I read 190 books in 2019, seventy more than in 2018. Audiobooks made all the difference in my reading habits this year. They contributed to eighty of the books I experienced in 2019, seven of which are in my Top 19.
Here they are in the order I read them. In the interest of full disclosure, I want to inform you that some of the links in this post are affiliate links to Indie Bound store and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman – Probably the best audio I listened to all year. I loved the all-star cast.
New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb – my favorite re-read of the year. One of my Top 5 J.D. Robb books.
How to Seduce a Spy by Catherine Stein – a great debut by a fantastic indie author. I featured her Eden’s Voice here.
Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas – possibly my favorite of the Ravenels. Gorgeous cover as well.
Death’s Dancer by Jasmine Silvera – great world-building. Now, I want to go to Prague because of this book.
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han – one of the rare times when I like the second book better than the first.
SINGAPORE FLING is on a book blog tour with Lone Star Literary Life from November 12 to 21. Get to know more about me and Singapore Fling through special features like Maddie’s Top Five List, an Author Interview, my thoughts about traveling through books, a favorite recipe, and a Scrapbook Page. There will also be book reviews and fantastic giveaways.
Here’s the schedule (Bold links are published posts):
1ST PRIZE (US only)
Kindle Fire 7 + Signed Copy of Singapore Fling 2ND PRIZE (US only)
Signed copies of Boracay Vows and Singapore Fling + charm bracelet 3RD PRIZE (US only)
A signed copy of Singapore Fling + spice paste packets (Hainanese Chicken Rice and Laksa) 4TH PRIZE (international)
eBooks of all three books in the Carpe Diem Chronicles series
He’s a Special Forces veteran making his pro hockey debut. She’s a dogged sports reporter determined to get a scoop. She’s also his best friend’s widow . . .
Fans can’t get enough of Levi Hunt, the Special Forces veteran who put his NHL career on hold to serve his country and fight the bad guys. So when his new Chicago Rebels bosses tell him to cooperate with the press on a profile, he’s ready to do his duty. Until he finds out who he has to work with: flame-haired, freckle-splashed, impossibly perky Jordan Cooke.
Also known as the woman he should not have kissed the night she buried her husband, Levi’s best friend in the service.
Hockey-stick-up-his-butt-serious Levi Hunt might despise Jordan for reasons she can’t fathom—okay, it’s to do with kissing—but her future in the cutthroat world of sports reporting hangs on delivering the goods on the league’s hottest, grumpiest rookie. So what if he’s not interested in having his life plated up for public consumption. Too bad. Jordan will have to play dirty to get her scoop and even dirtier to get her man. Only in winning the story, she might just lose her heart . . .
In this standalone romance set in the Chicago Rebels world, a new generation of players take to the ice and learn that all’s fair in love and hockey.
Originally from Ireland, Kate cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Harlequins thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, and she’s there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip.
I adore Kate Meader’s Chicago Rebels series so much I cried when it ended with Hooked On You. I thought I’d never see those beloved characters again and so when Kate announced this spin-off with the Rookie Rebels, I jumped at the chance to read an advance copy of Good Guy.
It did not disappoint. This was zing-y, quip-py, and full of heart and social relevance like the original series. Everyone’s back. Remy and Harper, Vadim and Isobel, Dante and Cade, Bren and Violet, plus cameos by Kinsey and Luke from another fantastic KM series – Hot in Chicago. More importantly, I already love the “rookies” who are introduced here and I’m looking forward to their books, especially Theo’s and, dare I hope, Elle’s.
Good Guy is Levi Hunt’s story and what a great story it is. Grumpy, close-mouthed, big-hearted, incredibly humble, super sexy (of course), and slightly insecure. He kept mentioning impostor syndrome and, oh boy, I could relate. His pining for Jordan, his care for Elle and Theo, and concern for Joe, his integrity, his drive to improve his skills made me love him. If this review is all about Levi, Good Guy will receive five stars.
But, it also includes Jordan Cooke – ambitious sports reporter, irresponsible journalist, undeserving object of Levi’s affection, and cause of lower rating. Kate may have tried to do too much with her as a symbol of gender inequality and sexual harassment in the (sports and media) workplace and it created an imbalance in her personality versus Levi’s more heroic characterization. I didn’t take too well to her and placing her beside Harper didn’t do Jordan any justice. As a military spouse who had to make adjustments in terms of career choices, I can relate somehow. But, the way she accomplished her goals could have been done differently, in my opinion.
Kate’s writing is superb and I trust her to tell great stories. Even though there were aspects of Good Guy that didn’t satisfy, I’m still very excited about this new series. Can’t wait for the next book!
Kate is giving away $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. Open internationally. Ends on August 8.
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)
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.
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
A 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.
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)
If you like contemporary romance,interracial couples and a dream holiday place, this is your book.
The heroine is Krista, in her late twenties she wants to leave her life behind for a week, to give in her desire after being an obedient daughter,responsible older sister, diligently student,steady worker and supportive friend.
The hero ,Blake,is the perfection copy of a Jersey man that many of us love and swooned whenever he makes an appearance, Henry Cavill.
We are taken to a journey full of flavours, from specific Philippine dishes, amazing landscapes and vibrant views to the language dialect that are so different in every isle.
Like every character, each has their insecurities and think if they are good enough for the other and are going through the first moments of falling in love in a relationship and there is always a happy ending .
(Inspired by “Cinderella”)
A Modern Fairytale Collection
From New York Times bestselling author Katy Regnery comes a dark and twisted retelling of the beloved fairytale, Cinderella!
My name is Ashley Ellis…
I was thirteen years old when my mother – retired supermodel, Tig – married Mosier Răumann, who was twice her age and the head of the Răumann crime family.
When I turned eighteen, my mother mysteriously died. Only then did I discover the dark plans my stepfather had in store for me all along; the debauched “work” he expected me to do.
With the help of my godfather, Gus, I have escaped from Mosier’s clutches, but his twin sons and henchmen have been tasked with hunting me down. And they will stop at nothing to return my virgin body to their father
When Katy Regnery promised a twisted Cinderella, she delivered big time. Fragments of Ash is not your Disney-style fairy tale. There is no ball, no gown, no glass slippers. There IS a fairy godfather, a pervert stepfather, two cowed stepbrothers, and an initially-indifferent Prince Charming. It’s diverse and multilingual – Gus is gay, Mosier and his sons are Romanian, there’s a Catholic priest, the grandparents are from Wales, and the hero is half-French. It’s harrowing, angsty, heart-pounding, tragic, and sometimes all-too-real. But, it is also wonderfully sweet, especially in the slow-burn romance between Ashley and Julian.
I love the balance between good and evil with Mosier and Ash’s grandparents taking on the role of villains, while Gus, Jock, Father Joseph, and Julian are firmly on the side of the angels. I also like the ambiguity with Tig and Anders. The diary device is effectively used in having her be a big part of the book even after her death.
Highly evocative, Fragments of Ash will make you feel for the main characters. I was truly scared for Ash in a couple of early scenes. I was both disgusted and saddened by Tig’s lifestyle. And, I fell in love with Julian’s “courtship” of Ash – asking for her consent, giving her the control over their physical interactions, having confidence in her strength to face Mosier as bait, protecting her. He is the total opposite of Mosier. That is why he’s the hero. He is why we read romance.
Readers, heed the disclaimer. This is an adult story with profane language and themes that could trigger trauma: drugs, rape threat, murder. If you like light and fluffy, this is not for you. If you’re a mature reader who likes to be engaged, immersed, involved with the story, buy Fragments of Ash. Now.
FRAGMENTS OF ASH is part of the ~a modern fairytale~ collection: contemporary, standalone romances inspired by beloved fairy tales.
The Vixen and the Vet (Beauty & the Beast) – available now
Never Let You Go (Hansel & Gretel) – available now
Ginger’s Heart (Little Red Riding Hood) – available now
Dark Sexy Knight (Camelot) – available now
Don’t Speak (The Little Mermaid) – available now
Sheer Heaven (Rapunzel) – available now
Fragments of Ash (Cinderella) – available now
Swan Song (The Ugly Duckling) – coming soon
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Regnery started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract, and Katy’s first novel was published in September 2013.
Katy’s first modern fairytale romance, The Vixen and the Vet, was nominated for a RITA® in 2015 and won the 2015 Kindle Book Award for romance. Katy’s boxed set, The English Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1–4, hit the USA Today bestseller list in 2015, and her Christmas story, Marrying Mr. English, appeared on the list a week later. In May 2016, Katy’s Blueberry Lane collection, The Winslow Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1–4, became a New York Times e-book bestseller.
Katy’s books are available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Turkish.
Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, two dogs, and one Blue Tonkinese kitten create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home.
I received this book as a gift from the author. All opinions are my own.
When an author is a friend, especially the longer I know them, I often worry about their book possibly disappointing me, as tastes can differ widely, as I have found from my experience as a member of a number of book groups. But my fears with Maida Malby’s debut were unfounded. In fact, her book is one of those rare debut novels that not only shows the promise of the writer, but will instantly suck you in.
She strikes a great balance between an authentic exploration of Filipino culture, including language and cuisine, as well as family values, with which she is obviously familiar, and presenting the characters as people