Top Ten Tuesday | Favorite Novellas and Short Stories

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Wow, this week’s topic feels like it was handpicked for me! Like, you all know how much I love novellas and short story collections! I feel like this was actually really hard to narrow down! But I loved writing up this post, and I hope you all enjoy reading it! And I hope this helps celebrate all the wonderful short works of literature that are out there just waiting to be read, loved, and reviewed.

Novellas

 

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire

I love this entire series, but this installment just happens to be my favorite. I truly loved the Moors and wasn’t ready to leave. I loved the village and the feel of this magical world. I loved seeing Jack grow into what she wanted to be, while seeing Jill grow into what could happen if your needs and wants are repressed to a dangerous point. I loved the representation and all of the feelings that Seanan McGuire was able to evoke from me. I loved this book and these characters, and I will cherish this story forever, while trying to get everyone I come in contact with to read it.

The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne #1) by Myke Cole

The Armored Saint centers on a village of people who live subservient lives to the Order. The Order is a group of religious tyrants that do horrible things to the wizards in this world, or to the people that are protecting and/or harboring the wizards in this world. The Order follows the word of the Writ, which has lead them to believe that wizards have a portal in their eye, that can open the very gates of hell itself and summon devils. And love is such a driving force in this very character focused story. The love between families. The love between friends. And the love between two young girls who are just trying to learn who they are.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (Danielle Cain #1) by Margaret Killjoy

Within 100 pages, this book was able to create a beautifully diverse cast, talk about some pretty important issues, showcases a homeless main character, show the beauty of unconditional-loving found families, and it even gave me some pretty gothic spooky animals. This was amazing, and I think truly believe so many of my book friends would love it. This is such a unique story too, because even though it is set in modern day times, with Instagram, the internet, and iPhones, it still feels and reads dystopian. But I loved this, I loved the aesthetic, I loved every emotion this short book was able to evoke from me. This was nothing short of a treat to read. Also, give me all the books about summoning demons, especially monster deer. Thanks.

Short Stories

 

All the Time We’ve Left to Spend by Alyssa Wong from Robots vs. Fairies by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe

Oh my word, this was utter and pure perfection. I will never forget this story, ever. This story is centered around an alternate future where we have realistic cyborg celebrity robots, who have many memories stored, working in pleasure hotels, where you can spend time with them for money. Our main protagonist, Ruriko, is obsessed with spending time with a kpop group that passed away ten years ago, while trying to learn all the information she can about their memories. This story is beautiful. This story is haunting. This story is oh so heart-wrenching. I loved this. I loved this so very much. Easily my favorite in the entire collection.

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake from All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell

I thought this was going to be good, but it ended up being perfect. This is an awesome Robin Hood retelling. And Robin in this story is a trans boy, who is in love with our main protagonist, who ran away from a father that didn’t accept him. And this m/m romance had me swooning. Also, our main protagonist is hearing impaired and seeing him sign on page was something so magical to me. And the ending? I still feel absolutely gutted. But the heart of this story is about love; the love we have for others, but also the love that we must find in accepting ourselves for who we are. This was so brilliantly done and was honestly perfection in every way, and I loved it more than any combination of words I can come up with.

The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers from A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

I cried through 80% of this story. Easily, this was one of my new favorite short stories of all time. I will never forget this story for as long as I live. And I am immediately buying everything E. C. Myers has created. This is a story about a gwisin (ghost), and a girl that is still dealing with the death of her mother, five years later. It doesn’t help that she’s still living with her father and her mother’s father (her grandfather), who reminds her of her mother’s presence constantly. But it is undeniable when the MMO that was her mother’s life, and the reason her parents met, is being shut down forever, but has drawn Sunny into playing again. And Sunny has just found out about a new private server that will preserve the game, and maybe the memory of her mother. I loved this more than words. MMORPGs have meant so much to me during my life. I have played them since high school, and I have some of my very best friends and loved ones to this day because of them. And this short story is a love letter to video games and the impact they can make on your life. And video games are such a huge part of Korean culture, and the significance and importance shined through this story so very brightly. This story just had such a profound meaning to me, because it made me realize that one day I’m (hopefully) going to be a mom that is a gamer, and a con lover, and a writer, and so many of the things that Sunny viewed her mom as. Like, I promise, I was bawling through almost this entire story. This was beyond words beautiful. I have no word combination to string together to let you all know how perfect this was and how much this story meant to me.

Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May from Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Tess Sharpe & Jessica Spotswood

I finished this one weeping and sobbing. I immediately reread it, aloud, to a loved one. Immediately. It was that important to me. And the second time around, I was still crying. Ugly crying. Truthful crying. I cried for every woman out there, whose voice has been silenced. Whose voice will continue to be silenced until things change. This is about a girl who is sent to work in a forest, lumber, labor camp, because of her sinful ways. There, she is one of thirteen girls, all from different walks of life, but all of them have sinned for just being a woman, therefore a witch. This is about found family, and sisterhood, and reclaiming your identity, and gaining a voice. This was so beautifully structured, and so beautifully written. And it has such great representation, from different races, to a beautiful F/F story, to a trans character, this was just exceptionally crafted. This story should be required reading. I don’t see how anyone who reads this anthology’s life isn’t going to be changed just from reading this short story. And the editors were genius for making it the closing story. This short story is probably the best thing I’ve read all year. I am in awe, I am speechless, but I’m begging you to read this short story. This was feministic perfection.

The Lightning Tree (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2.4) by Patrick Rothfuss from Rogues by George R.R. Martin

The Lightning Tree is a short story that is set in Patrick Rothfuss’ world from The Kingkiller Chronicle. You can find The Lightning Tree and other short stories that are curated by GRRM himself in a bind-up anthology titled Rogues. This story is set in Kvothe’s innkeeper days, and surrounds his mysterious friend Bast. For the record, I absolutely adore Bast, so when I found out that there was a short story that starred him, I literally jumped for joy. Also, The Name of the Wind is my favorite book of all time, so I am absolutely biased with this review.

The Witch of Duva from The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

I can’t recommend you read it enough, because this short story actually shook my entire world. This is such a perfectly woven and absolutely haunting tale about a village who is mourning their lost girls, while also trying to endure very hard winters. And the ending of this story is beyond words, and turned me into a crying, melted, weeping, puddle on the floor. Also, this one should probably have a few trigger warnings for abuse (physical/sexual) and just violence in general, even though these things are very vague in the story they are still there, just woven in quietly.

The Husband Stitch from Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

This story is very feminist and very sexually explicit, but so damn important. It’s about the life of a woman, who gives everything to men and never is allowed to keep anything for herself. It’s about life’s expectations on women, and how society shapes the choices we do and do not have. It’s about how, no matter what, giving everything will never be good enough as a woman. It’s about enjoying and exploring your sexuality, yet trying to cope with the shame. It’s about never fully being able to become the person you are, but becoming the person your husband and/or family require you to be. It’s about having children, who will just repeat the same vicious and unfair cycle. This is my favorite short story of all time and it deserves all the stars that Goodreads and every other book rating site has to offer.

I honestly feel like I could add at least ten more short stories or novellas to this list. And I can’t wait to read everyone else’s answers to this week’s prompt! Please, tell me below what is your favorite short story, novella, or anthology! And I hope you all are having the happiest of reading!

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City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab

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ARC provided by Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.

“People think that ghosts only come out at night, or on Halloween, when the world is dark and the walls are thin. But the truth is, ghosts are everywhere.”

City of Ghosts is a middle grade novel that has such a perfect spooky atmosphere, and it’s set around scary places in Scotland. Like, sounds perfect, true? And, as always, Victoria’s writing is so very beautiful and lyrical. I think this will be such a fun fall read for so many readers. Also, this is my 100th book read in 2018! *throws confetti everywhere*

Cassidy Blake isn’t the most popular girl in her school, but she has the only friend that she needs; a ghost named Jacob that saved her from death. And after Jacob saved her that frightening day, they have been connected. Jacob lives in the realm of the living with Cassidy, but Cassidy now can open and enter the veil, and see the ghosts that are stuck within it.

Even though she is always drawn to walk in-between the worlds, she has always managed to stay safe. That is, until her parents, who are ghost hunters, by the way, get a once in a lifetime opportunity to film a show about the most haunted spots in Scotland. And while in Scotland, Cassidy meets a ghost that is more evil than any of the others she’s ever encountered before.

“Once there was a woman, a beauty with fair skin and black hair, and a little boy who loved to wander.”

Trigger and content warnings for death, especially the death of children, murder, loss of a child, and abduction.

I truly did enjoy this book immensely. In fact, it might be my favorite Victoria Schwab book to date. But, a few things kept me from rating it higher. The biggest being the Harry Potter references. At first, I was so happy, and then they became so abundant and so forced. Also, you can really tell that Victoria is banking on her previous fans buying this, because yeah, twenty and thirty year olds are going to love nods to Harry Potter, but a new and actual middle grade audience? Probably not so much. And even me, a Gryffindor who fits that demographic, thought the Harry Potter references were too much.

The only other annoying thing, is that this cover really doesn’t make sense. Like, Cassidy does have a cat named Grim, but they aren’t brought up very much, and when they are it is in their carrier. Like, looking at this book cover you’ll get major Mr.Kindly from Nevernight vibes, but that’s totally not the case in the slightest. And I obviously know that authors have no control over their covers, but I wish the cat was replaced with Jacob.

“Embrace your strange, dear daughter. Where’s the fun in being normal?”

But overall, I really do think people are going to enjoy this one. Again, Victoria truly is a very talented writer and her prose always really works with me. The atmosphere in this book is completely teleportive, and it was such a fast and enjoyable read. I loved seeing these scary places though the eyes of Cassidy, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with May at Forever and Everly & Julianna at Paper Blots! ❤

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

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ARC provided by Random House in exchange for an honest review.

“Some nights, when even my child’s heart knew that what I had been asked to endure was too much, I would stand on the edge of the lake, lift my face to the stars, and scream. Nothing ever called back. Even among the creeping things of the lake’s night, I was alone. Until Victor.”

Kiersten White wrote this book to honor the fact that 2018 is the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley! It has been ten years since I picked up Frankenstein, and even though I didn’t completely love this with my whole heart, Emily May’s review not only made me want to pick it up again this fall, but it also made me realize that I probably missed a ton of beautiful homages within these pages!

So, my review is coming to you from someone that’s no longer familiar with the source material. My rating is pretty much strictly based off the story that Kiersten White crafted. And even though I loved how beautifully feminist this was, and I was completely enthralled with the writing, tone, and setting, I just didn’t love the actual story.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein stars young Elizabeth who finally feels safe living in the Frankenstein home. And she will do anything to ensure he place in the family, so she can continue to have that safety. And she does this by getting close to the oldest son of the manor, Victor Frankenstein himself. Victor is prone to outbursts of anger, and Elizabeth is the only one that can keep him calm. But Victor has been away for a while, and Elizabeth is scared to lose her place in the family. Therefore, her and the governess, who is also her good friend, go on a hunt to find Victor and bring him back home!

“I have waded through hell to deliver you heaven.”

And that governess? Justine Moritz is honestly the star of this book. I love her with the sum of my being. Kiersten White did such a wonderful job really fleshing out her character and making me feel even more for her. I truly think Mary Shelley would be so damn proud. My other favorite is the bookseller that is cutely and conveniently named Mary! These two girls were easily my favorite and probably the reason this book is getting three stars instead of two. And if I were Elizabeth I would have been doing everything in my power to date either or both of them.

“I do not fear to die. I do not want to live in a world where devils can take such perfect, beautiful innocence without punishment.”

But them going to retrieve Victor is truly only the first part of this story. There are two others that hold within them the events that take place when they return back home. Also, this story is told with constant flashbacks to events from the past, so you are kind of able to see why everyone acts the way they do.

Sadly, I just feel like the biggest problem with this novel was the predictability. Again, it has been a hot second since I’ve read Frankenstein, but I don’t even remember everything being as obvious as it was in this. And again, I know this is an homage to the book, but I feel like the book still has to sort of hold up on its own for today’s audience, regardless of their familiarity to the original source material.

“I dreaded another flash of lightning for what it might reveal of the person in the trees watching me. He stood at least seven feet tall, a hulking and unnatural creature. Fear drained my fury…”

And that truly is the biggest problem with the book, for me. I really enjoyed the rest, and I feel like the setting of this book was completely mastered. And the writing? It’s wonderful. This is a relatively short book, but I was able to pull over twenty quotes that I could have used for that review. That’s seriously impressive. Kiersten White’s beautiful prose really shines through, and I think she really is a master crafter of words.

And as I touched upon before, the feminism in this book is so very beautiful and so very unapologetic. In general, I think the inclusion of just creating Elizabeth, and making her the star of this tale, was genius. But, I mean, women still aren’t truly considered equal to men in 2018, but in the 1800s? Lord, help me. Elizabeth goes from one abusive home to another, but they are just very different kinds of abuse. This story constantly shows how women are only truly safe with protection from a man. Yet, even then, a woman can be institutionalized and put away in an asylum if they do anything to cross the man that is supposed to protect them.

I feel like this story really shines a spotlight on toxic love, and how it can be the most destructive thing on Earth. The cycles of abuse that Victor shows, is something that I wish I could highlight for all young kids to see. Sometimes it’s very hard for the person being abused to see, acknowledge, and realize that they are being abused. This story really showcases that and gaslighting and how hard it is to break the cycle and those abusive relationships, in the 1800s and in the 2000s.

“You are mine, Elizabeth Lavenza, and nothing will take you from me. Not even death.”

Trigger and content warnings for child abuse and abuse in general, medical experimentation, murder, death, heavy dictions of surgical practices especially different cutting and sewing procedures, animal abuse, animal cruelty, animal death, and talk of suicide.

Overall, I was a little let down by this, because I truly did expect to love this. Yet, I think there is something here for every human to appreciate reading this retelling. Also, I think big fans of Frankenstein will probably really appreciate this rendition even more. Lastly, I just want to remind you all how much of a badass Mary Shelley, the queen of horror and science fiction, really was. What a damn blessing to literature, 200 years later, and for all the rest of time.


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Elise (My French Spider Queen)! ❤

Down the TBR Hole #2

Down the TBR Hole was originally created by Lost in a Story! The point of it is to help cull your reading lists down, or maybe push higher anticipated releases up on your TBR! And maybe you all can help me along the way, and tell me if you’ve loved or hated any of these!

How it works:
➽ Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
➽ Order on ascending date added.
➽ Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
➽ Read the synopses of the books
➽ Decide: keep it or should it go?


Friends, some of these books are so beloved by so many people. I am actually a little intimidated to get to these. So, I truly need your help this week! Even if it is just prioritizing what to read first!

The Six Books:

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet, but now JK Rowling is making it so damn hard to want to pick up anything by her. I mean, I feel like I should read this, so I guess I’ll keep it. But please, let me know how you felt about this one!
Verdict: Keep ✅

The Color of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett
Hi, my name is Melanie and I’m ready to turn in my SFF blogging card now. I can’t believe I haven’t read this series, by one of the actual kings of fantasy. But I also know there is no way I’m taking this off my TBR!
Verdict: Keep ✅

Killing Sarai (In the Company of Killers #1) by J.A. Redmerski
Give it to me straight, loves! Does this series hold up in 2018? So many people I know love this series, but I’m scared it might be just based on nostalgia. Let me know, and I’ll keep if you believe it holds up and that I’d enjoy!
Verdict: Delete ❌

The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings #1) by J.R. Ward
Paloma would personally murder me if I took this off my TBR! Also, I think I will enjoy this one, but like I said last week, JR Ward writes so many dang books! I am up to date with her BDB series and everything that connects to it, but she is really branching out and writing so many other things! But I am sure I’ll love them all, including this series!
Verdict: Keep ✅

Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore
I love this premise and I love this cover. What also holds me back is that people say if you loved The Queen of the Tearling series, you will love this. But I’m seriously down the middle, on the fence, with that entire trilogy. And I blame that comparison for why I haven’t read this book yet. Do you all love this one?
Verdict: Delete ❌

No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals After Dark #3) by Kresley Cole
Oh gosh, I don’t even want to talk about this one, because I feel so much shame. Okay, so I read books one and two and really enjoyed them! But then *covers face in shame* I “accidentally” requested an ARC of BOOK FREAKIN’ SIXTEEN! And I actually got approved and just said, “fuck it” and read it (and really enjoyed it). So now I’m like… am I ever going to go back and read 3-15? Probably not, let’s be real.
Verdict: Delete ❌


Okay, friends, these are the next oldest six books I have on my TBR! Let me know if you love, hate, and/or recommend me to read or trash any of these books! Thank you all so much, and I hope whatever you’re currently reading is five star worthy! 💛✨

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Cocktales (The Cocky Collective Anthology) edited by Penny Reid

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This anthology was inspired by a gross human being making poor choices, and I loved reading and supporting this! Also, you only have until August 26th (a day before my birthday) to buy this collection of stories from so many amazing and beloved authors! Don’t miss out, loves! All net profits will be donated to the authors already impacted by creative-obstruction (10%), and Romance Writers of America (RWA) (90%) as a general donation intended for their Advocacy Fund.

This is a collection of 39 short, but very steamy, reads. I only had read a handful of the authors that were a part of this, but now I have so many new authors on my TBR! Also, please know that this is for sure a collection of sexy stories, many with explicit scenes!

I have two negative things to say! First, there is way too much heterosexuality in this. There is only one confirmed queer relationship, and it’s m/m. With this many stories? Come on. And how great would a w/w story been in an anthology called Cocktales? What a missed opportunity. I’m not familiar enough with all these authors to know all their ethnicities, but I am aware that it’s probably mostly white authors, and that’s not okay either. Next, I’ll say that many of these are short stories from the authors’ already established worlds and series. Therefore, some of these just felt pointless, short, and I was completely unable to connect with them. So, know that going in, because it was for sure a problem I had with a lot of these.

But I did enjoy so many of these stories, too! A few of my favorites were from Jana Aston, Karpov Kinrade, Lex Martin, Liv Morris, Kylie Scott, and Leia Stone! But my ultimate favorite was Until the Cock Crows by Sierra Simone! I need the full-length version of this now. Please. This was perfection.

But, like I do with all anthologies, I’ll break down all my thoughts and feelings about all the stories in this collection!


DYLAN ALLEN Cocked and Loaded ★★
This one is about a woman in her thirties wanting to get back at a boy who was rude to her when she was twelve, so she comes up with a revenge plot to leave him wanting more of her via Tinder. I just didn’t think this was too believable, especially holding a grudge that long over something so dumb. Also, their screen names were totally something that no human in their early thirties would ever use, hence the title of this short. Yet, I did like the sex scene a lot.


JANA ASTON Double Cocked ★★★★★

“It’s a slippery slope back there, ladies. Admitting you enjoy their finger in your ass quickly escalates to their cocks prodding for entry.”

You all, I loved this one. It stars a strong (some would say unlikeable) woman who knows what she wants, and she isn’t afraid to tell her sexual partners or anyone else. And what she wants is a polyamorous relationship. This was dirty, this was hot, and this was everything I wanted from this collection. But there are a couple of jokes made in bad taste, but the sex in this was honestly some of the hottest word combinations I’ve ever read. And the ending was high key perfect. I’d give this six stars if I could.


WHITNEY BARBETTI Cocksure Grin ★★
This was a cute story about an unexpected blind date unexpectedly turning into a good date, especially since the main character was never expecting to see said blind date again. This was fine, but it just didn’t feel like anything special to me.


SAWYER BENNETT A Wicked, Cocky Plan: A Prequel to Wicked Force ★★★
First off, this is set in Vegas, so it immediately got brownie points with me. But this is a story about a famous singer who is being stalked, and after a close call with her life, she goes to a person from her past who has always kept her safe (and owns a security firm), even if they didn’t leave each other on the best of terms twelve years ago. And a fake relationship begins! But, sadly, this entire story is just a teaser for the start of the full story that will come out in 2019! But, I am super excited for more.


K.F. BREENE Magical Cock and Bull ★★★
You know, I’m always looking for a new Adult Fantasy Romance, so I think I’m going to check this author out. This was a steamy and magical read about a vampire and a shifter who happen to have their paths cross, and then they choose to cross them one more time.


RUTH CLAMPETT Don’t Get Cocky ★★★

“And who does he think he is, having his lawyers send cease and desist demands to existing users of the title when we haven’t even made a cartoon yet?”

I didn’t love this story, but holy moly did Ruth Clampett go in! Like, the parallels in this story had me grinning from ear to ear. And even though this wasn’t my favorite in the collection, I’m giving her all the props and respect for this tale she created.


L.H. COSWAY Illusionist Seeks Neanderthal
This just reads like a black sheep on the collection. Nothing romantic or sexy happens. Just borderline cheating and gross comments about girls and math, kids and videogames, and the use of the slur g*psie. No sexy times, just uncomfortable banter. And maybe I would have enjoyed more if I knew these two characters from the author’s previous works, but I didn’t.


AMY DAWS Cock and Balls ★★★★★
You all, this one just worked for me. I loved the couple and how she was a doctor and he was football player. I loved the Scottish setting. I loved the eloping. And I know fireplace, big, fluffy, furry rug sex is a little cliché, but I loved it too. I’m for sure going to check out this author’s other works!


MARIAH DIETZ Landmines
This was so short, and honestly just felt like another tease to buy more from the author. But the super short snippet wasn’t enough to make me want to.


BB EASTON Cocky BB: Two Boys, One Prom ★★★★
Okay, this really intrigued me for a few reasons. One, the author writes about her real life. Two, the story was super addicting. And three, this has a super sexy scene that left me wanting more. Some of the elements were on the problematic side (lots of TW for abuse, drug use, and eating disorders), but I was so invested with the story and it was completely able to captivate me.


JAYMIN EVE The Cockier the Dragon, the Harder they Fall ★★
I really liked the introduction to this world, and dragon-shifters sound freaking amazing, but I felt like I couldn’t connect just because I was so unfamiliar with the world.


EMMA HART Tricky Bond
I just… didn’t love this one. I feel like to enjoy this one, you’d really have to be familiar with the author’s other works and worlds. But, I just didn’t care about this couple on a bird hunt. And the ending left so much to be desired.


STACI HART Cockamamie ★★★★
You know what? I loved this one. It was short, and left you wanting more, and totally felt like it was created specially for this anthology. Also, all the props for coming up with as many cock references as this author did. I’m so impressed. And I can’t wait to read more about the mis-sent email!


JESSICA HAWKINS Cocky Couture ★★★★
This was super well written and super sexy. I loved this, and I loved the dynamic of a relationship between a photographer and a secret model. Love, love, loved. This would have gotten five stars, but the photographer got a little too toxic when he didn’t want to photograph her (from the front) in a thong, but was okay with her wearing nude, sheer, things that made her look naked. Like, what? But, I still loved this.


JULIE JOHNSON Culinary Cock-Up ★★★★

“Looking at you, Shmordon Shmamsey—and no one makes a peep about it. Meanwhile, we females are expected to coddle and comfort our way to the top, soothing our staff into basic competence instead of scolding them for lacking it entirely.”

Okay, I never thought I needed an enemies to lovers romance from after culinary school, but here we are. I loved the premise of this, and I want so much more. Also, this brought up some great gender double standards in the kitchen and out of it, and I was so here for it.


KARPOV KINRADE Crimson Cocktail ★★★★★

“And so, our adventures begin. Oh, the libraries I will see. The books I will read. The lives I will live. And all with this man beside me.”

Um, I fell so completely in love with this. Librarian, Las Vegas, and… Vampires? Holy moly, this was perfect. And this is one of the main reasons I love anthologies. I can’t wait to read more from this world.


ADRIANA LOCKE Swag
Again, I didn’t know these characters or care about these characters. I don’t care about whose in charge of the will. And I surley don’t want to read about a girl being insecure about her body and stretchmarks, while her husband convinces her they make her more beautiful. This one really didn’t work for me.


LEX MARTIN Love & Hate at the Stallion Station ★★★★★
You all, I loved this one. I normally don’t like the “cowboy” romance thing, but this was adorable and sexy, respectful and dominant, and just made for a perfect read. This was a cute mix of enemies to lovers, and also friends to lovers, but also a second chance romance sort of too. I don’t know, but I loved it. Also, the sex was 11/10. For sure a favorite of the entire collection.


ALY MARTINEZ Going Down ★★★
Finally, something not straight! I actually thought this was a cute m/m romance! And it was quick and funny, but still really heartfelt and romantic!


KAYTI MCGEE Cocksure Co-Star ★★★★★
This was funny as hell, and sexy as hell. The enemies, to fuck buddies, to lovers, was so great between these two people who were forced to become costars. And their energy and banter together was perfection. I loved this one. And I really, really want to read more about these two!


CORINNE MICHAELS Cockblocked
I’m really not into military romances, and I’m really, really, really not into possessive fathers that use fear tactics to scare their daughter’s dates. Especially when the daughter is even constantly saying that they are only friends, not that that should even matter. This just didn’t work for me and I hate that people keep romanticizing this toxic, gross, behavior from adult men.


LIV MORRIS Getting It Up ★★★★★
You know what? This was the perfect story for this anthology, because it’s only all about a cock. This stars a doctor who specializes in penis, and a baseball player that feels like his member is no longer working, that is, until he meets her. And then she becomes his only hope! It’s a little corny, it’s a bit over the top, and it even has a scene where the woman reads him erotica aloud, but it’s perfect for this anthology and it made me want to read more by this author. Oh, and bonus points for the Hitachi! I loved this. Perfection! Easily one of my favorites in the collection.


RED PHOENIX Her Cocky Russian ★★★★
This was pure erotica, but it totally and completely worked. This starred what I think was a polyamorous relationship, that was Dom, Dom, sub (m/m/w) and it was all kinds of naughty.


DAISY PRESCOTT Confessions of a Cockblocked Wingman ★★★★
I really enjoyed this one! This was a cute story, about a man who is shopping for his wife, with their new son, and he’s getting a lot of attention in the grocery store. But he goes home and is thankful to share his life with his beautiful family. This was just sweet, and pure, and sexy, and I really enjoyed it.


JESSICA PRINCE A Cocky Corruption Engagement ★★
This was cute, but just disjointed. It’s about a girl shopping with her friend for her friend’s wedding, when she gets a big surprise herself. This wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t memorable.


MEGHAN QUINN Fight or Flight
Again, this was a tease for a new series, and nothing happened. It is about two air force cadets, and the authors note at the end said a “big twist” is coming, but, like, I think it’s just going to be a m/m romance. And, the set up wasn’t very good, if I’m being completely honest.


PENNY REID Beard and Hen ★★★
This was cute and sweet, but I love Penny Reid and her writing so much that I was just expecting more. But she really did embrace what this collection is about and took it to that “cock” level in the truest form. This was a fun read, but not my favorite.


CD REISS Cocky Capo ★★★★★
This is easily the most well written in the collection. I honestly forgot I was reading a short story, and felt like I was reading the start of a brand new book. This was sad, sexy, and heartfelt. Really well done, and for sure a star of this anthology


JULIE A. RICHMAN The Color of Love
I just felt very uncomfortable reading this one. The way the boy love-interest’s skin color was described was also not well done. And I feel like a full-length story could turn into something more problematic.


ALEATHA ROMIG Aligned ★★★
This story just felt like so many of the major pieces were missing. I didn’t dislike it, but it read so hard to follow. I really enjoyed the bonus story though. A lot, a lot. I kind of wish it was the only part included.


KENNEDY RYAN All: A Grip & Bris Story ★★★★★

“I believe in all the things cynics despise. First kisses on Ferris wheels. Soul mates and once-in-a lifetime loves. I believe in fifty years and forever.”

Oh my word, I loved this. I am sad that I haven’t read this series yet (soon, I promise), but Kennedy Ryan can write a sex scene. I loved the characters, I loved the celebration of motherhood, I loved this. And this felt like a full story, too. This was a romantic and sexy treat to read and I loved every page.


KYLIE SCOTT Short Story with Mal and Anne from The Stage Dive Series ★★★★★

“If you didn’t get girl juice all over your hands and at least half your face when you gave head, then frankly, you weren’t doing it right.”

Okay, I know “girl juice” is a gross term, but that quote is true. Also, this was one of the few short stories that take place in a series I’ve always read! I loved seeing Mal and Anne from The Stage Dive series, and this is probably TMI – but I’ve kind of always wanted to have sex in a bookstore. Also, this was just a fucking cute and sexy roleplay scene and I was living for it from start to finish.


SIERRA SIMONE Until the Cock Crows ★★★★★

“For a preacher, he sure fucked like a god.”

I just read a book by this author this year! And I was not expecting a story about a Reverend in this collection, but I was so pleasantly surprised! Also, even though this is a relationship between a man and a woman, he never assumes she’s straight. And they both heavily stress consent and talk about their history and bodies before acting upon any urges; making sure they know what the other one wants. This was a breath of fresh air. I actually loved this. Also, this was hot as fuck. Easily some of the best sex in this collection. And the first talk was A+. This was my favorite of the collection. And I’m really not sure what that says about me, but I was honestly crossing and uncrossing my legs constantly while reading this. Perfection.


TARA SIVEC Chocolate and Cockup ★★
What and the fuck did I just read? Oh my word. Okay, I’m giving this two stars because I’m impressed the authors went there. This is a story about six older people, living in a retirement home together, when they spent their lives together owning a sex toy business. Let your imagination take the wheel. Bye.


KATE STEWART The Golden Sombrero
I would have guessed this was written by a man, honestly. There are some gross gender stereotypes all up in this story. And It didn’t even make sense that the dudes thought that not allowing themselves to have sex would help them with their baseball training. On top of ignoring their wives needs. So, the reader is forced to read about these wives throwing themselves at their husbands for sex. Like, miss me with all this. Please.


LEIA STONE Cocky Alpha ★★★★★

“That smart-mouthed asshole came into my shop every new moon, and it took everything in me not to throw a penis shrinking spell right at his crotch. He was the cockiest alpha male I’d ever met, and that was saying a lot for a witch who ran a supernatural spell shop.”

Witches, werewolves, and vampires, oh my! This was a paranormal romance treat. I loved Dax and Tatiana and this was such a perfect addition to this anthology. I can’t wait to read more from this author and more from this world!


KARLA SORENSEN Tristan & Anna: A Bachelors of the Ridge short story ★★★★
This was such a cute and heartwarming story about two people who are about to start their lives together; both in marriage and parenthood. And the use of the rooster in this was so dang clever. This was a really sweet read that I really enjoyed!


RACHEL VAN DYKEN Cocky Mafia
Like, I’ll never be here for a dude getting mad at a male doctor because he’s looking at his wife’s vagina. Especially to deliver a baby. Like, miss me with all that gross thinking and enforcing please. I’m so sad that this was one of the last stories.


APRIL WHITE Code of Conduct ★★
I liked that not only did the main character mention gaming, I am pretty sure this is the only story to have disability rep, because the main character has a prosthetic leg. But I felt like this was a really odd choice to close this anthology off with. It was an alright story, but it really didn’t feel like it fit in the collection, and especially not to wrap up the anthology.


Out of a possible 195 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 39 stories) this collection accumulated 122 stars (~63%). But I very much recommend, just because of #CockyGate!


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Highest Rated Books on my TBR (According to Goodreads)

highest ratedHey, bookworms! I’ve seen a few of my friends do this type of video on Booktube, and I think it’s really cool. Basically, these are the ten highest rated books that I have on my TBR on Goodreads, that are also already out! Seriously, King of Scars should not be at a 4.59 rating when Leigh herself said there will be no ARC for this one. Lord, help me!



➽ 10.) Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Rating: 4.25 | 1,172 Ratings | 411 Reviews
This book just came out this year, but literally so many people I love and trust have hailed this as their favorite book of 2018 so far! I added it my TBR because of May’s amazing review, and I can’t wait to get to this one, hopefully in August!

➽ 9.) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Rating: 4.25 |350,297 Ratings | 27,239 Reviews
This is book that is so loved by so many that it’s just intimidating. It’s honestly a modern classic and I can’t believe I haven’t read it. Maybe I will add this to my TBR this fall, and I hope to fall in love too. Oh, and I’ll make sure I have all the tissues, because I know I’m going to need them!

➽ 8.) The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch
Rating: 4.30 | 158,112 Ratings | 10,877 Reviews
I know, I know, I’m a failure. I can’t believe I haven’t gotten to this one either. I just know that I’m going to love it, but so many books and so little time, friends.

➽ 7.) An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir
Rating: 4.32 | 117,552 Ratings | 16,957 Reviews
I actually think I have a little bit of fomo from the third book in this series just coming out and having all of my friends love it so much! So, seeing this on the list totally makes me want to pick it up even more!

➽ 6.) Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon
Rating: 4.32 | 232,305 Ratings | 12,891 Reviews
I just read Outlander in December of last year, and was actually pretty impressed at how well it held up in 2017! I just really didn’t love the end of that book, and I know that this second installment is going to be dealing with those events, so I’m scared! But this is such a beloved series, and I know I should continue on!

➽ 5.) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Rating: 4.36 | 1,436,043 Ratings | 99,101 Reviews
I know, I can’t believe I have read this staple in modern day literature. I just know this is going to be a really hard read, because I am the most emotional person I know, so I think that’s why I push it off. I do own the super gorgeous anniversary edition, too! So, there is really no excuse!

➽ 4.) High Voltage (Fever #10) by Karen Marie Moning
Rating: 4.36 | 5,893 Ratings | 981 Reviews
Friends, you know I’m ringing that shame bell at my damn self. I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet, but I promise I will soon. And I hope I love it as much as so many people on Goodreads have already!

➽ 3.) Fairy Tail, Vol. 1 (Fairy Tail #1) by Hiro Mashima
Rating: 4.39 | 76,176 Ratings | 816 Reviews
I’ve wanted to read this manga for so damn long. It is some of my offline friends’ favorite! Like, they are obsessed with it. I’m not sure why I haven’t picked it up yet, especially because I love guild house/hall settings and books filled with characters going on quests.

➽ 2.) Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer
Rating: 4.48 | 134,448 Ratings | 19,867 Reviews
You all, I’m the reason the other books in this series probably have a bit lower ratings! I just can’t connect and love this series the same way that everyone else does! But I’ve read all the other books, so I honestly do need to get to this one. I just keep pushing it off.

➽ 1.) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Rating: 4.55 | 414,290 Ratings | 44,440 Reviews
Yeah, I think I’m going to have to pick this one up immediately. With those numbers and the amount of actual reviews? Like, I have to pick this one up. Also, this is one of my best friend’s favorite books of all-time.


Also, it is probably important to note that I wrote up this post last week, so a couple of these ratings could have shifted a little bit! And more reviews and ratings probably got added! But hopefully it wasn’t a large enough influx to mess with the number order of these ten books! But I thought this was really fun to see, and I hope you all enjoyed, too! What’s a book that you “need” to get to that everyone else loves? Happy reading, loves!

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They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“You may be born into a family, but you walk into friendships. Some you’ll discover you should put behind you. Others are worth every risk.”

Hey, friends! I’m so sorry! I really wanted to love this, but this just wasn’t a book for me. I think some of the lines were so beautiful, and I love the overall message of living your life, every day, to the fullest, but I just could never connect with this story the way that I know so many of my friends have.

They Both Die at the End is a story about two boys, who live in a world where technology will let you know when you will die within twenty-four hours. And sadly, two boys just received the call that informed them. And throughout the book we get to see how their lives intertwine and come together for their last day.

Trigger and content warnings for loss of a parent, loss of a sibling, loss of a friend, depictions of grief and trauma, violence, abuse, talk of animal death, a terrorist attack/murder suicide, suicide attempt, talk of suicide, and a whole lot of talk about death.

“Death is inevitable for everyone and it’s absolute for me today.”

Things that may have been a factor of why I didn’t like this book:

➽ I don’t like “magic systems” that aren’t explained. I never have, and I never will. This reads exactly like a contemporary with one unknown fantasy element. Also, I think it’s kind of cruel that they don’t give people the option of not knowing. Even if medical staff always knew, I think that a person should be able to pick if they want to know when they are going to die. But yeah, I needed to know how or why they were able to predict these deaths. Even if the answer was “oh my gosh, an alien came down and gave us this machine” because even that would have been enough for me.

➽ I honestly hated the ending with Mateo. And, again, I just can’t suspend my disbelief enough that a boy that has been living his life in a paranoid state would do that. I just, I just can’t believe it. I know it is a beautiful message about how we all don’t know how we are going to die, and it could be something easy or something we would never expect. But, like, it just felt really unpleasant to read.

➽ I really didn’t like reading about how people use Death-Cast to try to hook up with people they know are dying, probably because then they don’t have to come out. I get that itthat would totally happen in our world, but it still made my stomach sick to think about. Especially towards super young adults like Mateo and Rufus.

➽ I do not read a lot of contemporary. But right before this book I read Radio Silence and Autoboyography, both of which I gave five glowing stars to. That would hurt any book that I had to read after them, and I feel so bad that TBDATE had to be that book.

➽ A booktuber did a vlog of them upset after reading because the title was real. Which, like, I’m probably being all kinds of petty, but the title was always most likely going to be real. But because of the way this book is told kind of questioning Death-Cast and seeing all the people it is impacting, I think I might have been hopeful and enjoyed this more, if I didn’t have it *spoiled* for me.

What I did really like about this book:

➽ The writing. Adam’s writing is lyrical, but also very fast paced. Even though I didn’t love this book, it never felt like a chore to read. And there were so many quotable lines throughout this novel.

➽ I also really liked the cute romance that started to brew between these boys. And I’m always here for LGBTQIAP romances! I loved that Mateo was gay and that Rufus was bisexual. I also loved that both boys were people of color; Rufus being Cuban-American and Mateo being Puerto Rican.

➽ I loved every scene with Mateo’s dad. Call me a masochist, what can I say? Those scenes were one of two that made me cry. (The other being with Rufus talked about what happened to his family.) And I am actually hard pressed to think of anything sadder than waking up and finding out your child is no longer with you. But these scenes were so beautiful and gave me all the feels in the world.

➽ I liked seeing the random people that were just living their day along side Mateo and Rufus. When I look back, I feel like it might have been a tiny bit pointless, but I still really enjoyed the glimpses and thought they were so unique. And it really helps enforce that everyone has so much going on inside them, and that you’ll never know what crosses a person is bearing merely by sitting next to them in a subway.

➽ The message about how we really should be living our lives to the fullest and try to not live it being scared to die. I feel really impacted by both of these themes. Probably TMI (like always), but my father had a really bad heart attack (STEMI) a few years ago where they didn’t think he was going to make it. I immediately flew home, and I still feel a little bad at how much of an uncontrollable, weeping, hot mess I was all through LAS, but he was awake by the time I landed in Flint. And I ended up taking off work and staying an entire month to help take care of him, just spend time with my dad and not take it for granted. And I will never forget how thankful I was, or that feeling, for the rest of my life. But I also developed really bad panic attacks and anxiety where I feel like I’m having a heart attack at least once a week, still, a few years later. I don’t even know what I’m trying to stay, other than I connected with both of these boys, the one thankful for even twenty-four more hours, and the one that is scared to leave his bedroom.

➽ And since I just told you all the worst moment of my life, I will tell you another story about why this book did resonate with me. I’ve played World of Warcraft for over a decade, and a friend that I raided with for many, many years knew that he was dying because of cancer. We all had a little guild celebration for him before he quit, and after he (in game) mailed us so many of his prized wow possessions and wrote very kind letters attached. His wife let us know via Facebook when he passed away, and it broke me so very hard. But I will cherish that letter for the rest of my life, and my Darkmoon Rabbit that I named Davien (after him)!

Damn, friends, I think I got way too personal with those last paragraphs. Why am I like this? But overall, I am sad I didn’t love my first Adam Silvera book! But I’m going to keep reading his work(s) and hopefully fall in love. Again, I truly do connect with his writing style, so I have high hopes. I also just feel bad that I didn’t love this beloved book of so many of my friends. Also, you should check out their reviews, because I love them and this book meant a lot to them: May, Courtney, Lilly, Emma, Em, Sana, & Elise! You all know I hate writing “negative” reviews! So, I hope you all check out their reviews and celebrate them! Happy reading, loves!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Courtney at Curly Book Owl, May at Forever and Everly, & Lily at Sprinkles of Dreams! ❤