The Word Nerd Reviews
The Word Nerd Reviews Team's April Top Picks!
Updated: May 20, 2022
Spring, Autumn, Easter Bunnies,
and chocolate everywhere!
So, April is gone, and May is at the halfway mark - how did that happen???
As Florence enjoys the last month of spring and looks forward to balmy summer days; I'm soaking up as much sun as I can in preparation for a chilly winter. In my little part of Australia, we didn't have a great of a summer, with temps rarely hitting above 30 degrees Celsius, so it's not hard to imagine winter this year will be a shocker! But, a cold, dreary winter is perfect reading weather, so silver lining is I'm looking forward to good books, warm drinks and looking at the horrible weather out of my window, safe and warm inside!
The Word Nerd Reviews Team hopes everyone had a lovely Easter, and that the Bunny was generous - I think we all deserve extra chocolate this year!
April was a complete disaster for me. I have regular migraines, but this month someone high up decided I should enjoy the experience regularly, so for the first three weeks of April I was almost completely incapacitated with them. This meant that my ability to read was severely impacted and I didn't read or listen to even a quarter of what I normally do. I was, however, extremely lucky that I enjoyed every book I did read this month, which also made the choice of 'favourites' very hard indeed!
I try to use this list to highlight books I haven't officially reviewed on the blog, but I can't let April go without giving a shout out to Holly Day's A Well Functioning Cubicle and Of Secrets and Wolves by Alice Winters and narrated by Greg Boudreaux. Greg's ability to capture the essence of Rowan as both a straitlaced (and a bit uptight) man and a crazy floofball snow leopard was pure magic! Also, Tal Bauer's You and Me and K.M. Neuhold's Taken By Storm, where both books helped make a really tough time just a little bit better!
I was also really lucky to discover not one, but two authors who made their debut's this year. I'm really looking forward to watching K.M Avery and Lee Blair grow and develop. Two new authors to watch out for!
Forrest's #Win (Recovery Road #1) ~ Jennifer Cody
Forrest's #Win was a spur of the moment read instigated by a post on a Facebook group. The post made me seek out the book, and then the blurb insisted that I read it straightaway.
That was the best decision I made that day!
Jennifer Cody is a new to me author, although I’ve had Bishop to Knight One in my TBR for ages. Forrest’s #Win was actually a last-minute addition to this books of the month post, but I knew I was reading something special by the time I was 25% through. The story is certainly a unique one, with a very small and intimate cast. The story revolves around Forrest, a beautiful soul who is also a unique individual. He is an absolute genius but struggles in everyday life, requiring nearly every moment of his day to be structured and strictly scheduled.
Enter Blake, who becomes his live-in PA, and they quickly form a powerful bond of friendship. When Forrest decides he finally wants to explore his sexuality, Blake sets him up on a hookup app. That turns out to be the biggest mistake, and Forrest is raped. Forrest spirals and clings to the only person he thinks is safe, Blake. Blake and Forrest's friendship becomes even closer, and their shared trauma leads them to a romantic bond.
Forrest's #Win is an intensely emotional story of overcoming trauma and guilt. The event leaves both Forrest and Blake with trauma they must learn to manage, but together they slowly get through it to a simply amazing happy ending. The stalking element was relatively minor, but it also packed an emotional punch when all was revealed. It was a somber tale in its own right, but had a beautiful resolution.
I won't sugarcoat it, this story is difficult to read in parts. Forrest's trauma and Blake's guilt are graphically described, but as painful as the journey is, it’s also one of healing. Jennifer Cody has sensitively portrayed the consequences of rape, and these are perhaps complicated by Forrest's desperate need for structure and a particular way of living. The author's writing style is lyrical in that you are swept away in the story, in tears one moment and smiling the next. Watching Forrest and Blake move from friendship to something more was a thing of beauty.
I’d highly recommend Forrest's #Win. Although it is emotional and gut-wrenching at times, it is not overly heavy or depressing. There is subtle humour, genuine friendship and romance, and a few laughs to break up the more intense moments. Forrest's #Win and Jennifer Cody's writing simply must be experienced.
Forrest's #Win is available as an ebook
Pitcher Perfect (Tap That Brewery #1) ~ Lee Blair
Lee Blair is a new author, having released her debut novel in January 2022. I absolutely adore reading new authors, discovering their writing styles and exploring how they scope out a story. Lee Blair shows a lot of potential in her writing, and Pitcher Perfect is a light, low angst story that is a perfect palate cleanser between more serious novels.
Her characters are well developed; Caleb and Austin are genuinely likeable guys, but they have enough shadow and definition to make them interesting to read. It is too easy to look forward to their HEA. The supporting cast is also actively present in the story with enough teasing of their personalities to make the reader look forward to their own individual stories.
There was one section of this story that I was just so happy to read. At one stage, one of the MCs is incapacitated with a migraine. I loved how this author treated the condition. Migraines aren’t a sexy disability, and in the very few instances they are mentioned in books, they are often treated as just a nasty headache. For anyone who suffers from them or has witnessed someone they care for suffer from them, you know that this isn’t the case; a migraine is a universe of difference from just a bad headache! Migraines are also highly embarrassing for the sufferer, especially if they occur when there is a performance pressure (which in itself is often a trigger) and the person is unable to perform. Admitting that you have been incapacitated by something that no one else can see can be a horrible experience. Lee Blair should be commended for sensitively highlighting this condition, and I was so happy to see a positive representation of this debilitating condition.
Pitcher Perfect was an enjoyable experience, and I’m looking forward to watching this author progress in her writing career.
Pitcher Perfect is available as an ebook
The Ghost in the Hall (Beyond the Veil #1) ~ K.M. Avery
I could not believe this was a debut novel! The sophistication of storytelling belies a first release.
The Ghost in the Hall was a complex and sometimes confronting story. I found the first couple of chapters, where the virus was described, very disturbing in this new Age of COVID-19. There were some alarming similarities, enough to give me goosebumps, but it is, of course, also paranormal in nature, which takes the parallels to our world away completely. It was just a bit of a shock at first, but it allowed a level of empathy in the reader for the struggles for the people of this world. It was close enough for us to understand but removed and fantastical enough to prevent it from becoming too realistic.
This unique dystopian world building has a lot of explorable potential. In a world where, if you survive the virus, you either walk away unharmed or are transformed into either a human appearing person with some sort of supernatural or psychic power, or into an actual paranormal being, the possibilities are endless. Vampires, werewolves, orcs, and fae are only a few of the creatures mentioned.
The story of The Ghost in the Hall was enthralling and sometimes quite confronting when hearing some of the ghost's stories and experiences. I never saw the ending coming, and I can’t wait to see how it’s played out in future books.
KM Avery has an engaging and addictive writing style and has the ability to craft a whole host of very different characters that you can't help love ….. or hate! I’m so thrilled I took a chance on this new author. Colour me impressed!
The Ghost in the Hall is available as an ebook
The Endgame (Atlanta Lightning #1) ~ Riley Hart
What a beautiful story about a man who thought he had to forgo love to keep his sporting career.
The Endgame isn't just a story about a sports star in the closet. It's about two men who are damaged in different ways, but find the path to healing with each other.
I love Riley Hart's writing, but this one grabbed me from the very beginning and didn't let go. Even when I was forced to put it down, I kept thinking about it.
This isn't a sports novel, it's a story that contains sport, but at its heart it is so much more than that.
It's a beautiful romance complicated by time, distance, and two professional lives.
It's about finding strength in each other and loving each other, no matter what.
It’s a beautiful story of love conquering all, and isn’t that just a message we all need these days?
The Endgame is available as an ebook and/or audio (narrated by Iggy Toma)
The Cutie and the Beast (Fae Out of Water #1) ~ E.J. Russell; Narrated by Joel Leslie
E.J. Russell captured my attention with the prolific works giveaway story, Cursed is the Worst. I loved that story, and so I sought out her other works.
I had initially bought the book and audio for Single White Incubus because, hello! Greg Boudreaux! But then I stumbled across a reading list for the Mythmatched World and discovered that I really needed to start with the Fae Out of Water series first. *sigh* what a hardship!
I’m a bit of a sucker for Beauty and the Beast stories, so grabbing Cutie and the Beast was a no brainer anyway, and since I'm a new convert to Joel Leslie, I also grabbed the audio.
Oh wow! E.J. Russell crafted a fantastic story and cast of characters that I immediately fell in love with. The comedy, the romance, and emotion blended together to form a timeless tale of love and forgiveness.
Add in Joel Leslie's superb voice acting, unique voices with individual accents, his wonderful snippets of improvisation, and his EPIC comedic timing, and it’s simply an unforgettable experience.
I laughed until I cried, then when Alun was telling his story, I cried for real. This story had all the feels, but it was so warm and so often funny that even though it was very emotional in parts, it was never heavy.
Cutie and the Beast is available as an ebook and/or audio
A Well Functioning Cubicle is available as an ebook
Of Secrets and Wolves is available as an ebook and/or audio (Greg Boudreaux)
You and me is available as an ebook
Taken By Storm is available as an ebook and/or audio (Iggy Toma)
Single White Incubus is available as an ebook and/or audio (Greg Boudreaux)
Forrest's #Win is available as an ebook
Pitcher Perfect is available as an ebook
The Ghost in the Hall is available as an ebook
The Endgame is available as an ebook and/or audio (narrated by Iggy Toma)
Cutie and the Beast is available as an ebook and/or audio (narrated by Joel Leslie)
I had been in a really bad reading slump for the past 2 months and not many books were working for me. But April finally changed that. April was such a good reading month for me and I loved so many books that I spent at least an hour trying to narrow down my picks for this list, and some very hard cuts were made during that process.
So for that, I just want to mention some of the books that I regretfully had to cut off this list, because there were so many good ones. So, we have Unholy Temptation by Lynn Burke, which I just loved and thought that it was so sweet that it almost melted my heart, Plaything by Colette Davison, which was so sweet and also so hot, it was just the right combination of sweet and kinky for me and Hostile by Nicole Dykes, which was just so emotional that it through me through a rollercoaster of emotions but I adored it.
This month was also the month where I read many dark romances, and my favourites of those were Diversion by Albany Walker, which was is a possessive stalker and the woman he loves and it hit all of my buttons and Ruthless Heir by Sasha Leone which is about enemies who get into an arranged marriage and who are very possessive of each other and I just had the best of time reading that book, it was everything I have ever wanted in a book.
Bad Wrong Things ~ C.P. Harris
Out of all the books I read in April, there was only one that absolutely shook me to my core and left me thinking about the book at any moment during the month. It was this book. This book refused to leave my mind all month, I would just be doing Something and I would randomly remember parts of this book and why I loved it so much. This book just really impacted me and it was one of the best reading experiences I have had in a while.
I’m honestly not over this book and I don’t think I ever will be. This book was just an experience for me, one that I don’t think will ever leave me. This book is just very special to me.
The concept of this book is one that I haven’t read very often. This book is about a toxic relationship and how it’s hurting the two main characters and how they know it’s not good for them, but they love each other too much to give up on each other so they try to change their relationship around. This concept just really fascinated me and it kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen next. This book just had my attention from the prologue, that made me cry, a lot, and it never lost me. I was just so invested in this story and the characters.
This book was just such an unique experience for me. I can honestly say that this book just ruined me. Many times when I was reading, all I wanted to do was to cry for hours due to how painful this book is, but it was one of the most rewarding reading experiences of my life and I'm so glad I read this book.
Bad Wrong Things is available as an ebook.
Yearning (Leather & Chrome #3) ~ Kiki Clark
This book is probably one of the sweetest books I have ever read. This book just left me with the biggest grin on my face the entire time I was reading.
I read this book during a super stressful period of my life and it was the perfect hurt/comfort read for me. It just gave me so much comfort and made me feel all fuzzy inside. This book was just such a lovely reading experience to me.
Something else I love in books is kink and I loved how well the kink was done. I absolutely adored the relationship between the main characters and I loved how the kink complimented their relationship. They had a very strong dom/sub dynamic going on and I loved how well it seemed to fit their relationship. Their power exchange was always used as a way for them to show their care about each other and how they were ready to do everything for each other and that really worked for me.
I also absolutely adored the relationship in this book. It was just so sweet and the main characters were always there for each other and also really possessive of each other and all of that really worked for me.
This book just hit all of my buttons and it worked so well for me. This book was the perfect distraction for me. Which is exactly what I wanted when I read it. I just had the best of times reading this book and I swear my heart melted due to how cute this book was, it was one of the cutest books I have ever read. The full review can be found here.
Yearning is available as an ebook.
Marriage is Murder (Sawyer and Royce: Matrimony and
Mayhem #2) ~ Aimee Nicole Walker
This is the second book in this series, that is also a spin off to the Zero Hour series, which I would consider one of my favourite series of all time. All of those books follow the same couple, through their lives and their different adventures. I absolutely adore this couple and I am always excited to read about their lives and to see them together.
One of my absolute favourite things to read about is an established couple that are the main couple of multiple books and who have been through a lot spending cute domestic moments together. There's just something about a couple that I know has been through hardship but made it work and is now just really strong and secure in their relationship that just melts my entire heart. This book is mostly just a murder investigation and Royce and Sawyer spending many small domestic moments together and I absolutely loved it.
This book is all about the small domestic moments and I loved those so much. I just love seeing my favourite couples spend time together and do regular daily things. I love seeing them make breakfast, take care of their dog and all of their other daily things. All of those moments are just the cutest things in the world to me and I love them so much.
I was just so invested in this book. This series always works for me and I knew I would like this book because I Always enjoy this author’s books and I love this series but I was just so into this book and I just loved everything about it. The full review can be found here.
Marriage is Murder is available as an ebook.
Shadowed Hearts (Broken Hearts #2) ~ Valentina
I have been slowly but surely dipping my toes into the world of MF romances lately, after not reading any of them for years, and this one was one of my favourites that I have read during that journey.
This book was such a surprise for me, but a very good one. I thought I would enjoy this book based on the blurb but I started this book and just fell in love with it. I just really enjoyed everything about this book and I was such in awe at how it handled and explored the main themes of the story. This book was just exactly what I enjoy in a book and it hit all of my buttons.
It’s no secret that I love books that will emotionally shatter me and this book did that for me. This book made me so emotional and I couldn’t stop crying for most of the time I read this book, and I really loved that. This book hit me like a ton of bricks and that just made the reading experience so much better to me.
I always love a good representation of mental health in books and I just adored the representation of mental health in this book. The way this was done just blew me away.
Shadowed Hearts is available as an ebook.
The Curse of the Mummy's Heart & The Shadow of the Count
(The Peculiars # 1 & 2) ~ Julia Talbot
I think that these books were made for me. The premise of this series is a monster movie but make it MM. These books take us on a journey through the lives of two men who are in love and their friends throughout their many encounters with movie creatures. These books could be described as an historical romance with paranormal elements, adventure elements which also has a romance, and everything about that really worked for me.
But mostly, it’s the subject matter of these books that made me love them. These books are all about monster movies, and they also read like one. This series pays homage to the classic Universal Monsters movies like The Mummy and Dracula, which also happen to be some of my favourite movies, and movies that I have seen many many times.
I am a massive fan of the older black and white movies, I watch them all the time and I adore so many of them. I even have tattoos in tribute to some of them. I adore the Universal Monsters movies, I’ve seen all of them, multiple times. I’m a massive fan of these movies so a book that is an homage to one of those movies was always going to work for me, I’m exactly the crowd for this book, and god did I love it. I feel like theses books were made for me and I adored every second of them.
These books were just so much fun to read for me because they read exactly like a movie, which made it super easy for me to picture the story in my head, which made the reading super pleasant.
The Curse of the Mummy's Heart is available as an ebook
The Shadow of the Count is available as an ebook.
Unholy Temptation is available as an ebook
Plaything is available as an ebook
Hostile is available as an ebook
Diversion is available as an ebook
Ruthless Heir is available as an ebook
Bad Wrong Things is available as an ebook Yearning is available as an ebook Marriage is Murder is available as an ebook Shadowed Hearts is available as an ebook The Curse of the Mummy's Heart is available as an ebook
The Shadow of the Count is available as an ebook
All books, except Cutie and the Beast and Unholy Temptation, are available via a Kindle Unlimited subscription.