Announcing the 2020 N. N. Light Book Awards - Winners #books #bestbooks2020 #bookawards #bookish



We at N. N. Light's Book Heaven read a wide variety of books every year. 2020 was no different. We read and reviewed over 1,000 books this year. As the year draws to a close, we award the best books of the year (December 2019 - November 2020). Each of these books were given a 5 star or 5+ star review by N. N. Light's Book Heaven and they are highly recommended reads. These are the winners along with our review for each book:


Action Adventure:

Demigods by J. Giambrone


I never expected to find a book that was so Avengers Civil War as this book is. The author has crafted a work that will not only resonate with Marvel and DC Universe Fans but one that deserves feature film treatment. Without a shadow of a doubt, Steve Arkin could become the next beloved Superhero around the globe.


The storyline is gripping and edge of the seat stuff. The reader is forced to try to reason with why things happen and is left guessing what will come next.


Beyond the rich majesty of a superhero book, this book is truly much more. There are a couple of underlining themes. One is the difficult path people face with dealing with extreme grief. The second is the scourge that is the world's worst evil superhero - childhood critical illness. That the author is able to tell the story of Steve in a way that shows will can overcome grief is incredible.


Wouldn't be a dream of every parent of a critically ill child to be able to transform them from near death to Supernatural in ability?


The way that Steve's life mission seems to ease the suffering of the innocent is so very touching and really may be the most important lesson in the book. The great superhero that these ill children need is a miracle cure that can give them back life.


Children’s Books/Middle Grade:

Frederick Fly-Catcher by Helen C. Johannes


Life is pretty good for Frederick the frog. He’s known as a champion fly-catcher and each day is calm in the pond. He’s good at avoiding predators like the hawk and the fox while being around his friends and family. But when he hears horses, he dives into the pond. He blinks in astonishment at a pair of blue eyes staring back at him. Danger! It’s a human! The queen has warned him about humans and knows nothing good can come of it. Or can it? He accidentally swallows a human ‘thing’ and suddenly strange things start happening. He’s forced to leave the pond and he’s frightened. It’s only when he befriends Grace does he discover what an exciting place the world is and how important it is to have friends you can depend on, no matter if they’re different. Will he make it back to the pond or will he keep exploring with his friend, Grace?


Frederick Fly-Catcher is a delightful story I read in one sitting. Children of all ages will love this one for its adventure and for the animals that talk. Frederick is an appealing main character and children will connect with him right away. There’s plenty of lessons to be learned here but it’s told in a creative way. The plot moves at a fast pace with humorous dialogue to keep the reader engaged. The writing style reminds me of the Frog and Toad series of long ago. It’s a quick read and something I can see children reading over and over again. If you’re in the mood for a feel-good story you won’t be able to put down, pick up Frederick Fly-Catcher today. Highly recommend!


Christian Fiction/Romance:

My Heart Weeps by Pamela S. Thibodeaux


Melena Rhyker's life is torn apart when her husband dies. Overcome with grief, she retreats inside herself and her home. No one can console her, not even her family, her best friend, or her faith. Months go by and it's not until she's accepted into a residency at an artist's retreat in Texas that she takes a tentative step out of her grief. She's unsure what will happen but puts her trust in the Lord. She rediscovers a part of herself she long thought dead. She emerges from the ground like a fragile flower but drowns in her grief when she returns home. A position opens up at the same retreat and she jumps at it. Two men show romantic interest in her but she feels like she's betraying her husband's memory if she pursues a relationship. Can her faith be restored and more importantly, can she open her heart to love again?


My Heart Weeps is a beautiful story about devastating loss and working through grief to embrace peace, love, and grace. My heart broke for Melena so many times while reading, I was emotionally spent partway through reading. But it's this connection with Melena's grief that makes this such an incredible story. Losing the love of your life and then rebuilding your life after such a loss is the main theme of My Heart Weeps. The characters in My Heart Weeps are fleshed out and add such depth to the story. Emotional, heartfelt narration kept me turning the pages. The ending made my heart soar and my faith was boosted simply by reading My Heart Weeps. If you're a fan of Catherine Marshall, you'll love this story. Highly recommend!


Contemporary Romance:

For The Love of You (Pacific Vista Ranch #3) by Claire Marti


Last summer, artist Dylan McNeill broke free from her shyness and had a one-night stand with soccer superstar Gabriel DuVernay. It was the best night of her life and Gabriel stole a piece of her heart. He signs a huge deal to play soccer in L.A. and they reconnect. The chemistry between them is off the charts but neither of them foresees their circumstances when a career-changing injury devastates Gabriel. When his mother suggests a fake engagement to give Gabriel a reprieve from his familial obligations, they agree. But can they pull it off? Dylan’s never lied to her close-knit family before and she wears her heart on her sleeve. The more Dylan is in close quarters with Gabriel, the stronger her heart beats for him. She knows heartbreak is imminent yet cannot help but follow her heart. Can Gabriel show her he’s in love with her and would do anything for her? Or will they walk away when the time comes?


For the Love of You is a heart-wrenching romance filled with emotional turmoil. This is book three in the Pacific Vista Ranch and in my opinion, it’s the best in the series. I connected with Dylan right away. She’s an artist and sees the world through an artistic lens. Vivid descriptive narration allows the reader to dive deep into both Dylan and Gabriel. An accurate portrayal of the daily ins and outs of a soccer star, including injuries, paparazzi, and forced retirement, make this a must-read. Claire Marti adds sublime dramatic tension between Gabriel and his father, Gabriel and Dylan, Dylan and her family as well as Dylan and Gabriel’s family. I found myself glued to my e-reader as I whipped through the story. The romance between Dylan and Gabriel is blistering hot with a fair share of misunderstandings. The ending made it all worthwhile, though. An incredible romance not to be missed. Highly recommend!


Cozy Mystery:

Murder: Double or Nothing (Southern California Mysteries, #3) by Lida Sideris


I have read some mysteries, I have watched and loved Xena and the first couple Tomb Raiders movies. Corrie is who I would want solving a mystery or battling warlords with a broadsword or would-be tomb raiders with uzis. This book was incredibly well-paced and written. I wasn't 20% into it when I was disappointed to have to stop and couldn't wait to start reading again.


Another point of acclaim is that the reader will have no idea who did it until it is exposed. This is the kind of classic whodunnit aka Agatha Christie. Of course in this book, the Marple is a high strung pretty girl who is as deadly with her wit as she is with a gun or her fists.


The plot seemed to have a daunting number of issues that had to be figured out but they were done seamlessly. At one point I thought to myself Corrie is like a Kardashian girl with little cash who solved mysteries.


The best part of this book is Corrie simply being herself. It is refreshing to read a female lead who is actually more dangerous the more danger she is in. It reminded me of a mystery-solving Buffy The Vampire Slayer. A fun and even funny read.


I laughed out loud at least three times at some of the best humor I have seen in a mystery. Superb read and highly recommend to everyone.


Crime Thriller:

Virtually Timeless (High-Tech Crime Solvers #5) by Casi McLean


When twins Sydney and Noah Monaco inherit an expansive property from an aunt they knew nothing about, they both agree it's a good idea to check it out. Noah volunteers and flies from Atlanta to Connecticut. While exploring the woods on their property he discovers a woman in trouble. What happens next sets the twins on a whirlwind adventure they never expected. Criminals are after the twins and the malnourished woman they rescued. Could this have something to do with her or the artifact Sydney discovers? The more Syd and Noah investigate, the deeper the rabbit hole they're plunged into. Can they stay one step ahead of the gang of criminals after them before it’s too late?


Virtually Timeless is a nonstop medical thriller filled with action, adventure, cutting-edge technology, fascinating characters and a pulse-pounding plot. The twins work well together and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The medical mystery and the criminal sub-plots are so intricately laid out, I got swept into the story. Twists and turns kept me whipping through the pages until the thrilling conclusion. When I finished reading, I had to unclench my hands and slow my breathing. A gripping thriller not to be missed. If you're a fan of high-crime medical thrillers, this is a must-read. I can't wait to see what's next for these twins. Highly recommend!


Dark Romance:

Reign Of Pride (Dark Reign Book 1) by A.G. Kirkham


I swear I am not trying to be hyperbolistic here, but WOW, what a great book!


This book is beautifully written. Reign of Pride flows seamlessly between two POV’s. The author has the innate gift to slip back and forth from present to near past with ease. This cannot be highlighted as an accomplishment too much. So many of today's authors’ greatest pitfall is trying and failing to move a reader through time. Seriously, this author could give live video chats on how to do it for money.


The story of Nero and Felicitas is woven with the mystique that is old-school organized crime along with romance. Reign of Pride grips the reader and is a page turner by the third page. Once more, my only regret is that I finished reading this book. I loved the ending so much, I read the last 20% twice.


The author has done another great thing here...the title states Book 1 but there isn't the usual cliff hanger. This is a story that is ready for another chapter but the reader isn't forced into the standard cliff hanger, which is a common cheap trick.


The romantic scenes between husband and wife are done in a classy fashion. The simple fact is husbands and wives engage in activities that might be considered shameless, if not married. I found the sections of this beautifully written, gentle and realistic.


The entire story is brilliant. I personally can't wait for the second book to come out. Surely, Reign of Pride is a bestseller in the making. I recommend it to every fan of mob books. I recommend it to every fan of action books. A fantastic book you will thoroughly enjoy reading.


Dystopian:

New Wave (The Islands Of Anarchy #1) by Jennifer Ann Shore


Mol, born and raised on Island Seven, has endured suffering and torment. After the deaths of her parents, she and her brother, Luca, manage to make the rations the Authority provides stretch, but it is difficult. Mol takes some initiative and sells what she can in exchange for food, coffee, and the bare essentials. On a dangerous mission to sell her mother’s beautiful necklace, Mol gets captured and thrown aboard a ship where the leaders of the Authority live. Mol gets thrust into the role of the Elite, beautiful women serving the Commander and his staff. Mol hates being a servant and yearns to escape. A chance encounter with the Commander himself offers Mol the opportunity to have her voice heard. The mutual attraction is immediate but is it real or just another illusion? There’s so much at stake and if Mol can keep her temper in check long enough, she might just change the mind of the Commander in how the Authority operates.


New Wave is an intoxicating dystopian gem that took me completely by surprise. I’m not a huge dystopian fan. I read Hunger Games and Divergent series when they first came out but soon lost interest as the market got saturated with copycats. But the New Wave premise intrigued me. Mol is an action/adventure feminist who kicks butt. She doesn’t tolerate abuse of women and speaks her mind. I loved how she protected the one woman who hated her guts on the ship from a beat-down by the unscrupulous General. I loved her tenacity for the truth, even if it meant losing the one man who she has feelings for. The hierarchy of the Authority screamed Hunger Games but with a difference: humanity. The Punisher was a complete paradox that caused me to read faster. The ending was explosive with plenty of action. By the time I got to the end, I wanted to read book two (coming soon). If you’re a fan of dystopian, you’ll love New Wave. Highly recommend!


Erotic Romance:

Until We Get It Right by Cadence Vonn


Dr. Luke Blacke has returned home and just bought a house in desperate need of restoration. When he meets Tony, his project manager, he realizes it’s Toni and the attraction he feels for her is electric. Everything about Toni checks every box for Luke, including a side of kink he didn’t know he had. As they explore their relationship in secret, out in public they are professional, especially around Toni’s egotistical brother. The more they’re together, the more Luke wants to be with her, and the harder it is to keep his mouth shut about her power-hungry brother. When the break-ins at Luke’s house being renovated amps up, he wonders what it is they’re after and worries for Toni’s safety. Can he protect Toni from the dangers closing in or will he lose the only woman he’s ever loved?


One of the things I love most about a Cadence Vonn novel is how riveting it is. No matter who the characters are, what’s going on in their lives or how steamy their love scenes get, I’m obsessed with it. I can’t put it down. The same is true for Until We Get It Right. In this story, we meet the third Blacke brother, Luke, and he’s by far, my favorite. Spending all his time studying to be a doctor and then in residency, he didn’t have time for relationships. He was too busy but once he meets Toni, he allows himself to explore the various kink she shows him. Her playroom is one of my favorite parts of the book. Trust me, you’ll want to get one for yourself.


There’s a lot going on in this story and I loved reuniting with the whole Blacke clan. There’s a wedding but don’t worry, it’s not Luke’s. There’re a few mysteries to unravel and an explosive ending. The plot moves at a fast pace with a nice blend of characters. The characterizations are impeccable, especially when Toni searches for her father. The characters are so life-life, they set up shop in my head for days. The love scenes are hot and have their fair share of kink but all tastefully executed.


If you’re looking to be taken away on a daring exploration of erotic romance with intensity and suspense, pick up Until We Get It Right today. Highly recommend!


Fantasy:

The Lost Link (Power of Fae, #1) by Michelle Bryan


Jette has been dealing with nightmares and visions since she was little. Now in high school, she's a tough young woman who can hold her own. But all that changes when she sees a dragon appear in the skies. Frightened out of her wits, she escapes school grounds to her mentor Bishop's shop. He grabs her hand and together they enter a world she never thought existed via a portal. This magical world is filled with creatures only written in fairy tales and one sexy fae prince. She discovers she's got magical powers too, if only she can figure out how to use them. Time is running out and with an evil fae queen pursuing her, she's got to face her fears and use her wielding powers, or else the world is doomed. Can she do what everyone thinks she's capable of or will she fail, leading them all into the clutches of the power-hungry evil fae queen?


Wow, what an incredible book! From the moment Jette appears, I was hooked. The characters, Jette especially, are so well-crafted, they leaped from the pages and into my heart. The descriptive narration moves the plot with a fevered pace. The conflict, mystery, intrigue, action, adventure and ending all blend to make this an unputdownable fantasy. The world-building is exquisite while the slow-building romance between Jette and Starke is heart-melting. Fans of Kelley Armstrong and Uncanny Kingdom will love The Lost Link. I can't wait for the next book in the series. Highly Recommend!


Fantasy Romance:

Solace: Fae Warriors Book 1 by Gini Rifkin


You walk into a (book) bar and order a fantasy romance and when you taste the shot you go WOW! That is what happens to the reader who takes a chance with Solace. The fantasy world created is very approachable for every reader. This author has the gift to make a fantasy very readable and the reader is never bogged down trying to figure out terms.


The plot is well crafted, and the action is intense. The romance? Muy Caliente!


This book could be described as a sort of Charmedmeets Andromeda meets Basic Instinct - The three sisters are incredible. To quote Tanner, 'The Warrior woman I always dreamed of,”' is an apt description.


The romance of Solace and Tanner was touching and enjoyable to read. Two totally different beings, drawn together and able to overcome A LOT. The book was very well written and crafted and leaves the reader wanting to know what happens next. A recommended book to any action or romance fan, especially those who worship girl power.


Fiction/Literary Fiction:

My Name Is Danny: Tales From Danny the Dog by Andrew Joyce


As one of the many readers who clamored for an entire book by Danny The Dog, I was baying at the moon in anticipation of reading this!


Let me tell you Danny didn't let any dogs lie. This book will have you howling with laughter and your tail will wag at the anticipation of reading the next short.


Witty, entertaining, and fully tongue in cheek, this is a great read. During this time in the world filled with stress and uncertainty, a light farce is just what we all need. I recommend this book to everyone on this planet. The author deftly skewers himself in a dignified fashion through the paw print type of Danny. Simply brilliant. This book is one that will have readers panting for more.


Something Monty Python would have loved to pen in their hey day, had they the inspiration.


Historical Fiction:

Northern Wolf (Northern Wolf, #1) by Daniel Greene


I have been seriously studying the Civil War for more than two decades. I cannot say how taken aback I was to start reading this fictional account and feel like I was reading letters from real soldiers, as portrayed on the Ken Burns’ Civil War. There was more than one time when I was ready for Shelby Foote to step in and give a forward to a chapter!


This work in one word: excellent. Superb is another word. One of the finest pieces of Civil War fiction written in the last 50 years.


The author used the history of the period to bring his fictional men alive. The reader quickly feels like he is part of the 13th.


I honestly think this work will be able to sit comfortably on a book shelf next to WEB Griffin's Brotherhood of War. Honestly not since Horatio Hornblower has a fictional character been so wonderfully fit into the historical record in such a sublime fashion, you forget you are reading fiction.


Certainly, one of the greatest books I have ever read. I recommend this book to everyone who is a fan of history or a fan of the underdog. Sheer brilliance.


I would have given this six stars out of five but am limited to 5+ stars.


Fantastic book.


Historical Mystery:

A Trace of Deceit (Victorian Mystery, #2) by Karen Odden


When painter Annabel Rowe discovers a Scotland Yard Inspector, Matthew Hallam, in her brother’s flat, she knows something is amiss but never thought she’d hear her brother’s been murdered. A valuable painting he’d been restoring is missing and Annabel knows it’s the key to finding her brother’s murderer. Teaming up with Matthew, they enter the underbelly of the art world. As they sift through lies, deception, and evasion, the investigation takes a surprising turn and puts Annabel in the crosshairs of a killer. Can she escape with her life or will she be the next victim?


I’m a huge historical mystery fan and A Trace of Deceit is a delight for the senses. Karen Odden plunges the reader into the past with historically accurate descriptive narration, colourful characters, an independent heroine, and a suspenseful mystery. The plot moves at a good pace with a few twists I didn’t see coming. The mystery itself stimulated my mind and I honestly didn’t figure it out until the very end. Well done. A Trace of Deceit is reminiscent of Anne Perry’s Victorian mysteries. Highly recommend!


Historical Romance:

A Hundred Lies by Jean M. Grant


What happens when a pretend Seer meets a real Seer in the heart of Scotland? Rosalie fibs about her 'sight', instead feeding lies to those who come to see her for a reading. In her mind, she's got a 50-50 chance of being right. But when she's dead wrong and a noblewoman runs her and her family out of England, they flee to Scotland. There, she meets Domhnall, a real Seer, and her lies start to unravel. When her dangerous past catches up with her, can she depend on Domhnall to rescue her or will her hundreds of lies be the death of her?


A Hundred Lies is truly an unforgettable historical romance, set in 14th century England and Scotland. Jean M. Grant has an uncanny ability to create characters that leap off the page. Her historical research is injected in each page as her descriptive narration is intricate down to the food and wine people eat and drink. The character Rosalie is such a fascinating heroine complete with foibles and good intentions. Her caretaking of her mother brought tears to my eyes. The romance between Rosalie and Domhnall had me whipping throughout the pages. The suspense subplot had my heart in my throat a few times. The ending made me smile. If you’re looking to escape through history, Jean M. Grant is your go-to author. Brilliantly written, A Hundred Lies is a must-read! Highly recommend!


Holiday Romance:

Mistletoe, Mobsters, & Mozzarella by Peggy Jaeger


Just when Donna thinks she’s seen everything in her family’s deli, she discovers a dead body in the walk-in freezer. It’s not a stranger on-ice but Chico, the deli’s delivery person. Who would do such a thing? Donna hasn’t a clue but she’s in for a shock when Tony Russo, the boy who stole her heart and took her virginity back in high school, walks back into her life. Only now, he's no boy but a full-grown god of a man. He’s returned home and is the lead detective on the case. Sparks reignite and before Donna can mutter ‘holy cannoli’, he’s working undercover at the deli. With her resolve melting faster than mozzarella on hot pasta, Donna finds herself falling in love with Tony, again. She steels herself against heartache but when it doesn’t come, she pushes him away. Can she see the love shining in Tony’s eyes and embrace it or will she be too late?


Mistletoe, Mobsters & Mozzarella is a yummy holiday romance. From the first page, I was hooked. Each chapter starts with some sage advice. Donna’s inner thoughts are snarky, witty, and saucy. Very authentic for New York. Her big Italian family, especially her mum and dad, add such richness to the story. I found it delightful to be ‘adopted’ into Donna’s family just by reading. As in most Italian families, there’s an overabundance of food. Peggy Jaeger incorporates lush descriptions of the food. Trust me when I tell you to read on a full stomach. There were so many times my tummy rumbled, and I craved a bowl of pasta and other Italian cuisine. The romance between Donna and Tony is classic second-chance romance but with an intriguing twist. If you’re looking for a romance that’ll make you hungry for more, pick up Mistletoe, Mobsters, & Mozzarella. One of the best romances I’ve read from Peggy Jaeger. Highly recommend!


Medieval Fiction/Romance:

A Winter Knight (Knights of Destiny Book 2) by Barbara Bettis


Sir Nicholas has lost all faith in women. So when he discovers a lady frozen in the snow, he brings her back to the crumbling manor he calls home. Questions crowd his mind but so does his protectiveness. She almost died in a blizzard without anyone to help. God knows what might have happened to her if he hadn’t gone out in a blizzard looking for her. Before he can question her, three men come looking for her. She’s frightened of Sir Rollo, her fiancée, and when he whisks her back home, Sir Nicholas must choose between love and honor. Even though he has nothing to offer her except his undying love, will she accept him and reject the lifestyle which she is accustomed to as Lady Clare?


A Winter Knight is a fervent medieval romance between a knight and a lady. She’s fleeing an arranged marriage to a man she detests, and Nicholas has nothing to offer her. No estate, no land, only his battered heart. The attraction is instant yet there are many obstacles between them, mainly Sir Rollo and Nicholas’ honor. The characterization in this romance is vibrant and the characters leap off the page. The setting is described so well, I could feel the warmth of the fire and the coolness of the snow as it falls. The plot moves at a quick pace and the twists kept me wondering what would happen next. But it’s the slow-burning romance between Nicholas and Clare which makes this a five-star read. Love conquers all but especially at Christmas.


If you love medieval romance and looking to be swept off your feet, pick up A Winter Knight. It’ll keep you toasty warm throughout the winter night. Highly recommend!


Favorite Character/Quote: Sir Nicholas. What woman doesn’t want a knight to sweep her off her feet and rescue her? He’s an honorable man with a fiery spirit and I fell for him from the moment he scoops Lady Clare out of the snow.


Memoir:

Walks with Sam: A Man, a Dog, and a Season of Awakening by David W. Berner


Rarely does a book talk about Thoreau and walk like Thoreau. The musings of the author as he walks his dog are really enjoyable to read. You don't know where the book is going to go as it is literally dog-driven. I am known as someone who loves the writings of Danny The Dog by Andrew Joyce. Danny really needs to meet Sam. For Sam, he is ghostwritten by David. This is Danny the Dog from Andrew's perspective.


The musings range from weather to age to mortality to politics. They include the idiosyncratic occurrences that are found within a block of one's home. This was a great read. It is possible if you are a hardline right-wing, you might be offended by this book. To be fair, you are probably offended by any life outside of 1930's Germany.


This book just flows. You have no idea what the next page will bring. I loved the random nature. The only constant is that Sam needed to walk and David wrote what he thought the walk was about. Funny, entertaining, thought-provoking, this book is the best work this author has ever done. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.


I recommend this book to every dog owner in the world. I also recommend this book to every armchair philosopher. You may be challenged by this book but in a good way. A terrific read.


Military Romance:

Home in Your Arms by Charlotte O’Shay


Retired Army 1st Sgt. Zane Blackthorne wants to visit his fallen brother-in-arms’ sweet hometown in Vermont. When he looks up Joe's sweetheart, Karla, he's unprepared for the sparks that fly. She's beautiful, smart, and incredibly heroic for all she's had to go through. He fights his feelings for her to honor his friend but it's getting harder and harder the more time they spend together. He knows she'd never love him like she loved Joe but his heart doesn't listen to him. Can he walk away from the only place he's felt at home, in her arms?


I first met Karla in Charlotte O'Shay's story, Forever in a Moment, and liked her immensely. She's a prickly woman but it's understandable, considering the loss she's had to go through. But upon closer inspection, she wants what every woman wants: to be loved. Zach is the perfect partner for Karla and I loved reading their love story. Home in Your Arms is a heartwarming romance you'll curl up to on a cold evening. The plot has perfect pacing without rushing the romance. The characters are so lovable, you'll want to spend all your time with them. I love visiting this series and Home in Your Arms is a superb addition. Fans of feel-good romances as seen on the Hallmark Channel will love this story. Highly recommend!


Mystery/Suspense:

Hide and Seek by Jo A. Hiestand


The McLaren series is one of my fave mystery series on the market today. This is the third book of the series I have been blessed to read. Hide and Seek is one of the best mysteries I have ever read.


If you want a classic British who-dun-it then this book is for you. I have read/watched more than 100 mysteries (probably close to 500) and invariably I can know who did it within 20% of a book. Hide and Seek had me guessing all the way. I never knew who did it until it was revealed. That is the sign of a superb mystery.


The author gracefully brings a new reader up to date with what is going on with the main characters. This is a superb read for a fan of the series and an easy read for a newbie. The twists and turns of the investigation keep the reader on edge. The myriad possibilities keep the reader excited. Truly a terrific mystery book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend this to every fan of mystery novels. A great read for everyone.


Nonfiction:

Stocks, Bonds & Taxes: A Comprehensive Handbook and Investment Guide for Everybody by Phillip B. Chute


A critically important book for these times. This is a must-have if you are a serious investor. If you are a dabbler or are yet to start your adventure in stocks, then this book may not be for you yet. The key aspect of this book is that you MUST own it if you have any significant play in the stock market. At this point, for most people with good portfolios, is they rely on an 'expert' to tell them what they need to know. This book changes that dynamic forever. This will be a must-own to every person who invests in stocks.


Phillip B. Chute has created a very readable book that is organized in an effective fashion. Each chapter lays out a clear definition of what is being discussed. The format for each chapter is similar and that allows the investor to key on the chapter that relates directly to his/her interest. This is not stock tips for dummies. This is an intelligently written book that gives the intelligent investor a chance to know what his broker is talking about...possibly for the first time.


Paranormal:

Metallic Red (The Royally Human Vampire, #1) by Jennifer Ann Shore


Half-vampire/half-human Mina Byron has lived her life straddling two worlds. Raised in a protected vampire household, she wants to embrace her human half and pleads with her uncle, the Vampire King of the region, to allow her to enroll in high school. He agrees and she's elated. Adjusting to life as a high school senior takes its toll on Mina but soon she's fitting in. She has a bestie and even a blooming romance with Charlie, a popular soccer star. When Mina reads about the discovery of five bodies with bite marks and their blood's been drained, she fears there's a rogue vampire killing innocent humans. Enlisting the help of fellow vampire, Theo, she searches for the truth. The more she's around Theo, the more conflicted she becomes. Romance in the human world as well as the vampire world is never easy, especially when you're the future vampire Queen of Appalachia. Will Mina embrace the role and bring her two worlds together or will she splinter under the pressure?


Metallic Red is a modern young adult vampire romance with plenty of subtext. Mina is a strong heroine and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her inner dialogue. Her gnawing hunger after her first day in school was comical. The world-building Jennifer Ann Shore uses adds a whole new level to vampire lore. It's totally believable and authentic. The romance Mina deals with is technically a love triangle but it is so well done, it doesn't overshadow the rest of the plot. The mystery is one that kept me guessing until the very end. Well done. If you're looking for a fresh approach to paranormal romance, pick up Metallic Red right now. Highly recommend!


Paranormal Romance:

Hidden Gypsy Magic by Tena Stetler


The Salem Wildlife Sanctuary is at the center of Gwen's life. Her gypsy magic allows her gift for helping animals in need to thrive but sometimes she needs help. Brock is a local vet and they work so well together. Their love of animals connects them as does their instant attraction. But between their passions for animal rescue and very busy lives, it's hard to find quality time together. When the house Brock has always been drawn to comes up for sale, he and Gwen take a tour. It's an incredible home and seems to be made for him. Gwen senses magic but nothing sinister. He decides to go for it and this decision propels not only him but Gwen as well on a journey neither of them expects. Brock discovers the house is full of secrets dating back to the Salem Witch Trials. Can he and Gwen solve the mystery and use their hidden gypsy magic to right past wrongs or will the consequences be too severe?


Hidden Gypsy Magic is an addictive read, start to finish. From the very first page, I connected with Gwen. Her love for animals is so sweet and endearing with plenty of humor, I found myself chuckling as I read. "I mean, who does that?" I remember Gwen from a previous book and she is such a great character. The romance between Gwen and Brock is subtle but rang true. Why? We're all mega busy these days and sometimes it's hard to make time for a significant other. The plot moves at a great pace with plenty of minor characters to interact with. The historical parts dealing with the Salem Witch Trials were so well done, my historical heart swelled. The emotional narration had me ripping through the pages until the very end. Did I mention it’s an addictive read? Good. If you're looking for a magical romance between two animal lovers, pick up Hidden Gypsy Magic. This is, hands down, Tena Stetler's best book to date. A must-read for all romance readers! Highly recommend!


Paranormal Suspense:

Ghost in the Machine by Katie O’Sullivan


The past 24 hours have been rough on Maggie Nelson. The break-in, getting shot at, her sister’s murder, her sister’s ghost, creepy cops coming onto her, and then there’s Jack MacDonald. He’s a state trooper and he’s investigating her sister’s murder. From the moment they meet, sparks fly. He makes her feel safe and protected. She vows to bring her sister’s murderer to justice. But when the bad guys come after her, she wonders if it’s worth getting killed for. Can Jack keep her safe with the help of her sister’s ghost or will she too wind up in a body bag?


Ghost in the Machine is a gripping paranormal thriller I couldn’t put down. I even dreamt about it. Katie O’Sullivan grabs the reader by the lapels and doesn’t let go until the last page. I love a good paranormal thriller but this one took me by surprise. It’s a well-crafted plot with multiple POV’s, a political intrigue subplot, a full cast of characters, riveting action, and romance between two lost souls. While its premise is suspense, I thoroughly enjoyed the romance between Jack and Maggie. The chemistry is off the charts but the great thing about that is the romance never felt rushed. The slow build-up had me whipping through the pages. The ending was a complete surprise. If you’re looking for a romantic suspense with paranormal elements, you’re going to love Ghost in the Machine. Highly recommend!


Poetry:

Harnessing Light by S.B. Goncarova


Rare is a book that can mean anything to anyone and still be a classic read. This is a rare book. With a style of prose and poetry not seen since Jim Morrison wrote his work, this is a book that dares you to explore.


It is almost impossible to define this work. That is the beauty of this book. This book is better enjoyed if the reader decides what the book means to them.


How many times do you pick up a book and are driven to an interpretation by the blurb or the jacket cover? Here the author presents thoughts, oft without clear cohesion, but all brilliantly presented.


This could be a book about longing; this could be a book about long-distance love. This could be a book about fighting injustice. This could be a clarion call for battling the climate crisis. This could be a book about dealing with parents as people. This could be a book about women's rights. This could be a book about nature.


Whatever you decide the book is about, you will be right. This is a great read if you are willing to just let each sentence take you wherever it wants to go. A book that would be a nice companion on a rainy day or on a day when you need to let yourself go.


Everyone should read this book as this book will mean something different to everyone.


Outstandingly original work, a true pleasure to peel back the layers like it's a Faberge Egg.


Regency Romance:

Courtesan's Wicked Desire (Improper Wives for Proper Lords, #4) by Clair Brett


Lady Sarrafinna Lennox is an independent woman. After losing the only man she's ever loved to her best friend, she ditched the Ton and became one of England's most famous courtesans. Wanting to retire to a life of seclusion, she agrees to house a known Italian rebel before he flees to Denmark. The money she will earn will bankroll her retirement. But when she discovers her past lover, Lord Kendrick Chase, is part of the plan, she doubles her price. He's the last man she needs under her roof. As the stakes rise and she's forced to 'pretend' to be reunited lovers with Kendrick, her heart wonders if fate is giving her a second chance at love. Can she forgive him for what he did years ago and more importantly, can she put her trust in him once more?


Courtesan's Wicked Desire is a feast for the historical romance reader. An independent woman, a spy returns home, reunited lover, danger, intrigue, murder, and plenty of sizzling romantic tension... a five-star winner. I loved Finna as a heroine. She's feisty and knows her way around the rumor mill of the Ton. Her independent spirit grabbed my heart from the very beginning and didn't let go until the final page. I love second-chance romance and there's plenty to love in Courtesan's Wicked Desire. The suspense adds a delicious layer to the plot, which moves at a good pace. The ending caught me by surprise a little but I simply adored it. Highly recommend, especially to Regency spy romance fans!


Romantic Comedy:

A Hero for Hailey (Love will OUT, #1) by D.E. Haggerty


P.I. Hailey has her camera out and is taking pictures of a cheating husband when she’s caught red-handed by none other than her high school crush, Aiden. He’s a police detective now and insists she tell him what she’s doing outside a motel room window. Add insult to injury, he doesn’t recognize her, even though they’ve run into each other over the years since her humiliating high school years. Aiden and his friends took pleasure in teasing her. She never forgot what he did to her and naturally holds a grudge. She’s in trouble and he’s taking it upon himself to ‘rescue’ her, like a knight in shining armor. As if. Hailey can take care of herself. But that doesn’t stop Hailey’s heart to thump out of her chest when he talks to her in that sultry voice of hers. She’s conflicted big time and she better figure it out fast because if she’s not careful, he might prove to her love will win out.


A Hero for Hailey is a hysterical romantic comedy with a snarky heroine and a charming hero. D.E. Haggerty takes the high school crush and adds a new spin to this very popular second-chance romance genre. Hailey is a snarky heroine with a big chip on her shoulder. She has a lot to learn about love and Aiden is more than willing to be her teacher. The witty sparring between these two had me laughing hard. The dialogue is fresh, modern with plenty of sarcasm. The romantic tension is layered throughout the plot and had me whipping through the pages. I finished this in one sitting. Yes, I couldn’t put down this gem of a romance. If you love snarky, independent heroines, you’ll love A Hero for Hailey. Highly recommend!


Romantic Fiction/Thriller:

Tears of the Wolf (Hotel LaBelle, #4) by Sharon Buchbinder


Chief of Tribal Police Jacob Graywolf is overwhelmed by the number of Indigenous women gone missing or murdered. Does he have a serial killer on the reservation? He's so thankful for the help when the FBI sends help but there's something about FBI Special Agent Zena Adalwolf which unnerves him. They connect right away, and this scares him. He tries to keep their relationship purely professional, but she pushes him past his limits. Tracking down the serial killer is difficult, but Zena and Jacob have a secret weapon: their inner wolves. The clock is ticking at a rapid pace and they must find the killer before they strike again. Can Jacob and Zena submit to their wolfish desires and realize they're stronger together or will they both wind up dead?


Tears of the Wolf is one of the best serial killer thrillers I've ever read. It's a multi-layered plot with paranormal shifters plus a romance. The theme of missing and murdered Indigenous women is ripped from the headlines and Sharon Buchbinder keeps the reader in suspense from start to finish. The romance between Zena and Jacob is simply wonderful. I loved the push and pull between these two. The plot moves at a natural flow, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Told from multiple POV's, the reader gets an inside glimpse into all facets of the story. Sharon Buchbinder is a brilliant writer and her intricate narration pulls the reader into the story. Hands down, this is the best book Sharon Buchbinder has written. If you're looking for a paranormal thriller, you've got to read Tears of the Wolf. Highly recommend!


Romantic Suspense:

After the Curtain Call by Nancy E. Polin


There’s nothing Amy Ross loves more than acting on stage, even if it is to a smattering of people in her town’s theater. Sure, it’s run-down but she loves it. When Ollie, the owner of the theater introduces her to his new business partner, Thomas, sparks fly. She tries her hardest to ignore her feelings for Thomas but she can’t shake them. He is a patient man and is willing to wait. He even befriends her son Aiden to gain her affection. But Amy doesn’t trust men, not anymore. She’s haunted by a dark past that suddenly resurfaces. Thomas offers an escape for her and Aiden but can she trust him when he confesses he loves her? Has she put his life in danger, too? What happens after the curtain call?


After the Curtain Call is a sublime romantic suspense. From the first page, I connected with Amy and her loneliness. The chemistry between Amy and Thomas sizzles. The characters are so relatable, it was easy to stay in their world. The plot moves at a steady pace with plenty of twists and turns. What I love most, though, is the setting. I’m a huge theater buff and the author takes the reader behind the curtain and stage to what it’s really like. The ending had my heart in my throat. A brilliant romantic suspense and one I highly recommend!


Science Fiction:

Solar Warden by Peter Fuller


This is the finest sci/fi book I have ever read. From the first page on, this book is a page-turner of the first-rate. I literally didn't want to put it down and needed to see what was going to happen next.


The author brings readers up to speed with complete understanding in a brilliant fashion. The CAG has to explain to the new recruit exactly what the Solar Warden program is and what is going on. In doing so, the reader gets the necessary explanations that make reading this book seamlessly. There is no need for a boring premise...the author creates the story to draw the reader in.


There are a lot of comparables here to several parts of the story. There is more than a little Sands of Iwo Jima - you follow the training intensely before intense combat. There are parts Matrix and parts Star Trek TNG. None of these parts are bad. This book has no flaws at all.


The only issue I had was as I was binge reading, I saw I was getting closer to the end of the book and that made me more than a little sad! The lead character - Scarecrow - is beyond fantastic. An airman who may have issues but those issues actually make him an incredible pilot. The snakeheads will rue the day Scarecrow's F-35 crashed.


The action scenes had me cheering aloud. The conflicts, drama, and suspense all make this book incredible.


I was a little disappointed that there will be a part two because I am old school and love a one and done that is done this well.


If I could, I would give this book 5,000 stars. I recommend this book to every single person on the planet. This should be made into a series or a movie. Simply one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure to read. Buy this book.


Science Fiction Romance:

Pets in Space 5 (Pets in Space, #5) by Pauline Baird Jones, Veronica Scott, et.al


I'm a huge science fiction romance reader and I've been itching to read this new installment. So far I've only read two stories (Return Cruise by Veronica Scott and General's Holiday by Pauline Baird Jones) but the whole anthology is superb.


This review is for General's Holiday by Pauline Baird Jones:


“What would Picard do?”


This is the question General Halliwell asks himself when Naxe pleads for his help. The mission is complex and rife with peril, though ironically no firepower is required. He’ll need to use all his negotiating skills to achieve the ending Naxe and the others crave. But when he discovers Naxe’s giant frog sidekick is none other than the pilot, he realizes this mission is going to be an adventure of a lifetime. Can he embrace his inner Picard and bring peace to the region all while losing his heart to the beautiful Naxe or is he in over his head?


General’s Holiday is such a wonderful science fiction romantic adventure, you’d think Gene Roddenberry wrote it. On many levels, General’s Holiday is an ode to Picard. Halliwell is equal parts Wes and Riker. He’s charming around Naxe with self-effacing inner thoughts yet well-versed in the space travel rules and regs. I connected with him right away. The chemistry between him and Naxe is immediate yet grew into romance as the plot progressed. It didn’t feel rushed or take over the plot, as some do. The mission is front and center with the romance secondary. Pauline Baird Jones is a gifted author and has penned a story any sci-fi fan would love. Plenty of action and intrigue, not to mention witty dialogue, makes this a can’t put down gem. Highly recommend!


This review is for Return Cruise by Veronica Scott:


Security Officer Trevor Hanson enjoys his position abroad the Nebula Zephyr. Sure, he still suffers from PTSD from his time in the military but working helps him deal with any triggers and attacks. When Captain Fleming tasks him to oversee security for Gianna Nadenoft, one of the few survivors from the Nebula Dream disaster decades ago, he doesn’t know if he’s the right man for the job. Gianna herself suffers from PTSD but this is important to her. She’s traveling to attend her brother’s wedding and it’s the first time she’s left the safety of her home in several years. Not only that, she’s intrigued to revisit the ship designed so much like the one she was on so long ago. The more these two are together, the stronger their bond grows and love blooms. Can Trevor help Gianna overcome her fears while helping himself at the same time? Is love the healing cocktail this couple needs on this return cruise?


Return Cruise is a heartwarming science fiction romance I couldn’t put down. I always enjoy spending time in this series, visiting with new and old favorite characters. From the very beginning, my heart went out to Trevor. He’s had a hard time dealing with his PTSD but upon first meeting Gianna and her hound, he finds a comforting peace. The slow-burning romance between Trevor and Gianna fed my romantic soul. I found myself thinking this has to be a twist on the Titanic story from long ago. Return Cruise is such an engrossing story with plenty going on, I read it in two sittings. When the ending came, I was sad to leave the ship and this couple. If you’re looking for an escape, hop aboard and read Return Cruise. Highly recommend!


Scottish Romance:

Deception and Desire (MacNaughton Castle Romance, #1) by Aubrey Wynne


Fenella Franklin is taller than most young ladies of the Ton and subject to their ridicule, and even a cruel wager. When she takes matters into her own hands, her social-climbing mother explodes in anger. Fenella escapes to Scotland to stay with her grandmother. When she sees an advertisement in the newspaper for an accountant, she applies in person. She’s always had a talent for numbers and after a bit of persuasion, she lands the job at the mill. From the moment she sets eyes on handsome Lachlan, one of the men who manage the mill, fire sizzles in her veins. She’s unsure why he lavishes his attention on her but for the first time in her life, she feels beautiful and feminine. When a small omission turns into a huge blow-up, Fenella’s heart shatters. Can she beg for Lachlan’s forgiveness or has she lost her only chance at true love?


Deception and Desire is the latest release by Aubrey Wynne and there are so many great elements in it including a sweeping romance between an intelligent English heroine and a brash Scottish man, historically accurate events serving as a catalyst to the plot, a social-climbing mother, a kind-hearted father, humorous dialogue and so much more. The characters leap from the pages and come alive. I connected with shy Fenella right away and my heart leaped in my throat several times. Mrs. Douglas is a wonderfully portrayed Scottish grandmother. The MacNaughton men are larger than life and their voices swirled around me as they talked. From beginning to end, Deception and Desire is a heart-wrenching read about striking out on your own and not giving in to familial expectations. If you’re a fan of Scottish Regency, this is a must-read. I can’t recommend this book enough!


Self-Help/Motivation/Inspiration:

Living Lightly: Bring Happiness and Calm to Your Everyday by Dale Curd and Kimberly Alexander


What better way to start 2020 and a new decade than with a devotional? Living Lightly is a book aimed at offering insight and reflection as you go about your day. Each day’s entry is like a stepping off point with a quote to mull over, relatable ways to improve yourself with whatever is going on and easy-to-follow techniques to add happiness and joy to your life. Dale and Kim are experienced therapists, yet they don’t preach like many other professionals in their field. Instead, they share their wisdom on what they’ve learned with a gentle spirit and a calm demeanor. Start the year off on the right foot and embrace a peace you never thought you had inside.


From the very first page, I connected with Dale and Kim. Their words soothed my spirit and I found the stress of the day slipping off my burdened shoulders. Devotionals are not alike, and this is one of the best I’ve read. Blending meditation, self-help, and compassion, Living Lightly allows the reader to discover areas of their personality they never knew existed. Focusing on self-care instead of changing the world allows the reader to gain true personal growth. Each of us deals with heartache, failure, and loss but the key to living a calm and joyful life is letting go and being in the moment. Brilliant! Highly recommend it to anyone.


Favorite Character/Quote: “We lighten when we feel compassion for everyone who struggles to live. And we are enlightened when we breathe in self-compassion.”


Short Stories:

Tears and Crimson Velvet by A.L. Butcher


Someone haunts the Opera House and while Madam Giry tries to keep her distance when the hauntings turn to murder, she knows she must act. Will she finally break her silence about what is going on or will she do what is necessary to protect those she loves?


For fans of Phantom of the Opera, this is a must-read. A.L. Butcher weaves a masterful story filled with emotion, angst, mystery, and murder. I do believe Gaston Leroux would consider this variation on his immortal tale a wonderful addition to his work, The Phantom of the Opera.


In the original story, Madam Giry is a mysterious character and the reader is left wondering whose side she’s on. Christine’s? Erik’s? In this tale, Butcher takes us inside the mind of Madam Giry and what she knows about the hauntings and the Phantom himself.


A brilliant short story that tore my heart out. Highly recommend!


Steampunk Romance:

Cross Checking: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure by Laura Strickland


This is an incredible book that has an original place in the steampunk genre. There is just a bit of a wry smile that comes when you realize some of the steam engines that are alive are a bit punk like so there is a steampunk aspect to them.


The author cannot be lauded enough for the first-rate job of accurately portraying hockey in the late 19th century. That game was barely the bones of the game currently being played but its character gives a lot of opportunity for artistic and author license. The intense violence of the game, the marauding fans, the backers who will lie/cheat/steal for a win. This type of hockey makes the movie Slapshot look like a tea party.


The character Maddie is a brilliant creation and is given a storyline that is as rich in drama and conflict as it is in romance and family responsibility. Very readable, this book keeps a reader on edge. I actually dreamed about the book over and over just last night before I finished it today. This book will stick with a reader.


Excellent for fans of the steampunk genre, good for fans of robotics, sci fi, hockey and accurate historical fiction.


Supernatural Thriller:

The List: Alyssa's Revenge (Deep State Mysteries Book 2) by Casi McLean


Wyatt Rose thought the worst thing he had to deal with was his sister, Alyssa, being murdered by a Deep State operative. While working for the New Patriots with his ex-fiancé Harper, he discovers a drug and human trafficking cartel right in his own backyard. Suddenly, he and Harper are working closer than they did when fighting in Afghanistan. When Harper is kidnapped, feelings long buried unfurl from deep inside. Can his sister help bring down the cartel from the great beyond or will Alyssa's rage put them all in mortal danger?


The List: Alyssa's Revenge takes on two very important criminal activities threatening our society: drug trafficking and human slavery. Casi McLean takes us on an incredible journey through the underbelly of society. Showing us what happens when a fifteen-year-old gets kidnapped and caught in the web of human trafficking with no filters makes this a must-read. The characterizations are spot-on and the evil oozes from the pages. Characters so real and accurately portrayed, you'd think you were experiencing it for yourself. The plot moves at a quick pace with plenty of action to appease any thriller fan. The supernatural sub-plot really spoke to me and I couldn't put it down. I can't wait for the next book in the series. Highly recommend!


Favorite Character/Quote:


Wyatt. My heart goes out to him with all he has to deal with. His honesty when talking about what a soldier who comes back injured has to go through is raw, edgy and spot-on. His fierce love for his sisters as well as Harper is heart-wrenching. A hero every woman will swoon over.


Sweet Romance:

Rock House Grill (Impact Series #1) by D.V. Stone


In one devasting moment, Shay’s life changes. Catching her husband cheating on her while she’s on duty as an EMT propels her to start over. She loves helping people and when an opportunity arises, she jumps at the chance to work at Rock House Grill, owned by hotshot tv chef Aden House and his sister. She works hard and gains the respect of Aden. When the head chef has to leave, Shay steps in as the restaurant’s chef for the night. He’s a good teacher, though, and she gets hands-on training as a chef. It would be easy for her to fall in love with Aden but her heart has taken one too many beatings. She slams walls up around her heart, refusing to allow Aden in. Can these two battered souls find comfort in each other’s arms or is love not on the menu at Rock House Grill?


Rock House Grill is an incredibly uplifting story about slowing down, savoring the little miracles in life and taking a chance on love. It’s what I would call an inspirational romance but it’s so much more than that. There’s a mystery sub-plot as well as important life lessons woven throughout. The characters are likable, for the most part, and the more I read, the more I grew attached to both Shay and Aden. Man alive, there was a lot of drama and subterfuge with exes. Talk about wickedness abounding. But like in life, Shay and Aden have a multitude of obstacles to overcome in their own lives before they can come together. Their fortitude in life and love inspired me. The plot moved at a good pace with a few surprises thrown in made Rock House Grill an unputdownable read. The culinary details were 100% accurate and added depth to the story. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this romance and it’s one of the better books I’ve read this year. Highly recommend!


Favorite Character/Quote: Shay. She’s such a fascinating character. No matter how much life kicks her to the ground, she gets back up and moves forward. Her inner strength adds to her beauty and it’s easy to see why Aden falls in love with her. Shay’s a heroine every woman will love, faults and all.


Time Travel/Time Travel Romance:

To Weave a Highland Tapestry by Mary Morgan


Gwen Hywel is a talented weaver and when she is hired by the MacFhearguis clan to create a tapestry, she’s thrilled. While on a ride around the property, she discovers more about a family curse and with a tug on a thread, everything turns black. She awakens in the past and must find her way back, somehow. But when she meets Patrick MacFhearguis, her heart is conflicted. Even though she yearns for her previous life, her heart craves to be close to him. Will she choose love and break the curse or will she turn her back on destiny?


To Weave a Highland Tapestry is a beautiful holiday romance set in 13th century Scotland. The Fae are hard at work bringing together scarred souls, no matter which century they reside in. Gwen and Patrick are lonely yet will never admit it. When they first meet, they spar verbally but like most people, they are scared to fall in love. Past hurts rear their ugly heads and the couple must communicate better to overcome the obstacles. The romance is slow-burning but so worth it. I loved watching them dance together and apart towards their happy ending.


The best thing about To Weave a Highland Tapestry, though, is the Dragon Knights and their families. I loved catching up with Adam and Meggie with their children in modern-day and all the Dragon Knights and their families in the 13th century. It was like a family reunion and I became part of the clans, at least for a little while.


I also loved the medieval Mid-Winter traditions and customs Mary Morgan weaved throughout the story. It transported me back in time and I imagined pulling my husband into an alcove for a kiss.


If you love time-travel romance with independent heroines and virile heroes, you’ll love this book. Fans of Outlander will love this one.


Favorite Character/Quote: Gwen. From the moment she appears her honest reactions to everything she goes through rings true. Her time-travel adventure is impossible yet she’s experiencing it. Her lightness contrasts Patrick’s darkness and together they bring out the best in each other. One of my favorite Mary Morgan heroines.


Urban Fantasy:

Midnight Temptation by Shari Nichols


The last person Gillian Howe expects to see at her supernatural speed dating event is Detective Garrett Mulroney. Sure, he’s a hot vampire but whenever they’re in close contact, all she wants to do is throttle him. Later, when she and her cousin arrive at a party thrown by a wealthy vampire, things go from bad to worse when her cousin is bitten and then kidnapped by the Du Sang Brotherhood. She’ll do anything to free her cousin from the thrall of the Du Sang Brotherhood and partners up with Garrett. They pretend to be a couple to bring down the Du Sang Brotherhood but when the faking ends and a real attachment takes shape, will they be able to embrace true love or will they go their separate ways when they take down the Brotherhood?


Midnight Temptation is such a fantastic enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance filled with suspense, intrigue, vampire lore and killer sexual tension. From the very first page, I connected with Gillian. She’s such a fun heroine with plenty of foibles and self-effacing inner dialogue. The romance between Gillian and Garrett is slow-building with plenty of angst. What makes Midnight Temptation one of the best paranormal romances I’ve read in a long time is the vampire lore Shari Nichols creates for this story. Not only does it make sense, historically, but it is completely original. The plot moves at a fast pace with a few shocking twists I didn’t see coming. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy with steamy romance, you’ll enjoy Midnight Temptation. Highly recommend!


Vintage Romance:

Always, Almond Fudge by Charlotte O’Shay


This is another incredible story in the One Scoop or Two series. In my view, this one is spot-on perfect. The author has so many obvious gifts that are on display in this writing. She subtly captures the modern-day teen in simple terms. Charlotte O’Shay also is able to switch between two different time periods flawlessly. I was reminded of how the movie The Princess Bride did that. It is in that flowing whimsical fashion that the author carries the story.


The story of the great grandparents’ meeting in the tumultuous days of 1941 is very well written. The author has a gift for romantic storytelling that many attempt, but few successfully create. A fun, charming, romantic tale. One that will appeal to every reader of the One Scoop or Two series. A superb beach read. A great fall read, a wonderful winter read and a fantastic spring read. This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good romance. The ending is a slice of heaven., with almond fudge ice cream on the side!


Western Romance:

Letters and Lies by Colleen L. Donnelly


"Don't come, I can't marry you." Louise Archer's heart is crushed when she receives a telegram from her intended, a man who she's never met but fell in love with via his letters. Does that stop Louise? No, she boards a train west to Kansas determined to convince Jim to marry her. But her well-laid plans unravel when she meets Everett on the same train. She gives an alias while telling lie after lie. As her lies snowball, she finds herself in a myriad of trouble. Can she sort everything out and escape the noose to find her open door or will she suffer the consequences or her lies?


Letters and Lies is a heart-wrenching story about one woman's quest for a happily ever after. Colleen L. Donnelly takes on the classic mail-order bride trope and adds a new element to it. The descriptive narration told from Louise's POV has a poetic quality to it. When she's thinking to herself while doing something mundane, her recollection of one of Jim's letters adds a depth to the plot. I connected with Louise right away and found her spunkiness refreshing. The suspenseful subplot had me whipping through the pages. There's plenty of twists and turns I didn't see coming. The ending tugged at my heartstrings. If you're looking for a historical western romance with larger than life characters and a whip-smart romantic at heart heroine, you'll love Letters and Lies. Highly recommend!


Women’s Fiction:

Wild Heart by Carolyn Haley


I was expecting a romance with horses. That characterization of this incredible book doesn't do this work justice. This is a book about life. Yes, there is romance and it is the world of horses but it is so much more.


I couldn't help but think I was reading a modern James Michener. Wild Heart is a sweeping tale that draws the reader in quickly and never lets go. It is so captivating and intense, I had a dream about it the night before I finished it. This book has been a hard to put down on almost since I started it. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.


This book screams out to be made into a huge movie. This movie could be a blockbuster. The casting options for Linny and Con are golden. The sets would be divine. This must be made into a feature film.


A fantastic story that was a pure pleasure to read. I recommend it to all readers of romance and horse books but more so, I recommend it to anyone who wants a great story.


Young Adult:

Fear Tomorrow (The Fear Chronicles, #4) by C.C. Bolick


“No, my fearless girl. We’re nowhere near done.”


Rena wakes up surrounded by the darkness she’s feared most of her life, the same darkness her mother told her to fear. A voice calls her back from the darkness. Rena must summon all her strength to fight the darkness and to save two planets from the destruction of the sun. There is no tomorrow, only today. Can she move past all those who betrayed her to reunite with Travis and save everyone they care about?


This is the final book in The Fear Chronicles series and hands down, it’s C.C. Bolick’s best book. The stakes couldn’t be higher for our heroine and Bolick shines in her writing. The reader is whisked away on a tsunami of emotions as we see all the characters deal with their own inner battles. From the first page to the last, Fear Tomorrow is a thrilling read. Characters from all three of Bolick’s series return in this book and I, for one, love every minute of it. The action is intense while the emotional tension ratchets up the turmoil. The plot moves quickly even though we’re talking about a very short period of time. The ending caused me to cry a little and the epilogue made me smile. Such a fantastic ending to this series and one that will go on my re-read shelf. Highly recommend!


Congratulations to all the winners.

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