Best Books of 2017

It has been such an amazing year for books that I decided to do a little something different this year.  Instead of my short list, I am separating my favorites into categories.  This way, if you’re looking for a specific type of book or want to give a gift, it’s easier to sort through the choices.  I wish I had time to read everything, but these are my favorites from what I did read.

You can click directly on the book images to get to their Amazon page.

LITERATURE & FICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MYSTERY & THRILLER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HISTORICAL FICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NONFICTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these if you read them and your favorites of 2017.  Leave me a comment.  Here’s to a healthy 2018 filled with loads of good reading!

The Trick Review & Giveaway

The Trick: A Novel


New From: $6.57 USD In Stock

For those of you who enjoy circus stories, there is a large element of that in Bergmann’s debut.  Combine that with magic, WWII, and a present day story of a family in crisis, and you have The Trick.

The Great Zabbatini was best known for his illusions and spells.  He will be the first to tell you he wasn’t a magician, but rather a mentalist.  And that’s just the kind of magic Max Cohn needed to put his family back together.  When he sets out to find the man, they are both in for a rude awakening in trying to mesh their personalities.  If you remember what a curmudgeon Ove was in Fredrik Backman’s story, A Man Called Ove, you get the idea.

I loved reading the history of Zabbatini’s character, even though it was fictional.  It had the feeling of listening to the life story told by a relative.  So I can imagine this book would sound great on audio.  For Max’s modern day story, I felt the dialogue was a little basic and amateur.  I’m not sure if he did that because of the age of the character, but I didn’t think it was necessary.  That’s why I loved jumping back into the history.  And I always enjoy getting a new perspective on WWII, one I haven’t read before.

Surprisingly, a nice little twist wrapped this book up nicely.  If you’re looking for historical fiction with a light touch, try this one out.  No heavy duty angst and agony here.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews and more chances to win!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. or Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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2017 Fictional Valentines

Whether you’re a fan of Valentine’s Day or not, I know you all enjoy reading books.  And who hasn’t imagined a fictional character in a book treating you the way you deserve, whispering sweet nothings in your ear?

I have to admit that I’ve never read Pride & Prejudice, so no Mr. Darcy here.  Here are 6 newish releases I picked for this year’s fictional Valentines.  Men only and no YA.  Thought that might be a little awkward.  So without further ado…

Josh from The Hating Game

Currently $7.99 on Kindle

A workplace love-hate relationship that turns quickly to love.  You’ll enjoy the funny banter between the characters and whip through this read.

Alexander from The Bronze Horseman

Currently $1.99 on Kindle

This soldier will go to any length to protect his true love during war.  A sizzling romance follows in Book 1 of this epic trilogy.

Pat from Center Ring

Currently $4.99 on Kindle

A Hollywood actor who spends his days with the most beautiful women on the planet falls for a PR executive and treats her like royalty.

Dominic from Falling

Currently $12.99 on Kindle

You’ll discover that family comes in all shapes in sizes when this single father landlord falls for his new tenant.

 

Patrick from I Let You Go

Currently $11.99 on Kindle

While only in this book for a short time, he’s the one that treats Jenna as she deserves, without asking questions of her past and judging her.

Andy from Who Do You Love

Currently $11.99 on Kindle

From first meeting Rachel as a child, Andy realizes throughout his life that love at first sight can happen at any time.

 

So who did I miss?  Who would be your fictional Valentine?  Please let me know!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Say Goodbye for Now Review & Giveaway

Say Goodbye for Now


New From: $6.99 USD In Stock

I first heard of Catherine Ryan Hyde when the movie Pay it Forward was released, as I found out she was the author of the book the film was based on.  Since then I have marked all her books as “to read” but haven’t read one until now.  And after finishing this one, I don’t plan to wait so long until the next.

Say Goodbye For Now tells the story of Lucy Armstrong, a doctor who lives with the animals she rehabilitates and prefers to be left alone.  Right away we are also introduced to Pete, a 12-year-old boy who happens upon a wild animal and determines it’s up to him to keep him alive.  As Pete befriends a new boy in his rescue mission, the reader quickly learns that the 1959 time setting of this novel makes all the difference because Justin is African-American, and the townspeople in this Texas town do not treat newcomers so nicely, especially ones who look different from them.

A lot of this story reminded me so much of a favorite book of 2014, Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.  Both tell of interracial relationships that were not approved of by outsiders.  You can even see the resemblance in both book covers.

I loved the character of Pete and thought he was so well fleshed out.  Even coming from an abusive background, he was a promise-keeper and knew better than what he learned from home.  Seeing as most of the book takes place with Pete as a soon-to-be teenager, this book would make a great read for high school students to get a glimpse of the prevalent racism of the ’60s.  Even the Loving vs. Virginia case is touched upon.

Book clubs will also have a lot to discuss, especially in the character relationships and choices that affect adult and child alike.  There’s also a list of questions ready to go in the back of the book.

Thanks to BookSparks, I have one paperback copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Land of Hidden Fires

Land of Hidden Fires


New From: $10.07 USD In Stock

From the back cover:

Occupied Norway, 1943. After seeing an allied plane go down over the mountains, headstrong fifteen year-old Kari Dahlstrøm sets out to locate the wreck. She soon finds the cocky American pilot Lance Mahurin and offers to take him to Sweden, pretending she’s a member of the resistance. While her widower father Erling and the disillusioned Nazi Oberleutnant Conrad Moltke hunt them down, Kari begins to fall for Lance, dreaming of a life with him in America. Over the course of the harrowing journey, though, Kari learns hard truths about those around her as well as discovering unforeseen depths within herself.

What reviewers are saying:

“Land of Hidden Fires is a compelling testament to the dangers, and necessity, of resistance. Kjeldsen writes about the quiet horrors of life in wartime with clear-eyed humanity and grace.”

— Colin Winnette, author of Haints Stay

“Despite the high drama and action-driven hunt, the story remains at its core a quiet one, focused on the well-developed, internal struggles of the characters and with the careful, evocative use of language… Kjeldsen’s writing benefits from a deep underlying knowledge, not only of World War II ranks and weaponry – though history buffs should appreciate the details – but also of farming techniques, the hazards of a winter trek through Scandinavian woods, and animal behavior… A quiet and introspective novel of wartime adventure.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“A fine wartime tale of survival and resistance, told with clean, compelling prose. The tough and resourceful Kari will linger in your memory, and the evocative setting will leave you shivering beneath the sheets.”
— Dan Fesperman, author of The Letter Writer

Thanks to the author, I have one paperback copy to give away!  Please enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Fractured Review & Giveaway

Fractured


New From: $4.90 USD In Stock

Catherine McKenzie should stick to psychological thrillers.  Trust me, I’ve read some of her earlier novels and was wholeheartedly recommending Arranged to all my friends who loved chick lit.  But the speed at which Fractured reads was worth the wait for her writing in this genre.

I was able to devour chapters at a time so I could figure out how the mystery would play out.  Told from the point of view of Julie Apple, a writer, and her neighbor John Dunbar, the book alternates between past and present as to who is harassing Julie and her family when they move into a new neighborhood in Cincinnati after escaping a stalker from their time in the Pacific Northwest.

Who thought the story of a neighborhood could be so exciting?  I had a hard time putting this one down.  Julie and her family start receiving threats and with her husband at work while she writes at home, she is left without anyone to confide in.  That is until she meets John, a neighbor who was recently laid off and who she can run with.

All readers know from the outset is there is an accident in the present, and thr narrative past slowly builds up to its climactic ending.  A lot of this story reminded me of Paula Treick DeBoard’s last novel, The Drowning Girls, where moving to a new neighborhood could be a cause of so much disastree.  Fans of Mary Kubica and Heather Gudenkauf will fly through these pages and be thrilled they have a similar writer in style to follow.

As of this post, Kindle Unlimited members can read this book for FREE and everyone else can read for only $4.99!

And coming next month readers can download the actual book at the center of this story, The Murder Game written by Julie Apple.

I can’t wait for Catherine’s next book, especially if she writes another psychological thriller.  She is meant to write this way.

img_1434About the author:

A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine practices law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. An avid skier and runner, Catherine’s novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN, HIDDEN and SMOKE, are all international bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages. HIDDEN was also a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Digital Bookworld bestseller for five weeks. SMOKE was named a Best Book of October by Goodreads, one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by Amazon, and was a #1 Amazon bestseller.

Her first novel writing as Julie Apple (the protagonist of FRACTURED), THE MURDER GAME, will be published on November 1, 2016.

She is at work on her eighth novel.

And if you want to know how she has time to do all that, the answer is: robots.

Visit her online at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram.

imageThanks to TLC Book Tours, I have 1 copy of Fractured to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. and Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Deliver Her Review & Giveaway

Deliver Her: A Novel


New From: $4.00 USD In Stock

Imagine being 16 and in high school with your whole life ahead of you.  You have a close group of friends, and your family throws you a blowout party for your Sweet 16.  Later that night you get into a car accident where your best friend is killed.  And now you have to go on without her.  This is the premise of Patricia Perry Donovan’s debut, Deliver Her.

After Alex loses her best friend, she starts to withdraw, starts skipping school, and spends her time with not the best crowd.  Her mom, Meg, knows how upset she is but doesn’t know how to reach her to help.  When she brings up the idea of a change of scenery in a boarding school, Alex scoffs at the idea.  Fiercely determined to help her daughter, she goes behind her back to enroll her and hires a private company to take her there.  And that’s where the trouble begins.

Deliver Her is narrated from multiple points of view, including Alex, Meg, and the driver of the transport company, Carl.  While the point is to get Alex from Point A to Point B, secrets from each character’s past bubble up threatening multiple lives during the course of the book.

I could completely relate to the character of Meg.  While my daughter is still young, I know how it is to question each and every parenting decision you make, still unsure if you did the right thing days after the fact.  She was portrayed completely realistically.

If you like books filled with secrets or domestic dramas, Donovan alternates between a fast-paced thriller and a good character study of a family crumbling under a tragedy.  I’m eager to see what she comes up with next.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

imageAbout the author:

Patricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist who writes about healthcare. Her fiction has appeared at Gravel Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and in other literary journals. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives at the Jersey shore with her husband, with whom she has fond memories of raising their young family abroad in France. Connect with her on Facebook  and on Twitter. Learn more at her website.

imageThanks to TLC Book Tours, I have a copy available for one lucky reader.  Please head to the Rafflecopter to enter.
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*Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews and more chances to win!*

Wednesday, October 5th: Just Commonly
Friday, October 7th: Books ‘N Tea
Monday, October 10th: Building Bookshelves
Wednesday, October 12th: Books a la Mode
Friday, October 14th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, October 17th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, October 19th: Wall-to-Wall Books
Thursday, October 20th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, October 24th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, October 26th: Back Porchervations
Sunday, November 6th: Writer Unboxed

Home Field Review

Home Field: A Novel


New From: $4.48 USD In Stock

When I saw this book being called a mashup of My So-Called Life and Friday Night Lights, my teenage self got all giddy.  I had to get my hands on it, and the wonderful publicity department at William Morrow came through.

I was not disappointed.  Do you ever read a book that transports you to another time and place, where you’re so involved in the telling of the story that time disappears while reading?  This was that book for me.

I found myself at home in rural Maryland along with head football coach Dean, his stepdaughter Stephanie, and his two sons Robbie and Bryan.  They’re reeling after the suicide of their mother Nicole.  Stephanie is about to start college away from home.  Robbie has discovered a love of the arts.  And Dean is in constant fear he isn’t doing right by his family while focusing on his football team.

This book focuses a lot on the characters, alternating propelling the story forward between Dean and Stephanie narrating.  But the plot does not slow down.  We follow this family try to cope with Nicole’s death in their confused states, grieving in their own, unique way.

Hannah Gersen is an extremely talented writer, and it’s hard to believe this was her debut novel.  Each character was someone so well developed that at times it was almost like reading a memoir.  I had a tough time parting ways with this one, and I was tied to each character, hoping they each found peace in the year ahead.  I’ll be looking forward to whatever Gersen writes next.

Thank you to William Morrow for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

image

About the author:

Hannah Gersen is a staff writer for The Millions, and her writing has been published in the New York Times, Granta online, and The Southern Review, among others.  Home Field is her first novel.  She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

 

Saving Phoebe Murrow Review

Saving Phoebe Murrow


New From: $9.95 USD In Stock

Everybody who is a parent knows that being a parent is hard.  There is no manual when you leave the hospital with your baby on how to care for them or discipline them.  In this day and age, there is no book on how to protect them from social media and cyberbullying.  And that is the exact premise of Herta Feely’s novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow.

The focus of this story is Phoebe, a teenager who just wants to fit in.  She doesn’t want her friends to turn on her or be the butt of their jokes.  She wants to be noticed and wanted by the boy that she likes.  Her mom, an attorney, sends her to private school in an attempt to make these things happen for her.  They are well-to-do and socialize with families of a similar stature.

Starting out with the main bullying incident, Feely works backwards in time to explain how everything came to be as told from many characters’ points of view.  If you think bullying is bad, the idea of cyberbullying is even worse.  No way to connect it to a certain person and it can go on for such a long time without anyone else knowing.  As a parent, that is my biggest fear.  And I sense that Feely wrote this story to make more parents aware of the signs and how to be more involved in what’s going on in their children’s lives.

It for sure opened my eyes to see how easily (and quickly!) it can happen and escalate.  I know I will never be able to completely shelter my children from computers and the Internet, but this book was eye-opening to the motivations behind teenagers’ actions and words and even adults’.  Fans of domestic dramas will enjoy it for sure.  And those hoping for a manual on raising teenagers.

 

image About the author:

Herta B. Feely is a writer and full-time editor. Her short stories and memoir have been published in anthologies and literary journals, including The Sun, Lullwater Review, The Griffin, Provincetown Arts, and Big Muddy. In the wake of the James Frey scandal, Feely edited and published the anthology, Confessions: Fact or Fiction? She was awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Artist in Literature Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for The Trials of Serra Blue. She has also received an award from American Independent Writers for best published personal essay for a piece on immigration. In Saving Phoebe Murrow, Feely continues her commitment to activism on behalf of children. A graduate of UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University, Feely is the co-founder of Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization dedicated to saving children from unintentional injuries, the leading killer of children in the United States. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and cats.

Connect with Herta on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her website.

Thank you to Smith Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Spotlight: The Choices We Make

The Choices We Make: A Novel


New From: $5.49 USD In Stock

Synopsis from Amazon:

Following her bestselling debut novel Come Away with Me, Karma Brown returns with an unforgettable story that explores the intricate dynamics of friendship and parenthood

Hannah and Kate became friends in the fifth grade, when Hannah hit a boy for looking up Kate’s skirt with a mirror. While they’ve been close as sisters ever since, Hannah can’t help but feel envious of the little family Kate and her husband, David, have created—complete with two perfect little girls.

She and Ben have been trying for years to have a baby, so when they receive the news that she will likely never get pregnant, Hannah’s heartbreak is overwhelming. But just as they begin to tentatively explore the other options, it’s Kate’s turn to do the rescuing. Not only does she offer to be Hannah’s surrogate, but Kate is willing to use her own eggs to do so.

Full of renewed hope, excitement and gratitude, these two families embark on an incredible journey toward parenthood…until a devastating tragedy puts everything these women have worked toward at risk of falling apart. Poignant and refreshingly honest, The Choices We Make is a powerful tale of an incredible friendship and the risks we take to make our dreams come true.

image About the author:

KARMA BROWN is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of Come Away With Me, who spends a lot of time writing in coffee shops. When not mulling plot lines, she can be found running with her husband, coloring (outside the lines) with her daughter, and perfecting her banana bread recipe. Karma lives just outside Toronto with her family. The Choices We Make is her second novel.

Thank you to Book Sparks for allowing us to share this book with our readers.