Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-me authors of 2016

Whoa, it’s been months since I last did a Top Ten Tuesday!  I happened to scroll down while I was preparing a list of my top new (to me) authors of 2016 and saw that I’d flagged this topic as one I absolutely had to do.  What are the chances that the timing would be so perfect?

So, without further ado, here are ten authors (listed alphabetically) that I read for the first time in 2016 and will, without a doubt, continue to read in the future:

  • Melissa Chambers.  I read Chambers’ The Summer Before Forever and was actually pretty surprised to find a young adult book that really delicately handled a romantic relationship between stepsiblings.  I’m really curious to see what she’ll come up with next.
  • Rebekah Crane.  Of all my Kindle First picks, Crane’s The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland is one of my favorites.  A motley crew of teenagers helping each other overcome their problems at a picturesque summer camp?  That’s just my kind of story.
  • Melanie Harlow.  BookBub often alerts me to free erotica, and nine times out of ten, it’s absolutely awful.  Harlow’s Frenched was a great exception to the rule, and I’ve already got an eye out for more of her work.

  • Aaron Hartzler.  When What We Saw came out earlier last year, my Goodreads feed was flooded with positive reviews.  It took awhile for my library to get it, but it was absolutely worth the wait.  Now I am waiting patiently for more of Hartzler’s work to show up.
  • Hazel Kelly.  Kindle Unlimited is a tricky thing.  There’s an awful lot of books available, and an awful lot of them aren’t very good.  But sometimes, you find a really good author whose books are well-written and don’t just feature the same plot over and over with different characters.  Kelly is one of those authors.
  • Robin Roe.  I haven’t yet reviewed Roe’s A List of Cages, but it hit me hard.  This story of a young boy with an abusive uncle and his friend who struggles to help him ripped my heart out.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
  • Tiffany Truitt.  Seven Ways to Lose Your Heart still stands out as one of the cutest (and also sexiest) books I read this year.  I fell in love with the characters and world created by Truitt.
  • Danika Stone.  If you’re looking for a good book about nerd culture, look no further than Stone’s All the Feels.  I have yet to read another book that so clearly captures the level of obsession I can get with a fictional universe.
  • Siobhan Vivian. I read two of Vivian’s books this year and was pleased with both.  The one I particularly liked was her new release, The Last Boy and Girl in the World.  I am so excited to see what she releases next.
  • Francesca Zappia. Saving the absolute best for last, Zappia’s Made You Up is one of my all-time favorite reads.  I absolutely adored the characters that she created, and I loved that we never quite knew whether what was happening was actually the truth.  I have so much respect for her as an author and I know she’s going to go on to do great things.

Which authors, if any, did you fall in love with this year?

Book review: My Best Friend’s Brother by Hazel Kelly

Goodreads   Amazon

Earlier this year, I read (and really enjoyed) this first book in Hazel Kelly’s Roommates series. I was in a bit of a reading slump – far too many ARCs in a row, and I should know better than to do that to myself by now – so I picked up what sounded like a light, fluffy, cute romance. If there’s one romance trope I never get sick of, it’s friends to lovers. And that’s what we’ve got here.

Sure, it’s called My Best Friend’s Brother, but Shane is just as much Andi’s friend as his sister Izzy is. The three grew up together and were always close, but Shane and Andi drifted apart as she started dating some questionable guys. But after a run-in with an abusive boyfriend, Andi can’t think of a better (or safer) place to go than Shane’s house, and soon Shane’s wondering why he’s always stood back and watched Andi date these awful guys when he should have stepped in to protect her.

Feelings that have been kept secret for years come to the forefront as Shane helps Andi get out of her horrible relationship and start rebuilding her confidence. What follows is, in my opinion, a really cute story of two friends finding their way back to each other and accepting that they’ve always felt a bit more than friendly.

The book really focuses primarily on Shane and Andi, but I loved some of the secondary characters. Andi’s roommate, Stephanie, was a great addition to the book. And although Izzy didn’t play a huge role in the story, I liked that she was a fully developed character who really seemed to have Shane and Andi’s best interests in mind.

I loved the dialogue, especially between Shane and Andi, and I thought that overall, the writing was just really snappy and clever. I am really coming to enjoy Hazel Kelly’s books, and I will certainly be looking out for number three in this series!

Final rating: ★★★★☆

   Goodreads   Amazon

As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, imagine your mother deciding to marry your long-time, unattainable crush’s father.  This is exactly what happened to Jenny when she was in high school, and she’s never quite gotten over it.

Jenny has always been a little weird.  As a theater kid, she knew she’d never really fit in with the popular crowd, and that didn’t bother her.  She’s intelligent, quirky, and cute.  And she’d rather march to the beat of her own drummer than try to be someone she’s not.

Ethan has always been effortlessly cool. Back in high school, he was one of those jocks that everybody listened to. He could certainly never be seen with someone like Jenny, but their parents getting married ruined that for him anyway. Now he’s living the dream in New York City and trying to forget about the girl he’s loved since he was just a teenager.  The one girl he told himself he could never have.

Then Jenny gets an audition for a speaking part in an off-Broadway production.  Armed with a suitcase and her stepdad’s assurance that Ethan really won’t mind if she sleeps on his couch for a few nights, she hops on a bus from small-town Ohio to her dream city, New York.

To say that Ethan is surprised to find Jenny asleep on his couch would be an understatement.  Turns out dear old dad never told him she was coming.  He sends his hookup of the day packing and tries to process the fact that this girl, the one he moved halfway across the country to get away from, is here.

What a fun ride.

I picked this one up on a whim and read it over the course of about three hours.  It’s a light, fluffy read that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It doesn’t focus too much on the fact that Jenny and Ethan are stepsiblings, aside from Ethan angrily correcting anybody who mistakenly calls Jenny his sister.  Most people they encounter remind them that they’re not actually related and it’s not a big deal.

Things I really liked:

  • Ethan and Jenny knew each other before their parents’ marriage and had secretly crushed on each other both beforehand and afterward.
  • Even though Ethan knew that he and Jenny couldn’t be together back then, he still stood up for her and made sure other boys treated her with respect.  (All unbeknownst to Jenny, of course.)
  • The running joke of everybody in the world having read Jenny’s diary when she was growing up.  Nothing is sacred!
  • Ethan and Jenny’s love and support for each other.  Ethan is so supportive of Jenny’s acting, and Jenny is so supportive of Ethan’s art.  There’s no question that they each think that the other is amazing.
  • There are little blips of drama, but overall this book is very low on the angst scale.

The only negative I can really come up with is this: The writing’s not the greatest (there are typos and grammatical mistakes throughout, and the formatting is a little weird), but the story moved along so nicely that it didn’t bother me as much as it usually would.

I was really pleasantly surprised by this book.  I honestly never thought that I could enjoy stepbrother romances, but this and Stiff have changed my mind.

Final rating: ★★★★☆