2017 The Year in Review

Reflecting back on this past year; on one hand it’s hard to believe the time went by so fast and on the other it feels like it began a lifetime ago.

I made promises to myself as 2017 began, probably as most people do in the form of resolutions, but this was more than a New Years change of habit for me. 2017 was going to be the year that I devoted more of my personal time back to writing and reading.  Yes, I love to read and have always been a reader, aside from the few years I was lucky to read anything except a picture book to my children before bedtime, I always read for my own enjoyment. What I’m talking about was more of a commitment to finding myself once again.

When 2017 rolled onto the calendar almost 12 months ago my youngest was soon heading off to college and I needed to discover who I was again. I was becoming an empty nester and the thought had me salivating at all of the free time I would soon have on my hands, but I needed to make changes in how I was going to handle my free time.  And part of this change was losing myself in the literary world.

I wanted 2017 to be the year that I branched out and discovered new authors, or at least new to me. You see, I’d grown comfortable in reading my favorite authors. I wasn’t taking chances because reading them was like a warm blanket, coming home, and being fed a delicious home cooked meal. I’d reached a point where I wasn’t challenging myself as a reader like I had years ago.

So, even though I know I’ll continue to read my home cooked favorite authors, 2017 brought me a multitude of new authors, along with a bucket full of personal changes I wasn’t expecting.

I won’t go into a lengthy story, but here is a quick summation:

I began the year strong, both in reading and writing. Honestly, I was more put together than I had been in a long time. I was doing great and feeling really good at keeping up with my goals, but then my family had to step in and muddle things up.

In the spring my husband interviewed for a new job, by early summer he received news that he was chosen for that job. Our youngest daughter graduated high school, my husband began his new job and I was left with packing up and selling our home of seventeen years to relocate to a new area without help. Late summer was the beginning of my high-level-stress breakdown.

I had to back off on reading and writing to focus on family. With my children now away at school, I packed up the old house, quit my job of seventeen years, moved into a new house and community, all while playing counselor to my children that were left feeling the pangs of missing their old life. A life that they weren’t home much to enjoy anymore, but where they spent their entire childhood growing up. As much as I’d wanted to assure them that as they matured and made new friends the ache would pass, but I too was missing the people I grew fond of over the last seventeen years.

Fall was definitely a time of change. As much as I tried to get back on track with my lofty beginning of the year goals, it just didn’t happen. Here it is December and I can honestly say I’m just feeling that settled in feeling. Although I still have moments when I ask, “where is that…?” You can fill in the blank with whatever you want. Everything from glue to earrings to underwear. I seriously didn’t know where mine was the first few days I was here. That was unsettling to say the least. Thank god I’d packed some in my overnight bag. Geez.

Anyway, I’m just getting back in the groove and beginning to settle in to my new life, so 2018 better watch out because I want to begin a new future in my new home with a positive lookout.

Now that I’ve caught you up on what has been happening in Kay’s world, let me recap books that you shouldn’t have missed in 2017 and need to read if you haven’t done so already.

*Every category is totally and completely picked by Kay Daniels Romance and all opinions are my own*

1. The Best Romance Novel of 2017:
Unloved, a love story by Katy Regnery

Hands down Unloved, a love story was the best book I can remember reading in a very long time. I’m not discrediting any of the other books I love because I love a lot of books, but this book had a premise like nothing I’ve ever heard of before. It kept me on edge wondering how the two characters would even be able to work it out so it would be a love story. I know it’s in the title, so I wasn’t going to doubt Katy Regnery and her blatant use of calling the book a love story, but as page after page went by, I was beginning to wonder how in the world she was going to pull it off.  All I can say is she is a master storyteller and I love her for writing this book.

Here is the synopsis:

Cassidy Porter is the son of a serial killer. His father is convicted when Cassidy is just eight years old. His entire world is turned upside down at the young age of just eight. Moving from his hometown where he and his mother are now shunned, his entire life Cassidy is told, no. It basically becomes his mantra that he should never pass on his DNA, spread his evil seed, nor infect anyone in case he too becomes like his father and becomes a killer.

“I nod at him, vowing that the blood in my veins will never, ever infect another life. I will live quiet. And Paul Isaac Porter’s terrifying genes will die with me.”

As hurtful as it is that Cassidy wants to believe he is his own person and would never hurt anyone, he agrees to never pass on his genetic coding so he lives in solitude, never having contact with anyone. Living alone, unloved, until one day when he saves the life of Brynn Cadogan.

Brynn had been living a half-life for a little over two years. Her fiancé, Jem, had been killed in a mass shooting. How was she supposed to live the rest of her life when her love’s had been cut short? It didn’t seem fair. It wasn’t right. Jem, had loved the mountains, practically lived in them. It only seemed fitting that she bury a part of him in his beloved mountains. Against the advice of her family, and Jem’s she headed off for a climb that she wasn’t exactly fit for, but she was determined. That was until bad weather hit and she was forced to take shelter in a leanto with a man who gave her the creeps.

The last thing Brynn remembered was climbing the mountain, a horrible rain storm, and a creepy guy named Wayne, so how did she end up in a warm cabin looking at a man with one blue eye and one green? Why does she feel more comfortable in the presence of this stranger, whom she doesn’t even know, laying in a strange bed, in nothing more than a t-shirt and underwear, than she did stumbling upon Wayne walking up a mountain fully dressed? Something tells her to trust Cassidy and that is when the healing really begins.

Cassidy saved Brynn from what could have been a horrible tragedy up on that mountain. He constantly struggles with the man his family made him believe he was inside vs. the man he really is, the one Brynn sees he is, throughout their journey together. As much as Cassidy saved Brynn, she just as much wants to save Cassidy in return.

“Love. A word that keeps entering my mind lately. And I know it’s not possible, because of promises I intend to keep, but I can’t help the way I feel.”

Their story raised so many thoughts and questions in my own mind. Are you the product of your parents, whether it’s genetic or environmental? Do you follow the same path or are the proverbial black sheep always bad? For instance, if everyone is a doctor in your family do you take a different path and become an author? If your father is a serial killer are you genetically wired to follow the same path? Would you still love someone knowing who their parent was? Do you love the person and not their past?

I loved this story, I really cannot begin to express how much I loved this story, except to tell you that you need to read it. It was the best read of 2017.

Unloved

2. The Best NA Book I read in 2017:
Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Coming of age is never easy. Not only is it a time where you are trying to figure out this thing called adulthood, but it is also a time where you easily make a lot of mistakes and guidance is typically offered by your elders, but let’s go back to the beginning of this sentence…yeah the figuring out adulthood part. Most young adults would rather figure it out on their own (stubborn, I could place a few other choice words here, but you probably know them already) This has led to a boom in the NA category since this age in particular makes for an angsty, heartfelt, emotionally driven romance piled with all the age factors like school, parents, friends, society, you name it NA can deliver it.

I really had to think about what my favorite NA book was for 2017. I read a lot of really great ones this year, but since it came down to only picking one, I chose; 

Here is the synopsis:

Max Kent is the star quarterback heading into his senior year of college. There is buzz talk of him receiving the Heisman trophy which would definitely mean the NFL in his future. If Max played his cards right and didn’t screw up he’d have a real shot towards everything he’s worked for. And when Max wanted something there wasn’t much he wouldn’t do to reach his goal. His last long term girlfriend almost screwed up his winning season last year, so when Sunny shows up on his doorstep the first day of class he sees a great opportunity and runs with it.

Sunny Blaine was a long way from where she’d run from several years ago. With little to her name she was attending college, taking care of her grandmother, working to pay for school and frankly she didn’t have time for stupid, inconsiderate jocks. Miffed when a football groupie totaled her car, she had no qualms about letting the football jock who was basically an accessory to the crime (at least in Sunny’s book) hear about it. What she wasn’t prepared for was the instant connection that came after and the ridiculous proposal that shortly ensued.

Max and Sunny find a kindred spirit in each other, which quickly blossoms into friendship. When their friendship begins to burn into something more than they can handle will the inferno burn them and kill what they’ve built while they sit hopelessly on the sidelines watching it blaze out of control? Are they strong enough to make it through anything together?

“Sometimes there really is a bigger plan.
Sometimes there really is that one person.
Sometimes true love finds you no matter what.”

Max and Sunny were such a delight to read. I really didn’t want the story to end. For me, if I had a perfect description for what New Adult romance is, Fake Fiancée would be it. It captures the essence of youth, the budding relationship and choices young lovers make creating the pitfalls that happen when we doubt ourselves.

I can tell you, pick up this enjoyable read now, you won’t regret it.       Fake Fiancée

3. My new favorite-discovered-author-to-keep-watching (or reading) in 2018:
Veronica Larsen

Sometimes reading a new author is comparable to trying new food. The outside packaging makes the food look yummy, mouth-watering and so delicious that you just have to buy it and take it home that minute to make it, but once you do it tastes like crap. Wellllllllll, sometimes reading a new author is sort of like that. The pretty cover lures you in, the hot guy on the front is yummy, delicious, and you want to take him home and well you know…but once you crack open the book the content is just not yummy and delicious.

My goal this year was to read new authors. I knew I was potentially opening myself up to some unpalatable reading. However, on the flip side, I was also opening myself up to read a gourmet meal. I knew the chances and I was pleasantly surprised in sitting down to read multiple gourmet books. It made choosing just one author difficult, but after I narrowed it down I finally chose one and here is my favorite among the top chefs I read.

Here is why I chose Veronica Larsen as my one to keep reading into 2018:

Veronica has a beautiful flow of writing. She is able to pull you into the characters world so thoroughly I felt like I was living in the character’s apartment. I was drawn into their lives and it was effortless, riding the same emotional roller coaster as the characters were.

This is not the first time Veronica Larsen has done this to me. She makes me question the characters choices right along with them. Unlike other stories where I always root for the hero and heroine to fall in love, Veronica tells the story in a way that when the character is questioning if things should work out, I question the very same thing.
Maybe things would be better if they walked away.
Maybe things would be better if they just stayed friends.
Maybe, maybe, maybe…
I never do this, because I love, love, LOVE HEA’S. So this has to tell you that Veronica is really good at bringing you into the characters lives, their minds, their feelings and you empathize with them like you may not not do in other stories you read.

Veronica Larsen has written multiple books, the two above are just the two I’ve read in 2017. I plan to keep reading her angsty love stories and I hope you do too,

Find her on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, and  www.facebook.com/veronicalarsen

4. The Sexiest Cover of 2017:
Honey Bee by Heather Shere

Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover? Well…that unfortunately is true when it comes to its contents, but when it comes to the category of just gawking at sexy, delicious eye candy then YES!! you can totally judge a book by its cover.

This may be hard to believe, but this was the hardest category to decide on. There were a lot of yummy, yummy, ooh so tantalizing hot, hot covers released this past year. So thank you to all the models that rock those photo shoots. Thank you for all of the hard workouts you endured to create the sexy abs and those mouth watering notches on the sides of your abdomen that point down to what’s hidden underneath your beltline. Whooooo is it hot in here or is it all the covers I’ve just shuffled through in order to pick out the best one? The things I do in the name of romance.

So without further ado….

The beard scruff, the abs, the arms, and even the tush. Mmm, mmm, mmm Honey Bee brought it all. Thank you Heather Shere for the sexiest cover of 2017!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As 2017 ends and I move forward into a new year. I close out my records and open a clean slate. It’s been fun reflecting over what I read this past year and for many of the books I feel like the comic below…

However, I’m looking forward to the many new adventures I get to take and the new friends I will meet as I open the covers of new books (okay I really open the app on my electronic device, but you understand the meaning).

2018 book hangover here I come…

To everyone have a wonderful holiday season and thank you for tuning in.

Keep reading, keep writing and good fortune.

 

*Every category is totally and completely picked by Kay Daniels Romance and all opinions are my own*

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Rock Star Romance
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EXCERPT:

They twirled each other round, as they danced out into the courtyard garden, like I’d once danced with Ruby in the carnage and the flames – a kid let loose in the world. No conscience or battle for redemption. Nothing forcing me to grow up and face an adult world beyond my own will, wants and delights.

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It’s LIVE!! The LIFT 4 Autism Auction is open for bidding!

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Win a $25 Winner’s Choice Gift Card in the LIFT Celebration Giveaway!

The Lift 4 Autism Auction is a bookworm’s dream! Featuring hard-to-get, much-sought items from romance favorites like Nicola Yoon, Kristen Ashley, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Corinne Michaels, T.M. Frazier, Marie Force and more than 200 others in celebration of Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month.

Authors Ginger Scott and Kennedy Ryan founded LIFT 4 Autism a few years ago as a charitable initiative rallying the romance community around autism. All proceeds go to this year’s charitable partner Kulture City, who is doing amazing things for the autism community. Learn more at kulturecity.org.

Specifically, LIFT 2017 will benefit Kulture City’s lifeBOKS program, which provides families with free kits to curtail wandering, a common and potentially life threatening challenge. Proceeds will also benefit Kulture City’s tablet program, which provides iPads to improve communication for non and limited verbal children on the spectrum to families who cannot afford them.

Learn more about the mission of Kulture City and the dangers of wandering in today’s USA Today HEA feature here.

Watch the  lifeBOKS video:  https://www.facebook.com/AutismOnTheMighty/videos/1591316364511099/

HOW WILL WE RAISE FUNDS?

  1. Online Auction, featuring many of your favorite romance authors!

Browse all the amazing items up for bid here:  charityauction.bid/lift4autism (Must register to bid)

Auction Frequently Asked Questions: http://lift4autism.com/auctionfaq

Find the full Author list here:  http://lift4autism.com/contact.

  1. Make a financial donation through the LIFT Campaign.

DONATE here:  bit.ly/LIFT4AutismGIVE

  1. Buy LIFT Wear (T-shirts, totes, mugs, etc…)

https://teespring.com/Lift2017

LFIT 2017 t-shirt

4.  Buy the YA Fantasy Anthology Ever In the After for 99¢

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*All proceeds go to Kulture City!

Connect with LIFT!

*Subscribe to the LIFT mailing list at lift4autism.com.

*Join the LIFT Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/1705524696326889/

*Follow us on Instagram: instagram.com/lift4autism/

*Follow us on Twitter:  twitter.com/LIFT4Autism

The auction is LIVE until Friday, April 28, 8:00pm.

LIFT 4 Autism 2017 Blogger Blitz

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Romance authors, readers, and the blogging community around the world have banded together to help shine a light on families living with Autism.  Through the LIFT 4 Autism campaign we have rallied together not only to raise awareness, but to raise funds for this years campaign.

What is Autism?

A mystery to some. A way of life for others. A cause for all since it is now the fastest growing and most common disability in the US. 1 in every 68 children are diagnosed with Autism. Many of these kids will rely on their parents to some degree, depending on severity, all their lives, with estimated costs between 5 to 7 million dollars in services and care over their lifetime. Many of the services those living with Autism require are not covered by insurance. It is an expensive and difficult lifelong diagnosis to navigate.

This year’s LIFT charitable partner is KultureCity, specifically this great organization’s LifeBOKS program. The funds raised through this year’s LIFT campaign will go to purchase life-saving kits for ASD families.

What is LIFT 4 Autism and who is KultureCity?

Authors Ginger Scott and Kennedy Ryan started LIFT 4 Autism a few years ago as a charitable initiative rallying the romance reading community in April, which is Autism Awareness/Acceptance month. All proceeds go to this year’s charitable partner Kulture City, who is doing amazing things for Autism families. Specifically, LIFT will benefit Kulture City’s lifeBOKS program, which provides families with free kits to curtail wandering, a common and potentially life threatening challenge. Proceeds will also benefit Kulture City’s tablet program, which provides iPads to improve communication for non and limited verbal children on the spectrum to families who cannot afford them.

Details about this years campaign can be found at: lift4autism.com

You can get started supporting LIFT today:

HOW WILL WE RAISE FUNDS?

  1. Online Auction, featuring many of your favorite romance authors!

Find the full list here: http://lift4autism.com/contact. If you are an author and want to donate, sign up here.

Browse all the amazing items up for bid here: charityauction.bid/lift4autism

The auction will be LIVE and open for bidding Monday, April 24 – Friday, April 28.

  1. 1-Click the YA Fantasy Anthology Ever In the After for 99¢

insta 6

100% of all proceeds will be donated to this year’s Lift4Autism charitable partner. In Ever in the After, 13 authors come together to explore fantastical realms full of supernatural creatures, dark intrigue, and spells that may–or may not–be curses.

Buy links are below:
Amazon: http://buff.ly/2kM0D2j
Nook: http://buff.ly/2kM83SX
iBooks: http://buff.ly/2kLTS0j
Kobo: http://buff.ly/2kM2J2f

*All proceeds go to LIFT 4 Autism!

 

  1. Buy LIFT Wear! (t-shirts, mugs, totes, etc…)

https://teespring.com/Lift2017

LFIT 2017 t-shirt

  1. Make a financial donation through the LIFT Campaign.

DONATE here: https://www.kulturecity.org/lovewithoutwords/lift-4-autism/#lwow-donate

 

Don’t miss a thing this month!

*Subscribe to the LIFT mailing list at lift4autism.com.

*Join the LIFT Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1705524696326889/
*Support the LIFT Thunderclap Campaign: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/54946-lift-4-autism-auction

*Follow us on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/lift4autism/

*Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LIFT4Autism

Right Where I Need To Be

Most of my childhood I struggled with the need to blend in, I desperately wanted to be one of crowd. It didn’t help that my mother was one of the biggest abusers to my ego stating plainly that I should be just like so and so. Sometime in my teenage years it dawned on me that I would never be like the beautiful girls she wanted me to emulate; my hair was too red, too curly, I was too pale, and top it all off I was tall, uncoordinated and didn’t fit into my own body. I was the total package.

Thanks to amazing friends, who also were complete misfits, an amazing father who loved his weird daughter for all her strangeness, and many other puzzle pieces that thankfully fit together I made it out of those awful years mostly unscathed.

 

My adult years I’ve spent no more comfortable in my own skin, but I have spent time trying to shed the old coats of comparison. I have discovered the more time I spend comparing my life to those of others I feel that old sense of shame. Where I cannot live up to the sense of perfection that I somehow have deluded myself into believing I needed to feel whole.

With age brings wisdom. I do understand this more each passing year.

I’m understanding that I will never be perfect and only in my imperfections am I truly unique. A rose among the thorns.

I recall around ten years ago someone saying that very statement to me. She was referring to my bright orange hair standing out in a crowd of people. I still recall the embarrassment I felt at her statement as eyes in the crowd turned to me. What I don’t recall is if I thanked her for her compliment because my mind was playing all the things that people were probably thinking about me. Things I have no way of knowing even exist except my own insecurities, but in my head their looks were saying, “How dare she be a rose,” “She’s not a rose, SHE’s the thorn,” “More like a weed to be to tossed away.”

I have discovered children will humble you like no one else in the world. You see, as I struggled to find my own uniqueness, my children lovingly and unconditionally pointed out how awesome it is was to have a mom with beautiful red hair. For you see neither of them have it. They loved it when strangers told their mother how beautiful her hair was. Their unconditional admiration has helped me overcome one of my biggest comparison shame coats.

It has taken me a lifetime to realize that standing out, being a literal beacon in a crowd, just being who I am, is not a horrible stigma. I’ve stopped comparing myself to the expectations of everyone else and know it’s okay to just be me and I’m right where I need to be.

I may never have classic beauty. I may never be a millionaire (okay that has nothing to do with what I’ve been talking about, more of an observation but it still saddens me), I may never have a lot of things, but I do know there will never be another me. This I do know.

I don’t want to be just another voice lost in the crowd. I don’t want to do things exactly the same way as everyone else. I enjoy being me, although I wouldn’t mind being a little closer to a millionaire (okay I’ll let it go, for now.)

Be a rose. Be a tulip. Be a carnation. Let’s fill the world with a beautiful flower garden. Just be you.

~Kay Daniels
Keep reading, keep writing, keep dreaming.