2017 Favorite Books

Wow, 2017 was a great reading year for me. I enjoyed all of the books I read and that made coming up with my list of favorites quite difficult. I was tempted to just not do a list but that’s no fun, right?  Anyway, I went through the list of books read (not necessarily published) in 2017 and these are the titles that stood out. Have you read any of them? They are listed in the order read and all covers link to my reviews:


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Nights at Seaside by Addison Cole

Description:

Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers features a group of fun, flirty, and emotional friends who gather each summer at their Cape Cod cottages. They’re sassy, flawed, and so easy to relate to, you’ll be begging to enter their circle of friends!

Nights at Seaside by Addison Cole is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster’s steamy romance novel Seaside Nights. The stories and characters remain the same, and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.

In NIGHTS AT SEASIDE…
Sky Lacroux has finally realized her dream and opened her own tattoo shop in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She’s happy as can be, preparing the shop for its grand opening and renting a cottage in the Seaside community while renovations to her new apartment are being completed. The only thing missing is the one thing she longs for, and has no control over—love.

Sawyer Bass, a professional boxer, plays his guitar at a local bar to escape the painful reality of his father’s deteriorating health and a recent health warning of his own. But when he spots a stunning brunette across the room, escaping reality goes out the window, and the beautiful woman becomes the focus of his next song—and maybe even the rest of his life.

When Sawyer walks into Sky’s tattoo shop and sees the woman from the bar—Sky—the chemistry between them is instant. Sawyer is everything Sky could ever hope for in a man. He’s honest, loving, sensitive, and potently virile—but boxing goes against everything Sky believes in. The closer they become, the more she realizes that her alpha boxer is waging his own emotional battle—only the battle she thinks he’s waging isn’t the one that threatens to tear them apart.


All Sweet with Heat novels are written to stand alone, so dive right in! If you enjoy this story, for even more fun, read the rest of this sweet and clean contemporary romance novel. Readers of women’s fiction have also enjoyed this deeply emotional, friend-centric series.

SWEET WITH HEAT: SEASIDE SUMMERS SERIES

Read, Write, Love at Seaside
Dreaming at Seaside
Hearts at Seaside
Sunsets at Seaside
Secrets at Seaside
Nights at Seaside
Seized by Love at Seaside
Embraced at Seaside
Lovers at Seaside
Whispers at Seaside


Praise for Addison Cole:

“Addison Cole’s stories are the perfect blend of sizzle and sweet. You won’t be able to stop reading.”​ – ​New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne

“Romance, fun, emotions, and happily ever afters that will warm your heart, Addison Cole writes charming and unforgettable stories about real people and love in its most wonderfully moving forms.” – New York Times bestselling author Violet Duke

“Addison Cole has created characters you’ll fall in love with and a seaside world you’ll never want to leave.” USA Today bestselling author Chris Keniston

“Loved every sweet word of this story. Loved how the relationship developed between Leanna and Kurt in such a genuine way, it made me so invested in their happily ever after. An absolute treat to read and cannot wait for more from Addison Cole.” ~ New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett (aka Juliette Poe, on “Read, Write, Love at Seaside”)


About the author:

Addison Cole is the sweet alter ego of New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Melissa Foster. She writes humorous and emotional sweet contemporary romance. Her books do not include explicit sex scenes or harsh language. Addison spends her summers on Cape Cod, where she dreams up wonderful love stories in her house overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

Addison enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups and welcomes an invitation to your event.


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Giveaway ends January 3, 2018


Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

  • Title:  Now That You Mention It
  • Author:  Kristan Higgins
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  December 2017 – Graydon House
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.  

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments. 

With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter—a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was—Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family. 

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.  (publisher)

My take:  Now That You Mention It is Kristan Higgins’ new stand-alone novel. Nora Stuart is a ‘glass half-full’ kind of person and that is what ends up saving her. She’s had to endure a lot over her thirty-five years which made her appreciate finally coming into her own as a doctor and as a woman. But recently she finds out life hasn’t finished whacking her upside the head when she gets hit by a van as she crosses a street. That is what brings her back to her mother’s house in Maine where her fifteen year old niece ignores her and her mother doesn’t know what to make of her.

As Nora gets her bearings and recovers from her injuries we learn about her background – the years of growing up on an island in Maine. Her family life was good until it wasn’t. Life changed one day and left Nora with unanswered questions that would have a lasting effect on her and Lily, her sister.

Nora will find out if one can really go home again. Now That You Mention It is a story about friendships, family and new possibilities. She might even get some answers to those long ago questions. I think fans of Kristan Higgins will be happy with this novel. Higgins’ typical humor, heartfelt story, colorful characters, etc are all there. I enjoyed it.


About Kristan Higgins:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award, Kristan lives with her family in a small Connecticut town that boasts a wonderful library, a great agricultural fair, a really good ice-cream stand and not much else. She is the mother of two lovely kids and the wife of a brave firefighter who is also (perhaps more important) a fantastic cook.

Previously a copywriter, Kristan began writing fiction when her children graced her life with simultaneous afternoon naps. Writing, she found, was infinitely more satisfying than folding laundry, and so began her first novel. Kristan holds a BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross, which means she can identify dangling participles, quote many great novels and play a mean game of Scrabble.

Kristan is an award-winning baker, devoted fan of the New York Yankees and an avid reader. She and her crew spend as much time as possible at the family home on Cape Cod, where they shiver in the Atlantic, ride bikes, swat horseflies and don’t catch any fish. Visit her at KristanHiggins.com.


 

Sunday Post – Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas


Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

   

Last week on Bookfan:


Reading plan for this week:

When this post went live I had plans to read a particular book. Those plans changed with the busy holiday festivities and I decided to do a Spotlight/US giveaway of that book. Stay tuned!


 

Cardinal Cabin by Joanne De Maio

  • Title:  Cardinal Cabin
  • Author:  Joanne DeMaio
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  215
  • Published:  September 2017 – Joanne DeMaio
  • Source:  Purchased

My take: In her new novel Joanne DeMaio takes readers back to Addison, Connecticut – the setting for a few of her previous novels. It’s a quaint and charming town that always makes me wish I lived there. With this visit to Addison we meet Penny, a reluctant travel agent. Reluctant in that she really doesn’t want to travel but she loves to help arrange trips for other people. Her boss has assigned a publicity campaign for the weeks leading up to Christmas. She’ll stay at an unidentified location and post a daily photo and clue for residents to guess where in New England Penny is staying. The promotion will end when someone guesses correctly or on Christmas Eve when Penny discloses her whereabouts.

Although Penny wasn’t sure leaving the creature comforts of her apartment in town was a good idea her mind is changed when she meets Frank. Frank, part-time handyman at the lake cabins where Penny is staying, is kind of awkward but Penny can immediately see he’s a really nice guy with mannerisms that make him seem like he’s from another era. I loved how their romance unfolded as they had such a unique experience of getting to know each other in secret (Penny couldn’t be seen in public during the contest). Frank also is co-owner of The Boathouse, an event location in Addison. He’s a busy guy but soon wants to spend what little free time he has with Penny. Sounds idyllic, right? Well it is until there’s a misunderstanding that could have a lasting effect. Will they figure things out and set things right? You’ll have to read to find out. If you like a contemporary romance with an old-fashioned vibe I think you’ll like Cardinal Cabin. I enjoyed it.


 

Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

  • Title:  Poison
  • Author:  Galt Niederhoffer
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  November 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids, a cat, and a yard, they are living the modern family dream. A recent move to Portland, Maine is the perfect fresh start – a fixer-upper Victorian, new jobs for Cass and Ryan, a good school for the kids, and the shimmering bay in sight. But trouble begins imperceptibly, first with the white lies told in every marital bedroom.

Was he really “stuck at the office”?

Did he delete a text?

The lies seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a swirl of denials, explanations, and confusion. The tables are turned.

Is he lying? Or am I losing my mind?

With life-and-death consequences, Poison is a chilling reminder that the ties that bind can also be instruments of torture. And that breaking trust is the most toxic betrayal of all. (publisher)

My take:  When widowed mother of two young children and former award-winning investigative reporter Cass meets Ryan he seems an answer to her prayers. After a whirlwind ‘courtship’ they marry and their son is born several months later. After a few concerning occurrences they move to Maine for a fresh beginning. Life is great. Until it isn’t. Cass has suspicions that something has flipped in their marriage.  Cass will find out just who (if anyone) she can trust and where she’ll get help for her dire situation. I thought the author did a good job building drama and even suspense. She makes her point of the challenges women face in the legal/criminal system. Most of the novel I wasn’t certain Cass was a reliable narrator – not because of what her husband said but because of her self-doubt. That bothered me but I’m guessing it’s not unusual for abused women to feel that way. Recommended to fans of psychological thrillers.


 

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

  • Title:  The Flight Attendant
  • Author:  Chris Bohjalian
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  368
  • Pub. Date:  March 2018 – Doubleday
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Cassie has been a flight attendant for a major airline for almost 20 years. She’s also a functioning alcoholic which has given her a reputation among her co-workers and the few friends she has. When she works the first class section on a flight to Dubai she meets a handsome and charming American hedge fund manager who she agrees to meet later at his hotel. That decision, followed by a series of really bad decisions, sets her life on an unexpected course that is in turn horrifying and intriguing.

Told mostly from Cassie’s (unreliable) perspective the novel made me feel anxious – and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I don’t want to risk a spoiler but I can say that if an international, of-the-moment thriller is a genre you enjoy you will want to read The Flight Attendant.


 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

   

Last week on Bookfan:

         

Reading plan for this week:


Our first snow of the season fell on Saturday


Christmas In Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts

  • Title:  Christmas In Icicle Falls
  • Series:  Life in Icicle Falls # 11
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Narrator:  Amy McFadden
  • Length:  9hrs. 35min.
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  October 2017 – Mira Books
  • Source:  Library Audiobook (HooplaDigital)

Description:  When Muriel Sterling released her new book, A Guide to Happy Holidays, she felt like the queen of Christmas. She’s thrilled when the new tree she ordered online arrives and is eager to show it off—until she gets it out of the box and realizes it’s a mangy dud. But rather than give up on the ugly tree, Muriel decides to make a project out of it. As she pretties up her tree, she realizes there’s a lesson to be learned: everything and everyone has potential. Maybe even her old friend Arnie, who’s loved her for years. Except, she’s not the only one seeing Arnie’s potential…

Meanwhile, Muriel’s ugly-tree project has also inspired her friends. Sienna Moreno is trying to bring out the best in the grouchy man next door, who hates noise, hates kids and hates his new neighbors. And while Olivia Claussen would love to send her obnoxious new daughter-in-law packing, she’s adjusting her attitude and trying to discover what her son sees in the girl. If these women can learn to see the beauty in the “ugly trees” in their lives, perhaps this might turn out to be the happiest holiday yet. (publisher)

My take:  I’ve read all but one of the books (and I have it on my bookshelf) in the Life in Icicle Falls series. That said, this book can stand on its own. With a wink and a nod to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Sheila Roberts’ final novel in the series is a delight. I especially loved that Muriel Sterling, the sage of Icicle Falls, might not have it all together as her self-help books imply. I enjoyed seeing how things worked out for her! I also liked the storyline of local inn-owner Olivia and her relationship with her new daughter-in-law. They learned a lot about each other – and themselves in the process. There’s also single mother Sienna and her new friend Tim (nephew of Robert Cratchet). Sienna learns how to trust her decisions and her ability to have faith in possibilities where Tim is concerned. It all made for a heart-warming conclusion to a really enjoyable series. Narrator Amy McFadden did a fine job voicing the characters. Her performance added to the warmth of the novel.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Cold Harbor by Matthew FitzSimmons

Description:

A Wall Street Journal bestselling series.

After a period of brutal isolation in a CIA black-site prison, former Marine and gifted hacker Gibson Vaughn is free—but with no idea where he was or how much time he’s lost. Struggling to maintain his grip on reality, he races to return to the life he left behind. Angry and disoriented, his thoughts turn to vengeance and the man responsible for his rendition. But Gibson’s drive for retribution and the ghosts of his violent past plunge him back into a world he wants only to escape.

As old enemies and once-trusted allies resurface, the architects of a murderous conspiracy will beat a sinister path to Gibson’s doorstep. In discovering the shocking truth about those he thought he knew best, only one thing is certain: those responsible must be made to answer…and pay.


About the author:

Matthew FitzSimmons is the author of the bestselling Gibson Vaughn series, which includes The Short Drop and Poisonfeather. Born in Illinois and raised in London, England, he now lives in Washington, DC, where he taught English literature and theater at a private high school for more than a decade.


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Bel, Book and Scandal by Maggie McConnon

  • Title:  Bel, Book and Scandal
  • Series: Belfast McGrath Mystery #3
  • Author:  Maggie McConnon
  • Genre:  Cozy Mystery
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  December 2017 – St. Martin’s Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Book, and Scandal, the third adventure for everybody’s favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth.

Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor—and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel’s best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster’s Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel’s burning desire to find out what happened to Amy—and whether she may still be alive—is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little…and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought. (publisher)

My take:  Belfast McGrath is a chef who left her last gig in disgrace and returned home to work for her parents at Shamrock Manor, cooking for weddings and other events. Being back in the place where she grew up is a challenge rife with memories both good and bad. After a meeting with a prospective client Bel finds a newspaper the client left behind that has a startling photo – Bel’s best friend who was thought to have died now appears to be very much alive. This starts amateur sleuth Bel on a search for her friend.

Maggie McConnon’s mystery was entertaining but not in a laugh out loud way (although I did occasionally). I loved her characters – Bel’s parents and brothers were funny in the same way we may see our own family members as funny, quirky, odd.  In addition to her family were assorted towns-people, old boyfriends, new friends. They all added to my enjoyment and any of them could have been a red herring. I didn’t figure out whodunit until close to the end – and then I wasn’t sure!

Bel, Book and Scandal is the third book in the Belfast McGrath series. I haven’t read the first two but didn’t feel lost because McConnon did a good job of bringing me up to speed in the opening chapters. Recommended to fans of the series and the cozy mystery genre.


About the author:

MAGGIE MCCONNON grew up in New York immersed in Irish culture and tradition. A former Irish stepdancer, she was surrounded by a family of Irish musicians who still play at family gatherings. She credits her Irish grandparents with providing the stories of their homeland and their extended families as the basis for the stories she tells in her Belfast McGrath novels, beginning with Wedding Bel Blues.

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Buy Links:
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B&N
iBooks
Powells
IndieBound



 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Next of Kin by James Tucker

Description:

A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork—and ends with the bone-chilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan?

When two more massacres decimate the Brookses’ ranks, Buddy’s hunt narrows. But his challenges grow as power, money, and secret crimes from the family’s past stand in the way. With Ben more and more at risk, Buddy steps closer to the edge, forcing a relentless killer to become more brazen, brutal, and cunning. Saving the boy will put all of Buddy’s skills to the test…and risk the lives of everyone he loves.


About the author:

James Tucker has worked as an attorney at an international law firm and is currently an executive managing real estate strategy at a Fortune 50 company, where his work includes frequent travel throughout the United States. Fascinated by the crimes of those in power, he draws on these cases for his writing. He has a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and was one of four fiction writers awarded a position at a past Mentor Series at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He has attended the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in Portland, where he was mentored by author Walter Kirn. He lives near Minneapolis with his wife, the painter Megan Rye, and their family. Next of Kin is his first novel.


US Giveaway

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Christmas Reads

My busy November (aka my low-reading month) has left me without reviews to post this week. I was thinking about possible blog posts and decided to list my recent Christmas additions to my library. I’m hoping to read all or most from now until the end of December.

***

Join USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts this Christmas as she returns for the final installment in her treasured Icicle Falls series

When Muriel Sterling released her new book, A Guide to Happy Holidays, she felt like the queen of Christmas. She’s thrilled when the new tree she ordered online arrives and is eager to show it off—until she gets it out of the box and realizes it’s a mangy dud. But rather than give up on the ugly tree, Muriel decides to make a project out of it. As she pretties up her tree, she realizes there’s a lesson to be learned: everything and everyone has potential. Maybe even her old friend Arnie, who’s loved her for years. Except, she’s not the only one seeing Arnie’s potential…

Meanwhile, Muriel’s ugly-tree project has also inspired her friends. Sienna Moreno is trying to bring out the best in the grouchy man next door, who hates noise, hates kids and hates his new neighbors. And while Olivia Claussen would love to send her obnoxious new daughter-in-law packing, she’s adjusting her attitude and trying to discover what her son sees in the girl. If these women can learn to see the beauty in the “ugly trees” in their lives, perhaps this might turn out to be the happiest holiday yet.

***

From New York Times bestselling author Joanne DeMaio comes a heartwarming novel as merry and bright as a red-feathered cardinal taking flight.

Frank Lombardo’s never been spontaneous. The closest he’s come was accepting a side job chopping firewood for a lakeside community of rustic cabins. But with another lonely holiday season imminent, Frank’s sister urges him to be spontaneous because, seriously, who does he ever expect to meet out in the woods?

With a suitcase in hand and a bit of reluctance, too, Penny Hart arrives at Cardinal Cabin on Snowflake Lake. It’s only for a brief stay, though nobody knows where she is. Not her boss, not her friends…

Only Frank Lombardo. As the two unexpectedly meet at Addison’s hidden hideaway, a spontaneous kiss sets everything amiss. But can the magic of this quaint New England town keep these snowy sweethearts together?

Cardinal Cabin is an enchanting tale about finding love where you least expect it. So come on inside. A cozy fire crackles, lights twinkle on the evergreen tree, snowflakes tap at the windowpanes, and little redbirds bring cheer this time of year.

***

Stevie Franklin is ready to go all-out Grinch on Christmas this year, but a snowy trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains could provide some unexpected gifts…
 
Stevie is thrilled to help her best friend Sunny launch her new greenhouse business in Blue Hollow Falls. Not only does it give her a chance to visit the quaint location, but it’s a welcome distraction from Stevie’s recent bad luck with men. Just one catch: since Sunny’s home is under renovation, Stevie must stay at the local inn, whose amenities feature hunky innkeeper, Noah Tyler.

Noah may be as tempting as her grandmother’s famous sweet potato pie, but city-girl Stevie isn’t sticking around—and she doesn’t do flings. Yet when Noah’s chef gets stranded in a Christmas Eve snowstorm, Stevie can’t resist pitching in and serving up some of her family’s favorite recipes. The magic of a Blue Ridge Christmas is already rekindling Stevie’s holiday spirit and making her wonder what else she might be missing out on. Now can Noah restore Stevie’s belief in love?
 
Includes original down-home holiday recipes!

***

Warm up with this heartfelt romance in the Mustang Ridge series…

Grateful to her twin for keeping Mustang Ridge in the family, Jenny Skye agrees to return home for a month so her sister can get away. It’s the middle of winter, and only a few year-round staffers, her family, and the animals will be there. But the globe-trotting videographer is soon in way over her head at the dude ranch dealing with reservations, her redecorating-obsessed mother, and the town’s hunky new veterinarian.

Despite his adventurous past, Nick Masterson is putting down roots in Mustang Ridge. When a stray dog, a missing family member, and a snowstorm conspire to throw him and Jenny together, there’s no denying the blaze of attraction. But can a relationship that began in the heat of the moment turn into something more for a woman who’s always been eager to put her hometown behind her?

***

Are you reading any Christmas books this season? I’d love to hear about them. Any favorites?