Best 18 of 2018

In 2018, I wrote one novella (New York Engagement) and three short stories, published three of them, and started on a novel. In doing so, I had to curtail my reading by a lot compared to previous years (465 in 2016, 208 in 2017).

One hundred twenty-one is still decent. I’ve actually accomplished the goal I set out at the beginning of the year of reading ten books a month. For the most part, those books were excellent with only a couple of duds among them. So good that I rated 55 novels five-stars in Goodreads, Amazon, NetGalley, BookBub, Edelweiss, etc. That’s nearly half of them, that’s why it’s so hard for me to choose the traditional Top 10. The bare minimum I could do is eighteen. These books made me laugh, cry, feel, and love. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev
  2. The Ones Who Got Away and The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren
  3. Dark in Death by J.D. Robb
  4. Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai
  5. Making Up by Lucy Parker
  6. Undone by You and Hooked on You by Kate Meader
  7. Breathless by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan
  8. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  9. The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard
  10. When a Duke Loves a Woman by Lorraine Heath
  11. The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne
  12. The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
  13. Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
  14. For the Duke’s Eyes Only by Lenora Bell
  15. Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh
  16. The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
  17. Beautiful Sinner by Sophie Jordan
  18. Fierce, Funny, and Female by Marti MacGibbon

 

 

Looking forward to 2019 and more five-star reads. Happy reading!  

Meet the Parents – A Carpe Diem Chronicles Foodie Event

Like many cultures, Filipinos attach great significance to the introduction of a special someone to their immediate family. It’s a signal of deep commitment to the relationship often called “taking it to the next level.”

In BORACAY VOWS, it was extra special for Blake when Krista’s mother invited him to their home in the province of Quezon. Marissa Lopez had been opposed to her daughter being in a relationship with a foreigner. He was understandably nervous right before their meeting but their warm hospitality, which Filipinos are known for, put him at ease immediately. Blake knew things were going to be all right when he and Krista were presented with a feast.

Here’s an excerpt from that meeting:

Krista stroked Blake’s back as they walked, and asked, “You okay?”

“I’m great, baby.” He smiled down at her. “They’re nice—your parents. I like them.”

“I told you—” The sight of their dining table, groaning under the weight of the platters and platters of her favorite dishes, brought her up short. Pancit Malabon, lechon kawali, embutido, menudo, kare kare, lumpiang Shanghai, relyenong bangus, sapin-sapin, maruya, and rice crowded the long table.

In NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT, it was Krista’s turn to be introduced to Blake’s family. That meeting also involved food since it took place at the pub the Ryans co-own with the O’Connors. They serve a fusion of Irish and Filipino dishes since the cook/part-owner Belen O’Connor is from Palawan in the Philippines.

These were the food served as explained by Craig, one of Blake’s brothers who will be the hero of SAMUI HEAT:

“In front of you, Krista, is Guinness caldereta, our version of beef stew. There’s steamed rice, of course. Or brown soda bread, if that’s what you prefer. Next to that is longganisa coddle. Instead of regular bangers, we use the sweeter Filipino pork sausage. Lastly, we have chicken lechon with mushrooms and whiskey-cream sauce. Enjoy.”

Both “Meet the parents” events were successful for Blake and Krista and at the end of NEW YORK ENGAGEMENT, we see them planning a wedding for the following Christmas in the Philippines.

I will be writing that story soon, so watch out for announcements on publication here. In the meantime, please accept my gift for you this Christmas: the recipe of Longganisa Coddle.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces thick-cut bacon
  • 8 pork longganisa
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (substitute with 2 tablespoons dried if fresh is not available
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 pieces dried bay leaves
  • Black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • my secret ingredient: patis (fish sauce) to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook bacon in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towel-lined plate; cut into 1-inch pieces. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon drippings.
  2. Add longganisa to saucepan; cook about 10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove to paper towel-lined plate; leave whole.
  3. Add onions to saucepan; cook ad stir about 8 minutes or until translucent. Return bacon and sausages to saucepan. Add carrots, potatoes, parsley, bay leaves, and thyme; sprinkle generously with pepper. Pour broth over vegetables; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low; partially cover and simmer about 1 hour 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add fish sauce to taste. Sprinkle with additional parsley, if desired. Serve with rice or soda bread.

**Recipe adapted from Irish Pub Food by Publication International, Ltd.

FIERCE, FUNNY, AND FEMALE by Marti MacGibbon – Book Blog Tour: Review/Giveaway

FIERCE, FUNNY, AND FEMALE

A Journey Through Middle America,

the Texas Oil Field, and Standup Comedy

by

MARTI MacGIBBON

Genre: Memoir / Drama / Humor
Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing
Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Number of Pages: 412 pages

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

This book is the celebrated prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self. As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour―in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.

WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Humor
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in Women’s Health
WINNER, 2017 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Women’s Issues 
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Humor
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2018 New York City Book Award, Women’s Studies
FINALIST, 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Memoir (Overcoming Adversity)

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PURCHASE THE BOOK
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Review_preview

I don’t normally read non-fiction unless it’s a craft book on writing or a cookbook and I hardly ever read memoirs, but there’s something about this book that called to me. The catchy title alone had me anticipating a good read and I wasn’t disappointed. Far from it.

The first third was quite harrowing, with Marti’s tales of abuse, drug addiction, sexual assault, hospitalization, brainwashing, and the most heart-breaking of all, her separation from her daughter. But the telling was quite fascinating in that through everything she had suffered, there was always her determination to do everything she could to get out of the bad situation. To rise and recover. To hope for a better tomorrow. 

Quotes like this had me tearing up:

“… there’s more than one way to fight. You fight by living, and working, and showing your kid how much you care, in any way possible. And you wait, and watch, and when your time comes, you’re ready.”

Marti’s storytelling is absolutely fantastic. The scenes leap out of the pages, they come alive so vividly. I especially enjoyed her adventures all over Texas, laughed at some of the  incredibly weird situations she got involved in and the colorful characters she met along the way.

She dealt with every discriminatory, sexist thing thrown at her with humor, positivity, and self-belief, proving the title of the book perfectly fitting. 

I bookmarked several pages of this book, particularly the last few chapters where Marti was receiving advice from successful humorists and the final one where she imparted some of her own. Although not a comedian, I can definitely apply some of the wisdom she shared in my writing, in my living. 

I love this advice best of all: 

“Be yourself. You are enough, right now, as you are, and if you continue the brave work, you will continue to become more, and greater, exponentially. Trust in that, build your tenacity, and continue on your path, no matter the challenges.” 

To end, I say to readers: buy this book. Read it and learn from Marti’s experiences. Be inspired. Be strong. Be Fierce, Funny, and Female. That’s what I hope to become, in my own way.

FFF bookstagram

 

PRAISE FOR FIERCE, FUNNY, AND FEMALE:

“Being funny is a survival skill. Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews

“An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…” — Kirkus Reviews

Fierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Highly recommended!” — Midwest Book Review

“MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields.” — San Francisco Book Review

FFF quote

AboutTheAuthor

Marti MacGibbonA compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor.
Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force. 

║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram ║ 

 ║ Goodreads ║ Amazon Author Page ║ YouTube ║

============================

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

Each of Three Winners Gets a Signed Copy of the Book PLUS:

FIRST PRIZE:
 

$100 Spa Finder gift card + $25 Starbucks gift card + Moroccan oil sample collection
SECOND PRIZE:
Estee Lauder Limited Edition Gift Set + $25 Starbucks gift card
THIRD PRIZE:
$25 Starbucks gift card.
DECEMBER 12-21, 2018
(U.S. Only)FFF giveaway

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

12/12/18ExcerptChapter Break Book Blog
12/12/18Author InterviewStory Schmoozing Book Reviews
12/13/18ReviewCarpe Diem Chronicles
12/14/18PlaylistAll the Ups and Downs
12/14/18Guest PostMax Knight
12/15/18ReviewStoreyBook Reviews
12/15/18ExcerptThe Clueless Gent
12/16/18ReviewThe Book Review
12/17/18Guest PostThat’s What She’s Reading
12/17/18Scrapbook PageKelly Well Read
12/18/18ReviewNerd Narration
12/19/18ExcerptForgotten Winds
12/19/18Guest PostMomma on the Rocks
12/20/18ReviewReading by Moonlight
12/21/18ReviewMissus Gonzo

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Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop

The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time for Chick Lit Chat HQ’s annual Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop and this year it’s bigger and better than ever! 63 bestselling and award-winning authors in the Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy genres are participating in this fun-filled event and each one is doing a fantastic giveaway. Books, author swag, gift cards, and other assorted holiday treats are all up for grabs.

I’ll be giving away a $100 Starbucks gift card to one lucky winner and an ebook copy of New York Engagement to five winners. Check out my Facebook Author Page Maida Malby for details on how to enter.  

But wait! There’s much, much more. On the hop’s Facebook group page, you can enter to win our Grand Prize—a large holiday gift box filled to the brim with a fabulous variety of holiday and winter-themed goodies (the darling, KitschNStyle gingerbread house apron, Snoozies! sherpa socks, Calvin Klein cashmere pom-pom beanie in petal pink, Too Faced sugar cookie eyeshadow purse palette, Sally Snowflakes mug by Bella Pilar, Well Read Women: A Reader’s Journal, and handmade chocolate soaps shown in the graphic below are just a few of the items included in the box!

We’ll also be handing out four Runner-Up Prizes. Each one is a pair of Fitz & Floyd holiday mugs that will be accompanied by a canister of Williams-Sonoma classic hot chocolate as well as a tin of The Republic of Tea’s Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Tea. So, you’ll have delicious, warm beverages to keep you cozy all winter long!

The celebration runs from Monday, Dec. 3rd through Sunday, Dec. 9th, so head on over to the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop Facebook group for some lively conversation with both authors and readers, incredible prizes, and lots of holiday fun! You’ll find each day’s featured authors, along with the links to their pages/giveaways, in the pinned post at the top of the group. We look forward to seeing you there!

*The Grand Prize giveaway is open to US residents only. 
However, all of the individual author giveaways and the Runner-Up
Prize giveaway are open internationally.

Of Birthdays and Thanksgiving

Happy Birthday to me and Boracay Vows and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

In the Philippines, a child’s first birthday is among the best celebrated events in their life. Parties take on fiesta-like proportions with lots of food, including pancit and lechon, and oftentimes karaoke competitions. Having survived their first year, the child is expected to live a long life from then on.

As I consider Boracay Vows my first book baby, I’m celebrating its first birthday with so much joy and gratitude.

I am incredibly grateful for all the support from family, friends, and even strangers. My debt to those who bought Boracay Vows, and especially those who reviewed it, is something I can never repay. I can only try to return their generosity by sharing more of my stories and writing them with love.

My appreciation also goes to the romance writing community. I wouldn’t have been able to move forward in my writing if not for the tips and sharing of their time and resources by other authors.  

To my tribe: OSRBC, Writing Group, SARA, Indie Author Support, Romance Café, Lone Star Book Blog Tour, Romances That Sizzle, Love Romance Reads – Thank you very much for the inclusion, acceptance, and encouragement.  

To my wonderful family here in the US and in the Philippines, thank you. I love you.

I’ve been so blessed in my life, it’s only fair that I give back. For my birthday I’ve placed both Boracay Vows and its sequel New York Engagement on sale for only $0.99 each until November 28. I will donate all earnings from this period to the American Red Cross, my small way of helping those in need.

Buy links to the books can be found here: 

WORST HOLIDAY EVER – Release Day

Three of my friends have stories in this anthology and I can’t wait to read them. Congratulations to R.L. Merrill, Eva Moore, Preslaysa Williams, and their co-collaborators for the release of

Worst Holiday Ever

A Family Drama Romance Anthology

WorstHolidayEver_eBook

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. OK—scratch that. It’s time for another obligatory family gathering. And nothing spices up the eggnog like bringing your partner home. Surely your belligerent brother-in-law, your gimlet-eyed granny, and your drunken uncle will keep it classy. With forced proximity and alcoholic beverages, what could possibly go wrong?

The stories are:

Touched by Fate by Preslaysa Williams
Decked Out by Eva Moore
A Perfect Fit by Adrienne Bell
Crazy Old Money by Kilby Blades
Stealing Christmas by Kari Lemor
Ringing in the Reefer by Marie Booth
The Thanksgiving Parade from Hell by R.L. Merrill
Thankful in Perdition by Erin St. Charles
Feliz Chanukah! by Meg Bellamy

Buy it from your favorite etailers:

www.books2read.com/worstholidayever

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

RL MerrillOnce upon a time… A teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ‘n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and starting purging her demons. Several self-published books and a debut gay romance with Dreamspinner Press later, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. She writes stories set in the places she loves most and loves connecting with other authors. She currently sits on the board for the San Francisco Area Romance Writers of America chapter as VP of Communications. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, educating America’s youth, being a mom taxi to two busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Connect with Ro at www.rlmerrillauthor.com, www.twitter.com/rlmerrillauthor, or www.facebook.com/rowritesrocknromance. Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

 

Headshot longAs a young woman, Eva Moore loved nothing more than to dive into the pages of a book. She even met her husband while reading a romance novel. When the second baby came along though, she found she had little time for diving into anything but laundry. Missing her stories desperately, she began to make up her own. The stories she played with while she washed dishes and changed diapers demanded space on the page, and she was hooked. Winning Cherry Adair’s Finish The Damn Book Contest has propelled her career into high gear. Eva now lives in Silicon Valley, after moving around the world and back, with her college sweetheart, her three gorgeous girls, and a Shih Tzu who thinks he is a cat. She can be found most nights hiding in her closet-office, scribbling away, and loves to hear from the outside world. Please visit her at www.4evamoore.com. You can find her on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/4evamooreauthor or here: www.facebook.com/4evamoore. If you are a fan and want in on exclusive content, giveaways, and shenanigans, join Friends For Eva here: www.facebook.com/groups/FriendsForEvaMoore/

 

preslaysa-williams-HR-10

Preslaysa Williams is a multi-award-winning author of women’s fiction and contemporary romance with an Afro-Filipina twist. She is pursuing her Master in Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction degree at Seton Hill University. She has an undergraduate degree from Columbia University. Her debut novel, a women’s fiction, will release in 2019.

Preslaysa’s Web Links:

Newsletter Sign Up: http://eepurl.com/NArOn
Website: www.preslaysa.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/preslaysa
Instagram: www.instagram.com/preslaysa
Twitter: www.twitter.com/preslaysawrites
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/12017078.Preslaysa_Williams
worst holiday ever

 

WAIT FOR ME by Susan May Warren – Book Blog Tour Bonus Review and Giveaway

BNR Wait for Me JPG

WAIT FOR ME
Montana Rescue Series, Book 6

by

SUSAN MAY WARREN

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Action / Christian
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: November 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 336

SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!

Synopsis
Cover Hi Res Wait for MePete Brooks can’t believe he’s waited an entire year for Jess Tagg to return to Montana, only to have her break his heart by getting engaged to her ex-fiancé. Worse, a series of mistakes on the job have cost lives, and Pete isn’t sure he wants to continue to work in Search and Rescue. Maybe if he can just get over Jess, he can figure out how to move forward.

EMT Jess Tagg has returned to Montana to finally give her heart to Pete, but it seems he’s no longer interested. When a terrible fight between them sparks an impulsive decision, she finds herself crashed on the side of a highway along with Esme Shaw. And just when she thinks things couldn’t get any worse, she and Esme are taken captive and into the untamed Montana wilderness—with murderous intent.

Now Pete and the other PEAK Rescue Team members are in a race against time, the elements, and the actions of a vengeful man. Pete will have to use everything he’s learned to find Jess and Esme—and pray that his past mistakes don’t cost him the life of the woman he can’t stop loving.

Praise for the Montana Rescue Series
“Warren’s stalwart characters and engaging story lines make her Montana Rescue series a must-read.”–Booklist

“Faith, action, romantic tension, humor, and emotional depth.”
Publishers Weekly

“Warren excels at creating flawed characters the reader cares about, as well as building a suspenseful adventure.”
Christian Library Journal

PURCHASE LINKS:
Baker Book House | Amazon | Christianbook.com |
B&N | Kobo | Lifeway | Books-A-Million

Review_preview

NQ 3 Wait for MeUnputdownable, heart-pounding, action-packed romantic suspense novel revolving around not just one, but two fantastic love stories. On top of it all, it’s a Christian romance as well with the characters who were in mortal danger trusting God’s will at the same time that they try their hardest to rescue themselves.

Although I am coming into this series late (this is the first book I read and it’s the series ender), I didn’t feel lost in spite of the numerous named characters. It actually encouraged me to look up the previous five and add them to my to-be-read mountain of books.

NQ 2 Wait for MeWait For Me had me turning page after page to find out how Pete and Jess will finally end up together and how the new romance between Shae and Ned develops, especially with Shae on the verge of death and with a killer still after her. It’s all very exciting and Ms. Warren’s writing is impeccable. She really takes the reader right in the middle of the book as if we’re witnessing the action as it happens.

I love that all the characters are capable, be they men or women. I love that Felipe is an upstanding guy, that he makes it hard for Jess to choose between him and Pete. Like I already said above, although they have faith in God, they don’t just wait to be rescued. Lastly, I love the family and community coming together to help each other out. Fantastic book. I highly recommend it.
AboutTheAuthor

Author Pic Warren_SusanMaySusan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels with more than 1 million books sold, including Wild Montana Skies, Rescue Me, A Matter of Trust, Troubled Waters, and Storm Front. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She makes her home in Minnesota

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———————
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GRAND PRIZE: All 6 Books in the Montana Rescue Series
+ $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
2RD PRIZE: Wait for Me + a Bookworm Mug
3RD PRIZE: Wait for Me + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
November 12-21, 2018
(U.S. Only)

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

11/12/18 	BONUS Review 		Carpe Diem Chronicles 
11/12/18 	Notable Quotable 	Hall Ways Blog 
11/13/18 	Review 			Momma on the Rocks 
11/14/18 	Author Interview 	All the Ups and Downs 
11/15/18 	Review 			Reading by Moonlight 
11/16/18 	Playlist 		Chapter Break Book Blog 
11/17/18 	Review 			Nerd Narration 
11/18/18 	Excerpt 		StoreyBook Reviews 
11/19/18 	Review 			The Clueless Gent 
11/20/18 	Series 			Spotlight Books and Broomsticks 
11/21/18 	Review 			Missus Gonzo 

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