Tag Archives: Top 10 List

Aidee’s Top 10 Reads of 2020

*E.N. Aidee added this post on 1/13/21 – so all delays are the fault of one Limecello. 😬

My usual disclaimors about this list apply: the order in which these books appear is not related to how much I recommend them, and there were a lot of good books in 2020 which I recommend that aren’t on this list. The asterisk next to Emerald Blaze means I re-read it.

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews (audiobook and e-book) |A- *
Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews Book CoverAs Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.

What can a Body Do by Sara Hendren | A+
What Can a Body Do? by Sara Hendren book coverFurniture and tools, kitchens and campuses and city streets—nearly everything human beings make and use is assistive technology, meant to bridge the gap between body and world. Yet unless, or until, a misfit between our own body and the world is acute enough to be understood as disability, we may never stop to consider—or reconsider—the hidden assumptions on which our everyday environment is built.

In a series of vivid stories drawn from the lived experience of disability and the ideas and innovations that have emerged from it—from cyborg arms to customizable cardboard chairs to deaf architecture—Sara Hendren invites us to rethink the things and settings we live with. What might assistance based on the body’s stunning capacity for adaptation—rather than a rigid insistence on “normalcy”—look like? Can we foster interdependent, not just independent, living? How do we creatively engineer public spaces that allow us all to navigate our common terrain? By rendering familiar objects and environments newly strange and wondrous, What Can a Body Do? helps us imagine a future that will better meet the extraordinary range of our collective needs and desires.

The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas | A
CHINA, 484 A.D.
A Warrior in Disguise
All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty
Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling—the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan | A+
Miss Chloe Fong has plans for her life, lists for her days, and absolutely no time for nonsense. Three years ago, she told her childhood sweetheart that he could talk to her once he planned to be serious. He disappeared that very night.

Except now he’s back. Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing, has returned to the tiny village he once visited with the hope of wooing Chloe. In his defense, it took him years of attempting to be serious to realize that the endeavor was incompatible with his personality.

All he has to do is convince Chloe to make room for a mischievous trickster in her life, then disclose that in all the years they’ve known each other, he’s failed to mention his real name, his title… and the minor fact that he owns her entire village.

Only one thing can go wrong: Everything.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo (novella) by P. Djeli Clark | A
A Tor.com original historcal fantasy set in an alternate early twentieth century infused with the otherworldly.

Egypt, 1912. In Cairo, the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine.

What starts off as an odd suicide case for Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi leads her through the city’s underbelly as she encounters rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and a plot that could unravel time itself.

At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Can’t Even by Ann Helen Petersen | A
Do you feel like your life is an endless to-do list? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram because you’re too exhausted to pick up a book? Are you mired in debt, or feel like you work all the time, or feel pressure to take whatever gives you joy and turn it into a monetizable hustle? Welcome to burnout culture.

While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t Even, BuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argues that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online. The genesis for the book is Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article on the topic, which has amassed over seven million reads since its publication in January 2019.

Can’t Even goes beyond the original article, as Petersen examines how millennials have arrived at this point of burnout (think: unchecked capitalism and changing labor laws) and examines the phenomenon through a variety of lenses—including how burnout affects the way we work, parent, and socialize—describing its resonance in alarming familiarity. Utilizing a combination of sociohistorical framework, original interviews, and detailed analysis, Can’t Even offers a galvanizing, intimate, and ultimately redemptive look at the lives of this much-maligned generation, and will be required reading for both millennials and the parents and employers trying to understand them.

Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole (audiobook) | A-
Regina Hobbs is nerdy by nature, businesswoman by nurture. She’s finally taking her pop culture-centered media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level, but the stress is forcing her to face a familiar supervillain: insomnia. The only thing that helps her sleep when things get this bad is the deep, soothing voice of puzzle-obsessed live streamer Gustave Nguyen. The problem? His archive has been deleted.

Gus has been tasked with creating an escape room themed around a romance anime…except he knows nothing about romance or anime. Then mega-nerd and anime expert Reggie comes calling, and they make a trade: his voice for her knowledge. But when their online friendship has IRL chemistry, will they be able to escape love?

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (audiobook) | A-
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

Enjoy a drunken night out.
Ride a motorcycle.
Go camping.
Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane (audiobook) | A
A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil—until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (audiobook) | A-
It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

· Never trust an outsider

· Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

· And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Aidee’s Top Ten Reads of 2019

If I could somehow tell you of these books all at once, I would, because I love these books equally for different reasons. So they are not ranked.

Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski book coverThis groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?

Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages you’ll learn

• what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
• how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
• how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
• why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout

With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach.

I read this book after my first year of law school. I found it to have a lot of insights about how people interact with stress and stressors, and a lot of helpful advice about how to deal with it in healthier ways. Continue reading

Aidee’s Most Recommended in 2017

I realize its February, and you probably have at least five more books on your TBR pile because of all the lists of books out there—I know I do. But here I am anyway, fully intending to add more books to your piles because there are never too many books—unless you just get them because you can, with no intention of reading them sometime in the near future. Below, my list of most recommended books from 2017. I have two or three that weren’t actually published in 2017, but which I have found myself recommending to everyone who will listen to me long enough. The list isn’t in any particular order. Continue reading

My Top 10 Reads of 2017

Hi friends! So … I wrote this list out once already, and agonized over it … then somehow O_o lost it? So … apologies if things aren’t clear or I seem vague – I can’t remember who said what or when or keep things straight in my brain these days anyway, so … I tried to get the original points and gist but we’ll see. Anyway! These are my ten favorite reads from 2017 … basically. Yes! I kept it to 10. Kind of. 😛 Shut up, the series are really interconnected, okay?!

SO MANY BOOKS YAY! <3 Continue reading

Karen’s Top 10 Reads of 2017

The first Team ALBTALBS List! (I always wait until January of the next year to post in case someone read an OMFG AMAZING LOVELOVELOVE book that should go on the list on say, December 31.) 

There were so many good books I read on 2017 that to pick 10 is actually hard, however:

Captured Shadows by Richard Rider was a lyrical Victorian love story, as much about photography as it was about Archie and Jim. Avoiding many of the cliches used in historical m/m Rider made that my favourite romance read of 2017. (In fact, Karen also reviewed this book, if you want to check that out here!) 

Jim Sinnett spends his days on respectable portrait photography and his nights creating scandalous erotic pictures for men who hide their desires in locked cabinets and between the pages of books. When a new friendship leads to a secret opportunity, one more dangerous than ever before, Jim agrees to step in front of the camera but finds himself baring much more than his skin.

A twisting historical romance set in the fog of Victorian London, Captured Shadows follows the path of love, blackmail and obsession to a devastating climax.

Continue reading

Kat Latham Discusses Sports Romances

YAY SPORTS! 😀 I totally didn’t plan this, but I love sports, and this makes me a happy girl. (Not planned meaning Sierra’s post on Saturday, and now this one. Cuz you know, there actually aren’t that many sports romances out there… And today we’re welcoming back the fabulous Kat Latham! Her debut book was released to the wild just this Monday!

She’s here to talk about romance novels that she loves. That deal with sports Double win.

Kat Latham’s Top Ten Eight Sports Romance Picks

Fit. Committed. Tough. Professional athletes make fantastic characters. No wonder sports romance novels are so popular with readers.

My love of sports romance started with Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars series and it was sealed when I discovered Rachel Gibson’s Chinooks hockey team. Oh, the hawtness!

And I’m clearly not the only one who loves those series. I recently went on Goodreads and found a list of sports romances. Readers can vote for their favorite sports romances by putting them in a list.

I started to rank my ten favorites, but when I got to number eight I decided to leave the last two spaces free so I can discover new novels. So here are my top eight.

1. Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O’Keefe
Dallas TV morning show host Madelyn Cornish is poised, perfect, and unflappable, from her glossy smile to her sleek professionalism. No one knows that her iron will guards a shattered heart and memories of a man she’s determined to lock out. Until that man shows up at a morning meeting like a bad dream: Billy Wilkins, sexy hockey superstar in a tailspin—still skating, still fighting, and still her ex-husband.

Now the producers want this poster child for bad behavior to undergo an on-air makeover, and Billy, who has nothing to lose, agrees to the project. It’s his only chance to get near Maddy again, and to fight for the right things this time around. He believes in the fire in Maddy’s whiskey eyes and the passion that ignites the air between them. This bad-boy heartbreaker wants a last shot to be redeemed by the only thing that matters: Maddy’s love.

2. See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson (Eee the kindle edition is only $3.79!)
THIS IS JANE: A little subdued. A little stubborn. A little tired of going out on blind dates with men who drive vans with sofas in the back, Jane Alcott is living the Single Girl existence in the big city. She is also leading a double life. By day, she’s a reporter covering the raucous Seattle Chinooks hockey team—especially their notorious goalie Luc Martineau. By night, she’s a writer, secretly creating the scandalous adventures of “Honey Pie”…the magazine series that has all the men talking.

SEE JANE SPAR: Luc has made his feelings about parasite reporters—and Jane—perfectly clear. But if he thinks he’s going to make her life a misery, he’d better think again.

SEE JANE ATTRACT: For as long as he can remember, Luc has been single minded about his career. The last thing he needs is a smart mouthed, pain in the backside, reporter digging into his past and getting in his way. But once the little reporter shed her black and gray clothes in favor of a sexy red dress, Luc sees that there is more to Jane than originally meets the eye.

Maybe it’s time to take a risk. Maybe it’s time to live out fantasies. Maybe it’s time to…. SEE JANE SCORE!

3. This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP) (Another of my favorites, and the kindle book is $4.99!)
Molly Somerville loves her career as the creator of the Daphne the Bunny children’s book series, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. She has a reputation for trouble that started even before she gave away her fifteen-million-dollar inheritance. Then there’s her long-term crush on the quarterback for the Chicago Stars football team her sister owns—that awful, gorgeous Kevin Tucker, a man who can’t even remember Molly’s name!

One night Kevin barges into Molly’s not-quite-perfect life and turns it upside down. Unfortunately, the Ferrari-driving riving, poodle-hating jock isn’t as shallow as she wishes he were, and she soon finds herself at a place called Wind Lake. Surrounded by paintbox cottages, including a charming old bed-and-breakfast, Molly and Kevin battle their attraction and each other as they face one of life’s most important lessons. Sometimes love hurts, sometimes it makes you mad as hell, and sometimes—if you’re lucky—it can heal in a most unexpected way.

4. Natural Born Charmer by SEP
Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard is the luckiest man in the world: a bona-fide sports superstar and the pride of the NFL with a profitable side career as a buff billboard model for End Zone underwear. But life in the glory lane has started to pale, and Dean has set off on a cross-country trip to figure out what’s gone wrong. When he hits a lonely stretch of Colorado highway, he spies something that will shake up his gilded life in ways he can’t imagine. A young woman . . . dressed in a beaver suit.

Blue Bailey is on a mission to murder her ex. Or at least inflict serious damage. As for the beaver suit she’s wearing . . . Is it her fault that life keeps throwing her curveballs? Witness the expensive black sports car pulling up next to her on the highway and the Greek god stepping out of it.

Blue’s career as a portrait painter is the perfect job for someone who refuses to stay in one place for very long. She needs a ride, and America’s most famous football player has an imposing set of wheels. Now, all she has to do is keep him entertained, off guard, and fully clothed before he figures out exactly how desperate she is.

But Dean isn’t the brainless jock she imagines, and Blue—despite her petite stature—is just about the toughest woman Dean has ever met. They’re soon heading for his summer home where their already complicated lives and inconvenient attraction to each other will become entangled with a charismatic but aging rock star; a beautiful fifty-two-year-old woman trying to make peace with her rock and roll past; an eleven-year-old who desperately needs a family; and a bitter old woman who hates them all.

As the summer progresses, the wandering portrait artist and the charming football star play a high-stakes game, fighting themselves and each other for a chance to have it all.

5. Heaven, Texas by SEP (One of my most favorite romances of all time!)
Come heck or high water, Gracie Snow is determined to drag the legendary ex-jock Bobby Tom Denton back home to Heaven, Texas, to begin shooting his first motion picture. Despite his dazzling good looks and killer charm, Bobby Tom has reservations about being a movie star — and no plans to cooperate with a prim and bossy Ohio wallflower whom he can’t get off his mind or out of his life. Instead, the hell-raising playboy decides to make her over from plain Jane to Texas wildcat.

But nothing’s more dangerous than a wildcat with an angel’s heart in a town too small for a bad boy to hide. And all hell breaks loose when two unforgettable people discover love, laughter, passion — and a match that can only be made in Heaven.

6. Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox
When Lexie Marshall places an ad for a cycling companion, she hopes to find someone friendly and fun to cross the TransAmerica Trail with. Instead, she gets Tom Geiger—a lean, sexy loner whose bad attitude threatens to spoil the adventure she’s spent years planning.

Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.

Even Tom’s stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?

7. Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis
Baseball player Wade O’Riley’s bad-boy image is about to be cleaned up by publicist Samantha McNead. But the sexual tension between them is about to drive Wade to his knees.

(Seriously I tried looking everywhere for a back cover copy, and was absolutely unable to find it. 2010 when the book was released is about the time I hardlined only buying books in e-format, so I can’t even check. Like I did with See Jane Score.)

 

8. The Winning Season by Alison Packard
Kelly Maxwell has finally landed her dream job as publicist for the San Francisco Blaze. But the team’s newest member, handsome bad boy catcher Matt Scanlon, is refusing every interview. She’s got to get him to open up before the season ends, or she may not be back next year. And after everything she overcame to achieve her dream, Kelly’s not about to let that happen.

Matt Scanlon just wants to be left alone to rebuild his life and his career. After a year of masking the pain of a recent loss with hard partying and fast women, he finally hit rock bottom and was traded to a team he’s loathed his entire life—a team with little to no chance at the post-season.

Butting heads is getting Kelly and Matt nowhere but annoyed, and with the team’s schedule on the road, they can’t avoid close quarters—or their surprising attraction to one another. As the season winds down, Matt finds his growing feelings for Kelly have brought his numbed emotions back to life. But when betrayal shatters their fragile trust, winning it all seems more impossible than ever.

~*~*~*~*~*~

On Monday my debut novel Knowing the Score was released into the digital world, and I’m really hoping that readers love the rugby team I created, the London Legends, as much as I’ve loved SEP’s Chicago Stars and Rachel Gibson’s Chinooks hockey team.

This week on my blog I’m giving away London Legends T-shirts, bags and other cool stuff, as well as the latest contemporary romances by my fellow Carina Press authors. Visit my blog to enter the daily giveaways!

Knowing the Score by Kat Latham
Publication date: August 5, 2013

Knowing the ScoreBook one of the London Legends
Rugby player Spencer Bailey is determined to win a spot on England’s World Cup team. But with a month break before the selectors start watching him, he’s eager to have fun with a woman who knows the score: the relationship will end when rugby season begins. The lovely American Caitlyn Sweeney seems perfect for the role of temporary lover, since her visa will run out soon anyway.

Caitlyn works for an international disaster relief organization and can handle the world’s worst crises, but she flinches from her own. Her past has left her with a fear of intimacy so deep that she has trouble getting close to anyone—until she meets sexy Spencer. His hot body and easygoing nature are too much for even her to resist.

Neither Caitlyn nor Spencer expects to fall hard for each other. But with their relationship deadline approaching, the old rules of the game seem less important than before…until past secrets surface, challenging everything they thought they knew about each other.

Read chapter one

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What are your favorite sports romances? What books do you suggest I read and maybe add to my list?

And remember to congratulate Kat on her book release! Whee!