Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way)

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Books That Surprised Me (in a good or bad way). 

1. Stillhouse Lake
by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake surprised me because it was so fast paced. A lot of the time, thrillers are slower reads. That wasn’t the case with this book, and it was a good thing.

2. Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo

Fantasies aren’t normally my thing, so I was expecting Six of Crows to be a more challenging read for me. It wasn’t at all. The whole heist aspect kept me enthralled.

3. Unqualified
by Anna Faris

I thought this book would be funnier than it was. I also didn’t expect so much negativity about  her ex — and I’m not talking about Chris Pratt. This book didn’t tackle their split at all.

4. The Lace Reader
by Brunonia Barry

This book was a complete surprise to me. I loved the whole unreliable narrator thing.

5. Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn

That twist. If you’ve read it, you understand.

6. Nine Minutes
by Beth Flynn

This entire book surprised me in a VERY good way! If you like psychological thrillers or Sons of Anarchy, you will love this book.

7. Bright Side
by Kim Holden

When I first started reading this book, I wondered what all the hype was about. The further I got into it, the more I understood. It was an amazing surprise.

8. When It Rains
by Lisa De Jong

When I first started this book, I didn’t like one of the characters. I thought he was taking away from the true love in this book. He wasn’t though, and the result broke me.

9. Bad Mommy
by Tarryn Fisher

So many crazy things happened in this book! I didn’t expect any of it! It was great!

10. Never Never
by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

This book blew my mind when I read it! In a good way, of course!

Review: The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner

The Twilight Wife
Author: A.J. Banner
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½


From bestselling author A.J. Banner comes a dazzling new novel of psychological suspense in the vein of S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl that questions just how much we can trust the people around us.

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare. A twisty, immersive thriller, The Twilight Wife will keep readers enthralled through the final, shocking twist.

The Twilight Wife was a sleepy psychological thriller. It began with Kyra embarking on a new life with her husband, Jacob. They were moving to a Pacific Northwest island to help Kyra heal from an accident. She had amnesia and could not remember the last four years. Everything about her life felt familiar yet strange. Kyra was in a constant state of confusion over her current life. Even her relationship with her husband, Jacob. Dreams and memories plagued her until she couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. Kyra searched for the answers to her questions about her life, but each revelation twisted what she thought she knew. The truth was more frightening than what she could have imagined.

When I first started listening to The Twilight Wife, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. The narrator’s voice was whimsical, almost dreamlike, when Kyra was talking. It took me a while to get used to that, but then I decided that it was perfect for this book because Kyra was in an almost dreamlike state. She was so confused. The narrator did an excellent job expressing Kyra’s thoughts and emotions.

I loved the setting of this book. Being a PNW resident, I could easily imagine Kyra’s habitat. The author did an amazing job describing the scenery. I felt like I was right there along with the characters. The setting felt like a character itself in this book.

The Twilight Wife was a great audio book, but I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I would have read it. The story unraveled so slowly. That would have bothered me if I had read rather than listened to it. The author does a great job of throwing out pieces of information that made me question where the story was going, but most of the action and excitement was left to the end. I would have liked some of that excitement and suspense felt more throughout the story. It would have moved the story at a faster pace.

What I loved about The Twilight Wife was the surprise it had in store. I felt like I knew where this one was going from almost the beginning, but I didn’t know all of the pieces. I really liked all of the pieces of Kira’s past that were slowly revealed. Her story was bigger than I expected it to be. The explosive ending and wrap up was really good, too.

Overall, The Twilight Wife was a great read. I loved the setting and how the story unraveled. I wish it would have moved at a quicker pace, but I know some readers will enjoy the way things slowly drift from dream to reality.

Review: Two Wedding Crashers by Meghan Quinn



I don’t know what love is anymore.

Well, that’s not entirely true, but I’m going to tell you a little secret: I’ve lost the spark.

You know the kind of spark I’m talking about?

Where butterflies take flight in your stomach from two hands innocently colliding. Or catching your breath when you first meet someone attractive. Yeah, that spark.

Except I haven’t felt that feeling in forever; there is nothing left inside of me.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem–but I’m a writer on a serious deadline, and my editor is breathing down my neck for a romantic, Nicholas Sparks type love story. No pressure, right?

That’s how I find myself flying across the country to crash a wedding in the name of research, dress and heels stuffed into my small suitcase.

It should be the easiest book research ever. Drinking some free champagne, basking in the love of two strangers, and tapping into my romantic side. That will be a breeze. I’m a pro. I can handle this.

Until I mistakenly end up in the wrong hotel room, naked as the day I was born, with the sexiest human I have ever met staring me down, wondering what I’m doing taking a shower in his bathroom. I don’t think calling it research will get me out of this pickle.


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Well hello, Beck!

It pains me to admit this, but Beck was my least favorite character from Three Blind Dates. I didn’t connect with him at all. In fact, I thought he was kind of douche-y in a weird way. Everything about his time with Noely was overly sexual, and I just didn’t love it. After finishing that book, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like reading a book about him.

Surprise, surprise. I LOVED BECK. Seriously! Where did this guy come from? I saw teeny tiny remnants of the guy I met in Three Blind Dates, but this Two Wedding Crashers Beck was a whole different person. Or maybe it was just because I got his point of view this time and was able to fall in love with him. I don’t know, but Beck was a charmer! He still had a sketchy past, but the man he was now was simply amazing. He was so humorous and kind. I really, really adored him.

Another person I adored? Rylee. Meghan Quinn could not have written a better match for Beck. Rylee was a romance author who was sassy, sweet, and funny. She had this hesitancy to put herself out there and try things. I loved how Beck challenged her to broaden her horizons.

Beck and Rylee’s adventures together were nothing short of hilarious. They had some of the best banter I’ve read in romance. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself laughing out loud. (That wedding scene! OMG!) It truly felt like Beck and Rylee connected on both a mental and physical level.

The side characters were all hilariously fabulous in Two Wedding Crashers. I couldn’t decide whose friends I loved more, Beck’s or Rylee’s. They were all over the top and provided entertainment beyond just the main couple’s story. I’m really hoping the characters who popped up in Rylee’s hometown get some books of their own because I’m so curious about them!

I know I’ve been gushing about Two Wedding Crashers this entire review, but I can’t help it. I just loved it so dang much! It blew away my expectations for it. You guys, you really need to read this book!


Chills scream their way down my arms and legs, my nipples pucker, and just like that, with one word, all humor vanishes from our little conversation and awareness of this all-consuming man wrapped around me hits me hard.

Gathering myself, I say, “Tell me something Chris and Justine know about you.”

“Hmm.” His thumbs hook under the waistband of my shorts, playing with the lower part of my hipbones. His touch spurs on my pelvis, needing to rock, begging for him to go lower. My toes curl in my sandals and my back slightly arches, reaching for more. “Something they know about me.”

His mouth doesn’t stray from its position against my ear, and his hips start to slowly move underneath me, his legs tangling with mine. Involuntarily, one of my hands hooks the back of his neck as I hold on tightly to him, feeling like I need support from the onslaught of sensation I’m feeling.

I hear him say something, but it doesn’t register in my brain, which has turned to mush as his thumbs stray from my hipbones to right above my pubic bone.

There is no denying how turned on I am, how wet I am from his mere touch, how much—despite my reservations—I want this man.

With each stroke, my head turns farther and farther to the side until our noses are touching, Beck’s head bends forward to meet me halfway. My eyes flutter shut for a brief moment before I open them and am captured by those flecks of green and gold.

The air stills around us, our breath mixing, swirling between us, our lips so close.

One swipe of this thumb.

Another one.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t focus.

Another swipe, my head leans even closer, my tongue wetting my lips.

One more swipe . . .

My heart hammers in my chest, my skin prickling with awareness.

Beck brings his mouth even closer, only a whisper away now, and he waits.

Holding still.

His breathing feeling erratic beneath me.




And I’m gone.

I bring my mouth to his, slowly parting my lips ever so slightly, just enough to maneuver my mouth across his.

A low, provocative moan escapes Beck as one of his hands snags the back of my head and holds me in place, almost as if he lets go, I’ll disappear.

Needing more, I shift on his lap so I’m straddling him once again, my hands on his bare chest, feeling the powerful sinew that holds him together.

Our lips press and mold, mingling, taking, begging . . .


Beck’s tongue runs against my bottom lip, eliciting a moan from deep within me, lighting a fire so hot, so wild, my hands start to travel up his neck to his cheeks where I grip him, positioning his head so when I open my mouth, I can expertly dive my tongue onto his.

He groans, his lap shifting against mine now, his hard-on pressing against my wet and throbbing center. I match his rocking, using my position on his lap to take advantage of his length I can feel through his board shorts.

This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen, but God, am I happy it has. Maybe I really should live in the moment, maybe I should take advantage of the opportunity, maybe I should…


Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.

Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!

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Review: Penalty by Jacob Chance

Author: Jacob Chance
Publication Date: May 12, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★


He’s the bad boy quarterback of Boston University’s football team. As the son of a former NFL player, he’s showered with attention and praise twenty-four-seven. One flash of his smile and all the girls fall at his feet – or should I say to their knees?

And then there’s me.

Brady Lincoln is the last person I want attention from. He’s the kind of guy my father warned me about. His play on the field is legendary and his play with the ladies, even more so. I’ve managed to stay off his radar until recently.

What happens when the cocky quarterback breaks all the rules to win my heart?

The other day I was thumbing through my news feed on Facebook and came across Jacob Chance promoting his book in a blogging group I’ve joined. I hadn’t heard of him before, but his books sounded like something I might be interested in. Penalty was part of Amazon’s KU program, so I decided to give it a try.

I really enjoyed Penalty. There’s something slightly different about reading a romance written by a male author. It’s hard to explain, but it has to do with the hero’s point of view. Their thoughts feel a little rawer, a little dirtier. I liked it. It made me want to read a romance collaboration between a female author and male author. I’m now curious to how real that book would feel…

But anyways. Back to Penalty. Like I said, I enjoyed it. The writing was great. I loved the characters. I thought both Harlow and Brady had distinctive voices, and were easy to relate to. Their relationship was really adorable, and I loved how Brady made Harlow fall for him. My only complaint was that it was hard to believe how quickly Brady changed his outlook on women. One minute he was a player, the next he was wooing the girl. Their wasn’t the transition I was expecting. It wasn’t that big of deal, though; because I loved Brady when he was wooing Harlow. I adored their relationship!!!

Jacob Chance did an amazing job with the climax of this story. I didn’t foresee what was coming until right before it happened. Usually I can tell what the problem is going to be for the couple from the beginning. That wasn’t the case with this book. I loved that!

Another thing I loved about Penalty was the secondary characters. They were all great, but Nick was my favorite. I was really, really happy to learn that he has a book of his own! I’m planning on downloading it as soon as I finish writing this review.

Overall, Penalty was a fun new adult sports romance. This may have been my first book by Jacob Chance, but it won’t be my last. I’m excited to explore his back list.

Exciting Sarina Bowen News!!!

Today, I have some very exciting news for you from Sarina Bowen! She will be releasing a new, FREE weekly serial via her site!!! To sign up to receive notice of STUDLY PERIOD, click HERE.

She’s a brilliant writing tutor. Too bad she’s tongue-tied every time he sits down in front of her…

There are 1016 people in the freshman class at Harkness College. I can’t be the only socially awkward nerd girl virgin among them. Right?

It’s time I learn to talk to guys without blushing and stammering. So I take a confidence-building job at the student tutoring center. Twelve bucks an hour, plus human interaction. What could go wrong?

A fun-loving French Canadian hockey hunk, that’s what.

When Pepe St. George sits down at my tutoring table, my brain shuts off and my mouth goes right into hyperdrive. Even the sound of my name on his lips—Josephine—gives me a mini orgasm.

I want to hand him my V-card. But all I manage to hand him is…my thesaurus. And my dignity. All seems lost, until I hatch a plan to get him alone…

Beginning on Tuesday, March 20th, you will get one chapter each week, straight to your email inbox! Anyone who signs up midstream will immediately receive links to previous chapters. No reader will be left behind!


“Bonjour.” The deep voice—from right above me—startles me so badly that I jump. My phone goes clattering to the desktop as I whip my chin upward to see whomever snuck up on me.

Désolé!” he says. “I should come back later?”

“No,” I say, fumbling my phone back into my bag. “Please sit down.”

My heart is banging against my ribs, and not only because he startled me. If possible, I’m even more awkward with men than with women. It’s worse if they’re attractive.

And this guy? Very attractive. Wow. He has a wide, handsome face and coal-dark eyes ringed by impressively thick lashes, and a broad face. Broad shoulders.

Broad everything. Wow. He must eat a lot of protein. And now I’m staring as he arranges himself in the chair opposite me and draws out a folder. He’s really handsome. One of the BPs, for sure.

I can’t stop staring. There’s something rugged about him that’s hard to describe. There’s color in his cheeks—at least the part that’s not covered with dark scruff. And his biceps bulge from the sleeves of his T-shirt. He reminds me of a superhero going incognito, concealing his identity among the ordinary college students.

Though the muscles can probably be explained by the logo on his T-shirt—Harkness Hockey.

It’s always the jocks who need tutoring. I swear. Nadia I have a disagreement about this. She says that jocks are used to coaching, and thus accept tutoring help more readily than the general population.

“I think they’re just not as smart,” I always tell her.

She just shakes her head. “You say that, but you’re still intimidated by them. So which is it?”


“How can I help you,” I whisper up at this handsome giant.

He frowns, and then folds massive hands onto the desk between us. “Excusez-moi?”

People always tell me my voice is soft. That I’m hard to hear. He must agree, because he leans forward, those big, dark eyes blinking in close proximity. It doesn’t help the knee-knocking, teeth-rattling nerves that overtake me whenever a beautiful man looks at me.

Get a grip, Josie. “How can I help you today,” I ask carefully.

Bon. I have the paper due for English. And my English is not so excellent. So I hope you will help me find all the places I fuck it up. I bring it…” He opens a folder and rifles through some papers.

For a long moment I just blink at him. “Your English…” Did he just say that he didn’t speak the language?

“When I come to Harkness last year? I don’t speak much English at all,” he says, dropping a rough draft of an essay on the table between us. “Please help me find zhe places where I fuck up the grammar.”

His honesty has stunned me. The Harkness students I’ve met so far would never admit to any kind of weakness. In fact, they tell me that most students wait until their grades are in jeopardy to find the tutoring center at all.

And I don’t blame them. Struggling? That’s shameful. Harkness is a top-notch school where everyone worships at the alter of intellectual exceptionalism. With an admissions rate that hovered around nine percent, having a big brain is the only way to get in.

Or at least I thought it was. Every year, something like a thousand valedictorians get rejections from Harkness. Who would dream of implying that he isn’t as qualified as the next student?

This guy.


The Ivy Years novels are a series of inter-connected stand-alone stories. The first book is The Year We Fell Down, available at:



Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Still Me
Series: Me Before You, #3
Author: Jojo Moyes
Narrator: Anna Acton
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

I read Me Before You when it was released. It was the first book I read that made me question some of my beliefs. It really hit me hard, and I was so excited to hear the series would continue with After You. After You was…well, it was a rough read. It was full or mourning and devastation. It was uncomfortable and nothing like Me Before You. I didn’t feel inspired after reading it, BUT (and that’s a big but) the end left me curious. It left me believing there was more in store for Louisa Clark. That brings me to Still Me.

Still Me was a pleasant surprise. Louisa was back to that original Louisa from Me Before You. She’s got her groove back — even if it is still an awkward, fumbling sort of groove. Louisa’s in a new country with new employers trying to figure out where she fits in. She’s trying to keep her relationship with Sam going from a distance while meeting new people and forming new bonds. I loved the Louisa in Still Me. I loved how she approached her new life. She made me a little crazy at times, but I understood each decision she made. Her journey in Still Me was very special.

My favorite thing about this book was that Louisa’s story went full circle. It felt she finally hit her stride and got to be the person she was meant to be. Her life might have been a rollercoaster from the very beginning, but it was one that ended with my smile when I closed the book. Jojo Moyes did right by Louisa and I felt so happy to have experienced all of her ups and downs in Still Me and the entire Me Before You series.

Release Blitz: Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid


Marriage of Inconvenience, an all new romantic comedy standalone in the USA Today bestselling, Knitting in the City Series by Penny Reid, is LIVE!

MOI copy.jpg

There are three things you need to know about Kat Tanner (aka Kathleen Tyson. . . and yes, she is *that* Kathleen Tyson): 1) She’s determined to make good decisions, 2) She must get married ASAP, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Being a billionaire heiress isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks. Determined to live a quiet life, Kat Tanner changed her identity years ago and eschewed her family’s legacy. But now, Kat’s silver spoon past has finally caught up with her, and so have her youthful mistakes. To avoid imminent disaster, she must marry immediately; it is essential that the person she chooses have no romantic feelings for her whatsoever and be completely trustworthy.

Fortunately, she knows exactly who to ask. Dan O’Malley checks all the boxes: single, romantically indifferent to her, completely trustworthy. Sure, she might have a wee little crush on Dan the Security Man, but with clear rules, expectations, and a legally binding contract, Kat is certain she can make it through this debacle with her sanity—and heart—all in one piece.

Except, what happens when Dan O’Malley isn’t as indifferent—or as trustworthy—as she thought?


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Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.


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Twitter: @ReidRomance