Showing posts with label Best of 2020. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Best of 2020. Show all posts

These are a few of my favorite things...

December 29, 2020

Happy Tuesday and welcome to another TTT! This meme is hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. I hope everyone had an amazing holiday! Christmas around my house was very different this year, but I still got the privilege of watching my children's delight as they opened their presents. So still a win! Anyhoo... this week's TTT theme is Favorite Books of 2020 and while I found quite a few great reads this year, many of them weren't published/released this year. So here are the ones put out in 2020... and yes, I realize that this is way more than 10 books.

Contemporary Romance

Dark Romance

Fantasy Romance

Paranormal Romance

Romantic Suspense

SciFi Romance

Young Adult Fantasy

Do you have any books listed as favorites for 2020? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it! And if you've got your very own TTT post, leave me the link to it so I can come and check it out.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe time ringing in the new year. Happy reading!

xo, Natalie

Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson // ARC Review

December 26, 2020

In the tradition of Wrench and Twelve Years a Slave, this harrowing story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.

Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson

Release - January 12, 2021
Genre - Historical Fiction
Single POV - 1st person heroine
Format/Source - eARC provided by the publisher
Length - 287 pages

Born on a plantation in Charles City Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown, has lived a privileged life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the plantation's medicine woman, and cherished by the Master's sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world.

Freedom on her 18th birthday has been promised to her, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Essex Henry, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous “Devil’s Half-Acre,” a jail where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day in Richmond, Virginia. There Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailor’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive Pheby will have to outwit him but soon faces the ultimate sacrifice.

I'm finding it impossible to stop thinking about this book! Pheby's story has had a firm grip on my heart from its opening lines and it seems to have no intention of letting me go.

At seventeen, she was unprepared for what life had in store for her. Born a slave, she was raised to never believe herself to be one and by comparison, she was shown to be several steps above. When tragedy strikes, everything she knew, every bit of safety she ever felt, was suddenly ripped away and Pheby learned quick what it was to have absolutely no rights and no freedoms. To have every move dictated, to have every thought deemed unworthy, to have no control over her own body. She learned though. She found ways to survive, to adapt, to thrive. And when given the chance, despite the many times she almost lost hope, she gave her all and proved what she was willing to sacrifice for love.

One of the things I loved most about this story was how raw it felt. It gutted me, flayed me wide open, scattered my feels all over the place. As a black woman, I can never truly imagine the horrors that my people faced during slavery. So much of what they experienced is lost. And although we live in times that are far better than what existed then, we're not on equal footing. Racism still exists and it oozed through the pages of this book. The hatred, the ignorance, the hypocrisy... all of it was tempered by the faith and pride of Pheby and the people she cared about. While these characters were constantly on edge, they found love and hope and freedom amongst themselves. It was beautiful and had an almost poetic quality to it.

I wavered on giving this book all of the stars simply because I wasn't satisfied with the ending. But then I realized that I probably wouldn't have been satisfied if the author had gifted us with some grandiose version of a romantic happily ever after either. I'd probably be pissed, to be honest. There was nothing pretty to be found during those times, but the author found a way to highlight the profound beauty that couldn't be defeated. And for that... all the stars!!


Sadeqa Johnson, a former public relations manager, spent several years working with well-known authors such as JK Rowling, Bebe Moore Campbell, Amy Tan and Bishop TD Jakes before becoming an author herself. Her debut novel, Love in a Carry-on Bag, is the recipient of the 2013 Phillis Wheatley award for best fiction, OOSA best book award, and USA best book award for African-American fiction. Second House From the Corner, was hailed by Essence magazine and a Go on Girl! Bookclub selection for 2017. And Then There Was Me, won the National Book Club Conference fiction book of the year award, and was a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley award. She has also received the Black Pearl Magazine Author of the Year award for 2017.

Johnson is a Kimbilo Fellow, former board member of the James River Writers, and proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers. She also teaches fiction writing for the MFA program at Drexel University. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia with her amazingly supportive husband of 18 years, and their three beautiful children.

Depends On Who's Asking by Lani Lynn Vale // Review

December 05, 2020

Depends On Who's Asking by Lani Lynn Vale
Just so we're clear, the Grinch never really hated Christmas. He hated people.
- True Fact (as per LLV)
Depends On Who's Asking by Lani Lynn Vale

Depends On Who's Asking by Lani Lynn Vale

Standalone: SWAT Generation 2.0 #12
Release: December 8, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance w/ suspense - instalove
Dual POV: 1st person
Heat level: 4 out of 5
Format/Source: eARC provided by the author
Length: 213 pages

It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…nope. No. Nuh-uh. That’s a lie.
The moment that Caro wakes up, she knows that she’s not alone.
One thump-thump from the living room and she quickly moves into action.
One 9-1-1 call later, and she’s ready to defend herself.
Only, she gets more than she bargains for when she steps out into her living room and comes face to face with a living, breathing nightmare.
And isn’t it just fitting that the man that saves her by coming down the chimney with a large black gun in his hand is named Saint Nicholas?
It seemed like the start of a bad joke.
Saint Nicholas comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve night, but he isn’t there to bear gifts. He’s there to take out the trash.
When he lands on his silent feet, he has no other choice but to put himself in harm’s way.
One look at Caro’s terrified face, and he can’t stop himself.
He steps in just as the bullets start flying, saving the damsel in distress and taking a bullet to the shoulder for his trouble.
But one thing he can say is, heroes always win the girl.
And Caro is the best Christmas miracle of all.
I've read and loved every book from this series (including this one) and I can't believe it's done. Being here, at the end, is giving me such a bittersweet feeling. I have now finally really met Saint and Carolina in their very own story and while I couldn't put this book down, I didn't want to finish it either.
Unsurprisingly, I loved both Saint and Carolina. From their awkward and suspenseful meet-cute to their forced quarantine to all the things that made up their connection, they were easy to fall for.

Things did get a bit messy for these two and some of the moving parts didn't really flow properly, but none of that took away from the beauty of what was developing between these characters.

I loved that Saint was an introvert because it made him so relatable. He learned (the hard way) that some people were only in your life to get what you could give. Finding Carolina, a woman who only wanted him for him and not what he could do or for who he knew, was a blessing and he didn't take that for granted.

I also adored Carolina and the organic way her feelings grew. She was patient and understanding and loyal and exactly the type of woman Saint needed in his life. The author did an amazing job of bring these people to life for me.
So it's the end. And while I'm happy for the journey and sad that it's concluded, I'm excited for what's to come. Mayor Lynn's story is next and I cannot wait to get my eager little hands on it.
Lani Lynn Vale is married to the love of her life that she met in high school. She fell in love with him because he was wearing baseball pants. Ten years later they have three perfectly crazy children and a cat named Demon who likes to wake her up at ungodly times in the night. They live in the greatest state in the world, Texas. She writes contemporary and romantic suspense, and has a love for all things romance. You can find Lani in front of her computer writing away in her fictional characters world...that is until her husband and kids demand sustenance in the form of food and drink.

Son of Chaos by Lexi C. Foss // Review

November 22, 2020

Son of Chaos by Lexi C. Foss
"God, Xai, I hate how much I love you, but I do. You're my reason, too. My mate. The one who always knows how to piece me back together."

Son of Chaos by Lexi C. Foss

Release: February 6, 2019
Dark Provenance #2
Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural Romance
Dual POV: 1st person
Heat level: 4
Format/Source: Amazon ebook purchase
Length: 183 pages

A simple mission turns deadly as the Daughter of Death is kidnapped by an old enemy seeking revenge. Now it’s up to me to find her and I will kill anyone who steps in my path.

The Son of Chaos isn’t playing. I’m armed, I’m pissed, and I want my Evangeline back. It’s time for Heaven and Hell to meet the real Archangel inside of me.

Everyone will pay.
Many will die.
Silver will slay.

And a new power will ascend from the Shadows…
It's close to U.S. Thanksgiving (although I'm a Canadian living in Canada) and I've found something else to be thankful for. Finding this author's books this year has been my absolute pleasure!

When it comes to creating angels and demons and the worlds they exist in, Lexi C. Foss infuses so much magic and wonder and mysticism in her work, I can't help but fall in love with whatever comes out of it. The story of Xai and Eve... magnificent!

🌠 these two have loved each other for thousands of years. Not only was it obvious, it was felt. Their emotions, their feelings, their lust, wants and dreams were present in every part of this story.
🌠 the action... I loved what the author was able to do to showcase each of their strengths. Even when at her weakest, it was Eve's bond with Xai that kept her strong. And then Xai... can he be anymore amazing??? I'm so ready to see what else these two can do.
🌠 the moving plot, which is obviously far from over, kept me engaged and entertained. The next book can't come soon enough for me.

I don't want to give too much away, so I've been intentionally vague. However, I do want to point out that there are a plethora of side characters to be intrigued by as well. From the Archdemons finding their mates to the other Archangels and what will happen to the ancients, to everything in between... I have no idea what's in store for these people but I'll be there for all of it! ➤ btw, it's FREE with Kindle Unlimited

USA Today Bestselling Author Lexi C. Foss loves to play in dark worlds, especially the ones that bite. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and their furry children. When not writing, she’s busy crossing items off her travel bucket list, or chasing eclipses around the globe. She’s quirky, consumes way too much coffee, and loves to swim.