Monday, December 3, 2018

The 10 Best Books I read in 2018

This was a milestone year for me. I made it to the big 6-0, which I wasn't sure I would reach, and my family threw a fun party for me, including this AMAZING cake by my uber talented youngest sister.

In that bookish vein, I managed to read more than 55 books, including fantasy (almost half the total), science fiction, historical fiction, romance, nonfiction, and children's (and that doesn't count all the books I've read multiple times to my granddaughter). Out of these, ten rose to the top like fine cream, and it was difficult to sort them into numerical order. I loved them all! Several other 5 star books I read didn't make the final cut, not because they weren't good, but they didn't tug at the heartstrings, like these did.

So here, beginning with #10, are my favorites (and Book Dragon's) for 2018:

10. Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani
This fantasy had an exotic flavor to it, with gritty realism, great suspense, and a plucky main character who managed to get into SO much trouble! I love this author's writing style and plan to read more of her books!

9. The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder
This was a fantastic romp through a quirky, well-imagined steampunk universe. The main characters are unforgettable in this fantasy murder mystery!

8. Secrets: Visible & Invisible by 7 authors of Catholic Teen Books
This is one of the best anthologies I've ever read! Each story is well-written within a wide range of genres, from dystopian to historical fiction to mystery to contemporary.

7. Heartsong by Annie Douglass Lima
Having loved all of this author's fantasy stories, I was reluctant to read her science fiction, but I shouldn't have worried; this is a powerful story of conflict between races from two planets. The alien world is fascinating, and the main character extremely sympathetic and compelling. The "heart song" concept resonated with this reader, big time!

6. The Last Motley by D. J. Edwardson
This is a beautifully written epic fantasy about my new favorite reluctant hero, a cursed child, and an assortment of allies and enemies on their quest to find a way to undo the curse.

5. Common by Laurie Lucking
I really liked this fantasy romance because of the POV character, Leah, who was such an endearing person, I HAD to follow her story and find out if she overcame the unfair situation that befell her!

4. Aerisian Refrain by Sarah Ashwood
I didn't think I'd connect with the main character, who is a world-famous singer, but she was such a real and amazing human being, I was sucked into her perilous journey into a beautiful and dangerous fantasy world. I loved that the magic was tied to music, as well as the Native American elements!

3. The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T. Toney
This book has won all kinds of awards, with very good reason. Stellar historical fiction about the struggles of an Italian immigrant family in 1925.

2. The Nameless Soldier by Annie Douglass Lima
Though much shorter than the other stories I've read in this author's Annals of Alasia fantasy world, this is an almost flawless, deeply emotional story of a young soldier's unexpected experiences during an invasion. The reader can FEEL his pain and despair! I connected with him so much! And one line near the end is one of my favorite lines in fiction!

1. Spice Bringer by H. L. Burke
This book is powerfully written fantasy with an Asian flavor, memorable characters, and fantastic world-building. But the thing that makes it one of the favorite books of my life is the connection I felt to the main character, who is living with a fatal disease. She is so honestly written and so strong, she inspired me not to give up in a low point in my life. This book has a powerfully written line that spoke directly to me. For so many reasons, Spice Bringer is my favorite book of the year, and in the top five for my entire life.

I've reviewed all these books here on this blog, and hope you'll give some of them a try. Let me know what you think about these or other great books you read in 2018!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Huge Sale on Clean Indie Fiction Black Friday thru Cyber Monday!

I’m excited to tell you about a HUGE sale that is going on this weekend! There are over 150 titles available and they are all either $.99 or FREE! There is also a long list of paperbacks for sale at incredibly discounted prices as well! And the good news is they are all clean reads! Be sure to go check out this amazing sale here.
There is also an amazing giveaway going on! Grand Prize winner receives 20 paperbacks and the 2nd place winner gets 20 e-book titles from the sale for free!
You can sign up for the giveaway here.

Giveaway runs from November 22nd till November 26th @12AM ET Grand prize open to US winners only. 2nd place prize is open Internationally.
2nd Place Winner Receives 20 E-books
Gather Round the Fables by Erika Matthews
The Case of the Tabloid Tattler by Perry Kirkpatrick AudioBook
The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Perry Kirkpatrick Audiobook
Coffee Shop Christmas Ebook by Ryana Lynn Miller
The Land of Cotton ebook by Ryana Lynn Miller
Entertaining Angels, Entertaining Angels Book 1 by Emerald Barnes
Secret’s Kept by Jennette Mbewe
The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue
Beyond Broken Pencils by Julie C. Gilbert
Ashlynn's Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert
Soldier On by Vanessa Rasanen
Burning Rose by Hope Ann
Iced and Nailed by Avery Daniels
Imani Earns Her Cape by Bokerah Brumley
October by J. Grace Pennington
Disowned by Sarah Addison Fox
My Compass Home by Michaela Bush
Summer Shadows and Necessary Evil by Killarney Traynor

Grand Prize Winner Receives 20 Paperbacks
Mythical Doorways by Jenelle Schmidt
Faith is the Victory by Faith Blum
Kiera by Kate Willis
Because Anonymous Diana L. Sharples
After: Book One in The Neverway Chronicles by Savannah Jezowski
Specter: Book Two in The Neverway Chronicles by Savannah Jezowski
Leandra’s Enchanted Flute by Katy Huth Jones
Eagle Eyes by Tammy Lash
London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn   
When Beauty Blooms by Victoria Lynn
Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset by Sarah Ashwood
Iced and Nailed by Avery Daniels
There Was Always Laughter in Our House by Sarah Holman
Bridgers: A Parable (paperback) by Angie Thompson
Love Blind (paperback) by Angie Thompson
Code by Angie Thompson
Christmas Eve at the Backdoor by Rebekah Morris
The Seven Drawers by Kendra E. Ardnek
He's Making Diamonds: A Teen's Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness by Sara Willoughby

Participating Authors

Kate Willis
C.B. Cook
Vincent Trigili
Malachi Cyr
E. J. Willis
Diana L. Sharples
Sarah Addison-Fox
Annie Douglass Lima
Marc Secchia
Katy Huth Jones
Savannah Jezowski
Kandi J Wyatt
Joan Lightning
Angela Watts
Ava Mallory
Sara Bourgeois
Jaye L. Knight
Sarah Ashwood
Killarney Traynor
Zanna Mackenzie
Valerie Howard
Bokerah Brumley
Kat Bellemore
Faith Blum
RJ Conte
Abigayle Claire
Tayla Alexandra
Kristen Iten
Emily Selby
Stephanie Damore
Erika Mathews
Frances Hoelsema
J. Grace Pennington
Rebekah A. Morris
Frankie Bow
Martha Fuller
Lena Karynn Tesla
Allison Tebo
Sarah Monzon
Victoria Lynn
Sonia Parin
T.I. Lowe
Lia London
Tammy Lash
maria grazia swan
Deany Ray
Paige Sleuth
Jenny Berlin
Annie Louise Twitchell
Jordaina Sydney Robinson
Kelsey Gietl
Kendra E. Ardnek
Frances Hoelsema
Stacy Juba
Laura Guenot
Michaela Bush
Tricia Mingerink
Hailey Rose
Ryana Lynn Miller
Angie Thompson
Nadine C. Keels
Kellyn Roth
Angie Thompson
Vanessa Rasanen
Julie C. Gilbert
Jennette Mbewe
C. S. Johnson
Amy Williams
April Lynn Newell
Lauren Lynch
Lea Doue
Kelsey Bryant
Avery Daniels
Sarah Holman
R.M. Archer
Emerald Barnes
Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
Cathy Perkins
Laura Jackson
P.D. Workman
Emily Hinkle
Hannah Loviisa
Claire Banschbach
Rebekah Jones
Faith Potts
Sara Willoughby

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 1, 2018

Presenting the Fellowship of Fantasy's Fun Feline Anthology!

Whether you are a cat lover or just love to read a good story, you're sure to find something purr-fect in the Fellowship of Fantasy's fifth anthology, Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales! Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a paperback of this magical collection!

Here are the story blurbs to whet your appetite:

The Witching Hour by Savannah Jezowski: As shadows encroach on the city of Lite, one cat stands between humanity and the hounds of darkness. Will true love save the day?

Tale of Two Kitlings by Sharon Hughson: Two kitlings. One tail. A mother's sacrifice and a brother's betrayal. Who will survive the Siamese curse?

Black Knight by Laura L. Zimmerman: When a jingly bell goes missing, there's only one supercat to solve this crime--the mysterious Black Knight.

Sulfur and Sunshine by Grace Bridges: How to Handle a Dragon, Feline Edition. On a volcanic shore, the accidental appearance of a local fire-guardian has unusual consequences for a street cat.

The Magic of Catnip by A. J. Bakke: An impulse purchase of catnip leads to unexpected shenanigans.

The Secret Treasons of the World by J. L. Rowan: When Braelin stumbles upon an outlawed Guardian, she must choose between his safety and her own--and the cost may be more than she can bear.

The Poor Miller and the Cat by Leila Rose Foreman: When a poor miller rescues a cat, it promises to make him a wealthy man. But what is true wealth?

Alex the Cat and Alex the Prince by Ace G. Pilkington: The prince's parents are telling him he has to marry for money, and his cat says it could cost him his life.

Whisker Width by H. L. Burke: Get a cat, they said. It'll be fun, they said. No one mentioned the portals to a mysterious realm opening up in Kara's bathroom.

The Honorable Retrieval of Miss Sunbeam Honeydew by Pamela Sharp: When two princesses of the realm claim the same cat, how far will their loyal retainers go to see that each princess gets her way?

The Witch's Cat by Rachel Harris: Walk under ladders. October the 13th. A black cat. Perhaps the only way to bring two lovers together is through the worst luck.

The Cat-Dragon and the Unicorn by Janeen Ippolito: Ademis the cat-dragon only wants his freedom but must graciously help a scared unicorn girl who should be glad of his benevolent assistance.

Destined for Greatness by Jenelle L. Schmidt: Kendall knows he is destined for great things. The problem is, the Fates--even if they exist--don't seem to agree.

Sammy's Secret by Karin De Havin: A ring is lost. A friendship is ruined. A cadre of cats is on the case!

Death Always Collects by Jeremy Rodden: Loki, a regular old Siamese cat, finds Death looming to take his human. Bargain as much as you want, but remember: Death always collects.

The Wild Hunt by Naomi P. Cohen: When an immigrant violinist's music enchanted a Cait Sidhe, she's entangled in the secret world of the New York Fae.

Purchase links: Amazon or Books to Share

Find on Goodreads or request an ARC copy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Beautiful fantasy with stellar characters and worldbuilding

The Book Dragon has finished Spice Bringer by H. L. Burke and gives it a resounding five claws!
My 5 star review: "Once in a blue moon you read a book that affects you so profoundly it's difficult to tell whether the book is just that good or you read it at just the right time. In this case, I think it's both. I've read most of Burke's writings, and she's a fantastic storyteller, but Spice Bringer is more than a great story. It's profound on many levels, has stellar characters, superb world-building, and a twisty plot full of so many unexpected things, I was left in a puddle of emotions. I just finally read The Fault in Our Stars but this book is a thousand times better showing the reality of a young girl living with a terminal disease because it's full of love and hope. Niya is an inspiration; such a strong character! Jayesh is so vibrantly real, and Alk the fire salamander is one of the most memorable characters ever! I know I'm gushing, and I don't care. This is the best book I've read in a long, long time (even better than The Curse of Chalion, and I didn't think a fantasy could be better than that one), and it deserves to be made into a movie. Highly recommended for lovers of fantasy with more than a dash of romance...." NOTE: Be sure to have tissue handy while reading this book!!!!

My favorite quote: "Life, precious life, always bound to her by a spider's thread when everyone else had an iron chain."

Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A fun collection of original fairy tales!

The Book Dragon has read Tales of Ever After, a Fellowship of Fantasy anthology, and gives it five happy claws!
My 5 star review: "This is a fun and thoughtful collection of fairy tales, but nothing like Disney even though they're all clean. Many original, clever stories are found within these pages, and every one of them has something special to recommend! Usually when I read an anthology, one or two become special favorites, but I can't say that about this one; I liked all of them!"
This anthology is the fourth published by the Fellowship of Fantasy, a group of authors who write clean indie fantasy. All of them are FREE to download and well worth reading. The Book Dragon is confident you will find a new favorite author or two.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: A stellar science fiction story for all ages!

The Book Dragon has finished Annie Douglass Lima's Heartsong and gives it a resounding five claws!
My 5 star review: "I put off reading this book because I wasn't sure I'd like Ms. Lima's sci fi as much as I love her fantasy novels, but I should NOT have hesitated. This is a powerful story of a sympathetic young orphan who has built a wall around her heart in order to survive multiple traumas in her life. I ached for her pain and couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what happened to her. Ironically, this is not an action-packed book, but it IS an emotion-packed book with a fascinating and detailed alien culture into which the young protagonist becomes immersed. I loved the concept of the title "heartsong" and the powerful theme of not making judgments until all the facts are gathered. Highly recommended for lovers of science fiction, no matter what age you are!"

Note: I also enjoyed how the protagonist loves to read, and one of the named books on her reader is another science fiction book by one of my other favorite authors!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday Review by the Book Dragon: Fantastic steampunk universe!

The Book Dragon has read The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder and gives it a resounding five claws!
My 5 star review: "Not sure I can do this book justice with a review, because all I want to say is, Wow! Great character development, a fantastic steampunk universe full of delicious details, and a plot that pulls the reader along with suspense, surprises, and shivers. The Electrical Menagerie is a must-read for those who like steampunk, and especially for those who have never read one. This book will make you a fan!

"Bravo to the author and her jolly good show!"

Because my review doesn't supply any details, here's the blurb to whet your appetite:

For fans of Caraval and The Greatest Showman: a quest for fame and fortune in a stardust-powered empire brings debt, scandal, and danger in spades. 

The Electrical Menagerie, one-of-a-kind robotic roadshow, is bankrupt. 

Sylvester Carthage, illusionist and engineer, has the eccentric imagination the Menagerie needs to succeed creatively — but none of the people skills. Fast-talking Arbrook Huxley, meanwhile, has all the savvy the Menagerie needs to succeed commercially — but none of the scruples. 

To save their show, Carthage & Huxley stake everything in a royal talent competition, vying for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform for the Future Celestial Queen. In this stardust-and-spark-powered empire of floating islands and flying trains, the Menagerie's bid at fame and fortune means weathering the glamorous and cutthroat world of critics, high society, and rival magicians — but with real conspiracy lurking beneath tabloid controversy, there's more at stake in this contest than the prize. 

Behind the glittery haze of flash paper and mirrors, every competitor has something to hide… and it’s the lies Carthage & Huxley tell each other that may cost them everything.