Today, I’m being a bit of a copycat. Inspired by posts such as THIS ONE by Susan Toy, I’ve decided to list a few of the books I especially enjoyed this year. These are listed in no particular order, and by no means include every book I read and enjoyed. But these books stood out for me in a special way, and I would recommend each and every one of them.
For each book, I’ve included the genre, the blurb, and the link to my review on Authors to Watch. (Click the book covers to buy the book on Amazon)
And so we begin..
Island in the Clouds by Susan Toy
Genre: Murder mystery
Blurb: The dead body in the pool is putting a serious dent in Geoff’s morning. An ex-pat property manager on the Caribbean island of Bequia, Geoff doesn’t want a spotlight shone on the secret past he left behind in Canada, but now he’s the suspect in a brutal murder. With no help from the inept local police force, he’s drawn into investigating the murder himself, to clear his name. As Geoff finds out more about the circumstances surrounding the killing, and he and his loved ones find themselves in danger, he begins to see a very dark underbelly of the place some people call paradise…
Part travelogue, part mystery, Island in the Clouds takes a long, hard look at the reality of living in a place that seems perfect — from the outside, anyway.
What makes this special: It’s a very atmospheric read. If you want to feel like you’ve been transported to another world, this is the book for you. Mystery lovers will enjoy it because at the heart of the story is a good, old-fashioned mystery to solve.
Land of Midnight Days (The Silver Flute Trilogy) by Katrina Jack
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Blurb: What would you do if your life was filled with fear: hide, run away – or would you fight back? In a city at war with itself, Jeremiah Tully already knows how to survive, now he must learn how to live. Mute from birth, of mixed race heritage and his only possession a charmed flute, Jeremiah tries to discover where his remarkable talent as a musician will take him.
What makes it special: Land of Midnight Days is the first book in a trilogy. It’s incredibly well-written and fast-paced. All fantasy lovers will enjoy this book.
Lionel’s Wedding (Penwinnard Series) by M.A. McRae
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Blurb: Welfare kids have got to be tough, but Steven Vikkers is not tough. He calls himself ‘soft,’ though at fourteen, he has not yet decided whether or not he is gay. Gays get bashed in his neighbourhood. Being a welfare kid might not be ideal, but it is safe.
What makes it special: Lionel’s Wedding is book four in an excellent series. Each book focuses on a different group of boys, but the headmaster (Ian) is at the heart of the series. These books are often humorous, but also cover some very serious topics. I fell in love with the series from the very first book and I’d recommend it to just about anyone.
Have Frog, Will Travel (The Banned Underground series) by Will Macmillan Jones
Genre: Comedic Fantasy
Blurb: “Tolkien Meets Spinal Tap!” More speculative fiction from The Banned Underground collection: Grizelda the off-white witch is forced to speculate about her future in fiction when the Dark Lord tempts her with his cookies, and threatens her with eviction from her cottage if she doesn’t join The Dark Side. Tempted, Grizelda sets off on a journey of self-discovery, but whatever is she likely to find, apart of course from a few frogs? Is it Good to be Bad? Or is it Bad to be Good? Or could there be a Third Way? Frogs, Vampires, and assorted Witches all have a different view on her predicament; and the only certainty is Grizelda’s uncertainty … and the usual stream of gags, one-liners and slapstick jokes provoked by her thoughts on philosophy.
What makes it special: Have Frog is the 6th book in the series. The author is not only a top-notch world-builder, but he’s hilarious as well. The subject matter is safe for teens, but only adults will “get” some of the jokes. If you like fantasy, comedy, bad jokes, or good jokes, give this series a try.
Best Served Cold (DI Frank Lyle Mysteries) by Juliet B Madison
Genre: Murder mystery/British police procedural
Blurb: DI Lyle is about to get a glimpse into the murky world of political activism and hate crime; the murder of a prominent city councillor is just the tip of the iceberg. The city of Ashbeck is on high alert when news breaks that convicted triple murderer and paedophile Bob Kenyon has escaped from custody. Can DI Lyle and his team get to the bottom of this murky mess before another atrocity occurs?
What makes it special: This isn’t a typical crime series. The author goes into the past, and much of the series takes place in the 1990s, though some of the stories go back further. The books are well-researched and follow a close-knit group of detectives. Several full-length novels are available as well as a few short story collections. Police procedural fans will enjoy.
Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Coming of Age
Blurb: When Brooklyn meets Bo, their lives are instantly turned upside down. Brooklyn and Bo, each unhappily married to someone else, have to decide whether to stay with their spouses or give up everything for each other. Find out what Brooklyn’s husband and Bo’s soon-to-be ex-wife do to break them up. Shattered Reality is the first book in a three part series that follows the main character, Brooklyn throughout her childhood, adult life and then what seems like an “endless” journey towards redemption.
What makes it special: This is a three book trilogy that takes an intimate look at one woman’s life. These books take a very honest look at growing up, family and romantic relationships. marriage, infidelity, divorce, and rediscovering love.
Genre: Paranormal/ Vampires
Blurb: When Patrick is found dead in his apartment, Katelina is left in a vacuum of uncertainty with no leads. Then the enigmatic Jorick appears. In a single sweep he turns over the rocks of reality to reveal what hides underneath in the shadows; monsters that she thought only existed in horror movies. Trapped in a nightmare, Katelina is forced to accept the truth of vampires; vampires who want her dead for her association with Patrick. Jorick saves the day, but what should she do when her hero turns out to be one of the monsters? Can she really trust – and even love – someone who isn’t human? Caught between light and dark, Katelina and Jorick must travel down a path of mystery and terror as their pasts are slowly revealed and their passions ignite, in a world that smells like blood and tastes like fear.
What makes it special: Shades of Gray is the first in a multi-book series. There are six novels (with a 7th coming soon) and multiple short stories. Don’t worry – these aren’t silly high-school attending vampires. This series is for adults and I was captivated from the very first book. Fans of Anne Rice will enjoy this series.
Note: First book in the series is currently free.
Jeremy (The Night Touched Chronicles) by Maegan Provan
Genre: Paranormal/ Vampires
Blurb: The search for another Night Touched leads Harper and the others to the Big Easy,where things become everything but. Tired, vengeful and ready to bring down the entire Slayer organization, Harper chooses to focus on her mission and forget about her heartbreak. Silas’s mind is in the same place. With eyes already on the preacher, he makes it his goal to get to him before Harper does. He quickly learns that it’s hard to see a plan through in another state and has to hit the road with his lieutenant, John. Jeremy has always had a strong belief in God. After being turned, he struggles to find his new place between being a man of God and a blood sucking fiend. After a chance meeting and a confrontation, Jeremy’s mind has never been more torn.
What makes it special: This is a multi-book series with two novels and four short stories (so far). This series is aimed toward the New Adult audience. The characters are fashionable and sexy, but definitely adults.
The Queen’s Heart (The Growing Strong Series) by Michel Prince
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Blurb: At the tender age of seventeen, Mary Beth discovered the family she thought would see her through anything couldn’t accept her one mistake. Thank goodness for her best friends that stepped up to support her decision to keep her child. Seven years later together with her friends she’s created a successful business on the verge of a large expansion. But the desire to be accepted by her family continues to be a failure that taints all her accomplishments and has her making concessions she never thought she would.
Elias Marquez was content with his life. He definitely wasn’t looking for the vibrant redhead down the hall from him. After a chance encounter he can’t escape the need to be in her company again. He wants to explore the possibilities and the undeniable spark her touch inspires.
Torn between trying to right the past and accepting that she can only control her own life is Mary Beth truly ready for the love Elias is prepared to offer as a future?
What makes it special: The Growing Strong series follows the lives and loves of four best friends. Each book focuses on a different woman and her journey to love. These aren’t typical romance novels where the end-all, be-all of a woman’s existence revolves around finding a boyfriend (or girlfriend). These women all have very full live outside of romance and when they finally settle down, they are not settling for just anyone. Romance lovers and women’s fiction fans will adore this series.
Beyond the Realm of Night (The Green Woman series) by Jane Dougherty
Blurb: At the end was darkness. Now it is time to go back to the beginning and rekindle the light.
Deborah, the daughter of the Green Woman, reaches her journey’s end only to find it has barely started. Escaping Providence was the easy part. Now, as her mother’s strength fails, the burden of the Memory passes to Deborah. The Garden is waking, the Iron Horde is massing, the Queen’s host is gathering. The Fianna have sailed the western ocean and Providence is alight. But evil has put down strong roots in the hearts of the citizens of Providence and Deborah fears she has not the power to tear it out.
If she cannot summon up the green earth magic of the tree, Abaddon and his Iron Horde will trample the new shoots of the Garden. For Abaddon has the power of death with him. The weapons to defeat him are life and love, but Deborah longs to join the shadowlands, and her love is dead.
What makes it special: The Green Woman series consists of a trilogy and several short stories. Each book is beautifully written and action-packed. In this series, we meet heroes of every variety. Not just the sword-wielding, skull-crushing heroes, but real-life heroes who change the world through acts of love and compassion. This series is suitable for teens and adults and will please all fantasy and dystopian readers. Even if you’re not typically a fan of fantasy, I would encourage you to give it a try. It really is a fantastic series.
E by Kate Wrath
Blurb: A poignant tale of love and friendship in a world beyond hope…
Outpost Three: a huddle of crumbling buildings choked by a concrete wall. Cracked pavement, rusted metal, splintering boards. Huge robotic Sentries police the streets, but the Ten Laws are broken every time one turns its back.
Eden is determined, smart, and a born survivor. Stripped of her memories and dumped on the streets of the Outpost, slavers and starvation are only the beginning of her problems. A devastating conflict is coming that threatens to consume her world and tear her newfound family apart.
Life is harsh. It makes no exceptions. Not even for the innocent.
What makes it special: This dystopian tale is well-written and fast-paced. For me, it was the main character, Eden, that makes the story special and memorable. She’s smart and resilient, but still finds beauty in the harsh world she lives in and cares deeply for the small family she’s become part of.
Read my review: https://authorstowatch.com/2014/09/20/e-book-review/
Deadlier than the Rest (MacLarens of Fire Mountain) by Shirleen Davies
Genre: Historical Romance
Blurb: Connor MacLaren’s search has already stolen eight years of his life. Now he close to finding what he seeks—Meggie, his missing sister. His quest leads him to the growing city of Salt Lake and an encounter with the most captivating woman he has ever met.
Grace is the third wife of a Mormon farmer, forced into a life far different from what she’d have chosen. Her independent spirit longs for choices governed only by her own heart and mind. To achieve her dreams, she must hide behind secrets and half-truths, even as her heart pulls her towards the ruggedly handsome Connor.
Known as cool and uncompromising, Connor MacLaren lives by a few, firm rules that have served him well and kept him alive. However, danger stalks Connor, even to the front range of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, threatening those he cares about and impacting his ability to find his sister.
Can Connor protect himself from those who seek his death? Will his eight year search lead him to his sister while unlocking the secrets he knows are held tight within Grace, the woman who has captured his heart?
What makes it special: The MacLarens of Fire Mountain series isn’t just about romance. It’s about family too. It’s about community and loyalty. It’s about values and character. Because of this, I would recommend the series to anyone who loves well-researched historical fiction as well as romance lovers.
Few are Chosen (K’Barthan Series) By M.T. McGuire
Genre: Comedic Fantasy
Blurb: The Pan of Hamgee isn’t paranoid. There must be some people in K’Barth who aren’t out to get him. Unfortunately, right now, he’s not sure where they are.
His family are dead, his existence is treason and he does the only thing he can to survive –getaway driving. As if being on the run isn’t bad enough, he finds a magic thimble. He decides to keep it, which can only mean trouble. Sure enough, it does. He unwittingly sets himself on a collision course with Lord Vernon, K’Barth’s despot ruler.
The Pan is forced to make choices and stand up for his beliefs. It’s a challenge, since previously he had no beliefs he was aware of. Faced with a stark moral dilemma, he realises his new found integrity may even stick … if he can stop running.
Written in British English with some light swearing: Suggested cinema rating, PG: first book in a series of 4
What makes it special: Few are Chosen is the perfect mix of comedy and fantasy. Intelligent and well-written, the story is a fast-paced, crazy romp where the criminals have their own standards and codes of conduct, and where getaway driving is an art form.
Note: Book one in the series is currently free.
Sweet Cheeks (Heartbreaker Series) by J. Dorothy
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Blurb: Jennifer Jaimeson’s life isn’t turning out exactly how she planned. But plans change, and she is nothing, if not adaptable. Now after four years out of High School, things are looking up. Well they were, until Bailey, the ex girlfriend of the guy she’s been rooming with and lusting after, arrives back in town. And once Cam and Bailey rekindle their romance, Jennifer is on the outer once more.
But Bailey has a secret. A bad secret. One that Cam knows nothing about.
Jennifer may have just discovered the opportunity she’s been waiting for, and is set to put her new knowledge to good use, when an old High School friend of Cam’s, Tanning, comes to stay, He’s hot with a capital H, and nothing like the geek she remembers being mean to in High School.
Her explosive lustful feelings for Tanning are soon confused with her residual warm feelings toward Cam, and the life she planned to have with him. And that’s just the beginning.
When the father of her unborn baby, Travis, and her childhood crush, and tormentor, Jason, come back into town, things are going to escalate fast. This time no matter what she does, or how she tries to adapt, she has absolutely no control. And this time, her messed up life, is about to get a whole lot messier.
What makes it special: This story is heartbreaking, sweet, funny, and explosive – all at once. When the main character is pregnant and hiding a potentially dangerous secret, it makes romance a little tough. Sweet Cheeks is a great story with unforgettable characters.
Read my review: https://authorstowatch.com/2014/04/10/sweet-cheeks-book-review/
Gingerbread Castle by DM Yates
Blurb: Gingerbread Castle is an illustrated children’s holiday rhyme book for ages 6-8 yrs old and is about a visit to a fun castle in Dreamland.
What makes it special: This magical story is told in rhyme and verse. I’d recommend it for all young children. Pre-readers can enjoy the story with parents, while school-age children can read it on their own.
The Astral Ordinance by Meltem Y.K.
Blurb: Jayna is about to graduate from high school and embark on an exciting journey in higher education – or so she thinks. In the wee hours of one fateful night she finds herself in the middle of a battle with demons. She assumes it’s a nightmare; a young warrior, Ethan Wells, convinces her otherwise. Jayna discovers that she is an evolved human who can travel between dimensions and is also capable of extinguishing demons. She is a prime candidate for the Astral army. An innocent first-love blossoms between Jayna and Ethan. They become partners in the Astral army against demons and other forms of evil. Ethan is in charge of her training; they spend the next few years as carefree college students by day, demon fighters by night. However, there is a small glitch in their happiness: They are forbidden by the Astral Masters to see each other on Earth. As much as they love one another, they cannot be together in their physical forms. However, the Astral Plane is about to experience a first.
What makes it special: This is a series about spiritualism and astral travel to the Other Side. It’s unlike most paranormal books I’ve read and covers uncharted territory. Very unique.
White Mountain by Sophie Tallis
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Blurb: Amongst our modern world lies another, an archaic and hidden world of tradition, sorcery and magic.
As dark demons awaken from our past, the last remaining wizards are being hunted and murdered by a changeling of terrifying strength.
Attacked and drained of most of his powers, a dying sorcerer must race against time to save himself, and the fate of all, from an enemy intent on cleansing the planet of humanity…
Darkness spreads as friendships, betrayals and horrifying truths await…
What makes it special: This is a fantasy tale that will please LOTR fans. I love books where the characters embark upon an epic quest, and this is as epic as it gets. The author has a very vivid imagination and a gift for bringing scenery to life. I think this first book in The Darkling Chronicles is the start of something really special.
Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Blurb: When Tess Tremaine starts a new life in the colorful town of Goose Pimple Junction, curiosity leads her to look into a seventy-five-year-old murder. Suddenly she’s learning the foreign language of southern speak, resisting her attraction to local celebrity Jackson Wright, and dealing with more mayhem than she can handle.
A bank robbery, murder, and family tragedy from the 1930s are pieces of the mystery that Tess attempts to solve. As she gets close to the truth, she encounters danger, mystery, a lot of southern charm, and a new temptation for which she’s not sure she’s ready.
What makes it special: Full of southern speak and humorous quips, this book is a lot of fun. The story moves from past to present as a mystery is solved. The characters feel like family and guess what? This book is the first in a series and second book was released very recently.
What a long list! I wish I could have listed every book I read and loved this year, but as you can see, I’ve already put together a pretty lengthy list of recommendations.
I want to give my sincere thanks to everyone who has visited my blog throughout the year. I hope you all have a fantastic New Year filled with happiness and good books!