Top Ten Tuesday is a hosted by Jana That Artsy Reader Girl, and is a fabulous meme that gives weekly prompts to answer. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Click the link to join – we’d love to have you!
Today’s prompt is all about books I love but rarely get to talk about! Once I started making the list, however, I realized that there were plenty of reads, way more than ten, that I wanted to shoutout. So I decided to separate them into two posts! This week you get contemporary, and in two weeks you’ll get my Fantasy/Sci-Fi recommendation I never talk about it! There’s also more than ten on this list soo… sorry/not sorry!
If there’s a link for it, I highly recommend you click over to my review! Some of these I had to really cut myself off on hyping, so check out the reviews because I had a lot to say for those 😊 All good things! Hope everyone is having a lovely week! Let me know some of YOUR under-appreciated books you adore!
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Eliza Mirk is one of my favorite fictional high schoolers I’ve met, and not just because she’s a fellow bookish person. You can probably understand why me, a book blogger, can relate to someone who has a secret identity online. I’m not famous like she is, but that didn’t make her any less relatable. Eliza is a social hermit who has pretty crippling social anxiety and has to deal with some tough blows through the events of this book. It was heart-wrenching at times, but my fierce, beautiful Eliza got through it. She’s a world-famous webcomic creator, behind the scenes of hopeless high school, and there’s a boy and … wow. Ms. Zappia stole my heart with this one (Goodreads | Amazon)
A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole
A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole is *chefs kiss* one of the most emotionally impactful books I’ve read. It’s such a tear-jerker, but it’s also one of the best examples of childhood romances (omg I’m tearing up just thinking about how cute it was!), friends-to-lovers romances, and also a bit of hate-to-love, all in high school! My gorgeous, precious Poppy was dealing with some shit, okay. Jesus Christ. She handled it with grace and poise, and was a heart-warming (or heart-wrenching, depending on the scene) character throughout the book. Honestly, honey. Just thinking about this wonderful book 😭😭😭 I’ll say nothing more, I don’t want to spoil, but I implore you to pick this one up. Oh man, such mastery ✨ (Goodreads | Amazon)
Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines
This one isn’t nearly as sob-inducing as A Thousand Boy Kisses, but my girl Maggie here also dealt 👏🏻 with 👏🏻 some 👏🏻 shit, okay?! Maggie witnessed and dealt with horrible trauma two years before the events in this book (see blurb for more details), and is selectively mute. But when she comes across a very sad West at her new high school, she finds that she can find her voice to talk to him. I SALUTE a female who can set aside her insurmountable pain in order to help another through his. This book isn’t light-hearted, but it is achingly sweet and romantic and it’s just such a great book that doesn’t get enough credit for the emotion pouring out of it’s pages (Goodreads | Amazon)
Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Top Secret was probably one of my favorite finds of 2019! I stayed up (accidentally!) until 4am to finish this beauty, it had me so captivated! It wasn’t until I hit the Acknowledgements page that I figured out why my eyes hurt and felt so gritty. It’s a MM College Romance, featuring an enemies-to-lovers and (somehow) friends-to-lovers epistolary romance between neighbors. Now that’s basically every single trope I like, except it’s done in such a clever way, that you’re not reading it and checking those boxes as you go. It flows so naturally and beautifully and just keeps you compelled by the story and the characters. Cannot recommend this Kindle Unlimited read enough (My Review)
Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh
First of all, I ADORE Sailor! He’s such a sweet guy. Both characters were completely lovable and sweet and just stole my heart. They were so completely perfect for each other, and I was so invested in their story, and not just because it was a friends-to-lovers, workplace romance! Really, I said it all in my review, so feel free to check that out. But Ms. Singh’s stories… they just feel my heart with their depth and intricacy. They both soothe and energize my romantic side, always soul-stirring and warm with love. Gah, please check Nalini Singh out!! This book is often underrated, because although I hype the author a lot, I talk about one of her other contemporaries, Rock Hard, and her paranormal series a lot more. Crying shame, because this one is also amazingly well done! (My Review)
A Thousand Perfect Notes by CG Drews
A Thousand Perfect Notes by CG Drews is another amazing, tear-jerker romance! This one deals heavily with abuse, but it was so freaking good. It had a fantastic musical element to it, which I love to read about. Anyone who’s really passionate about music, so much that it bleeds onto the reader a bit, is a truly impressive writer, and Cait certainly is that. She ran me through the emotional gamut and kept my eyes glued to the pages for all 275 pages, which I read in a single sitting. Cait knows how to rip your heart out and write these perfect, troubled little cinnamon roll characters that you just want to hug and protect. She’s brilliant at manipulating the readers emotions, all while maintaining her stylistic flair for comedy and making her books an emotional, and often hilarious (in parts) read. The characters were so dynamic, it blew me across the page. August, Beck and Joey kept me up way past my bedtime, and that’s no small feat! (Goodreads | Amazon)
The Hardest Fall by Ella Maise
This is another amazing KU book that caught me by surprise. This college romances features a second-chance romance between unexpected roommates. Both characters, Zoe and Dylan, were sweet and precious to me, and I loved how unique they were! These aren’t copy-and-paste characters, and I loved their friends-to-lovers storyline. They truly were buddies and *tears up* god it’s so good! Ella Maise is another favorite author after this one. (My Review)
Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
This was my first Penny Reid book that I read absolutely forever ago… and I adore these new cover reprints! It features Jamie Morris, who tends to blurt out TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information) when she’s nervous and is just generally, adorably, socially awkward. It features an office romance, but it’s mostly just absolutely hilarious, like most of Ms. Reid’s books! This whole series is absolutely amazing – and they tend to get better and better! Each book follows a new couple from Jamie’s Knitting Club (who are absolute characters!) and while they can be read out of order, I’d recommend sticking with the order (Goodreads | Amazon)
Beard Science by Penny Reid
This is technically the third book of another series by Penny Reid, but it’s my absolute favorite! I do recommend reading these books in order, even though they’re written as standalones. The Winston Brother’s books follow a family of brothers (and a sister… whose book is in the Knitting with the City series and written as a prequel to the Winston Brother’s) who live in a small town. It’s a hilarious family of grumpy and charming men, but my favorite is Cletus, from Beard Science. He’s the prankster/genius of the family, obsessed with his World Famous Sausage (the food). When he falls in love with the town’s Banana Cake Queen… a bumbling in-love Cletus is my favorite Cletus, making this one a fast love. But the whole series is amazing, and I highly recommend! (Goodreads | Amazon)
Play it Safe by Kristen Ashley
All Kristen Ashley books are under-appreciated, in my brain. But Play it Safe is one of her few standalones, so it’s the one I chose for this exercise. Ivey has been on the run, bouncing from small-town to small-town for most of her life. But when she meets Grayson Cody, a tall, beautiful, macho man rancher cowboy who wants her to stay, she can’t help but agree. But then they were betrayed, and separated for years. It’s a second-chance romance, and one of my favorites because it’s so gentle and sweet and sincere. (My Review)
Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan
Love Lessons was one of my favorite reads of 2019, and would have been the favorite, if it hadn’t been slightly overshadowed by The Foxhole Court and Top Secret. I didn’t plan to love MM Romance so much this year, but I just discovered some really great ones. This one looks really dumb from the cover, doesn’t it? I’m not a fan of the cover, because it severely understates what’s between the pages. BUT it features an MM romance between two college roommates – a junior, stuck rooming with a freshman; and a freshman, forced to host an unexpected roommate in his single dorm.
Walter, the junior, was so much fun! He was charismatic, such a player and yet had such a lovely heart. Kelly, the freshman, was adorable. He’s coming into college wide-eyed and with expectations in the sky, finally able to come out of the college in a lovely way. But college isn’t what he expects, especially with his allergies, and he definitely didn’t count on Walter being there every step of the way. They may be best friends (friends-to-lovers romance + roommates!), but their care and sincerity for each other leant more towards a marriage couple, and neither realized it. AHHH so good!! Such a slow-burn romance, and a great emotional read! (Goodreads | Amazon)
Stay by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Stay by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy was another amazing read from 2019!! It was sooo cuuuute!! Epistolary romances are THE BEST! It’s a sweet, slow-ish burn romance that starts over steamy DM’s over a virtual assistant app (which I LOVED). The main character, Hailey, was super innocent and kind. Before meeting Matt, she was married to her best friend and, for all intents and purposes, had never been out on a date, had to ask a guy out or do any of the guesswork. It was fun to watch her figure it out with Matt! Seriously, it was soo cuuuttee, despite the harsh and kind of aggressive cover. Also a sports romance! That was awesome – you know I love those :) This author duo is definitely a new favorite form last year! (Goodreads | Amazon)
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Have you read any of these? Adding any to your TBR? What are some books YOU love but never talk about? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!