Best Books Read in 2016 – Part 3

More book recommendations from Susan Toy!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

When I posted Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I didn’t take into consideration that the year was not yet over and I might read more books I highly recommend in those remaining weeks – and, indeed, I have! (I also discovered a few books I had overlooked when compiling my first two lists.) Links for authors featured on Reading Recommendations are included. Every book listed here is rated at 5 stars from me.

So, here we go with THE REST OF THE LIST!

Indie-Authored

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Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women by Mary Smith
(No More Mulberries, also by Mary Smith, is listed as a Best Book Read in Part 1 of this series.)

Traditionally Published

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Baudelaire’s Revenge, a novel by Bob Van Laerhoven

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Celtic Lightning: How the Scots and the Irish Created a Canadian Nation by Ken McGoogan

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Confessions of an…

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The Wanted Lawman: Book Review

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The Wanted Lawman by A.C. Smith

Deputy Jesse Morgan has a dark past and will do almost anything to keep his secrets safe—especially from his fellow lawmen. After all, he’s a wanted man.

But when he’s tasked with helping the sheriff’s sister in law, Cecilia Drake, move to town, the simple task becomes more than he bargained for. The feisty reporter captivates his attention but leaves him feeling betrayed when he discovers his picture published in the local paper—with his name.

Jesse fears it will bring the wrath of the law, or worse, his old gang upon his head. For the last ten years, they have been looking for him and want to settle their score in blood. The safest bet is to get out of town and keep running, just like he’s always done. But he loves St. Elmo, and more than that, he’s fallen for Cecilia. Hard. When a bounty hunter comes sniffing around town, it kicks off a chain of events that could jeopardize the lives of everyone he loves.

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MU1SUQP/

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My Review:  Jesse is lawman with a secret in his past. It’s a secret that has shaped his present and prevents him from planning his future. He never knows when everything might come crashing down around him, so he lives his life always wondering when his good luck might run out. When he meets Cecilia, the feisty sister-in-law of his sheriff, it sets off a series of events that make it impossible for him to continue on the path he’s on. For the first time, he is thinking in terms of the future and the kind of life he could have if he were able to settle down. Unfortunately, his past is dangerously close, putting him and those he cares about in danger.

The Wanted Lawman is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s a historical romance, but so much more. Romance is at the heart of the story, but it’s also a novel about friendship, loyalty, and facing your inner demons. Because of Jesse’s past and the trauma that has shaped who he has become, there are times when he can be ruthless and even dishonest. Though he comes across as cocky to some, there is an underlying insecurity that comes from more than just his fear of being caught. He’s an extremely complex and endearing character who evolves tremendously throughout the story.

Cecilia is a determined, independent heroine who is strong-willed but still vulnerable. She isn’t afraid to show her emotions, nor is she afraid to fight for the people she loves. She drives Jesse crazy – in more ways than one. He finds her infuriating, but infatuating at the same time.

In addition to the two amazing main characters in this book, there are also many secondary characters I absolutely fell in love with, particularly Tracker. He provides much needed comic relief throughout the story, but he also gives us a unique glimpse into Jesse’s character that we otherwise would not see. Tracker and Jesse have a friendship that endures despite challenges that would normally destroy a relationship.

This is the type of story romance lovers will swoon over, but history buffs will love this book too. The story is very well-researched and full of rich descriptions that bring the past and the Colorado landscape to life. Filled with action, adventure, and passion, The Wanted Lawman is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend to book lovers of all kinds.

My Rating:

5 star

Categories: authors to watch, book feature, book review, books, historical fiction, historical romance, new release | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bill Engleson – update on a new collection of essays

Reading Recommendations

Bill Engleson was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Jan. 2014. He’s back now to tell us about a collection of essays he’s recently published.

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Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul
by Bill Engleson
Published by Silver Bow Publishing
Genre: Non-fiction, essays

Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul is a series of rollicking tales from a “newbie” retiring to a small rural island.

Villified almost from day one as “the gentry”, Bill Engleson fights back, taking a good-natured swipe at everyone and everything he encounters as he plods along, learning the ins and outs of rural living, sometimes the hard way.

Most of the chapters were originally published in the local monthly journal, The Flagstone, to mixed reviews.

After a period of “soul” searching, the author decided not to bother modifying the original pithy content, regardless of who gets offended or confused.

“They got what’s coming to them,” he…

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Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Christmas Update – Susan M. Toy, Marcia Meara and Toni Pike

Check out Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-updateWelcome to the latest update for the cafe and bookstore and the first featured book was an Autumn Reading in November. One Woman’s Islandthe second novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series by Susan M. Toy.  This is the second book of Susan’s that I have read, and I enjoyed as much as Island in the Clouds.  The review will be uploaded to Amazon today.

51hb-tptcfl-_uy250_About the book

Running away from Canada, Mariana hopes to forget a failed marriage and the death of her husband by embarking on a whole new life. She moves lock, stock, and two cats to the small Caribbean island of Bequia. But the move brings more than she could have imagined. New friends ask her to help solve a recent murder in the expat community. And then there’s the problem of her neighbours, a young woman and her children. Seemingly abandoned by family and…

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Book Review: One Woman’s Island

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One Woman’s Island (Bequia Perspectives Book 2) by Susan M. Toy

Running away from Canada, Mariana hopes to forget a failed marriage and the death of her husband by embarking on a whole new life. She moves lock, stock, and two cats to the small Caribbean island of Bequia. But the move brings more than she could have imagined. New friends ask her to help solve a recent murder in the expat community. And then there’s the problem of her neighbours, a young woman and her children. Seemingly abandoned by family and friends, Mariana believes they need her help! By becoming involved, Mariana is carried along from wanting to simply “live with the locals” to being overwhelmed by their culture, one so vastly different to what she had left behind in Canada that she doesn’t know who among her expat friends she can turn to for advice. So she carries on regardless and discovers that Bequia isn’t exactly the tropical paradise it had promised to be.

One Woman’s Island is the second novel in the Bequia Perspectives series that picks up again a few months in time after the first novel, Island in the Clouds.

Available on Amazon

My Review:

Recently widowed, Mariana escapes to Bequia for a much-needed retreat. Almost immediately, she is swept up into the lives and dramas of those around her—locals and expatriates. Mysteries abound, from the theft of her personal belongings to the unexplained, sudden deaths of expatriates. Fascinated by her neighbors, she vows to help them, but will this prove to be more of a challenge than she expected?

One Woman’s Island provides a candid look into the small island of Bequia. Mariana and the diverse cast of characters in this book provide a glimpse into a world where expats and locals interact in a very unique way. The hired help often call the shots and while there is interaction between the two groups, there is an unspoken set of rules in the way the locals and expats interact. Mariana, like many expats who have come before her, sets out to help her neighbors, but some of her more experienced friends warn her of the pitfalls of crossing that line. Her North American perspective of right and wrong isn’t necessarily an appropriate guide on Bequia. Western standards and moral codes don’t always apply.

I don’t always agree with the steps Mariana takes on her journey toward self-discovery. She can be stubborn and headstrong, but this is what makes it a good story. The author allows her main character to make mistakes and to face some of her misconceptions head-on. It’s worth mentioning that some of the greatest insights in this book come from secondary characters, and from those whom you’d least expect to carry such wisdom.

This book is definitely worth reading. Thought-provoking and well-written, One Woman’s Island was a captivating and enjoyable read from beginning to end.

My Rating:

5 star

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The Gift: Penance – a review

reading recommendations reviewed

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The Gift: Penance
by J.P. McLean
Published by WindStorm Press
Genre: Fiction – Contemporary Fantasy/Thriller

Purchase copies here

The author sent me an ARC of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review.

This book reunites the readers with Emelynn Taylor – in need to work undercover to keep the deal with the ICO.

With The Gift: Penance, J. P. McLean has once again created a thrilling combination of mystery, paranormal, urban fantasy, and a touch of romance with steamy situations. It is a compelling read centred on Emelynn, drawing you close to her. J. P. McLean paints a clear picture of the main characters’ mindsets while the story evolves. In this fourth story, I was drawn even closer to Em – again an invisible friend and ally; trying to find the culprits with her. The characters are of sufficient depth, believable with their flaws and virtues…

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Bob Van Laerhoven – update and a special offer

Reading Recommendations

Belgian author, Bob Van Laerhoven, has returned to Reading Recommendations to tell us of a new English translation edition of his novel, Baudelaire’s Revenge, and a special price for the eBook at Amazon for the rest of December.

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Baudelaire’s Revenge: A Novel
by Bob Van Laerhoven
Translated by Brian Doyle
Published in English by Pegasus Books
Genre: Fiction – mystery, thriller, suspense

Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Crime Novel – Winner of the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category Fiction: mystery/suspense

Paris police commissioner Paul Lefèvre, robust and hirsute, hardly seems like a poetry lover. Nonetheless, he instantly recognizes the messages accompanying murder victims killed in flamboyant ways as excerpts from poems by the scandalous, recently deceased poet Baudelaire. Is this gruesomely inventive serial killer exacting revenge on Baudelaire’s enemies? Paris is in an uproar in 1870. The Franco-Prussian War is on full…

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Cover Reveal: Lisiantha

Just in time for the holidays!

Amaranthine by Joleene Naylor

The newest of the Tales of the Executioners lands just in time for Christmas!

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Lisiantha runs away from her rural coven, but fifty years later, after a nasty breakup, she comes crawling back, her fledgling in tow. Dreading a run in with her ex, Josh, she soon has more important things to worry about. Her master made a mistake and now a warring coven wants her blood. Can she find a way to save her – and maybe save herself in the process? Even vampires enjoy a Hallmark-style Christmas special.

Includes the (maybe) Special Edition cover.

Why maybe? Because depending on what you guys think, I may redo ALL the Tales of the Executioners covers to match this one!

In the meantime, expect the book to hit everywhere by the end of the week, including Amazon (though they will unfortunately charge you $.99 for it). Want it NOW and FREE?…

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JP McLean – the release of the fifth novel in the series

Reading Recommendations

J.P. McLean is back to tell us about a new novel in her series, The Gift Legacy. J.P. Has long been a friend and supporter of this blog. There are also reviews of her books posted over at reading recommendations reviewed.

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The Gift: Betrayal
by J.P. McLean
Published by Windstorm Press
Genre: contemporary thriller with a touch of fantasy

The Gift: Betrayal is Awakening Redux. Jackson Delaney was Emelynn Taylor’s love interest in Awakening. His role was controversial, pivotal and demanded to be told. Love him or hate him, you won’t forget him. Betrayal is his story.

When his wife leaves him for his half-brother, Jackson Delaney flies into high gear to find them. He dives headlong into dangerous intrigue involving the feared Tribunal and unscrupulous thugs from his past, in a quest for justice at any cost. When that quest leads him to a mysterious young…

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GoReadMe! Campaign – Susan M. Toy’s books

Why not pledge to support Susan Toy’s GoReadMe! Campaign?

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

In August this year, I had a great idea … and the very kind Seumas Gallacher allowed me space on his blog to not only write about the GoReadMe! Campaign, but also offered to be the first to have his books promoted using it.

He’s a brave man! While we may not have reached the target of readers we wished to attract within the time period we allowed, there were a fair number of new readers who discovered Gallacher’s books through this promotion, so I was pleased with the response.

I’m back now to do the same for my own writing, since I recently published a new novel in the Bequia Perspectives series. Here’s the background to the idea:

First, let’s go back a little way in time to a blog post I published in March of this year on the perennial subject that’s of interest to all authors…

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