms. This series is a mixture of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Except, Kate Daniels is even more badass then Buffy. Yes, I said it.

The author was not at all discriminating in her use of myths in this series. Be it Greek gods, Islamic djinns and ifrits, Roman gods, Hindu gods. You name it. There are 10 books in this series and every book brings a different myth and creatures.

So if you’re a fan of myths and fantasy. You’re gonna love this series. And, this is one of those rare gems which only gets better with each book. In fact, when I started the first book, I wasn’t impressed. The author dropped us in the middle of the universe and it took me time to adjust. But I went along. The second book was better at keeping me engaged. By the third book, I was all in. Hook. Line. Sinker.

In short, this series is hugely recommended by me. If you start the series and stick till the second and third book, you won’t be disappointed.

This series could go on for another 10 books and I’d still gobble it up. I’m still a bit glum that I won’t read more from Kate.

Kate Daniels is a character who has the rare accomplishment of not annoying ME even once in all TEN frikkin’ books. ME. Me who got annoyed by Harry Potter every 50 pages and who found even Elizabeth Bennet irritating at times. So suffice it to say, kate Daniels is the slayer of my heart.

She evolves so much throughout the series. In this final book, she’s a mother. She and Curran were great parents.

The previous books had so much of everything in them, I was never left not entertained.

Just when I thought nothing about this series would surprise me anymore, we get a case of 300 people boiled in a mass grave at the beginning. Creeeeeepy.

As if that’s not enough, she still has her father (a more civilized version of Voldemort, to put it mildly) after her. There are threatening messages from mysterious creatures. There are dragons. There is her 13 month old son who has started to shapeshift to a lion cub.

(Oh, did I mention Kate’s husband? Who’s a warelion? No? Well, there you go. But Kate and Curran are as equal as you can get. They might not have the most epic love story and Curran might not be the most swoonworthy hero ever. But they’re still one of my most favorite couples because they actually have a healthy relationship.)

Anyways, so Kate has a lot on her plates and she doubts she’ll see the end of it. But we have a dozen supporting characters who are thankfully there to help her. Kate who started off as a loner has now a BIG support group. That makes me emotional more than anything else. I’m such a proud reader! You go girl!

Oh on a side note, little Conlan stole the show for me. He was such an adorable mix of a devil, innocent and cuteness. I wouldn’t mind a book all on him.


Anyways…

I loved the book like I loved the other books in the series. But I’m still a little sad that I won’t see more from Kate. No worries, though. We will see more of this universe in multiple spinoffs. But no character will be able to resemble the awesomeness that is Kate Daniels.

You know what would cure me of my sadness? A TV adaptation on this series. Yes please. Pretty please?

And if you want to read a series that has an amazing blend of Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Romance and a billion bucket of FEELS, Kate Daniels is the one for you.


 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

 

 

Book Review: Transcend (Transcend Duet #1) by Jewel E. Ann


“In another life, she was my forever.”

An unexpected tragedy leaves Professor Nathaniel Hunt a widower alone with a newborn baby.

He hires a nanny. She’s young, but well-qualified, with a simple life, a crazy name obsession, and a boyfriend she met at the grocery store.

Over time, he discovers she knows things about him—things that happened before she was born—like a hidden scar on his head, his favorite pizza, and how he cheated on a high school Spanish test.

She speaks familiar words and shares haunting memories that take him back to over two decades earlier when he lost his best friend in a tragic accident.

“I’m afraid of what’s going to happen when you realize I’m not her.”

Transcend is a sexy, mind-bending journey that uncovers possibilities, challenges beliefs, and begets the age-old question: is there life after death?


 

“A single touch can say things twenty-six letters can’t even begin to say.”

Some books stay with you long after you read them. Transcend was one of them.

This book has had me so strongly in its grasp from the very first line. And I was drawn right from the beginning. Some books take a long time for you to slowly drown in it. To engage you from the very first line? That in itself is a gift for an author.

The plot was just as the blurb describes but yet so much more. I don’t want to spoil it for you. Just if you believe in fate, you’re gonna love this book.

However, it’s quite clear that this book plays with the theme of reincarnation. And that was the only thing that had me dubious about starting the book. Reincarnation is not my thing, really. But the blurb had me fascinated and so I went in any way. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

I was afraid about how the book would play out the reincarnation plot but the author handled it in such a believable way. And she wrote the characters so beautifully.

I’m in love with the female protagonist. Swayze was strong, fierce and vulnerable all at the same time.

The two male characters had me so conflicted. Like, they both seemed perfect to me. Griff might just take the award for the best book boyfriend. He seemed so perfect at times that it felt unrealistic. Because let’s face it – not guy can be this perfect. Nate, on the other hand, had my heart aching for him. I felt like splitting Swayze up so that both guys would get their happy endings. Yeah, I’m crazy like that.

“The people in our lives give color to our existence. When we love, we choose to let part of our heart—part of our soul—live inside of another person. Their happiness is our happiness. Their grief is our grief. And when they die … part of us dies too.”

I need to be able to relate with the characters for me to like a book and sure enough, I loved Swayze. Something in me resonated with her. It also helps that Nate and Griff are so polar-opposites and yet equally swoon worthy. I wanted to give them hugs.

This is a read I won’t easily get over. I have high expectations from Epoch now!
Jewel E. Ann, don’t let me down!


My Ratings: ★★★★★