My Favorite Books of 2017

It's that time of year again... 

It's officially that time of year when we narrow the books we've read during the year down to our Ten Most Favorite. But does anyone really enjoying choosing only ten? 

I don't. 

It's stressful, and I have too much empathy to exclude a significant book simply because I've reached my limit of allowed favorites. 

So, for the sake of my mental welfare and because I don't want an enjoyable book to feel left out, here are some of my Favorite Books of 2017--in no particular order:

Okay, I wasn't completely honest. There is a book I loved most during the last twelve months. 

Another lie. There's TWO! 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne is not in a genre I usually read, but I'm an idiot for waiting so long to pick this RomCom up. A little-known fact is that Sally wrote Twilight Fan Fiction before she ever penned The Hating Game, and she was one of my favorite FF authors. So, that makes me a double idiot for not reading her publishing debut the second it hit bookstands. 

You will love The Hating Game for its humor, its banter, its routine, and for its sizzling love story. The Hating Game is also my Favorite Audiobook of 2017.

My second (or first) Favorite Book of 2017 is God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo. God-Shaped Hole was published seven hundred years ago, so I'm a triple idiot for not devouring this epic novel sooner. Tiffanie has a rare talent for writing a story that absolutely embeds itself in your soul. There are few books I consider my most favorite ever, but God-Shaped Hole is definitely one of them. 

As cliche as this may sound, God-Shaped Hole will change the way you read other books. It'll make you want to be like Trixie, and it'll have you searching for Jacob Grace in everyone.  God-Shaped Hole is also My Favorite Audiobook of 2017. 

44 Chapters about 4 Men was one of the best books I read in 2016, and it introduced me to BB Easton, who's become one of my most cherished friends. 

She is not on this list twice because she's my bestie; BB is on this list twice because she can tell a motherfucking story, unlike anything I've experienced. 

Another little-known fact is that since reading 44 Chapters about 4 Men, I hold the coveted title of The First Person Who Gets to Read BB's Books Before They're Published. (Also not a reason why she's on this list twice.) 

BB writes vivid characters and vibrant settings. The nostalgia she induces is enough to make anyone pull out that box of old pictures and relive their teenage years, bad haircuts and regretful decisions and all. 

SKIN and SPEED are on my list of Favorite Books of 2017 because they're phenomenal. And because of Knight, who am I kidding. 

Oh, look. Tiffanie DeBartolo is on my list twice, too. 

For the sake of being transparent, I need to be honest and admit I haven't even finished reading this one. The paperback is currently sitting on the nightstand, waiting for me to get to bed to read the next chapter. 

Yes, you read that right. I haven't finished reading How to Kill a Rockstar, and it's on my list as Favorite Reads of 2017. This author is that good. She's so good that any of her future unwritten books are also on this list. 

I love myself. Therefore I'm on my own list of Favorite Reads of 2017. 

Just kidding. 

No, I'm not. 


Without Merit by Colleen Hoover is a given favorite. This is the second year in a row Colleen has made my favorites list. It Ends With Us was one of the most impactful novels I read in 2016, and Without Merit may hold that spot this year, too. 

Without Merit has a Jandy Nelson "The Sky is Everywhere" kind of vibe. It was brave and endearing at the same time. 

The Opportunist was my introduction to the world of Tarryn Fisher. Since I read the first book in the Love Me With Lies series, I've now read almost everything Tarryn's published and forced her to be my friend. She follows me on Instagram, so we're like, official. 

The Opportunist was an original story with just enough crazy to remain sweet. If you live under a rock and haven't read a Fisher novel, start here. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow is my favorite book in the HP series, and it's one of my Favorite Reads of 2017.  It goes without saying that I'm a four-times idiot for not reading these books before now, but better late than never. Do they need an explanation as to why they're my favorite? Since completing the series I've gotten a Horcrux tattoo, and Christmas literally threw up Harry Potter all over my house. 

But my HP Christmas is the next blog post. 

I listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks twice this year, and I know they'll remain on repeat for the rest of my life. 

The First Time She Drowned is a book I downloaded on Audible because it's narrated by Jorjeana Marie, who is my very favorite narrator. I'll listen to anything sh's attached to, and I am SO glad she lead me to this book. The plot isn't necessarily original, but my god, the characterization Kerry Kletter executed in this tale is top notch. 

I love books about dysfunctional, quirky families, and The First Time She Drowned delivers that. But it also gave me so much more. Each character has dimension and heart, both good and terrible, and how alive they are is how this book captured the title as one of my Favorite Reads of 2017. 

IT by Stephen King was a force to be reckoned with this year because of the remake of the movie, and because of the timeless awesomeness. This was my first horror book and my first King novel. Something I didn't expect was to be genuinely frightened by reading the book because I've seen the original movie dozens of times; I was wrong. 

There's a reason why Stephen King is one of the most successful authors of all time, and now I know. 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson came into my life when I needed it the most. There's something about being cursed at in a concerned manner that warms my heart. This book is straight to the point, and that's my favorite part about it. When I'm in need of a quick reminder that life isn't fair, but I'm still a badass, I can quickly find my favorite excerpts and face the day with confidence. 

If you're looking to improve your quality of life without the sappy "eat, pray, love" bullshit, this is the book for you. 

Little Big Lies is on this list because I watched the first episode on HBO earlier this year and couldn't stand the anticipation, so I read the book in a day and a half to quench my curiosity.  I admire anyone who can weave multiple characters and storylines together to make a cohesive and relatable tale, and Liane Moriarty did that and more with Little Big Lies. She takes her place beside Gillian Flynn as one of my favorite authors. 

Honorable Mentions: 

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
Crossing Swords by Mixie Edwards 
Misbehaved by Charleigh Rose 
The Breakdown by B.A. Paris 

Who Am I Even?

 Who am I even?

Is it just me, or are these stupid little catch phrases maddening? Bustle, Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, and Vloggers all over the interwebs use them.

I AM SHOOK, giving me life, AF (Example: I am hungry AF), turnt, fleek, glow up, and so on and so on.

When did it become the norm to take a perfectly good word and screw it up? I saw a shirt at Target that had a catchphrase purposefully spelled wrong (Example: Stahp, yaaaass, kewl). If there hadn’t been other people around, I probably would have roundhouse kicked the entire rack over. Life is stressful enough without wearing a misspelled meme shirt.  

I’m not a particularly deep person. Although, I do pride myself on having an above average compacity for common sense. My judge in character is impeccable. I’m a good friend—a loyal friend. And I have some cool talents, like keeping my kids fed and doing more than one load of laundry per week. But I’m no philosopher. I’ll gladly leave that to the professionals.

But like a true millennial, when I sat down to write this, I thought to myself, who am I even?

Who am I? And I don’t mean the outside crap that everyone can see. On the outside I’m kind of chubby, covered in tattoos, alone, and more times than not, I’m sleepy. What I mean is, how do I identify myself? Going down the list in my head, I’m old-fashioned. My name is Mary; I'm a straight (white-passing Hispanic) female in her early-thirties. I believe in universal healthcare and recycling. Reading is my favorite pastime, every Saturday you’ll see me at the soccer field dodging other parents, and I change my hair color quite often because I’m a seasoned hairstylist. I’m also a non-writing writer.

Well, I’m writing this…

Let’s go deeper than that, though.

We’re more than the things that we do, okay? It doesn’t make being a mom and wife any less important, but women are layered beings. It should be acknowledged. Am I right, or am I right, ladies?

Here’s a list of things I am which no one can see:

SHOOK. (Just kidding)

These are just a few characteristics of myself I fired off without thinking too hard. But I’m proud of them because if I had typed this list five years ago, it would have been pathetic. Maturity and self-discovery is one hell of a ride.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I cried on my thirtieth birthday, mourning the loss of my twenties. My husband wanted to throw me a party, but I threatened his life and avoided everyone who tried to wish me a happy birthday. What the fuck was so celebratory about turning thirty? Nothing. I literally came down with bronchitis and woke up with a single white eyebrow hair. The physical stuff only worsened in the three years since, too. My back aches, my memory is garbage, and I'm usually in bed by 9 pm because I can't hang. It’s ridiculous.

Let me tell you another secret: I’ve never been happier.

Who am I even?

I am the best version of myself.

There used to be a time when I dwelled on everything as if I was powerful enough to change anything out of my control. I was passive, subservient, and I avoided conflict if it made someone uncomfortable. I accepted bad relationships with family and friends because it was easier than the alternative. People didn’t like my personality, so I’d force a smile because it made them happy.

There was a time when I worked at a salon I hated because I wasn’t confident enough to move on to something better. I gave half of a story close to my heart to an undeserving brat who had no business writing a single word of it because I didn’t think I was good enough to do it alone. That same story was plagiarized by another shameless motherfucker who still has the nerve to write, and dare I say she’s probably more successful than me.

Who am I even?

I’m not that person anymore.

I hated turning thirty, but I am in love with my thirties. My back hurts by the end of the day, but I'm a fucking badass. My husband and I worked for everything we have and everything we've accomplished. I'm demanding and pushy and brutally honest because I refuse to be a doormat.

"Lions do not concern themselves with the opinions of sheep."

Mr. Elizabeth said this after I woke up crying because my feelings were hurt by people close to me, and it’s so damn true. Setbacks are part of the process, but I refuse to be that person who sweeps their problems under the rug because it’s easier. I’ve watched this behavior destroy people, and the cycle ends here. My children will know better, and because of this, my children’s children will too.

It’s liberating AF.

Don’t assume this brilliance was bestowed upon me the moment I entered my third decade on this planet. There’s plenty I need to work on, such as my inability to forgive, a total lack of organization, and the part I mentioned about being a non-writing writer. It would probably be a good idea to pay less attention to my phone and more attention to my family. I eat too much sugar, drive too fast, and loath to clean the microwave.

I’m not perfect, and I’m in no way trying to convince you I am with this post. During my trip to Seattle last month, I had the opportunity to see Rachel Hollis speak. If you don’t know who she is, do yourself a favor and remedy that. She’s inspiring, but she’s exhausting. Rachel was recently in a car accident, and instead of taking the day off, she went to work. When she was sick, she spent the day watching YouTube videos and taught herself how to braid. She coaches her kids’ sports team, runs a business, changes lives with her #90daychallange, and eats like a bird. I can handle about four days of her perfection before I want to troll her ass, but that’s usually when she reminds me she is utterly human by talking about anxiety, addiction, or the gross reality of being a woman in today’s world.

Bad stuff happens to you, me, and Rachel Hollis. It’s inevitable. What is in our control is how we deal with it. I decided to start small by not ranting on social media every time someone adds me to a group, not making my readers uncomfortable by including them in the dirty side of the business, or freaking out when someone sells my ARCs, pirates my book, or leaves me a bad review.

I’ve also accepted that while I’m no Rachel Hollis, people do look up to me. I’m open about my anxiety/panic disorder, writer’s block, and the basic hardships I deal with on a day to day basis. Some of you see yourselves in me. It’s something I think about anytime I’m online. It’s also something I take into consideration as my children get older.

So, who am I even?

I’m the abandoned, anxious girl who beat the odds and flourished despite the odds stacked against me.


Title: Closer
Series: Closer #1
Author: Mary Elizabeth
Genre: Contemporary Romance
 Cover Design: Hart & Bailey Design Co.
Model: Graham Nation, Love N. Books
Release Date: December 6, 2016


Gabriella Mason is damaged.

Teller Reddy is wrecked.

Misery loves company, and that’s exactly what Ella gets the afternoon her path crosses with Teller’s: the misunderstood premed student who instantly becomes her lifeline when she moves to Los Angeles, an attempt at escaping her heartbreaking past.

In the beginning, Lonely and Defensive complete each other. But in the end, their relationship is like broken glass—cutthroat and jagged.

Calling it off before they kill each other, Ella and Teller decide to “just be friends” despite the intensity that binds them together. It’s a delicate foundation rocked by tragedy, effectively destroying the illusion they’ve so carefully built.

Unable to deny what’s between them any longer, this is what happens when wrecked and damaged collide and close is still not close enough.

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Title: True Love Way
Author: Mary Elizabeth
Genre: New Adult/Coming of Age Romance
 Cover Design: Bex Harper Designs
Model: Samantha Pena
Release Date: April 12, 2015


The uncomplicated explanation: Penelope Finnel’s mind isn't to be trusted. 

It’s betrayed her.

Unable to escape the imbalance she was born with, waking up in the morning is a never-ending game of Russian Roulette. After moving to a new town, she’s afraid no one will understand the cloud cover above Castle Rain, Washington isn’t the only reason everything’s gloomy.

Until she’s introduced to Dillon Decker, her new neighbor. 

Dillion offers Penelope stability like she’s never known before. He shines a light on her dark days, and he’s determined to be the cure to her madness. 

But when friends turn to lovers, and one lover becomes a caretaker, how much can either of them tolerate before they're swallowed whole?

A story about epic first loves and the struggle to keep it sane.

The true love way.

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Free in Kindle Unlimited

Author Bio

Mary Elizabeth is an up and coming author who finds words in chaos, writing stories about the skeletons hanging in your closets.

Known as The Realist, Mary was born and raised in Southern California. She is a wife, mother of four beautiful children, and dog tamer to one enthusiastic Pit Bull and a prissy Chihuahua. She's a hairstylist by day but contemporary fiction, new adult author by night. Mary can often be found finger twirling her hair and chewing on a stick of licorice while writing and rewriting a sentence over and over until it's perfect. She discovered her talent for tale-telling accidentally, but literature is in her chokehold. And she's not letting go until every story is told.

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure."--Jeremiah 17:9

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Anxiety, Cancer, & What the F*ck is Happening to Me?

Anxiety, Cancer, & What the F*ck is Happening to Me?

“The uncomplicated explanation: my mind can’t be trusted.”

That’s the very first sentence from my novel True Love Way. Not everyone may know this, but I wrote the first draft of that book ten years ago, when I was only beginning my battle with an anxiety and panic disorder that I’ve grown to know well. If you haven’t read the book, I’ll give you a spoiler-free rundown: The protagonist, Penelope Finnel, like me, suffers from mental illness.

Like most tales, TLW was dramatized, but most of Penelope’s struggle originated from my own bouts with my traitorous imbalances. At the time, True Love Way was an unexpected outlet, lending a voice to an inner struggle I was incapable to describe otherwise. I’ve since learned I suppressed emotions from a not-so-steady childhood, but my disorder didn’t turn on me until my early twenties, after the birth of my twin daughters. It started as a mild casevery: my heart feels weird and why can’t I sleep?

Fast forward to today, and well, if you follow me on social media, you know it’s now like: WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO ME? I’M DYING. THIS IS WHAT DEATH FEELS LIKE. I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE WHEN I’M WITH YOU. (Not The Weeknd version, either.) PARANOIAAAAAAA!

And that isn’t dramatized a single bit.

I’ve recognized that my disorder worsens with age since the jump. In the beginning, I didn’t need daily medication, and now I can’t function if I miss a dose. Which is fine. Swallowing a little blue pill before bed is thoughtless at this point, but deep inside, I knew—I knew it was changing.

To most of you, I’m merely Mary Elizabeth, that author from California with bright pink hair, who pens semi-popular novels. But what you see on my Facebook page and my Instagram account is a persona I’ve carefully crafted for your enjoyment. We all do it. We know what filter makes our skin look best, what angle makes us look thinnest, and what boring/depressing/ true-to-life details to leave out of our posts so people like us. And that’s normal! Who wants someone on their timeline who complains about real-life dilemmas every. single. day? We’re here for the books and watered-down realities! Hooray!

If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting me at a book event, that means you’ve seen the “real” me in action. I’m painfully introverted, and my RBF (Resting Bitch Face) can scare away the strongest of wills. My sister-in-law joins me at every signing, acting as a barrier between my horrifying awkwardness and the readers I don’t mean to offend with it. Don’t get me wrong. I love my readers and appreciate anyone who takes the time to stop at my table, but my brain goes blank! If you ask me what my books are about, my answer will always be, “words.” That’s when my sister jumps in and gives the lowdown.

Some things should be sacred.

Ignore I said that for a minute and allow me to introduce myself—my real self. My hair is, in fact, not pink. I’m a mother, wife, daughter, and so on. My life is simple. I really do love to read books, most of my week revolves around little league games, and I have a mean case of RLS (Resting Leg Syndrome). Because of the restlessness in my legs and arms, I smell like muscle rub ALL THE TIME, because it’s the only thing that stops the spider-like feeling in my limbs when I relax. I don’t have a lot of friends, my dogs are precious to me, and I grew up without a dad.

I’m thirty-two years old, and it wasn’t until recently—like, last week—when I realized it influenced who I am more than I ever expected. Priding myself on my inability to “need” another person, I sometimes come off as cold. I considered this a personality flaw, but thanks to my new therapist, I now know it’s because I have abandonment issues running deep in my bones. The truth is, we all need someone. We need human interaction, and we need to be hugged and kissed and appreciated. Everyone needs a person to lean on sometimes, and for the very first time in my life, I know this includes me.

My husband and I have been together for fourteen years. His parents have been my in-laws for fourteen years. Mark, my husband’s father, has played the only stable father role I’ve ever had for the last fourteen years. I didn’t want it, but the man knew I needed it, and he gave me love without question. He literally asked me to move in before Jason (my husband) ever got the chance.

Okay, so here I am, nineteen years old with a father for the first time in my life. I’m awkward, I don’t know what to do, I crash into his corvette frame with my car not once but twice, and the man still wants me around. He’s grumpy, and I’m grumpy, and no one rolls down the windows in his truck, but I do! It’s like we were cut from the same cloth, and I eventually relax and let the man father me. He even asked why I don’t call him Dad, but I can’t. I literally can’t, because he deserves more than that.

Seven years ago, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, so he had it removed and was given a clean bill of health. Two and half years ago, it came back, but this time they said he only has six months to live. It’s in his brain, his lymph nodes, and in his other kidney. No cure. No hope. No options.
It activated those pesky abandonment issues, but at this point I’m still suppressing them. Mark has brain surgery, and it gives him more timetwo years. On the outside, he seems fine, and it’s easy to forget the only father who has ever loved me is going to leave too. Life goes on.

Now they’re saying he only has months left, and it’s impossible to forget that every time I see him might be the last. The pressure of making every interaction special, to make sure we say what needs to be said, and to take all the pictures because memories.

Cancer is the reason I’ve cancelled my out-of-state book events and won’t do any until after he’s gone. Cancelling events never feels good, and it probably doesn’t make me seem dependable. Using the good ol’ family emergency excuse seems to go in one ear and out the other because people tend to use it for everything.

“I can’t come to work today because I have a family emergency.”

“My son won’t be at school today because we have a family emergency.”

“I won’t be at the event I committed to and paid for a year ago because of a family emergency.”

True to form, I’d rather someone think I’m a flake than risk the chance of spilling my heart. Even if it does earn me a few cold shoulders. Some things should be sacred.

Insert writer’s block.

This blog post is the most I’ve written in four months aka the second indicator that I was on the brink of the worst anxiety attack of my life. In the eleven years since I wrote my first fictional paragraph, I’ve had uninspired weeks, and I’ve taken time off. What I never experienced was true writer’s block until now. The inability to even look at my computer without cringing is brand new to me, to the point where I unplugged it and put it away.

Look, I know Mary Elizabeth hovers in the gray area between “unknown” and “known”. I’m not conventional, my writing style isn’t for everyone, and I’m literally friendly with all, but I don’t consider myself part of the cool kids—which I’m fine with. There is probably so many grammar and spelling mistakes in this sorry couple thousand words, because I really have no idea how to be an author.

I don’t write for the funds because I’m a very successful hairstylist (and my husband makes the money, let’s be real) but the money I do make from writing is nice and I look forward to earning more using my creativity in the coming years. I pen books because I genuinely love it, so not being able to is heartbreaking. The thought of disappointing readers adds to my anxiety, and it’s a vicious motherfucking cycle that I desperately need to break free from.

Continuing the honesty theme, I will tell you this: I wanted to end this post by announcing that I’m back and Sever will be released soon and blah, blah, blah. But that’s not true. My hands shake thinking about opening my current WIPs, and I have a therapy appointment in thirty minutes that I desperately need to reset my mind to functional for another week.

More honesty: I know exactly what triggered the mental change in me. Everything I’ve talked about to this point was only the tip of the ice berg that ripped me apart. I’m not going to talk about it because somethings need to stay sacred, remember? Humans are complicated, but we are resilient, and I’ll be okay.

But I will end this by saying thank you to every single person who messaged me and reached out during the last couple weeks. Your understanding and solidarity is what lead to me a place where I did open my laptop to write this. I know a lot of people suffer with an assortment of disorders like myself, and it’s cool that we have each other’s backs. This is an amazing community of people. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

You are sacred.
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Crossing Swords by Mixie Edwards LIVE!

Crossing Swords
By Mixie Edwards
Coming-of-age MM love story
Available Exclusively on Amazon and KU for .99


Christopher Rush is not gay. 

But after a breakup with his longtime girlfriend, he finds himself crossing swords with his best friend Jeremy Pratt. Who’s also not … gay. 

It was a one-time thing. 

It didn’t mean anything. 

They like girls.

At least, that’s what these boys of summer tell themselves as they pretend it wasn’t more than experimentation. With only four weeks left before they leave town for college, Christopher and Jeremy awkwardly navigate their way through a series of unfortunate (or very fortunate) events. Often leaving them breathless, conflicted, and dressed in nothing but a pair of socks. 

Because socks are less gay. 

As their time together comes to an end, will Christopher and Jeremy accept that love doesn’t discriminate, or will they put their swords up for good?

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UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N4BSQ7W