2015 End of the Year Reading Survey : The stories behind #JLASblog’s 2nd Year!

Posted Thursday, 31 March, 2016 by jorielov , 2 Comments

2015 End of the Year Survey badge created by Jorie in Canva.

The Questions for the 2016 End of the Year Survey are posted by Jaime @ the Perpetual Page Turner, who created this survey as a personal reflection of her year of bookish wanderings and readings, and never thought it would turn into a book blogosphere yearly event! I am thankful she encourages us all to participate as I would have last year but felt I hadn’t yet sprouted my bookish wings as I have this year!

2015 Reading & Posting Stats:

Number of Re-Reads: 0 | definitely something I should work on resolving!

Number of Classical Fiction: 0 | #epicfail | lest I say more?

Number of Novellas and/or Short Story Collections: 3

2015 was a definitive year where I fell head over heels in love with *shorts!* So much so, one of the collections wasn’t able to be read/reviewed by year’s end (‘Scarecrow’) and it’s closely followed by two more from World Weaver Presses *awesome!* releases: ‘Frozen Fairy Tales’ and ‘Far Orbit’!! I was unexpectedly delayed from posting the rest of my reviews for this beautiful publisher. They resume this Spring, starting in April 2016.

Number of Books Read of a Publisher (Top 5):

{ full listing of publishers I review as I read }

(1)  Small Trade | Indie Pub/Press | Self-Pub or Hybrid = 54 Books (mix of fiction & non-fiction)

I elected to combine every which way to Sunday an author can be an ‘Indie Author’

(2) Cedar Fort Publishing & Media = 35 Books (mix of fiction, non-fiction & cookery)

I reviewed quite a few non-fiction and cookbooks in 2015 ontop of the fiction releases

(3) HarperCollins Publishers = 16 Books

William Morrow and the P.S. Editions still remain my most read choices

(4) ChocLitUK = 6 Books (of multiple sub-genres within Romance)

My reading queue was lower this year due to health & those lightning storms!

(5)  Penguin Random House = 6 (should have been 7 with The Little Paris Bookshop)

I find the break-downs per year the most interesting; especially as my inclinations to read Indie Authors increases each year. Mind you, I love Major Trade and I think if I could reach the point where I read 50% of both Indie and Major Trade markets per year, I’ll be quite happy indeed! I’m a hardcore Indie girl / reader, but I cannot dismiss the fact I still *love!* Major Trade!

The publishers where I read less than five were as follows:

Simon and Schuster | Hachette | Kensington | MacMillian | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Number of Blog Tours Hosted:
(individual blog tours – some had multiple posts spilt between reviews & author guest features)

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Novels: 88

Short Stories: 20

Inside “Corvidae” (review)

  • Whistles and Thrills by Kat Otis
  • The Rookery of Sainte-Mère-Église by Tim Deal
  • Raven No More by Adria Laycraft
  • The Tell-Tale Heart of Existence by Michael M. Rader
  • Sanctuary by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
  • Flight by Angela Slatter
  • The Valravn by Angela Slatter
  • Visiting Hours by Michael S. Pack
  • A Murder of Crows (a poem) by Jane Yolen

Inside “Rift in the Sky” | blogged on 1st Trade Pact (review)

Stonerim III

Inside “A Thousand Words for Stranger” (review)

Brothers Bound

Inside “FAE” (review)

  • Rosie Red Jacket by Christine Morgan
  • Antlers by Amanda Block
  • Only Make Believe by Lauren Liebowitz
  • The Cartography of Shattered Trees by Beth Cato

Inside “Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy” (review)

  • The Assurance Salesman
  • Fade
  • Do Better
  • Inner Strength
  • Starter Kit

Non-Fiction: 13

Cookery: 9

Pages read: 34,073

(+1) Alaina Claiborne | I only was able to read the opening chapters

(+1) Devil in the White City | listened to the audiobook and read the hardback (a quarter of the book)

(+1) The Barter  | read the opening chapters (in-progress late December)

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Let’s break this down a bit further, shall we?

You can use this as a ‘preview guide’ of how to use my Story Vault.

2015 Year End Quote badge created by Jorie in Canva.

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Classical Literature: After Canons

| Focused on sequels of ‘Jane Austen’ & ‘ Jane Eyre’ |

| Focused on ‘Fairy-tale Re-tellings’ |

  • What is Lost by Lauren Skidmore Little Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm
  • Bearskin by Jamie Robyn Wood Bearskin by Brothers Grimm
    and Norse fairy-tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon

Literary Fiction:

Swedish Literature (translated):

The Swimmer by Joakim Zander

South American Literature (translated):

Riding by Cassia Cassitas

Realistic Fiction:
*note: also find stories for this category in INSPY Fict and YA Lit

Inspirational Fiction:
*INSPY by definition refers to “Inspirational Fiction” the main branch of Literature for ‘faith-based literature’ and is non-inclusive to one particular religion as it is accepting of all denominations and religions as a whole; wherein the stories are rooted in a faith-centered life. Faith is an individual walk and journey, thereby the stories under this umbrella of a genre ‘Inspirational Fiction’ is as diverse as the seven seas and the populace therein on the continents. (written originally here)

Children’s Literature | Juvenile Fiction | Middle Grade:

Children’s Literature | Picture | Chapter Books | Early Readers:

Children’s Literature | Young Adult | Realistic YA:

Children’s Literature | Young Adult | YA Fantasy | YA Sci-Fantasy:

Children’s Literature | Young Adult | YA Historical:

New Adult:
{ New Adult / NA is a transition between YA & Adult Fiction }

Mystery | Suspense:

Cosy Historical Mysteries:

Hard-boiled | Traditional Historical Mysteries:

  • The Iris Fan by Laura Joh Rowland includes reflections on “Shinju”, “The Incense Game”, and “The Shogun’s Daughter” as a preview of the series before I read “The Iris Fan”
  • Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd includes reflections on “A Test of Wills” and an introductory precursor to reading ‘Hunting Shadows’ by a reader first attempt to read Todd.
  • Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell includes an expanded reflection (it’s a review!) on “Murder As A Fine Art” the first in the series from a new reader of Morrell.

Hard-boiled | Suspense | Thriller:

Turning to Stone by Gabriel Valjan

TechnoThriller | Espionage Fiction:

Cosy Horror | Psychological Suspense:

This section is upcoming to Jorie Loves A Story! Refer to my interview with Lynn Carthage to understand how to find cross-referenced links to route through where I blog about ‘Cosy Horror’ a sub-genre designation I created during Oh, the Books! Horror October, 2014!

Historical Fiction:

Military Stories and/or War Dramas of HistFic:

Biographical { Historical } Fiction:

Science Fiction:

The Clan Chronicles by Julie E. Czerneda:

Science Fiction based on Science Fact:

Antiphony+ & Entrevoir by Chris Katsaropoulos

Urban Fantasy:

Fantasy Anthologies:

Women’s Fiction | Contemporary Romance:

Romantic Suspense:

Historical Romance Fiction:

Western Romance Fiction:

Soda Springs by Carolyn Steele

Paranormal Romance (PNR):

Alternative Historical Fiction | with Fantasy or PNR Elements:

Adult Paranormal Romance:
Due note: I am attempting to navigate the world of Adult PNR w/o vulgarity yet finding it still. However, the novels in this list are ones where the strong language did not deter me from the pages and thankfully were not peppered with such a high frequency to divert my joy.

Non-Fiction:

Motherhood | Parenthood | Mumhood | Adoption:

Cookery: Savoury & Baking (with a healthy bent of focus)

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(adding) Number of Special Event Features: = 15

(adding) Number of Guest Author Features: = 13

(adding) Author Interviews: Questions & Conversations = 24

(adding) LIVE Author Q&As and/or Interviews events = 1

Author Interview by phone: 1

Unfortunately it remained unpublished and featured due to a loss of my notes;
one of the causalities of those lightning storms from the Summer.

(adding) Books &/or Authors I Featured yet Haven’t yet Read the Stories: = 17

The Month9Books* featured here are awaiting the day where I can purchase print editions.

  1. The Artisans* by Julie Reece
  2. The Perilous Journey of a Not-So-Innocuous Girl* by Leigh Statham
  3. Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show* by Steve Bryant
  4. Summer of the Oak Moon* by Laura Templeton
  5. Joshua and the Lightning Road* by Donna Galanti
  6. Serpentine* by Cindy Pon
  7. Anni Moon and the Elemental Artifact by Melanie Abed
  8. A Baker’s Guide to Life by Judith Ryan Hendricks
  9. The Ones We Trust by Kimberly Belle
  10. The Wild One by Janet Gover (upcoming April 2016)
  11. Fall of Poppies (anthology)
  12. Alaina Claiborne by MK McClintock
  13. Naked: A Novel of Lady Godvia by Eliza Redgold
  14. Trinity Stones: YA Edition by L.G. O’ Connor
  15. Haunted by Lynn Carthage
  16. On The Edge by T.S. Krupa
  17. The Rest of my Life by Sheryl Browne

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As a whole as I look back on [2015] as a year from a reading point-of-view, I accomplished quite a lot of what I was hoping to read, and fell quite a bit short with a backlog of titles, I truly wished I could have read between Spring and Summer. As declared on my Bookish Not Bookish Thoughts, No.6 I am still very much aware of the lost hours but am moving forward with the stories. I ended the year with a month-long virus in December, with a fortnight of health difficulties in late November. I was cut short from finishing my readings of The Clan Chronicles as well as the rest of the novels and stories I had outlined to read during Sci Fi November 2015.

I had also declared my next ChocLit reads in my Bookish Not Bookish Thoughts, No.6, however, there was a slight delay in delivery and I’ve re-scheduled my ChocLit reviews for Spring 2016. They will become my first ChocLit novels of 2016 rather than the last four ChocLit novels of 2015. At the time of this posting I have released my reviews of: The Silver Locket and Evie Undercover with The Wedding Cake Tree arriving on Saturday, the 2nd of April. I am seriously itching to read all of them and cannot wait to see what is awaiting me next! Reading ChocLit is a pure delight of mine and I am especially grateful to be a ChocLit reviewer; they were one of the first publishers I started to work with directly, too.

There were a handful of Fridays, where I wanted to showcase a ‘new release’ from Month9Books, as part of their showcases, however, I never quite could find the hours I needed to curate those posts. One in particular, Serpentine by Cindy Pon was amongst my favourites to have stumbled across through the process of sorting out which Friday Reveals to host on JLAS. Her novel is one that I am hoping to read in [2016] either through ILL’ing (inter-library loan) or asking for this as a purchase request at my local library. The Reveals team is moving in-house (learnt on 11th January) and blessedly will have a bit more flexibility with added content to bring to my readers. Quite eager to see what will be ‘revealled’; no pun intended! I am projecting to resume from whence I left off on April Fool’s Day – but it’s not a joke, it’s a girl continuing discovering #MGLit and #YALit authors she’s wicked excited about reading coming out of Month9Books!

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Towards the end of the year, I decided to try my hand at understanding the catalogues by publishers on Edelweiss, as I had previously found the site to be a bit daunting! This has led me to working directly with new publishers, including publishers of whom I have read either a limited number of books by or none at all! I am quite pleased with myself to try something ‘new’ and to engage with the publicists at these publishing houses who are open to working with book bloggers. I approached Edelweiss as a traditional reader who reads print books rather than a modern reader who reads digitally. I was thrilled to bits to realise Edelweiss works for all of us!

I am happy that I can start to blog my reviews for these publishers starting in Spring [2016] as due to my illness in December, the tragic loss of my beloved companion in fur during January and the unforeseen debilitating migraine of March – I was unable to read nor blog my reviews on behalf of these lovelies! For a quick recapture of where I was in January, kindly read “Two Years, Two Cats“.

Prometheus Books | Seventh Street Books | PYR:

The two I had planned to post (in December 2015) were The Secret Life of Anna Blac and Kepler and the Universe. Masks and Shadows was a surprise offering by the publicist I have been working with at Prometheus. The premise is the type of historicals I love to discover, as historicals do whet a healthy thirst of interest each year, but as you can see, I was trying to expand outward a bit into mystery/suspense and non-fiction, too! Some of the titles are Spring Releases.

  • The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe | Synopsis
  • Kepler and the Universe by David K. Love | Synopsis
  • Nebula Awards Showcase 2015 (Synopsis) & Nebula Award Showcase 2016 (Synopsis)
  • See Also Murder (Synopsis) & See Also Deception (Synopsis) by Larry D. Sweazy
  • Einstein at Home by Friedrich Herneck | Synopsis
  • Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis | Synopsis

This happens to be the new publisher for Susan Spann and her book series (Shinobi Mysteries) has been re-titled as the Hiro Hattori novels (as excitedly celebrated in this Twitter convo). I have more exciting things to share about this publisher as I’m also working with JKS Communications with one of their series – you’ll simply have to stay tuned to find out more!

I reached out to the publicist as March was drawing to a close, as I wanted to explain my absence in posts, and she in turn, touched my heart by her understanding and her grace to recognise I couldn’t start my reviews until now (i.e. April 2016). I cannot stress how much of a blessing this was to receive and how thankful I am for finding this publisher, as each time they send me a catalogue of new releases, I am finding myself taken in wonderment and joy by the curiously delightful subjects (for Non-Fiction) and story-lines (for Fiction). I cannot wait to start my explorations and ruminations on behalf of their author’s stories!

I added three titles – Summer releases – to my queue and this is why they stood out to me:

The Circle: A Mathematical Exploration Beyond the Line by Alfred S. Posamentier – I always was intrigued by mathematics and mathematical concepts but math never came easy to me. Yet, I have a healthy appetite for reading about math and for Quantum Physics; thereby never limiting myself to what I can understand. I like the premise behind this one!

Complexity: The Evolution of Earth’s Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity by William C. Burger – biodiversity and our ecological compromises which are inherently changing our ability to overcome obstacles that could circumvent our health in the future is a very modern dialogue and concern. I liked the premise of this one to keep the conversation moving forward whilst trying to sort out resolutions, too.

The third selection is The Ninja’s Daughter by Susan Spann which I highlight further down in this journalling of stories – under the title of ‘Best Sequels of 2015’.

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In regards to the next publisher(s), I made a separate enquiry without specific titles in mind. I truly enjoyed working with the publicist, of whom made great selections for me, and let me pick a few different ones if I felt the story wasn’t not my cuppa. The final list are ones that I am quite keen on soaking inside!

Alma Books | Bloomsbury:

  • The Repercussions by Catherine Hall | Synopsis
  • Sketcher by Roland Watson-Grant | Synopsis
  • Chaos of the Senses by Ahlem Mosteghanemi | Synopsis
  • The Bridges of Constantine by Ahlem Mosteghanemi | Synopsis

I have already started reading The Bridges of Constantine and it will be the first novel from this list I will be featuring on my blog. It’s such a beautifully eloquent novel which reads quite lyrically enveloping you inside it’s heart.

*One of the novels I was enquiring about was the new Alma Books release for Dracula as it has such a wicked artistic layout with new illustrations and a convicting cover art! I am inspired to read this original Gothic Cosy Horror canon due to my introduction to ‘vampires’ by Berni Stevens (i.e. Dance Until Dawn) I continue to support #AlmaClassics via Twitter as expressed in this tweet s/o for a new version of Sherlock Holmes!

Hachette | Grand Central Publishing | FaithWords:

My enquiries led me to FaithWords, of whom is starting a new programme for book bloggers and I was thankful I could sign-up to participate! I am not certain of all the details, but to start something anew in a New Year is quite lovely! I picked a variety of titles across their (Hachette) imprints but was most delighted in the ones that arrived, as three of them are INSPY by two authors I haven’t had the pleasure of reading!

  • Two Across by Jeffrey Bartsch | Synopsis
  • A Captain for Laura Rose by Stephanie Grace Whitson | Synopsis
  • Daughter of the Regiment by Stephanie Grace Whitson | Synopsis
  • A Place Called Hope by Phillip Gulley | Synopsis

I have had a bit of a delayed start tucking inside A Captain for Laura Rose as I wanted to kick-off my reviews for FaithWords with Whitson’s novels before moving inside Gulley’s. I am a new reviewer and hostess for FaithWords and it’s my continued joy to being kept on the inside loop of their releases! For instance, I had no idea Sean Patrick Flanery was a soon-to-be-published-author! I grew up watching him on tv and in the movies – his Spring release is Jane Two of which I’ve tweeted about here. I followed it up with a tweet about ‘finally finding him on Twitter‘ as well.

I am truly appreciating the resources Hachette and their imprints provides for book bloggers as they manage an online portal where you can easily find their book and author information to use in your reviews.

Curiosity Quills Press:

I was checking my Press & Publishers feeds on Twitter, as I curate several lists on Twitter to help me hone my feeds to specific groups of either individuals or groups of accounts. One day, whilst I was looking over the feeds arriving in to me, I came across ‘Curiosity Quills’; a publisher I vaguely remembered finding and hadn’t had the proper chance to investigate further! Lo and behold, this title stood out to me as it’s about adoption and guess what? It was available to review for book bloggers!

  • Inconceivable by Tegan Wren | Synopsis

Since receiving this novel to read, I’ve interacted with the author a bit on Twitter (a blessing for me!) and I cannot wait to finally attach my heart inside it’s story as it’s topic is centrally of importance to me. I look forward to carrying the conversation forward with the author as well as reading my first book by this publisher.

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I even caught sight of eight new releases by Cedar Fort which truly held my eye:

You will quickly denote that I like to read a wide-range of CF releases; where genres can blur!

Bonneville: [LDS Fiction]

Sweetwater: [General Fiction]

Happy New Year, to Jorie! Guess what!? I was contacted by Ms Ferguson about By the Stars and my review will be posting on 20th March, 2016! I was also contacted by Ms Olsen seeking bloggers who were keen on her debut novel Swan and Shadow; I am awaiting the dates in order to pick one to review! Prior to finding these on Edelweiss, I was contacted by Mr Blaylock on behalf of his debut novel The Land of Look Behind wherein his adventure caught the eyes of Ms Peterson (who writes Ian Quicksilver); thus quite a chatty bit of serendipity was shared amongst these authors and myself as a whole! I found Ms Ferguson and Ms Olsen on Twitter the same day, and Ms Peterson tweeted about Mr Blaylock’s novel shortly thereafter! Isn’t being bookish and geeky grand on Twitter!?

I was meant to post my reviews of Swan and Shadow + By the Stars bookended together which would have been wicked brilliant – except it wasn’t meant to be. The migraine I had wrecked my hours and my recovery had some hiccups (after effects) in being able to pick up in a steadfast manner afterwards. Not all of these titles have gone on a blog tour – except for The Buckskin Trail which I am participating whilst hoping the others will be featured next. I posted a Guest Post by Ms Ferguson ahead of my review and I’m working with Ms Olsen on a double-feature spilt between my blog and hers; to be combined inside a focus-week I’m assembling for #YALit in April!

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I am reducing how many blog tours I am hosting during [2016],
in order to create more balance in my reading + blogging life;
whilst giving me the freedom to work directly with publishers and authors more frequently.
I also wanted to focus on my reading queue at my local library
+ my shelved books in my personal library.
Not to mention, I have two personal reading challenges I need to give more attention:
The Classics Club + 70 Authors
In regards to where I am right now with the status of my reviews – I’m taking it one book and one day at a time whilst resuming the joy I have held inside my spirit and heart for the past three years as a book blogger. I truly blog my heart out of stories and leave a part of myself behind on this blog. It bothers me when I fall behind, but I never stay down for long. I pick myself up and I carry on – after all, life is hardly predictable but it’s how we choose to set our attitude as we go through adversities and emerge out the other side of them that counts most. Truthfully? I am blessed to have such wicked lovely reads to devour and I cannot wait to bring my thoughts to the authors who penned them!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Best in Books 2015:

Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sebastian Unrau.
Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sebastian Unrau

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2015 release vs. backlist)

For the second year in a row, I have decided to elect to pick the stories that truly wicked out a hearty sense of place and style of voice as I read the stories. If I reached a particular genre and you only see ‘one title’ this is because that particular one had such a strong heart within it’s pages, nothing else could match it. When it came time to spilt the genre by two or more titles, the titles that remain are too attached to my heart and mind; thereby unable to make a tie-breaker! I believe I did a bit better this year than last year, but only you can decide if I did!

I personally love so many stories per year it is hard to fill out this survey!

NOTE: in previous years I would have nominated books for the INSPY Awards, however, this year during the nomination process I was informed they changed the voting process. Instead of being able to nominate titles that you personally read and felt were representative of their genre to where other readers may or may not have found them previously; this year, it is done by popular voting – meaning, if you read a novel not a lot of book bloggers were aware of, your title has a lesser chance of getting through the rounds. I am unsure still how I feel about this change, as previously I applauded the INSPYs for the fairness of being able to nominate unknown authors and especially Indie Authors beside Major Trade. I was so beside myself, I did not participate.

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Stories like trees,
give root to compassionate joy.
– self quote o f Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Story (2014).

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Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Archive

These awards are representing the authors who lit my mind afire with their world-building, character development and central heart of narrative wherein I ached not to be pulled back to reality after I had reached the end of their stories. I dearly wanted to remain – pensively elated for the encounter and filt to the brim with questions about ‘what comes next’…for the characters and writers alike. These are the writers and stories of whom gave me my most memorable reads of 2015. They are a cherished few who stood out from the selections I was reading throughout the year – in some instances inching out another title by how well they represented their chosen genre or styling of story-telling. They challenged me as much as they touched my soul; sometimes they accomplished this in equal fashion.

Other times, I felt my spirit lift in the purity of readerly connective sensibility to know they’ve stumbled across a writer whose palette of chosen words and character-driven story-line illuminated a particular niche of my literary wanderings – giving me much to contemplate and remain forevermore grateful for the experience. This is to celebrate the story-tellers & the daring souls who create a fully realised reality within the scope of their imagination; guided by their pen & stitched inside a reader’s heartprint of bookish happiness.

This is my final note of gratitude – an endnote after my ruminations.

These were my #unputdownable reads of 2015!

You will notice these are not solely limited to ‘new releases’ but encompass the full breadth of stories I read throughout 2015 which wicked out such a breath of joy to devour!

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Best Classical Literature “After Canon” :

Keeping Kate by Lauren Winder Farnsworth

Every so often I find myself wonderfully intrigued by a debut novelist, to the brink that I know I will be following their writerly pursuits for as long as they continue to pen stories I can read in print and/or listen to via audiobook! Farnsworth is the newest author who simply had this book blogger’s heart at ‘hallo!’ as she breathes such an honesty into her writings to give you a bubble of a space of creative joy to explore! Her words expand the scope of the story in a similar vein to the original author’s voice, to where you do not feel this contemporary re-telling distracts from the original; you want to dig deeper into Keeping Kate because of the way in which the story is revealing itself to you!

Farnsworth is definitely a writer who has either a Classical Lit heart or she has managed to capture the spirit of the Classical Authors we’ve all come to belove! She takes her time with giving readers a chance to get to know the thoughts of her character’s inner lives as much as carving out a beauty within the scenes of where the story is set. This is a novel that you can feel consumed inside, because it is written for a proper break from everything else your own life might distract you by; carting you off into this world where Governesses still exist and heroines do not always have the confidence to recognise their gifts!

–  quoted from my book review on behalf of Keeping Kate

Best Fairy-tale “Re-Telling” :

Bearskin by Jamie Robyn Wood

In other words, if EDC Johnson convinced me of YA PNR: Wood and Gamber have sealed my fate for being entirely smitten by shifters forevermore!

Why I think Wood has carved out a beautiful niche for lesser known fairy-tale re-tellings:

She tackles the complexities of the genre with the heart of a researcher who knows how to underlit her original story with the back history of the fairy-tale itself whilst re-inventing how the story can be told. In the very beginning of reading BEARSKIN, my mind flittered back to my enjoyment of Brave where a mother is turnt into a bear – remembering that tidbit, it was almost as though part of the back-story of this fairy-tale ‘clicked into place’ and the suspension of the fairy-tale fully sealed inside my mind!

Wood has an sophisticated edge to her writings – she has found a way to take a dark fairy-tale and write it in such a fashion as to implore you to find heart and pace with it’s message. It’s how she interweaves the story with her background set in a kingdom that has fallen to darkness and a vileness that took out the lifeblood of living. It would paint everything in this world quite darkly if not for her characters – characters who despite their difficulties are still trying to work themselves out of chaos and back towards a path that aligns with a more honourable path to walk.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Bearskin

Best Literary Fiction :

Some Other Town by Elizabeth Collison

Collison set the pace of Some Other Town as if to enchant you with an oral history of Margaret in lieu of a novel containing her story. Dialogue is not the priority, no, the best bits lie between the drifts of conversation to gather within the narrative itself – seeking out how Margaret wishes to put her life on display, or rather encourage you to listen to how she wants it all to fold together. Flyaway memories and out of sequence daily routines leave you pensive for where this little wonder of a book is going to end. It is the type of story you devour as you consume it’s text, despite how difficult it is to put into words within a review. Your mind is lit with everything that is happening, muddled a bit on how to articulate what it is truly that has captured you; the pages cannot be consumed fast enough, the words eaten as if they were tombs of insight into Margaret’s inner world. A soliloquy if you will.

Curiously, there are moments when I am reading Collison’s eloquency in a prose set to rhyme, where I think back on the poet who gave me such a shot of elixir as a child! She has a gift for turning and bending her words and sentences into an implosion of sorts – she gives out certain clues, then collapses the thought before it is seen and caught. Her words dance and flit, capture and pause, arch and flex; as if we were reading a story set out of time, out of step with the hours in which Margaret lives. And, isn’t that truly then, the heart of the novel? Is Margaret living in or out of her own time-window? Or rather still, is Some Other Town a portal to step outside our own? If up is down and down is up, it is how you choose to attach yourself into that crystal void and extract out the filigree from the moss!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Some Other Town

Best Realistic Fiction :

For Your Love by Beverly Jenkins

What I found most profound in this novel is how Jenkins included such a heart of depth on behalf of foster children both in foster care and the aftereffects of growing up in foster care as they matured into adults. There are different characters, both prominent and secondary being focused on throughout the narrative, and each time Jenkins added this hidden layer of their past, she humbled the heart of the novel itself by speaking openly and honestly about children who are oft-times overlooked. I appreciated her approach to giving realistic portraits of fosters at different stages of their lives and equally keen to see how positive she showed a placement in a home where everything clicks can enable a foster child to blossom.

Alongside this thread of context, Jenkins has a soothing way of presenting life in small towne Americana; you can just about picture yourself settling into Henry Adams without a previous visit and know exactly where your feet can take you! She has a lovely way of honing in on the aspects of small towne life that are anchoured by family and kin alike with a shared camaraderie for community.

quoted from my book review on behalf of For Your Love

Best INSPY Fiction :

Robin's Reward by June McCrary Jacobs

The fact that Robin is a traditionalist in a neo-tech world warmed my heart, because I oft find myself at odds with how my own age group (GenX) allows their lives to be over run by tech rather than appreciating the simpler graces of a life off-line will afford them. Mind you, I love being a book blogger and joyful tweeter, but I do not let tech run my life outside this realm. How refreshing is it then to step inside a story where the female lead is anguished over revealing the inner bits of her soul aching to make a connection to a bloke who would accept her on her terms without the backlash of opposition or judgment on her character for being old-fashioned? I was celebrating the laurels of her dedication to her garden; it is a dream of my own to one day cultivate an active garden, where fresh cut flowers are only a short walk from a vase!

It’s the kind of story that tugs at your heart because you like celebrating the gentler moments of living whilst finding that there is still a bit of unexpectedness to greet you after all. And, who wouldn’t love reading a Romance like this?! I find the best Romances are truly the ones where the writers know exactly what a contemporary reader is seeking and gives them a story set within our own timespace but still harkens back to a few traditional dreams that most of us are hoping to see fulfilled in our realities.

This was also the novel that held a special surprise for me inside it’s pages.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Robin’s Reward

BEST Historical Fiction : (three-way tie)

To Ride A White Horse by Pamela Ford

One of the most beautiful portions of this story’s grace is the differences in how the characters are speaking, as Kathleen is very much an Irish bourne lass, who sees the world through a particular lens countered against the harsher mirror of Captain Jack’s hard-won life at sea. His heritage is English, and the discrepancies of both their worlds come true to face as each has to accept the faults, the limits, and the truth of each of their own paths. For me, I could nearly proffer Kathleen a bit of tea or a hearty Irish meal for a ready conversation if only to hear her speak aloud the words which made me smile throughout the novel. It is a nod of gratitude I give to Ford to allow Kathleen to speak in her native tongue and to speak in a way which was directly reflective of her heritage. This is historical fiction rooted in realism and it’s the kind I have a keen preference for reading.

It isn’t oft I find myself enchanted by Irish characters who are not lighting up a novel by Julie Lessman, of whom gave my heart a wanton ache to find other Irish families to rally behind. It’s a blessing I’ve been able to expand my readings and my collection of stories to new writers who endeavour to uplift the Irish with such a positive legacy of characters. I, fear, my beloved O’ Connor clan in Boston now has a full brood of Irish cousins in the Deacey’s to join them! What wicked joy finding two Irish families to give me such heart lifting joy to read!

quoted from my book review on behalf of To Ride A White Horse

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Avelynn by Marissa Campbell

How Marissa Campbell allowed the era of Vikings to become real again:
Campbell makes the year 869 feel tangible and realistic to your senses, straight down to the word usage and the manner in which she chooses to express the world she’s built for her story to entertain our imaginations. She gives a strong nod towards clarifying research and story driven narrative rooted in the tangible lens where research can guide a reader forward through the grace of seeing what might have been visible in the 9th Century.

The fact that she took key people who lived and placed them inside Avelynn was a blessing to me, as I hadn’t heard of the fate surrounding Judith of Flanders until I picked up this novel! I was sympathetic to her plight because ever since I first learnt of the regularity of arranged marriages are within the court; it was quite easy to find a way to rally those who found a loophole to get around those contracts and set their stars on a course that was right for them rather than what was expected and required.

The feasts of the 9th Century reminded me very much of the Old West where frontier families would come together during Harvest or other social gathering times throughout the year to encourage conversations and reunions. This is one part of the Medieval eras in which I felt society was getting something right rather than wrong: large celebrations surrounding the holidays and other festive occasions that caused for a quaking of felicity. Communities could come together and in their jest, find an commonality that could dissipate their differences for a short bit.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Avelynn

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Decorum by Kaaren Christopherson

Why I was consumed by the artistry of this story:

From the very first chapters onward, Christopherson grants you this consumption of opulent eloquence within her historical fiction novel where the time you’ve spent within her character’s shoes is one of joy. (see tweet in which I simplified this compliment) She found a way through the heart-strings of emotion and the churning fight to survive a tragedy which can nearly render anyone into a state of numbing reality to such an alarmingly rate of realism, you cannot help but yearn to know what becomes of the fate Francesca shall inherit. Your stirred physically into this place where sometimes you need more than a sure head on your shoulders and a willingness to move mountains placed in front of you.

Christopherson does a grand job at giving us an ensemble cast that doesn’t feel lost in the shuffle of narrative directions. She gives each their due time on stage and allows us to soak inside their individual backstories as the novel takes it’s shape. Nothing felt compromised, and if anything at all, a lengthening of joy was eclipsing my reading hours.

I will most definitely keep my eyes on the look-out for Christopherson’s next release, as surely a novelist like this is one I will evermore appreciate reading.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Decorum

BEST Military and/or War | Historical Fiction :

Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran

You do not merely read Scent of Triumph you live it as though your own mind and senses are intune with Danielle’s. This is a rare treat for a reader who loves dissolving into historical fiction in order to best understand the historical past — it is the lives of those who lived that provide the best gateway back into time. Their stories are meant to be heard as much as they are deserving of respect and admiration. Moran has truly given us a treasure to alight inside and it is one story you will not soon forget reading. Even if there is a hearty measure of fiction alongside fact, Scent of Triumph soars because of how well conceived the reality of it’s story reads to the reader. Moran has channeled reality through her novel in such a way as to have her biographical fiction breathe out a truism of World War II in such a way as to allow you the mercy to live a footstep inside her characters lives as they lived those hours themselves.

It needs to be said as much as I loved the shatteringly gutting portraits of war as read through Citadel and Maggie’s Wars what was refreshingly different to find is a true uplift of my spirits as I left the world of Scent of Triumph. It is one of my most favourite ‘#unputdownable‘ reads and #newtomeauthors of recent months.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Scent of Triumph

BEST Biographical Historical Fiction : (three-way tie)

Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

Snyder (of whom can forgive me if I did not catch my insertions of her name as Synder; dyslexics such as I love realising words reverse on their own accords; even a few tweets went array!) has a gift for giving a story a heady heart from the first moment your eyes fuse to the character she’s writ to ground us in her world for the expanse of time set aside to absorb the pages of Girl Runner. Such a treat for the senses, as her lyrical fusion of words and observational imagery gives a lent of air and time to brush the strokes of her story alive in your imagination. I love writers like Snyder whose palette for words and literary worlds deepen in depth the more you soak inside their stories. Almost as if they perceived the reader’s reaction to the opening bits and wanted to take them on this journey that would knit inside their hearts the further they receded into the novel.

The way in which she reveals the story of her character reminded me of another story I read as a 1st Year Book Blogger: Go Away Home by Carol Bodensteiner. Equally enriched with clarity and a soothing read of a story that felt as real to my senses as if the characters had honestly lived and this was their biographical fiction story cast in ink, typography, and paper. I love these kinds of stories — they have an intimacy and a knowing sense about the world. They give us fodder to chew and a lifetime of a character to read, whilst etching out a slice of life that can only be transparent and transformative in fiction. Both lead characters writ their own paths to follow, embarking away from home whilst carrying home with them wherever they went. There is true honesty in that revelation and true growth on behalf of both characters. They endear you to hear their stories and the story-tellers entice you with their command of the craft.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Girl Runner

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Redfield Farm by Judith Redline CoopeyHow Judith Redline Coopey gives you stirring family drama:

This is my first Coopey novel, but it’s not going to be the last I will read because I’m seriously finding myself properly engaged with the words inked onto the page! Coopey has taken conviction and placed a hearty story inside Redfield Farm which is convincingly brilliant because it’s about ordinary life being lived during the 19th Century where everything was difficult but the hardest part of living was the endless unknowns which propped themselves up like unwanted snow against the boards of a barn. You had to sort a way through life’s adversaries and life’s disappointments, sometimes to the brink of not owning up to your own feelings. It’s how she leveraged such an honest portrayal of dignity in the light of grace on behalf of Ann Redfield that truly stirred my soul’s attention to the novel.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Redfield Farm

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The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

How Mackin’s literary voice is a breath of fresh air and an unputdownable exploration of the 1930’s in Paris:

The words flow out of Mackin’s pen with such a beautiful conveyance of the ordinary and the sublime – you feel like you’ve transferred into this novel full and true; leaving only a mere whisper of yourself behind as evidence of your transition. It’s the type of novel your aching to read (even without realising it’s title) – emotionally convicting and driven, illuminated by the era’s historical viewpoints and seasons of life; grounded by co-lead characters who pulsate a knowing vibe of how to tell their stories by connecting directly to the reader’s emphatic heart.

You hungrily soak up the dialogue and the the narrative – where Mackin slowly reveals bits about her character’s interior lives and how their internal selves sometimes are reflective of their exterior masks. In some ways, her characters are each wearing a mask hiding themselves to the world whilst not quite owning up to who they are even to themselves in quiet hours where no one else is around. This is a layered novel of complexity and the tides of where life can take you whilst your unmoored and drifting on intuition and instincts. Sometimes even on the larkspur hope that where you land, you’ll land on your feet even if the net was pulled out from under you.

You’re eager to see what each page will draw out next,… will it be insight into how Lee moved past the horror of her childhood and embraced the public eye? Putting herself in the vulnerable position of being stage center throughout her professional life without a protective shield to anchour her restlessness about how she wanted her life to be lived? Will you find Nora revealling more of her tender-hearted moments with Jaime (her young love) and determined independence that faltered a bit in the details of a plan to become self-sufficient?

Mackin pulls you into this novel by such a clarity of conviction for her subject and her novel’s density of words which by themselves are transports in time; they encourage your mind to envision what is happening and it’s a treat to the imagination to see what Mackin is placing in front of us to feel, sense, and experience. It’s not a novel you want to read in multiple sittings (even though I did) nor is it one that soon leaves you – it’s one of those remembered unputdownable reads that leaves a murmuring of contented bliss.

quoted from my book review on behalf of The Beautiful American

BEST Science Fiction: (three-way tie for THE CLAN CHRONICLES PREQUEL series!)

Reap the Wild Wind by Julie E. Czerneda

Czerneda has taken us on a journey towards understanding the Clan from the inside-out, as a method of finding an approach that will give us more insight into how they established their communities. As the Yena live mostly between sky and land, I remembered how during my viewing of Avatar most of the community within that story lived above ground too. I appreciate writers who have such a clear vision for their worlds, that even if your a new reader of theirs, it only takes a few readings to dip inside that vision and reside with their characters.

I appreciated the breadth of how we were so intimately aware of Aryl’s struggle to find balance – between her duties as a Yena and her instincts as a gifted Om’ray. Her mother was not as strong as she is to accept the changes amongst their kind nor to admit her daughter was reaching towards a new future which might leave the old traditions behind them. It’s a struggle of acceptance and for walking that fine line between knowledge and hiding in plain sight from those who cannot handle the truth you’ve uncovered.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Reap the Wild Wind

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Riders of the Storm by Julie E. Czerneda

My thoughts on how The Clan Chronicles back-story sets the reader directly inside this mysterious world:

I appreciated seeing how elements in our world are translating inside the world of Cersi, as hail and snow are turnt into such a deepening misery of weather through Czerneda’s eyes, it begs to wonder if anyone can handle being in such a cold and hardened environment long-term. She curated this narrative of resonance straight down to the environment markers that give us a tangible glimpse into Cersi; we can relate well to weather because whether your on Earth or another planet entirely, weather can become an obstacle that you have to learn to live around. Her weather patterns are as rugged and raw as some of the more isolated places on Earth where man is limited and nature has won the right for dominance. It’s this kind of imbalance and fight for solitude within the fray of a storm that paints the picture the brightest.

Czerneda has etched inside her Om’ray people the distinction of surviving in the face of unknown odds – to pull back destiny and fate to allow a third option where the Om’ray would decide what would become of themselves. One comforting bit to The Clan Chronicles, at least thus far inside the prequel trilogy is the acknowledgement of the hours being rung into sight in such a fashion as to remind me of The Study of Murder and Murder by Misrule wherein each hour that is most important to the Clan is reverently observed. In the novels I read previously it was a tradition of 14th and 16th, where they would purposely arrive at ‘an hour in time’ by observing what that hour represented to them. In Czerneda’s trilogy, Cersi appreciates their observation of time to denote certain passages of the day to alert them of both the dangers of being out at that hour and/or the necessity of working during daylight. I found it quite clever how Czerneda developed this system of reverence as she made it her own. The Clans are definitively tied to the cycles of their environment, not only by hour of day but they are in full respect of every inhabitant they share space with even if they are the more naughty insect species who plague them with bites.

The deeper I dig inside the history of the Clan, the more I want to understand about them as a whole. Each new installment leads me further into the heart of their legacy but also, to the brink of understanding how they have risen thus far forward out of a past that very few ever had the chance to realise existed. They are a Clan of secrets and of life lessons interwoven into adventures of experiences; they approach life with a fierce dedication to protect self and kin whilst endeavouring to continue their species forward in time. It’s a wonderful eclectic ensemble cast of intricately connected communities who become further illumined with each story I read of them.

It’s a joy to read their chronicles, and I know now I will be quite saddened to let go of them!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Riders of the Storm

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Rift in the Sky by Julie E. Czerneda

There is a central mindfulness within the chronicles, where once you’ve set your mind to how the world is fashioned, the people who are populating the stories become familiar to you, as if they were your own extended family members. The deeper you find yourself seeking out the Clan, the more you thirst to know more of who the Clan were and how they changed the unwritten history of Cersi. On this note, they reminded me of the Ancients of our world before the invention of writing and the prospect of written history or pictorial history; depending on which era of time you went back towards. The entire concept of reading and writing is a new one for commoners of Cersi; as the Clans despite their non-caste state of organisation still demanded a separation of persons who they claimed could be either of higher or lower strengths. Everything was determined by their internal power, they were ruled by it, lusted over it (in some cases) and were hindered by how this power could reflectively refract a negative on their being. Not all power is honourable nor good; without the power itself they were non-Om’ray; an entity who could not communicate with the living spirit of their race.

Even this solemn truth was being tested by a young girl named Yao who was the first of her kind; an Om-ray who was bourne inherently different and suffered the disability to connect telepathically to her mother and Clan. Yao stood out to me as I wondered if this was a hint at a biological-sociological observation on behalf of the author of how a species would handle anomalies in their descendants (especially if they kept such close order on maintaining perfect rule) or if it spoke to a greater truth: there are no coincidences in new generations being given a talent and gift that has never been seen.

To a reader who would appreciate a compacted history of the previous two installments of this trilogy will find delight in how Czerneda recaps what is worth being aware of whilst not making it overly repetitive for the reader whose read the trilogy tip to stern. It’s a compliment to her as a writer whose methodology for continuity and a continuance of a world built so very strong in vision and heart. I was not quite prepared for the emotional keening of Chapter 13,… my heart ached with a heavy loss.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Rift in the Sky

BEST FANTASY : (novel)

Blue Spirit by E. Chris Garrison

In the past two years I’ve had the chance to get to know Ms Chris a bit better outside of the world of blog tours, I must confess, as I was reading Blue Spirit I felt I could almost hear her voice behind the words as I read the story – as if I somehow have a better understanding of her writerly voice and the approaches she takes towards conveying the story visually to the reader. If this were an audiobook, I nearly have a strong idea already of how it would sound if it were to be read aloud by the author! Little bits of her own personality are definitely threaded into the context but moreso than that, it was a pleasure to notice things I hadn’t seen when I read Seelie Goose!

I found myself enjoying this installment of the series so very much, that I found it quite difficult to put the book down in order to blog! I love when that happens – where your completely committed to the story and the words hopefully will come to you to express out to your readership (if your a book blogger, that is!) as you wick off the hours from the clock consumed by where the author your reading is taking you as you wander deeper into the narrative! The transitions between Skye’s Indianapolis and the elsewhere world of the fairies is seamlessly stitched as you can easily move between the segues.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Blue Spirit

BEST Fantasy (Anthology) : (two-way tie)

Fae

It’s a short that gives you a hearty depth of narration whilst combining just enough of a hint of what you know of previously to leave you etched with this catalyst of a story that could become further developed and deepened by more length. Right as it stands, you want to re-read it as it sits here within the pages of FAE awaiting your eyes and your mind to imagine the greater truth of what connects us inasmuch as what divides us. I have held a particular appreciation for the natural world since I was quite young, and this story is a testimony of the delicate balance we walk when living both in step and against the harmonic cycles of nature.

I could live a lifetime inside ANTLERS,
it’s so intrinsically insightful and far reaching by it’s heart.

quoted from my book review on behalf of FAE

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Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy by R.J. Sullivan

What appealed to me about Sullivan’s current anthology is how it’s a curated collection spanning a decade of characters, life experiences (as you know those are always at the back of a writer’s mind as they write their stories!), and stories evolving out of where Sullivan was in his writerly pursuits per each story included inside. My curiosity for continuing to read his stories hasn’t faltered, as I was waiting for a moment where his stories would re-tempt me to read his new works (or his past works; truly nothing is ever truly ‘old’ if it’s new to the reader!) as I knew the basis of Virtual Blue was going to be a bit trickier to follow as it’s such a soul-gutting story-line for me to consume.

The fact he put ‘whimsy’ and ‘darkness’ together in a title won me over but it’s his dedication to share his journey with his readers which endeared me the most.

I was quite surprised finding Sullivan has a softer and more intuitive side to his writings, as I came into his collective works through the Dark Fantasy and Horror side of the ledger! Immediately as I was settling into what became my favourite short (‘The Assurance Salesman’) I recognised he has a lot of heart and depth of purpose towards how he paints a story with emotional conviction and centering on the intricate complexity of exploring the depth of the human soul. He enriches his audience with thought-provoking stories which stir a knowing sense the writer has fully embraced the moment of his inspiration to tell them and given a wicked read to his readers (who like me) might not have found their ‘niche’ within his writings until now!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy

BEST Cosy Horror:

CORVIDAE anthology edited by Rhonda Parrish

I began reading CORVIDAE with this poem (A Murder of Crows), but elected to share my thoughts as an ‘after anthological reading’ due to have keenly insightful the poem became over the course of the shorts. It’s as if this poem harkened itself knowledge of how when you entreaty to spend time with crows (and other corvids, if we were to be humbling true) you endeavour to listen and pay close attention to what is being spoken to you; as if you were the only intended listener of those words.

Picking up this anthology I was full of anticipation and a rapt sense of entering into a realm partially hidden from sight as our reality would share a world hugged so close to our own. There is so much to see, to feel and to sense – we simply have to remember to keep ourselves open to what is possible. Crows and corvids alike have messages to share with us but only those who can hear them without fright will truly understand what they are imparting to us.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Corvidae

BEST Historical Romance :

Fool's Gold by Zana Bell

The beauty of a Zana Bell novel is that you become so wholly enthused about it’s plot, you soak inside it quite readily at first reading! She has a way of creating circumstances and situations which place her characters in the stronghold of tension where they have to make quick-dash choices whether to trust each other or to continue to remain stubbornly obtuse! I like how she chooses how to get her characters to be ‘locked in a particular setting’ where they have to face danger, each other, and parlay a balance between their fears and their willingness to move forward.

I even love how she uses turns of phrase which give you a pause for reflection – the kind where you get a flavour of her character’s heritage interspersed against the timescape. I like it when I find new phrases I haven’t yet come across as much as I love finding a new twist on an old phrase that befits both the story and the character of whom it’s attached! Bell will give you ample reasons to dig inside Fool’s Gold as she not only has carried off one of the best indifferent exchanges between characters who are indecisive about their true feelings for each other but it’s how she uses dialogue and phrases to convey their emotional angst that is a delight unto it’s own.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Fool’s Gold

BEST Western Drama | Romance :

Soda Springs by Carolyn Steele

I like how she infuses historical nuances into her stories – inasmuch as the phrases and twisting of words that give you the impression it’s the 1800s and not the 2000s. She takes extra care to flex how her story is resonating with the reader, as I can see her dedication to both research and style by how she chose to compose her chapters. There is such a lot of depth to the words she’s expressing through her narrative, that you become ‘rooted in place’ and wish to forsake time itself off the clock in order to pass through this world she’s given us. This is historical fiction I love to read because your ‘elsewhere’ for a spell, taking up with a family you barely know and spending ample time getting to know them by chapters end.

Overall what impressed me the most about how Steele balanced the story between the drama of life on the frontier and the walk of faith of her characters, is how she showed two separate backgrounds can form a bridge together. Her characters lived their faith and gave their life a well of hope, love and charity; through which they united in their walk. It’s a great testament of how differences do not need to put craters between people but rather be a stepping stone towards understanding and tolerance. Sometimes differences can yield a new tomorrow of a path that becomes conjoined together – which is a beautiful thing to share within a tome of an INSPY novel such as Soda Springs.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Soda’s Springs

BEST Romantic Suspense:

Up Close by Henriette Gyland

Gyland’s pen for psychological suspense if incredible! She has a sophistication in her selection of conveying the elements you’re expecting to find inside a Rom Suspense novel, but it’s elevated quite a heap because your tucked into these beautiful blocks of narrative prose; half introspective, half hauntingly ethereal (nearly paranormally inclined!), and creatively intriguing! You soak inside Up Close so readily your eyes are hungry for the next words to wash over your mind and carry you further into the heart of the novel itself!

I haven’t even touched on some of the other bits of thematic you’ll discover, because Up Close is dramatically writ for the modern reader, who will find a culling sense for contemporary life and the woes that stem out of circumstances that take us unawares. This is a style of Romantic Suspense where the layers of the story knit inside you as you read.

Gyland takes you on a journey through the mind – where memory, illusion, and extra-sensory perception are key elements used to elicit a ‘knowing sense’ of where she wants you to traverse and how there is quite a heap of unknowns for us to put aside and simply absorb through the portal in our hands!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Up Close

BEST PNR (Paranormal Rom):

Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens

Rather than penning a vampire novel in a way I thought it might become revealed on the page, Stevens happily surprised me by giving a dual perspective through both the present action and dialogue with segue ways cutting back into Will’s private moments with his journals. In this representation of his internal thoughts completely vulnerable to his innermost core of being, we start to see different layers of his personality which become hidden and cloaked from view whilst he is in the presence of Ellie. I liked this shifting back and forth, because it proved he was more complicated than he wanted to appear, and a bit more tenderhearted than I think he’d dare want me to reveal too!

Stevens has a keen sense on how to present Will in a way that is not quite attractive in the beginning yet gives you time to warm to him whilst reading what he is scribbling into his journal. He’s a bit like a newfound father trying to capture all the moments of a young babe’s life, as he’s quite protective of his ‘fledging’ as he refers to Ellie during her transition from human to vampire. It is through this incubator period both of them are seen in their raw emotional and most inquisitive states. A brilliant move on Stevens to give us something to chew on whilst we’re sorting out how we feel about Will!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Dance Until Dawn

BEST Alternative History Rom:

The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson

If this is Alt History Rom, I might have found a new genre:

Johnson doesn’t slowly build the reader’s interest into her world but rather drops them so unceremoniously into the commotion of what is happening to her characters, as to make the reader feel quite at home despite the frenzy of what is about to breach onto the page! Her world-building is lightweight and easily able to transition from the present day to the past; or rather into this ‘alternative historical’ arm of where the present could have gone in a different time reality than our own. It’s a curious prospect of quantum physics – how many realities and time variables are there per each generation of life known in our own historical past? How many times does time bend against it’s own continuum to create the vortex of differences?

Rather than bolting down the specifics of how and why Eve Carpenter made her time slip into this new reality, Johnson focuses on the importance of how this intrusion on Harker’s reality upsets the cart of balance in his time era. This is definitely a book which would appeal to science fiction readers who happen to enjoy reading a bit of Rom where the focus is on what to do once you’ve re-positioned yourself ‘elsewhere’ without the benefit of proof of ‘where’ you’ve come.

quoted from my book review on behalf of The Untied Kingdom

BEST Contemporary Romance | Women’s Fiction : (two-way tie)

WishFul Thinking Blog Tour via BookSparks #SRC2015

Wicoff has cleverly given Jennifer a best friend who is of Indian (from India) descent and her co-workers are African-American, which provide a bit of friction for Jennifer. Friction in how there are cross-cultural differences that cannot be helped but also, where in a situation similar to the project Jennifer is working on might provide awkward conversations. It’s an interesting addition to seeing how social commentary and social hot topics can become interwoven into a contemporary novel. I felt she had the characters speak for themselves and owned their truths without giving me a reason to feel they were weren’t organically included.

The pace set within Wishful Thinking is contrasted against personal journal entries by Jennifer, as the chapter titles give a bit of a hint towards what your going to find inside the chapter, but then, the diary format of Jennifer reflecting back on her experiences, travels (in time), and the chaotic fusion of trying to outdo her own original intentions towards resolving the absence of balance in her life allow us to dig closer to her heart and conscience. I appreciated how air apparent this novel is bang-on accurate for today’s 21st Century world – so very current, there are shout-out mentions of modern life references any singleton, Mum, or divorcee will recognise – including the cheeky humour of how hitting the ‘re-set’ on your dating life isn’t quite what you thought it would be!

Wicoff has an intensity about her novel; where there is a yearning itch to allow us to travel through Jennifer’s shoes in order to understand the greater scope of where the story is taking us. So much so, there is a fork in the time continuum where you start to notice how your nearly siding with Alicia not Jennifer, as far as which Mum has managed to live a life she will not regret. It’s a story that asks the bigger questions (i.e. of life, of living, of mumhood, of personal sanctity of wellness, career vs life at home, etc) wrapped inside a time-travel suspense plot!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Wishful Thinking

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Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

Small townes have a way of soaking you inside a world back-lit with a community whose focus on each other and on the humanistic side of our shared journey allow us to see the hope we all want to find in our own cities. Stirring contemporary fiction and small towne fiction equally render a realistic impression on what is happening right here and now intermixed with a fond flaire of how we hope our reality will match the mirrored reality inside a story whose community elevates the essence of being neighbourly and supportive of each other. Whichever way you find yourself tucked into Butternut Lake, odds are your next visit will be as happily devoured as your first; as I can honestly say this to be the case on my own behalf!

I simply never fathomed my little wish to see Butternut Lake expand past a trilogy might come true – then again, if I were to be truthful I never told Ms Gover I had wished against hope Coorah Creek was going to either a duology OR a bonefide series in it’s own regard because I wanted to go back to this small Outback towne and find out what had happened in my absence! The best stories set in locales like Butternut Lake and Coorah Creek or even Henry Adams, Kansas are the ones where the writers have found a way to instill such a lifeblood of honesty and compassion for humanity – you simply want more of what they can give you of the towne which as bewitched you.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Moonlight on Butternut Lake

BEST Suspense or Thriller : (two-way tie)

The Swimmer by Joakim Zander

Zander has a unique style of his crafting of this story, where he gently guides you towards realising what his characters motives are and what is making them take the actions they are seeking to achieve. He allows you to see inside their world, to tip their emotional hearts just within visible range, and then, pulls back, as if to allow his characters a small barrier between what he knows instinctively as their creator and what he wants to have revealed to the reader.

This is one of the best stories I’ve read where the translation was flawless, where the English was not second to the Swedish and where the voice of the writer came through as strongly as if he had written it in English all along. Impressive to say the least! Curious: maybe I ought to opt to read more Swedish writers in-translation moreso than the French? Hmm,… now there’s an idea! Swedes evoke stories out of emotional conviction of their characters, they want you to live and breathe in the very breadth of what their characters are thinking, feeling, and sensing. I can relate to this kind of story-telling and it’s the grace of the translator who can elucidate the distance between two languages and cultural heritages. I tip my hat to the dedicated work Ms Wessel put into this novel!

quoted from my book review on behalf of The Swimmer

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Inspector for the Dead by David Morrell

I was so bewitched by David Morrell’s compelling and soulful drama within Murder As A Fine Art, I was delayed a bit to proceed into the sequel. I appreciated getting a proper introduction to his writings, but more than that, finding a writer who writes outside my comfort zone but whose focus is on the heart and soul of his characters yielded my heart to find joy in reading his stories

My instincts to be willing to read the Thomas De Quincey Mystery series were bang-on as I found I can handle a writer taking me outside the folds of where cosies leave off if they compose a narrative such as this for me to find! I do admit, I skipped over passages here or there, but let’s face it, when I watch NCIS I’m hardly ever game for the murder scenes themselves much less the *morgue!* with Duckie, but it’s the investigative bits and the drama within the scope of where the context leads you — that’s what compels me to read the pages and admire the work left behind by the writer.

Morrell writes with a definitive grasp of sociology and sociological behaviour stemming out of the horror of crime yet he tempers it with a resolute approach towards restitution and resolution. Morrell (and others I have found like him*) reminds all of us to remain vigilant in our open capacity to accept stories outside our regular spheres of delight; for even if the stories themselves achieve to challenge us into an edgier story-line, we can sit back and relax knowing we’re in the realms of masters of the craft! I loved his engaging spirit and conversations at the back of Murder As A Fine Art because he illustrates the exact kind of story I seek for myself: intellectually stimulating, executed in layers of dense narrative prose, and an underlit compulsion for a sociological portrait of humanity. His passion for bending perception against reality and reality against an internal recognition of how we perceive our realities is bang-on brilliant! I love the dissection of how he creates his characters, the mindfulness approach he gives to how their internal make-up foreshadows their actions inasmuch as how forward-thinking he made Emily De Quincey, as she is a heroine to me equal to Huber’s Lady Darby!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Inspector for the Dead

Best Technothriller:

Eruption by Adrienne Quintana

Techno-thrillers have the tendency to challenge your perspective on how certain threads of story can inject a forbearance of where the world can take us next as an exploration of a theory brought full to life on the page. An extension of where hard science fiction exists to establish the connections between what is able to be conceived and what is preliminarily capable of being produced; imagination truly is the key to tip our scales in one direction or another.

Time Travel narratives on the other hand, have to alter your understanding of the dimensional space by which we live within what we all accept as our conjoined reality. Time travel writers take on the difficulty of fusing known science with speculative science in order to carve out their own unique take on where ‘time travel’ can alter the events within the story they are trying to tell the reader. It is a dicey slope to be sure because it is a popular segue in science fiction, fantasy, and romance!

Eruption proves that you can formulate a new bridge between where techno-thrillers can merge quite beautifully with a time travel narrative arc, and this is a credit to Quintana whose given us a debut novel that entices you to seek out the continuing chapters inside this duology! Quintana included ‘just enough’ current events and tidbits of our modern 21st Century to encourage a balance of ‘when’ and ‘where’ the story takes place whilst providing a backdrop that we can instantly relate too as we read her debut. It was quasi-political without being a complete politico novel!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Eruption

BEST Cosy Historical Mystery : (five-way tie!)

Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd

I had noticed the quick-fire cross-references being mentioned throughout this blog tour on behalf of Mist of Midnight to lay a correlated thought of insight to the story if readers were familiar with Jane Eyre. I believe this is a bit of a misstep, as despite my fanciment for Gothic Lit intermixed into Historical Fiction, even I can appreciate how diversely eclectic and unique the offerings are within the genre-benders. It is a bit as to say that every Classic Psychological Suspense (i.e. Classic Horror) motion picture is going to be a cardinal carbon copy of the previous release. Although there are inherent similarities to Eyre or any novel within this subset of literature, there is a striking originality to Byrd’s narrative voice, and the way in which she stirs the setting to alight in your mind’s eye.

I did not hear any footfall or echo of Eyre’s voice in the character of Rebecca Ravenshaw, as instead, I heard Rebecca’s voice quite clearly on her own grounds. She’s a full-bodied character not a composite of a previous incarnation of a previous era’s most beloved heroine. The misstep for me is the presumption on what the story entails, as this isn’t a Governess tale, no, this is an inheritance and right of identity tale which pushes far past where Eyre ventured. Atmospherically I do agree, there are certain hidden clues and nudges to elude to where Eyre resided, but again, this isn’t a novel I’d cross-compare Byrd’s narrative, as it would deceive the readers who are wanting to soak inside it unless there is a definitive explanation about ‘what’ directly refers to setting and what is ‘different’ altogether in the story’s arc.

I found more crumbs of cognisant triggers of familiarity stemming out of Mists of Midnight to previous novels I’ve read by ChocLitUK and several via HFVBTs. More readily I would say the styling of how Bryd has writ her new series for the Daughters of Hampshire is a beautiful compliment to how ethereally and historically stimulating I’m finding the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber. Wordsmiths who breathe a stability of place, time, character depth and arc of journey will always leave me perpetually museful for their discovery. Byrd is amongst my top favourites for giving us a story which transcends straight out of where we’ve planted our seat to hold the pages, which as they are turnt, lead us into the murky shadows of where truth and light are sometimes cast in gray.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Mist of Midnight

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A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs No.10) by Jacqueline Winspear

On the refreshing discovery of Jacqueline Winspear:

Although I had this brilliant plan to read the entire series via hardbacks and an audiobook via my local library, as originally this blog tour stop was scheduled for mid-April, I couldn’t wait to dig inside my first Maisie Dobbs novel, as I simply had this ‘sense’ I would love her at first meeting. This goes back to when my library gained a new branch, six years ago come May whereupon I took up the notion to ‘get back into reading’ with such a hearty vengeance as to make-up for the time I had lost the years I did not have a library to pull from. This was a period of awakening for me in 2009, as not only was I discovering new authors of mystery and romance, I was re-discovering my love for literature as a whole. I would pull together lists and compiled a ‘to be read’ navigational route before I even knew what a “TBR List” entailed.

During this period of discovery, I found Phryne Fisher (on behalf of the Miss Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood; also an Aussie/BBC drama entering it’s 3rd Series) alongside Maisie Dobbs, Molly Murphy (on behalf of the mysteries by Rhys Bowen, Mary Russell (on behalf of the series involving Holmes retirement years by Laurie R. King) and Aunt Dimity (on behalf of the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Alterton) amongst others before discovering the suspense series of novels by Simone St. James or the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber in latter years. I was only able to dig inside the Mary Russell and Aunt Dimity series, as during any period of time you slate to ‘discover’ new authors, your not always in a keen position to ‘read them’ as you find them! Laughs.

I’m quite thrilled to bits my entrance into Maisie Dobbs was delayed until A Dangerous Place was published as it gave me a bit of a nudge to pick up the series, and sort out who Maisie Dobbs is at long last! Timing I believe is half of the joy in reading — what we might find to read during one year, might become the beloved book you’ve soaked inside another year! Timing truly is important in life; in all manners of instances.

quoted from my book review on behalf of A Dangerous Place

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A Murder At Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins

Lucy Campion has us entreat into her morning routine, as if we were long term guests of her employer, the magistrate. So settled in her duties, and the confidence of her environ, her notations on these rituals is with a calm ease twitching with curiosity. Her mind has an alertness about it, taking in the occurances both good and questionable with equal attention to detail.

Thus at the odd hour in which a constable arrives to take audience with her master, she is slightly bemused at what could cause his intrusion. Laying mind to go about what needed to be done forthwith, we observe how Ms Campion has a heart for the less fortunate who shrink under a crime most look askance to even acknowledge had happened. If I had not been properly won over by her countenance prior to this scene at the market, Lucy Campion had me locked into her world now!

Although the timescape differs, I found it most interesting the body of the (recently) deceased in both this first Lucy Campion novel and that of Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series were withchild! In fact, a step further, I should note, both women have an earnest passion for the craft of writing stimulating mysteries wrought out of the historical past featuring bonefide strong female leads! Only yesterday, I had mentioned how Lady Darby and Emily De Quincey held equal appeal for me, having read my first David Morrell novel. I find myself drawn to women who not only step outside their station but rise above it to prove that an individual’s worth and contribution is not limited by class and their station of origin. Calkins denotes period specific elements of familiarity to help guide the reader into this Restorative England during the 17th Century; at times it’s quite shockingly brutal and honestly real, as society back then was not for the faint of heart! Surely, though with these elements of visual horror included (yet tempered a bit to where they do not overtly overtake you; but do evoke your heart’s will of empathy) it draws a definitive line of how life then was truly a matter of will and fortitude to survive what befell you.

quoted from my book review on behalf of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate

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An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd

My third novel read by the Todds, and I am over the moon in swelling admiration for their dedication to serial fiction and the characters they’ve made quite dear to my heart to find within the pages of their novels! My gratitude for the Todds to convey the seriousness of their stories with a light touch to the more sensitive bits of their mysteries has allowed me a grace to soak inside their suspense-filled plots with an ease that is not entirely true of others in their field. I do not find myself flinching or horrified by anything described because they have a pull-back knitted into their style. They allow you to ‘see’ only just a bit of what is truly gruesome and only a small measure of what would be viewed if you were upon the scene in person. I appreciate this because it allows your mind to knit together the missing bits or to gloss over it completely.

The Todds have given me such a strong character in Bess Crawford, it is hard to feel anything but blissitude for having found her as her truest strength is her determined mind to root out a mystery by piecing together the clues that alight as she investigates. Her investigations are more purported out of the necessities of her actions and those of her duties as a nurse; to the brink you do not oft realise she’s investigating as she takes such a natural route towards that goal as to be-fool you into thinking she’s only ‘slightly curious’ towards a resolution rather than to put herself into harm’s way on purpose. Her willingness to go the extra mile for her patients points towards her resolve as a nurse, but her capacity to understand her patients and the murky waters of humanity are what make her such a strong presence in Mystery & Suspense Fiction.

quoted from my book review on behalf of An Unwilling Accomplice

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Flask of a Drunken Master by Susan Spann

Why I am positively overjoyed with each new installment of this series:

Each new installment of the Shinobi mysteries adds more layers to the relationship between Hiro and Father Mateo; a deepening awareness of who each of these men are at the core of their being, as well as how their connected lives have an after effect on their surrounding environment. They are becoming quite well know for finding truth where others would prefer to believe accusational lies whilst solving crimes too horrid to imagine possible.

Crime in the 16th century is expertly brought to life by Ms Spann – as she has taken the balance of her research and the clear definitive passion for her characters to a fullest of life on the written pages of her novels! Stepping inside her Shinobi mysteries is to take entrance into a new world of wonderment, rituals, and tradition steeped with history in a country known for it’s honoured past. She gives full merit to each of her characters (both major and minor) allowing us the full measure of finding ourselves carted into a new set of circumstances where Hiro and Father Mateo can thrive best as they solve the impossible within such a strict code of propriety.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Flask of the Drunken Master

BEST Children’s Lit: Juvenile Fiction | Middle Grade :

The Walking Fish by Rachelle Burk & Kopel Burk

Why I appreciated this style of story-telling for Middle Grade readers:

The Burks make a great writing team because they know how to instantly take you back inside your own childhood or keep you nestled inside the childhood your currently living; either way, your in for a special treat because they kept the innocence alive in Alexis. They gave her a nice grounding of curiosity tipped with determination and a spirit of ingenuity. I love finding this because I think oft-times in Children’s Lit characters around the Middle Grade years start to reflect ‘older’ children’s views, opinions, or even act a bit out of step with their own characters. I appreciate seeing children reflect the age they are, and the growing curve in which they are allowed to achieve.

Loved the diversity knitted inside the story as effortlessly as talking about two mutually happy friends who only get to see other for a short period of time each year! When the Mishra’s were introduced, it felt like old home week to me, as Alexis warmly hugged Mrs Mishra and happily greeted Mr Mishra who was in a motorised wheelchair. I even appreciated seeing how trauma is dealt with and re-directed through positive therapy such as the koi pond and then the vegetable garden. It is a beautiful layering of narrative that teaches children without having them realise they’ve encountered a life lesson. To me these are the best stories we can find for children to read, because it encourages their empathy to increase and their world to expand if they do not encounter composites of the characters in their everyday lives. They start to see the world a bit differently and thereby, expand their understanding.

quoted from my book review on behalf of The Walking Fish

BEST Children’s Picture Book : (two-way tie)

The Olive Tree: An Artistic Adaptation by CFI (imprint) of Cedar Fort Inc

It’s a book you want to be mindful about whilst you are reading the passages and internalising the heart of the message. Your mind is lit alive with the beautiful illustrations and the calming presence of the eloquence from the calligraphy is a buoyant balm to the importance of what is being said. This is a book to be shared with your children and family, whilst opening up a dialogue about the themes of the harvest as much as what was being attempted during the graftings as the men worked the vineyard itself under the guidance of the Lord. Definitely a book you want to lay thought, heart, and mind to during the holidays but especially as it’s an uplifting story for Easter weekend.

The care and attention which went into the production of this illustrated edition is a blessing because the Layton sisters have truly given back a work of art for the reader to enjoy.

quoted from my book review on behalf of The Olive Tree

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Inspector Dewey by Kristen Heimerl

On the writing style of Kristen Heimerl and why I want more of this series:

She has a light-hearted approach to crafting a story a child would love to read, because it’s using language and syntax that parents would love to see inside a picture book! Not spoken down to children or using simpler language cues but rather, she chooses words that rhyme inasmuch as words which encourage a happy imaginary scene to unfold as you read the story! The words bounce and pounce across the pages, encouraging a story to settle over your heart, and a playfulness atmosphere to entertain you!

I definitely want to see more of this series, and I love how the author is donating 50% of the profits from this edition to help support animals who reside in homes where finances are tight and the owners do not have to choose between keeping their pets and giving them to shelters. She’s doing a right and honourable thing in choosing to make a difference with a charity that should go like lightning to ignite the cause to take hold of each heart who reads Dewey’s story!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Inspector Dewey

BEST Young Adult (Realistic YA) | (Two-Way Tie):

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Ms Ockler ignites realistic situations into her characters’ lives by giving them something hearty to chew on and overcome in the midst of an teenage coming-of age story. Her characters speak with stark honesty and reveal their insecurities at the same time, it is like peeling back the veil and stepping back into your own adolescence – either your own experiences or those of your peers. There are plenty of instances of where you can alight a composite of living reality to the lives within the novel, and to me that is a credit to Ockler’s vision for giving teens something to read they can personally relate too.

It’s how she bridged the gap between partially journalling Elyse’s thoughts by the notes she had to create to ‘talk’ and the flow of narrative against the spoken dialogue of everyone around her. It is quite an impressive feat, because you become accustomed to her style quite early-on, thereby your able to soak inside her story’s heart and become enraptured by where it will take you. I like finding writers who mix things up a bit for the reader; giving them a new experience by how a novel is written and approached inasmuch as finding a novel outside a comfort zone an enjoyable read for what was left behind to be found. This is clearly a YA title I might not have picked up if I hadn’t felt encouraged by it’s plot, a consideration I wouldn’t have had without the tour alerting to me of it’s presence, and the writer I might not have found if the book hadn’t alighted in my hands.

quoted from my book review on behalf of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

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Hannah Both Ways by Rosie Greenway

On creating a solid Upper YA release:

Greenway holds nothing back with Hannah – she allows her to be honestly raw on the page, spilt open to her emotional state for readers to walk through her shoes in order to respond to her out of understanding without judgement. On some levels, as you read Hannah Both Ways you can see the girl in conflict with herself and in conflict with her peers – she’s striving towards something not yet disclosed when you first meet her, giving you enough interest to continue reading her story. She’s spunky and feisty, never afraid to speak her mind nor voice her opinion even if the person she’s laying it on thick too doesn’t need the fire but could take it even if she dishes it out.

As soon as as I started reading this novel, I knew it was golden. Especially as it felt very much a novel for Upper YA readers who are seeking a story so realistically in-tune with today’s teenage climate that it would give them a story that bespeaks of real life. Although ironically or not, the tone of the story and the angst of the school bits held water for someone who graduated in the 90s too. Not much has changed, nor does it ever – only each generation thinks it does, but really, certain things improve and others get worse. I think bullying has worsened since I left school for instance and I think tolerance (and acceptance of differences) is barely understood anymore as a whole.

Being dyslexic myself, I appreciated seeing a pro-positive story-line involving a dyslexic (Lucas) who was trying to warm up to a hard to read girl in transition (Hannah). The fact that Lucas has a cousin with Asperger’s was an unexpected turn, but it’s how Greenway wrote her characters to be true to themselves and not feel forced to be threaded into the narrative I appreciated the most. Everyone felt very organic and were written with an intrinsic insightfulness that was refreshing.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Hannah Both Ways

BEST Young Adult Fantasy : (3-way tie!)

Ian Quicksilver by Alyson Peterson

On why I love reading serial fiction | and why you should read Alyson Peterson!

Peterson has set-up this world as a series from almost the first moment you meet Ian and his foster family, because of how she’s layered the reader into the world at the very beginning. You get a proper sense of what is going to be happening but without the details muddling your appreciation for how it will start to unravell and unfold. Anyone who can have such conviction of imagery on disillusioned foster parents and the role in which they play being similar to Matilda’s parents, is someone who understands how to set the drama into the back-story but allow the character to step forward out of the disparity.

It was last May when I first discovered Cedar Fort Publishing & Media when I came across Uncovering Cobbogoth and since I read that novel, I’ve been itching not only for more installments of Cobbogoth (which thankfully are being written! as I’ve kept in touch with Ms Clark!) but I’ve been seeking another author who could write a world for young adult readers OR adults who read YA (such as I) to sink our teeth into their world! Picking up The Warrior’s Return, I felt a murmur of excitement, would this be the day I find my next series?!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Ian Quicksilver: The Warrior’s Return

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The Last Gatekeeper by Katy Haye

I appreciated the duality of approach Haye gave The Last Gatekeeper, as due to how inter-personal she created Zan’s character, I could see how this book would cross-relate to teens and adults who might identity with the narrative of differences vs outward perception and tolerances of those differences. Zan has a sensitivity to modern life which forced her parents to create a Victorian gaslight and wood stove sources of energy for their personal uses; yet the underscore is her feeling of difference from others. That moment in your growing years where what sets you apart from your peers can weigh on your mind and affect how you feel your able to find your niche within the perimeters of society.

The joy is seeing how Haye wrote Zan and defined her as growing towards the acceptance that being different isn’t something to avoid but a gift to embrace. Even if your gift is powerful and can cause a bit of harm if you use it without being consciencely responsive to your actions; is a gift worth accepting because you can learn as you grow.

Haye used folklore and mythology a bit loosely in her approach to write the histories of the Fane and the Talvarrine; giving the series a bit of a grounding in stories readers might have read prior to picking up The Last Gatekeeper. There are elements of those prior stories contained within the novel, but Haye has found a way to create a bridge in and out of the genre itself. Angels and the fey have been explored in other series, including a few I have reviewed previously on Jorie Loves A Story; however, Haye approaches it from a familial angle, wherein the strength of the bond Zan has with her Mum and Dad is what emboldens her to attempt to right the sails from what the Queen of Fane is attempting to accomplish. This is where the suspense of the plot and the heart of the character merge together quite beautifully.

quoted from my book review on behalf of The Last Gatekeeper

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Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt

Hunt warmly gives you an introduction inside Neiva’s innermost thoughts through journalling pieces of the story out of the pen of Neiva’s hand. It’s a close connection to Neiva’s heart and the swirling emotions of her trying to sort out what she does not yet understand. I appreciate finding journal entries in novels as they give a personal connection to the character over and beyond reading their thoughts as they speak them loud enough for us to take note of them. Journals are a personal method of organising our thoughts, sorting out our feelings, and piecing together what our mind is attempting to let us understand. When a journal is used in a novel it gives cadence to the passage of the character growing more confident in their skin and at the arrival of a new chapter in their lives.

Don’t miss catching Hunt’s cheeky humour about the origins of where mythology and the realities of the Guardians start to cross-sect and divide! There is one exchange between Sasha (Darius’s confidante) and Neiva wherein you can see how fable can alter real-world perceptions on the fantastical! I liked this exchange because it speaks volumes to root you inside this reality by showing the differences to ours!

quoted from my book review on behalf of Blonde Eskimo

BEST Non-Fiction : 

JohnShaw_BookCover

I could instantly relate to the Preface as Mr Shaw is relating a short photographic history – I still find people do not have the same history I do with still photography because they are part of the digital revolution – wherein they skipped the digital camera and opted for the iPhone camera era. I cannot relate to photographers who solely shoot on a cellular phone (hallo, instagramers, I’m talking to you!) nor can I fully embrace a world without traditional  photography.

For you see, I’m a girl who loves old world arts and crafts, analog vs digital technologies, Fuji was definitely a wicked good choice over Kodak (ironically or not!), and manual typewriters are my bliss in a technologic world dependent on an electric grid that is less than stable. Yet, I am passionate about book blogging and I dearly appreciate the interactions in the twitterverse. I might have a strong attachment to my ‘unplugged life’ but there is a time and place for going digital, and photography for me hit a junction in the sand. I could either accept I had to go digital or I could stop taking pictures — for one and a half decades! *clearly I opted-in!

What I am more betwixt with as a photographer who has chemical allergies is acknowledging the fact that until I learn the natural route to process my own films, digital photography allows me to circumvent my allergies and process my pictures courtesy of a personal photo printer! (i.e. the printer is as ancient as my camera at this point, but still working!) I do like the freedom to print from home or whilst travelling (in different sizes and/or the flexibility of zoom) but a part of me aches to re-affirm my roots and take back my love of still photography. I walk between worlds – the traditional roots of my past, anchoured by my grandfather and Mum; and the new age of the digital frontier where absolutely no barrier limits your capabilities.

I definitely concur with his suggestion to use his guide as a ‘guide’ not as a tell-all of what you need to do to take pictures as we each have our own path but can respect another path in order to draw inspiration into our own. I also applauded how he approached a newcomer to nature photography – how you have to develop an awareness (a near stillness) of the natural world, a respect that is grounded in compassion and contains an ethical heart of accepting the world your stepping inside is not your own and thereby has it’s own set of rules.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Digital Nature Photography

BEST Non-Fiction (Memoir) : 

3000 Miles to Eternity by Duane & Selena Pannell

Visually, 3000 Miles to Eternity hits all the marks for a letter-writer turnt voracious reader to embrace because it’s the type of book a letter-writer would pick up to read! I’m speaking from personal experience, because it’s not just the outer layout of graphics intermixed with typography to make this a catching book cover, it’s how the internal bits are composed and arranged as well. As soon as you open the book itself, your greeted by the intimacy of a private journal being privy to your eyes whilst engaging directly through a time portal inside the Pannells lives.

The typeset eludes to a scrapbooking approach in some ways, and a high tech method in others; your shifting from both their private thoughts journalled out via entries and notations dated per each shared piece that allows us to follow back through their footsteps into how their lives became entwined. The journals give way into a hearty exchange of emails and a cheeky look-see into how to set-up a profile of a hopeful singleton. The third part is a return to their journals – this is why this stepped out in my mind to be similar to Letters from Skye because of how the story is perceived by the reader and how the story is told by the author(s).

Your given only so much insight per journal entry and/or email correspondence; you have to see through what is on the page and envision this journey in a very unique style and method of delivering a story through an interpersonal exchange of correspondences. If your new to this style, I nearly would suggest you pick up a copy of Letters to Skye and then forge directly into this nonfiction account; however, the Pannells do such a bang-on brilliant job at knitting you into their world, I’d be plumb shocked if you needed to read a fictional love story to understand the realism of this one. Either way, I hope the epistolary novels and memoirs I’ve read and shared with you previously will become an earmark on your next reads list! The joy they gave me would be wicked lovely to see tenfold enjoyed by new readers!

quoted from my book review on behalf of 3000 Miles to Eternity

Best Non-Fiction (Special Interest) :

The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower

Brower has found a way to bring up the moments that readers would appreciate the most in reading from a non-fictional account of Presidential life as lived by the staff who take care of the Presidents and their families; in the first chapter, she explores the coordination of switching out Presidential belongings as coordinated by the inaugurations. Little do most know, that behind the show on tv wherein we’re all meeting the First Family as they are being sworn into office, the entire staff back at the White House is trying to ensure their arrival home truly will have the heart-warming touch of ‘being home’. I had a feeling this is when the shift takes place, because it truly makes sense: prior to the inaugurations, when would there be time to make the switch!? I do think they should re-think the policy on not hiring  professional movers, as I was a bit aghast one of the staff members severely injured his back simply due to the fact no one from the outside is allowed to be brought in to help. To me, as they take care of everything else, why not allow people who regularly move hearth and home to aide the staff once every four to eight years!?

quoted from my book review on behalf of The Residence

BEST Cookery: Savoury & Baking (with a healthy bent of focus) :

Crave Eat Heal by Annie Oliverio

Not only does Oliverio understand how food can be as tethered tied to our emotions as much as our hormones, but she has this keen sense about how food is relative to our moods. She gives suggestions with near-poetic prompt headings that draw your mind to think twice, and your foodie soul to celebrate the joy of eating something new, but something not quite as wicked as where your old habits led you! Opening Crave. Eat. Heal. feels like an awakening spirit of clean slate proportions and epic desires to seek out the ingredients in order to produce what is found on the pages — foods where you do not think about the nutritional values as much as the joy of ‘tasting’ the wholeness of a well-lit cellular enriching treat for the palate!

She has bang-on clarity for understanding how to ‘listen’ to what your body is attempting to tell you (about what your missing and what your daily needs are in regards to food) whilst giving you a bit of a guilt-break on how those internal desires and signals can waylay you on a path of unwell tendencies. The reasons they become unhealthy is because the choices we make to ‘feed the immediate need’ of those wicked awful cravings sets us up to fail because we insta-grab the wrong variation of how that craving can be rectified. We’ve all been there — especially women in particular, where you have this in-human longing to ‘eat something that meets your needs’ yet with a heap of remorse for knowingly eating something that is empty of any healthy attributes and benefits. Even moderation won’t save you from chronic choices which do nothing to add to your healthy glow but only seek to leave you downtrodden in a sluggish lathyritic state of ‘ugh’.

quoted from my book review on behalf of Crave. Eat. Heal.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

If you’ve enjoyed this showcasing of my Cuppa Book Love Awards, your going to be dearly surprised in such a wicked good way when I mention I’ll be revealling the stories & authors who made the cut for *2014!* in APRIL! I am unsure why I hesitated to post last year’s *End of the Year Survey* but sometimes, when you blog with your heart, you tuck back a bit and have to grow in confidence what your sharing.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Waranya Mooldee.
Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Waranya Mooldee.

2. Books You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

By the by, each year that I journal my Bookish Events (top menu) I leave behind a small clue about which books weren’t my cuppa. If you’ve spied the differences in the entries your ahead of the game in knowing my answers to this particular question! There are a few exceptions, such as I keep covers hidden for ‘cover reveals’ and sometimes I only have a banner rather than a book cover; thus, my little system has a few hiccups! lol Keeps my readers on their toes, come to think on it! Each year, I try to continuously add the stories in ‘search of readers to love them’ to my Riffle List. Otherwise, by each year’s end and a new year’s beginning, I add the remaining titles.

  1. The Iris Fan by Laura Joh Rowland (review)
  2. The Oblate’s Confession by William Peak (review)
  3. Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht (review)
  4. Midnight Runner by Marilee Jackson (review)
  5. The Lazarus Game by Stephen J. Valentine (review)
  6. Letters to my Future Husband by Lisa McKendrick (review)
  7. The Keys of the Watchman by Kathleen C. Perrin (review)
  8. What is Lost by Lauren Skidmore (review)
  9. The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank (review)
  10. The Perfect Fool by Bethany Zohner Herbert (review)
  11. Keep it Real and Grab a Plunger: 25 Tips for Surviving Parenthood by Julie Nelson (review)
  12. Return to Food by Sherry Strong (review)
  13. Meant to Be by Jessica James (review)
  14. Life Outside the Box: The Extraordinary Journeys of 10 Unique Individuals by Marilyn R. Wilson (review)
  15. The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek (review)
  16. Her Sister’s Shoes by Ashley F. Farley (review)
  17. Callahan Crossroads by Anola Pickett (review)
  18. Beneath Creek Waters by Jason L. Bradshaw (review)
  19. Starting Over by Sue Moorcroft (review)
  20. Honor Among Thieves by J.M. Aucoin (review)
  21. The Throne of David by Ann Farnsworth (review)
  22. Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart (review)
  23. Turning to Stone by Gabriel Valjan (review)
  24. The Tulip Resistance by Lynne Allen (review)
  25. Entrevoir by Chris Katsaropoulos (review)

I average around 20 (review) books* per year where I feel were simply ‘not my cuppa tea’ and apparently according to this list, I’ve surpassed my average! I honestly did not notice this as the year progressed, as despite the difficulties in soaking inside the narratives, I found other reviewers on the blog tours had found them to their liking. One novel (The Throne of David) even became popular in Europe whilst it was being canvased abroad. This is a bit of an inside look into how I’m a particularly particular reader, wherein I am most critical about the stories I am reading because I’m looking for several factors whilst I am reading the novels, short stories and works of non-fiction. (To read what is a book turn-off, please read this previous disclosure and/or my extensive Review Policy.)

Is the confluence of timescape, setting and place, characterisation and overall portal inside the world before my eyes drinkable? My way of asking the story, are you relatable in such a way as I can peer into your world and believe what I am reading? Am I enjoying how the stage was set, decorated and given ambiance to your own particular voice and style of story? Was the author generous with her narrative prose (I personally abhor short descriptive narrative and click-point dialogue; it gives me nothing to chew on.) that led to being the vehicle that stilled my heart, uplifted my imagination to a newer height of enjoyment and gave me an entreaty into the story’s heart?

The heart of the story is what I am seeking most. This special central thread where the unification of a story’s whole can be found. If I can find the heart, I shortly find the soul; for me as a reader, I love dimensional stories where there are layers of depth and layers of spirit. This applies across the board – no matter which style of crafting a story can be found, I am seeking the onion! (i.e. personal reference to if you cut an onion, you’ll be greeted by an intricate layered center; as observed and spoken in ‘Doc Hollywood’)

The challenge of course is how to articulate my discomfort and find a way to thread a conversation out of the discourse of what becomes my review ruminations. I might find an issue with a novel (or non-fiction work) but I find it a credit to the author(s) to leave behind a critical review that is both open and honest about how their story resonated with me. How what I read either translated to me their vision of the story or left me with a wanting for something not quite ready to be seen. For each story I pick up and find ‘isn’t my cuppa’ invariably I find something within it that did agree with me. Except to say, I write all sorts of reviews including negative-neutral (where there is a bit of positivity) and full-on negative if I simply could not find a way inside the narrative at all. In very rarer occasions, I put the book down before concluding it. The same can be said for the reviews where I am full-on positive about the story-lines; there could be wrinklements of displeasure which I am also openly vocal about. (those would be considered positive-neutral)

In each of these stories, I found vexation rather than exhilaration; blockages of joy rather than a heart full of merriment for it’s greeting; turnt off by how it was told rather than finding it unputdownable in other words. And as this section implies, I truly was by and far *excited!* for these reads (as I only request stories for review if I’m wholly enthused to read them!) but each in their own turn, fell short of my expectations and my acceptance of how they were told.

There are a few things I should mention:

A few of the authors responded back to my reviews in a positive way (not all of them agreed with my assessment of their stories, such is a fact of being a book blogger; I think they expect us to love every story we read rather than to be honest in how we internalise the stories we read) and provided feedback on what upset me the most. I appreciate the writers who reach out to me after I post a review, either as a follow-up conversation to talk to me openly about my feelings and thoughts or to at least acknowledge their story simply did not sit well with me as a whole.

In rare instances, I get the chance to carry on the dialogue past my review (one reason I hope for more commentary as I have ‘after notes’ to share when/if someone comments and seeks a conversation) wherein I feel a bit of relief to see the author’s perspective. One author I felt I had released a retraction and ‘postscript’ on behalf of his review, but in reviewing my archive whilst composing this, I fear, I have been remiss! The extra section never went live even though I distinctively remember the conversation I had with Mr Valentine! I blame the season in which I read the novel; too much was happening and clearly I accidentally forgot my intentions! (this has now been remedied! click to read!) This was the first time I asked to donate a book to my local library as I simply did not want to keep my copy, too. I should have asked the year before to donate another book, but this year I decided not to let the grass grow.

Ms Skidmore was very supportive of my review, and her kindness to understand my difficulties with her story were welcome as I go into reading review books with an open mind and heart. Sometimes I simply find them unapproachable, but she was gracious enough to send me a note telling me she understood.

The same is true of Ms Nelson, even though there were positive points within her ‘Grab a Plunger’ advice book, I simply did not completely connect with it’s conclusions.

Ms James definitely understood my frustrations with her military drama and even encouraged me to realise she too, has felt differently about the story since it was published.

Ms Wilson took my commentary to heart about the manner in which her non-fiction was paced and told; to the level she’s making certain changes with her next installment so that readers who are seeking to read the short biographies can feel it’s texturally more akin to a novel than a cold narrative.

Despite my issues with reading The Throne of David I did appreciate hosting Ms Farnsworth for a guest feature! She imparted such a personal and convicting essay about Death and Loss.

The only story that truly disappointed me on content outright is Turning to Stone as there was a mistaken blurb attached to the review pitch wherein the tour director thanked me for noticing the error. Whereas in regards to an ill-taste for character, that goes to Starting Over as I simply did not warm up to the central lead bloke as I found him repulsive not appealing.

A few authors I am not sure understood my discomforts but I hope in the long term they understand I could not gain footing in their stories. Each reader assimilates a story differently, so much goes into how we process a story and if we cannot encroach inside a character’s mind or heart, there is little hope for us to gain traction at all.

I encourage you to visit the reviews, wherein my words upon each title will explain my reasons for not enjoying my time inside their pages.

*the number of books I put down via borrowing from my local library and personal purchases is quite a bit higher. I still remember amassing such a high number of check-outs that disappointed me, I had to take a breathier from making requests as they kept ‘boomeranging’! This was prior to being a book blogger (by a gap of five years of active library reading) but it was a bit of insight towards understanding myself as a reader whose seeking stories that enlighten my literary wanderings. Hence the subtitle of my blog! (composed in [2014] still remains true)

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2015?

In a bad way a book starts to shift away from where you were hoping it will lead you:

Entrevoir is by far the worst example of continuing a thread of thought from a previous installment of a baseline of story whilst being jettisoned so completely removed from it’s core, you cannot even continue reading! I barely made it inside this story before I whole-heartedly removed myself from it’s pages – I was that ‘thrown by it’s explicit visuals’ and shifting from the beauty of where Antiphony led me to travel. I had a few bobbles in the road with the prior story but the overall conviction of it’s hard sci fi core remained intact to where I not only could vocalise my appreciation but found it to be by and far my most challenging review to compose. (review)

And, the best way a book can surprise you:

Corvidae definitely takes this spot, as I was uncertain of what to expect within a so-called genre bender collection of shorts primarily focused on the horrific side of the ledger. I was captivated by it’s premise, curious about it’s interior, and gainfully unable to find a way to put the collection down once I was inside! Corvidae left me wanton for more of it’s author’s collective works, but also, with a realisation that I truly was onto something when I declared my appreciation for ‘Cosy Horror’ in the first place! (review)

4. Books You “Pushed” ENCOURAGED The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2015?

I encourage people to read the books I’ve read myself and have become quite attached, as a way to pass forward the joy of having read the story. I never ‘push’ anyone to read anything because to be honest, you have to find a connection to a story — the synopsis is a good place to start, but there has to be something about the story itself, or the central lead character that inspires a thread of connection to yearn to pick up the book. If I can help readers find this thread and enable them to make a choice whether or not the story, the characters, and the writer’s style for telling the story can resonate with them, I consider myself a book cheerleader who encourages stories to find new readers!

  • the BookSparks Summer Reading books – of particular note: Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I honestly did not keep track of the books I was cheering to other readers as I had in [2014] but I do recollect a lovely conversation I had with one of my librarians about this particular book! I made purchase requests for both my Summer Reading + Fall Reading Challenge books as selected via the events hosted by BookSparks. Those stories are part of the backlog I am working towards eradicating this first part of [2016] however, what is warranted to be said now, is that the librarian put the book on reserve due to the cover art which led me to converse with her about my appreciation on behalf of Hyde. I spoke about my introduction to her writings via The Language of Hoofbeats (review)  and why I was intrigued to read Worthy.

I also relayed to her I had fallen behind in my reading queue with the Summer Reading challenge and thus, the reviews I was meant to post. She told me to ‘let go of the guilt’ of not finishing the challenge itself (in the timeline of the challenge, I should clarify, I never stopped trying to read the stories) as it led me to helping readers discover the authors and the books themselves. I told her the other titles I had turnt in as purchase requests and from there, I had hoped she might venture to either read more of Hyde or more of the challenge reads directly.

The conversation brought things into perspective for me, as despite my earnest attempts, I simply lost too many hours to read both Summer and Fall Challenge reads. The reasons are threaded through my blog (both in individual posts and on reviews) but what remains to be true is how both events encouraged me to reach out to my local library and help widen their card catalogue to include novels by She Writes Press and other publishers they had not previously purchased. They are very open to Indie Authors (quite the blessing!) and they are thankfully open to patron requests, which is why I wrote an Open Letter of Gratitude to them.

Seasons of life have their turnings and tides; the best we can do when confronted by the unexpected is not to lose heart on what fell behind or fell away from our goals. I struggle with reader’s guilt for the stories within my backlog, but I have to be honest about how that backlog generated itself. If I think back on the months and seasons they were meant to be digested and blogged: how could I have lay thought and mind upon the stories? Would the difficulties I was living through have altered my readings to where the impressions that could have been left on me would have been lost completely? It’s hard to know. I elected to wait to have a clearer mind to dissolve inside them; where I wouldn’t be rushed or anxious about how to process what I was reading (as we all have things that weigh on us time to time). Whether another book blogger would delay their readings as long as I have, I am unsure. Then, again we can all only live our own lives and make amends the first chance we get for what we were not yet able to do.

As I continue to work towards reading my BookSparks challenge reads, I expressed a bit more about this topic on my review of All in Her Head which served as my return to reviewing the books themselves! As you can read on that review, a publicist at BookSparks helped me find even more closure on my guilt – even if it’s still a day-to-day work-in-progress to ‘let go’ as I’ll be honest, it does affect me that I fell behind! I’m passionate about the stories I’m reading and about how I approach book blogging – but in the end, I have to admit, I simply had a difficult year! Enough guilt, already!! Oy!

5. Best series you started in 2015?

Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

BEST SERIES I started to read: (by order of my Story Vault; not introduction)

Each year I have the tendency of collecting ‘serial fiction’ as my heart is full of joy reading connective story-lines and the continuation of the lives of the characters I am not keen on parting with anytime soon! The hardest is when I find myself so very attached to a one-off realising without a re-read, I am forevermore aching to know more, to read another chapter and to remain inside that world longer than what was written. Mind you, I love one-off stories but my favourite of favourites are serials; which might lend a glimpse into why I personally write more ‘serials’ than anything else! lol

One of my goals for [2016] is to make a bit of head-way in regards to gaining traction inside the serials I began reading in *cough, cough* [2009!] and proceeding forward into the serials I’ve discovered up to this point in time! Those previous serials were fetching my eye through my local library and ILL pursuits; one serial in particular became a *birthday surprise!* which briefly was blogged about during a ‘Bout of Books’ readathon. At a later date, I’ll expand on the serials I’ll be most interested in picking up from whence I’ve left off!

The Blessings series by Beverly Jenkins | Such a lively series of characters and the quirks of small towne life, I was full of happiness reading this as Jenkins has a bent on realistic fiction that appeals to me. She etches in such a heap of heart and a spirited of aliveness that is brilliantly executed in a small towne fictional series; the different avenues she can explore, I believe are endless, but it’s how she keeps her characters honest and real against the page that endeared me the most. (review)

Inspector Dewey by Kristen Heimerl | A serial picture book for young readers truly captured my imagination and my sleuthing skills, as Heimerl knows how to knit a close-story full of mystery for readers who are beginning to emerge inside the printed word. She has the deft cleverness of stitching a mystery adults will happily suggest to read during bedtime stories and perhaps, sneak off to re-read it for themselves afterwards! The visuals are bang-on brilliant and cat lovers of all ages will delight in it’s heart of joy! (review)

Ian Quicksilver by Alyson Peterson | I was quite charmed by Quicksilver, not only as a character but as a well-writ YA series which combined my love of adventure with coming-of age story-lines. I am pleased to say the sequel is upcoming this Autumn! The synopsis of which is available on Edelweiss! I believe what worked for me the most is the tone and the manner in which this YA Fantasy adventure was told – a credit to Peterson, as I oft find myself drawn out of stories similar to this and with hers, I felt itching to read the NEXT installment! (review)

The Chronicles of Fane by Katy Haye | This was such a happy surprise – to tuck inside a YA Fantasy which not only broached new species for me to get to know inside Fantasy but to see how Haye would conceptalise the ‘science’ behind her lead character’s special ‘gift’. It was an incredible read start to finish but in the end, my heart tugged and pulled so dearly I felt the full grief of realising I would not soon be reading the sequel (as it was still being written!). (review)

Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt (unsure of the series name!) | This was one of the YA books I selected to read through BookSpark’s Summer YA Reading Challenge — I wanted to seek out stories I might not have found otherwise but also, to challenge myself with the selections to read further outside the core of choices I generally make for YA! I decided to make ‘traditional’ YA selections that I see other readers & book bloggers making — this one simply touched me at my core. I loved the back-story of inspiration but it’s Hunt’s narrative choices that garnished the winning nod from me! (review)

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear | I quite literally have been wanting to read this series for a good while as I stumbled across this through my local library!! I kept putting off reading the series, as I wasn’t kidding when I said I ‘collect series to read’! I was so struck by Winspear’s narrative voice but also, how her character grounds you inside her particular ‘time of reference’. I love historicals for this key reason – your time travelling through history, but certain authors simply stir my mind in joy moreso than others, and she’s definitely one of them! (review)

Lucy Campion Mysteries by Susanna Calkins | What a love for a series I achieved through this special blog tour where I had just enough time to read the first of the series before I moved into the third release! I was so wicked happy for the introduction to Lucy Campion because as I recently had shared on Twitter, I have a ‘short list of personal favourites when it comes to Cosy Historical Mysteries’ and Calkins is on it! (review)

Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries by Gigi Pandian | The quirky vibe Pandian has knit inside her archaeological marvel of a kickin’ female heroine who champions artifacts and mysteries is pure genius! I had the pleasure of borrowing the previous novels via ILL’ing them from out of state – they travelled a long way to reach me, too! I was so blessed by their library’s willingness to send them, as they gave me an inside edge to understand the current release! I cannot wait to see what comes next! (review)

Bess Crawford Mysteries by Charles Todd | I do tend to share away from ‘medical’ story-lines except on two fronts: I have a keen interest in nursing & midwife story-lines! More times than I can count, I’ve found characters who represent these fields winning my heart! This one happens to hob knob through the World War era where it’s part nursing fiction and part war drama! It’s incredibly layered and it’s a series I want to read start to finish! (review)

Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries by Charles Todd | I was truly surprised I would appreciate both series by the Todds (Mum and son writing duo); as this one has a harder edging to it’s character but this is respective of what Rutledge has been through, after all. I would like to dig backwards through the series before re-arriving where I entered the series – as although this entry wasn’t my personal favourite, it was a winning hand towards granting me entrance to a ‘new kind’ of mystery I was not expecting to enjoy as much as I did! (review)

Thomas De Quincey series by David Morrell | If I felt the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries were outside my comfort zone, I could say Morrell took me further afield but granted me the joy of finding a lot to champion in his series! I believe he even mentioned once (on Twitter?) I was outside who he felt might enjoy these novels – and he’s correct! I’m so not the regular demographic nor reader who would find herself able to tuck inside these rather gritty yet heartfelt thrillers – I credit this to Morrell for giving me something to chew on whilst I contemplated his stories as a whole! I would have loved to have attended the book event in NOLA to meet him this year, as I definitely want to read more of this series! (review)

Eruption duology by Adrienne Quintana | I stopped reading technothrillers as a teenager as I simply couldn’t gain a foothold back inside them – this is until of course, I read a debut novel that gave me what I was seeking out of the genre! Quintana has the other half of this duology releasing this year, and I couldn’t be happier! They are anchoured together and I will be re-reading Eruption before I soak inside Reclamation! It’s one of my first duologies, too! She found a balance between the intrigue and the science, which is what held me on the page! (review)

Rhonda Parrish’s Magical Menageries by World Weaver Press | A duology as there is an anchoured story within Scarecrow; the two anthology collections are best read together and I wished I could have myself. I’ll be re-reading the mystery whose second half is still awaiting my eyes! I cannot express enough how much I love the choices Rhonda Parrish is making with her serial anthology collections, although I did give her a recent s/o on Twitter which expresses this!! I cannot wait to resume my reviews of this Indie Publisher this Spring 2016! (review of FAE)(review of CORVIDAE)

Avelynn by Marissa Campbell | Never read a Viking story until I met Avelynn! I was definitely struck by how well Campbell anchoured her story not only in the historical past at a junction of time I never read previously, but she etched into it an honest story about one woman’s journey towards better understanding and redemption. I cannot wait to see where this series moves forward into the future, but for now, it was simply a lovely surprise to find a Viking story I could handle reading! (review)

The Clan Chronicles by Julie E. Czerneda | It’s hard to put into words how attached I am to reading the The Clan Chronicles and how beautiful I am finding the author has given us such a tome of a classic to soak inside! It’s one of those rare gems that you’ve become addicted to reading and find yourself so absorbed inside it’s world, it’s hard to pull yourself out! I had to take an absence from the series due to health and other life situations which arose between then and now, but I’m digging back inside this series whilst Spring arrives as it’s only fitting – I began it in Winter! (review of Reap the Wild Wind)

Tipsy Fairy-Tales by E. Chris Garrison | I am so happy I could get inside this series because it’s comedic gold! I love how Ms Chris writes cheeky comedic situations into a dramatic Fantasy story that has just enough levity inside it to off-set the serious bits! It’s not written in a style I’m familiar with previously, and this is why I read it nearly too quickly – I simply could not put it down! I wanted to devour it but I also, noticed how true it is to the personality of the writer! (review)

London Vampire Chronicles by Berni Stevens | Leave it to Ms Stevens to take a non-vampire loving girl and convince her there are a few vamps out there she’d take a liking, too! Grant you, I did appreciate Buffy (with Angel, not without him!) but this is the first time I felt I could wrap my mind around a Vampire Rom and find myself ‘okay with that!’ because of how non-traditionally it was written; at least to me! (review)

BEST SEQUELS of 2015:

Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann | Since the very first novel of Ms Spann’s series (now entitled: #HiroHattoriNovels) Claws of the Cat, I have been properly smitten by this Historical Mystery series set in Japan! The counter-play of Father Mateo and Hiro has layered depth to their friendship and the insightful way in which she tells the mysteries themselves is awe-inspring because she’s bridging not just the gateway to History but the cultural exchanges as well. She’s intuitive and inquisitive allowing her characters to have brilliant depth! I cannot wait to continue reading this series, starting with the fourth release The Ninja’s Daughter (whose synopsis is on Edelweiss). I wanted to write more about this story when I originally reviewed it, except that my health was affected and my words were on the shorter side. I will be re-reading the novel ahead of The Ninja’s Daughter whilst offering a new perspective as it was a tightly conceived plot which was wicked to read as I seriously did not know how it would work out until the very end! (review)

Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear | This is a series I became attached too, through my original readings of the first two novels in the series! I hadn’t realised I missed reading the novella, but was blessed at the time of reading this sequel my local library has a copy! I’m going to be re-reading this series (hopefully over Summer!) and inserting the novella to keep the serial continuity! It simply has everything I hoped to find in a small towne Contemporary series rooted in Women’s Fiction with not only fully realised characters but heart-centred narrative arcs – this was such a blessing to be able to read, I am thankful the publisher was able to send me a copy! It’s definitely a series that had me ‘at hallo’ and has never left me! (review)

        BEST Series Ender of 2015:

Moonlight on Butternut Lake | Butternut Lake series | Mary McNear

Except to say, I had the pleasure of interacting with Ms McNear through an interview whilst finding out the series is as they say ‘not quite at it’s last chapter’!! I am thankful to JKS Communications from giving me the chance to converse with Ms McNear and for William Morrow to give me the chance to review the book directly outside of the blog tour. This is one conversation with an author I not only admired but truly felt connected to the overall story she was knitting together – the conversation felt like a capstone to my experiences thus far along and I’m definitely a reader who will continue to follow this journey with Butternut Lake as the series moves forward!

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2015?

(debut novelists)

  • Lauren Winder Farnsworth
  • Heidi Jo Doxey
  • Jamie Robyn Wood
  • Sean Cummings
  • Kristen Heimerl
  • Rosie Greenway
  • Alyson Peterson
  • Katy Haye
  • Kristen Hunt
  • Adrienne Quintana
  • Pamela Ford
  • Marissa Campbell
  • Kaaren Christopherson
  • Jan Moran*
  • Kamy Wicoff
  • Berni Stevens

What was so very heart-warming to me is to continue to inspire to read a healthy dose of debut novelists – as these are the portals by which I can enter into a writer’s imagination. It’s the stage which first sets my mind to understand their writerly style and the method in which they are crafting their stories. Some of these authors truly took me up to a new level of exiting my comfort zones and taking on ‘first time’ genre choices whilst others inspired me to re-read their stories if only to have a chance to interview them at a latter date. One in particular, I never had the properly chance to re-acquaint myself with To Ride A White Horse (by Pamela Ford) and I am hoping once I’m able to do so, an opportunity might present itself to converse with the author about the story.

I definitely want to pick up the conversation with Ms Stevens about vampires after I have a chance to read Dracula as she definitely has inspired me to keep my mind ‘open to vampires’ even if they are classically composed! I am not sure when I can read this story, as ever since I found Alma Classics version of the story, I’m a bit shy to pick up another edition! This is something I reveal on my forthcoming review of The Bridges of Constantine.

I wanted to converse with Katy Haye about her series as well as keep in touch about how the sequel is taking shape, as her story truly hit a chord with my heart. I loved how deeply layered she wrote this debut novel and how brilliantly she conceived her world-building. World-building next to character development is one of my top favourites to reference in stories because they are equally important to me.

Ms Farnsworth gave me the initial push towards re-picking up Jane Eyre with her after canon sequel I happily devoured and seek to re-read after I spend April celebrating Charlotte Brontë as I am *finally!* resuming Jane Eyre whilst reading Wide Sargasso Sea! I re-scheduled my readings on behalf of Luccia Gray’s sequel novels All Hallows at Eyre Hall and Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall for mid-April and ending my showcasing of her stories with an interview the last week of April. I am sure I will be wanting to continue the trilogy with the final chapter of it, but right now, I am focusing on getting to Twelfth Night! I also was inspired to join a blog tour featuring after canon poems writ by Rita Maria Martinez – so you could say, I’m celebrating Brontë’s legacy & bicentennial in fine style!

*I mentioned Jan Moran because I believe Scent of Triumph was her original debut novel and it was re-released in [2015] with a publisher. If I’m remembering wrong, forgive me!

7. Books from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

There will be a bit of overlapping with my Cuppa of Book Love Awards but the titles below deserve a second mention for the reasons I’ll give beside their titles. Other titles fell short of being my ‘best of the best reads’ but were still enjoyable reads throughout the year. They were simply ‘inked out’ by the others by a hair of a fraction!

Hard-boiled Suspense | Thriller: (except it’s filed under ‘Swedish’ Lit in translation)

The Swimmer by Joakim Zander | Novels in translation is a newfound joy of mine, seeking out hard-boiled suspense or thrillers does not come naturally to me. The hardest hitting ‘Cosies’ I would regularly draw myself into their folds prior to being a book blogger were the Coffeehouse mysteries by Cleo Coyle. Zander on the opposite end of the ledger writes hard-hitting and expertly crafted thrillers who in turn are brilliantly captured in English by their translator. It was a big wake-up call to me I dearly love Swedish works in translation over French! (review)

Technothriller:

Eruption by Adrienne Quintana | Quintana took me by surprise. I used to read a heap of technothrillers as a teenager (apparently so, as I devoured them!) but returning to the genre hasn’t come easy for me. In fact, I find myself at odds with it as a whole but then, I read Eruption. It’s relative to today’s readership and it’s edgy. It’s breaking genre (love when author’s bend it to their will!) and it’s the type of story you can become excited about. (review)

Cosy Horror:

Corvidae anthology by World Weaver Press | I can honestly say I did not know how I would take to the Cosy Horror stories within this anthology as although they felt suspended a bit between traditional Horror and the cosier side I prefer, one never knows what they will be greeted with until they pick up the book! I was so ecstatic about what I found I could hardly contain myself!! So much so, I kept saying out loud ‘I love Cosy Horror?’; ‘I LOVE Cosy Horror!’; ‘Wow! I really LOVE this genre!’ almost as if I was trying to get used to the idea of finding a new niche! (review)

The Haunting of Springett Hall by E.B. Wheeler | No one was more gobsmacked about how much I took a liking to this story than me! No, seriously – it fits lovingly inside this genre because of the style in how it’s told but also, because of the creepier inclusions of what is ‘really going on!’ in the background of the main thread of story! (review)

Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy by R.J. Sullivan | I tried to downplay my excitement about reading this collection – I seriously wanted to love what I would find because despite my original meeting with Sullivan’s works falling a wee bit short of ideal, I truly believed in his vision and style of story-crafting the Horror genre! The only main issue I had originally (as read here) is how Horror-ific he took the other story! This one!? I had a bit of cheeky fun playing off the ‘darkness’ and ‘whimsy’ titling! (review)

Alternative History w/ PNR:

Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan | This genre is the one I questioned if I could handle because I’m the girl who shied off of reading Harry Turtledove! This story has an extended back-story because I helped pull readerly interest in the novel ahead of the blog tour – it was the first time I could reach out to historical book bloggers and say, “Hey! you might want to take a chance on this author! She’s wicked good!” I was referring to the fact I loved her debut novel Awesome Jones (review) wherein I fell for her approach to re-setting the bar on her niches of choice! I was not disappointed! I can only hope those I reached out too, loved this story as much as I did! I wanted to interview her about this story but I lost the hours to do so. I’m hoping when I’m able to re-read it, an opportunity will present itself to do so. (review)

The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson | Being the hostess of #ChocLitSaturday (@ChocLitSaturday) it goes without question this is the singularly most chatted up book from the ChocLit backlist! So much so, I finally gave in I should be reading this to understand why everyone is over the moon for Harker! After I put the book down (quite difficult to do so, I wanted more!), I instantly had this awesome idea for an interview, until I remembered — this is the most requested novel to have a sequel and I knew where Ms Johnson stood on that request. I was crestfallen when I realised I had joined ranks with it’s beloved readers, but out of respect for her, I chose not to write the interview. I can say, this inked out The Silver Tongue by how attached I became to Harker. (review)

Urban Fantasy:

Blue Spirit: A Tipsy Fairy Tale by E. Chris Garrison | Urban Fantasy is one of those genres where I have the tendency to feel it’s a bit like my discontent with Dystopian (although I’m stubborn, I still think there are stories out there I will enjoy!) – how to find a small niche in this genre without pulling my hair out!? I have a suspicion I will be blogging about Trinity Stones: YA Edition as a favourite edition to this genre in [2017] but until that day arrives, Ms Chris stole my heart for her cheeky wicked story! The fact I have my own Transit King token now is golden! Seriously!? I cannot wait to read the continuing adventures in this series!! I need MORE as soon as she stitches them together! I need a good jolly laugh in my belly and I definitely NEED more comedy in my life! I have a serious addiction to drama (i.e. Do you realise how many Crime dramas I watch on television? #ondemand has exasperated it! Plus, on a per annum statistical POV, the scale is bent towards the dramatic!) which in of itself isn’t bad — but Ms Chris has reminded me in a champion way, levity gives us a lovely lift of joy! (review)

Romantic Suspense:

Up Close by Henriette Gyland | Oh. My. Dear. Ghouls! I love #RomSusp in general, but as far as selecting titles to read on a regular basis, I tend to sink into a Classic Motion Picture under this umbrella genre than I do a book! Reason? I’m always (*always!*) anxious if the book I pick up with so freak me out of my skull that I won’t be able to sleep! Gyland wrote such a sophisticated story, I quite literally could not draw breath outside the chapters! I was over and beyond invested – I needed to know how this turnt out! And, guess what!? I seriously need to read more ChocLit Romantic Suspense novels! (i.e. esp now they have two lovely new imprints #DarkChocLit & #DeathbyChocLit!) (review)

Vampire Romance:

Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens | I’ve touched on this already, but I am proud of myself – I took a fear of mine and dispelled it! I grew up with Anne Rice – not reading her novels – but having classmates and a best friend who loved her collective works. I researched her and found a kindred spirit from a writer’s perspective as she loves research and kept a study like I do, but outside of this connection, I simply could not stomach reading her novels. Not kidding – I tried, honestly I did, but I felt uncomfortable and decided to talk about the generalities with my best friend rather than the meat of the stories. That’s just who I am – I might have different interests, but I like hearing someone else’s perspective. Ms Stevens has me so on edge wondering what comes next, I have to pinch myself to remember I’m the spooked off this genre girl who now loves a ‘Vamp Rom’! (review)

Memoir:

3,000 Miles to Eternity: a true internet love story by Duane & Selena Pannell | Goes without saying I’d fall for this memoir – a fierce letter-writer since I was 11 years old on a short sabbatical – who is a romantic optimist reads about two pen pals who fall in love? Seriously – was there any doubt!? What I wanted to say is that I applaud the Pannells for their honesty and their wicked way in having transparency about where they were in their lives when they first met to how their relationship granted them each the chance to be each others’ shining knight. They lifted each other up and they believed in each other to take the journey together. It’s a story that champions love, faith and hope – it’s a book everyone should read who love happy endings but want to know what happens ‘in-between’ the HEA! The fact they wink and nod at me on Twitter is a blessing, because I cannot tell you how many smiles this gives me! I can only hope they received my email letter after my review posted because I truly loved every inch of this story and the heart of their message. (review)

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Anderson Brower | I classified this as ‘Special Topic Non-Fiction’ as it has a way of fitting that sub-category, but to be honest, I should have listed it as ‘memoir’ as in my own opinion that is what this book is attempting to give us: a memoir history of the residents of the White House. It was told in such a fashion as to infuse biographical histories of the persons who resided there and how their influence on staff and the internal history of it’s landmark locale became etched in time. (review)

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

  • The Swimmer
  • Murder As A Fine Art
  • Inspector of the Dead

These three stories truly surprised me for being well received on my end but also, for giving me the knowledge that I can *handle!* these sorts of thrillers! They are such a departure from what I regularly gravitate towards it cannot be understated! Along with Charles Todd’s Inspector Ian Rutledge novels, these truly are set apart. However, I picked these three to re-mention how thrilling they were to read – not merely to exploit their genre but thrilling in the sense, I honestly loved being into them to the level I became!

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

  • Keeping Kate
  • Mist at Midnight
  • The Beautiful American
  • Bearskin
  • The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
  • Ian Quicksilver: The Warrior’s Return
  • Flask of the Drunken Master
  • The Last Gatekeeper
  • Blonde Eskimo
  • Eruption
  • To Ride A White Horse
  • Decorum
  • Moonlight on Butternut Lake
  • Up Close
  • Soda Springs

One reading of these stories is not enough – not to fully appreciate every nuance and lovely way in which each of their authors penned their stories. There are moments I’d like to re-visit without a deadline hovering over me and I’d love to take second reading as one where I am simply lost with my thoughts without having to try to put them into words but rather re-visit where my imagination took me as I read their chapters. I love being a book blogger, don’t misunderstand, but there are times where I wish I did not run head-first into my deadlines but rather had a more relaxed pace in which to absorb into the stories themselves. Hence why I’m undertaking a self-guided Renaissance here on Jorie Loves A Story, where the pace and frequency of my reviews will be completely overhauled by Summer [2016].

The one exception is Soda Springs as I had the best time taking an extension to read this story; grant you, I was under the weather and had to push through a bad virus, but each day I could focus and nip out another chapter of this story, I felt as if I was in Soda Springs! I loved every inch of this story and I want the pleasure of re-visiting old friends!

10. Most beautifully written books read in 2015?

Keeping Kate

Mist at Midnight

To Ride a White Horse

Avelynn

A Woman of Note

Scent of Triumph

The Beautiful American

All three combined into one: Reap the Wild Wind | Riders of the Storm | Rift in the Sky

I love sophisticated prose and narrative lyricism – I am hoping I’m remembering all the lovelies I would select to place into this category, as I find it a delightful pause of joy whenever I tuck inside a story whose language, tone and underlying light of it’s heart is such a pleasure to live inside the ‘words and phrases’ as they alight on the pages! These are the ones that came straight back to mind when I read the Q!

11. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Books of 2015?

The Clan Chronicles | Prequel Trilogy + book one of the Trade Pact Universe

You could say this series was equally divided by ‘thought-provoking narrative arcs’ and ‘life-changing’ stories I’ve read this past year in [2015] because I truly left my reality and secured myself inside Czerneda’s world. The first story of the Trade Pact Universe crushed my soul a bit because it was such a right turn shift from Cersi (the prequel trilogy) – so much so – I struggled to re-alight myself with where I found the characters and story.

Then, after a bit of reluctance to accept the whole universe had moved forward without realising I wasn’t ready to say ‘good-bye’ to Cersi – I found a newfound pace with the Trade Pact. It was not the same anchour I had previously, but it was a humbled reckoning of accepting sometimes things don’t go as you plan and life has a way of surprising you – even inside a wholly envisioned world such as The Clan Chronicles!

12. Books you can’t believe you still couldn’t read in 2015?

  • Jane Eyre (see 2014 End of the Year Survey!)
  • The Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber

I decided to keep this list quite short – as if I were more truthful, my list would revel Santa’s! lol I have been striving towards reading both of these authors – I last picked up Huber’s series in the Summer of 2014 (gasp!) but she ended up being blogged about on my reviews where I found inklings of recognition by other authors in the Cosy Historical Mystery genre! Some of which is appearing on this journal retrospective! You will definitely know when I’m re-queuing her novels from my local library as they happily have been gathering her books per each new release! Partially inspired by my purchase requests and partially because I’m not the only reader who loves Lady Darby!

13. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously:

(by order of my Story Vault, not my introduction)

Robin’s Reward by June McCrary Jacobs

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann

Summer Campaign by Carla Kelly

Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner

Blue Spirit: A Tipsy Fairy Tale by E. Chris Garrison

Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

Fool’s Gold by Zana Bell

Soda Springs by Carolyn Steele

Silver Tongue by AshleyRose Sullivan

14. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler | This novel was heavily spoken about in the book blogosphere and I never even heard of it! So much so, I was starting to question how I hadn’t found out about it prior to the book bloggers who were writing ‘excited for it’s release’ type posts and then, on the onslaught of it’s touring in the book blogosphere their reviews started to give me a quickening feeling that if I couldn’t find this on a blog tour, it was going to become a next read of mine via my local library! I suppose it’s the first time I felt a nudge by my book blogging peers to fully step outside the Young Adult genre I am known to become excited about reading and entertain that such a book as this might be written in such a way as to garnish my attention. The only thing that saddened me after I posted my review, is that I couldn’t get the other bloggers to comment on my reactions. It was singularly one of the most devastating moments for me, as I truly was caught so unawares by Ockler’s story, I couldn’t wait for the convo to appear in my threads. It never happened for me, but it remains one of the most impressionable reads of [2015] due to it’s honesty. (review)

15. Best 2015 debut novel you read?

(by order of my Story Vault, not my introduction)

A bit telling there are a heap of titles listed in this category falling under Middle Grade + Young Adult! The rest of which fall inside genres that I am not naturally drawn to read or are about themes that I attempted to read for the first time. Including vampires and Vikings!

Keeping Kate by Lauren Winder Farnsworth

The Walking Fish by Rachelle Burk & Kopel Burk

Ian Quicksilver: The Warrior’s Return by Alyson Peterson

The Last Gatekeeper by Katy Haye

Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt

Eruption by Adrienne Quintana

To Ride A White Horse by Pamela Ford

Avelynn by Marissa Campbell

Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff

Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens

Non-Fiction:

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Anderson Brower

3,000 Miles to Eternity: a true internet love story by Duane & Selena Pannell

16. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

  • The Clan Chronicles

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff | I daresay, I think I smiled throughout the entire novel!

17. Books That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

The Clan Chronicles

18. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Clan Chronicles

19. Stories That Crushed Your Soul?

in a not-so-good way:

The Lazarus Game

A Thousand Words for Stranger

Rodin’s Lover

Balm + Wench

in a good way:

Not Without My Father

The Untied Kingdom

20. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

The Clan Chronicles

Antiphony

21. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

A Thousand Words for Stranger

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

My Bookish & Blogging Life:

Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Alexandre Perotto.
Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Alexandre Perotto.

1. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

The Clan Chronicles

2. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

My Bookish Not Bookish Thoughts

As they allowed me to step outside my reviews and blog more about the other bits that correlate to being a book blogger with diversified interests and passions. I want to resume participating in memes as well as bookish blogosphere events this year (beginning between Summer & Autumn in earnest) because they give me a heap of joy! I also want to have more posts that are non-review and non-guest feature oriented as I want to start focusing on more than what I’m currently reading, as I have a lot I want to bring to Jorie Loves A Story, but previously was not able to do so.

3. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog

(whether it be by comments or views)?

#1 (by comments):

  1.  – Total # of Comment: 309

Top Day for the Year | Top Post | Views:

  • 8th of March, 2015 | Review of “Some Other Town” by Elizabeth Collison | 356 Views
  • Views per Visitor: 2.41

Posting Patterns of Behaviour:

Longest Streak: 6 days | 27 July to 1 August 2015

Best Day: Friday / Monday = 32 posts

Total Posts: 188

Most Viewed Blog Posts in 2015:

My blog is heavily read per year but most of the comments are sent to me privately and/or are shared through interactions on Twitter as a lot of my followers keep in touch with me in the twitterverse. I would love to see more interactions on my blog, but I appreciate my readers reactions however they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts with me.

Pages Most Viewed in 2015:

  • Blog Archives
  • Policies | Review Requests
  • Story Vault | Master Archive of Reviews
  • My Bookish Life
  • Contact Jorie

Top Referrals in 2015:

  • Twitter by my own feeds & the shares of others
  • Facebook by organic referrals as I do not use this platform
  • News Google a surprise?
  • Cedar Fort’s Blog Tour pages
  • Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour pages
  • iRead Blog Tour pages
  • Bloglovin since my blog posts post via Bloglovin to Twitter my subscribers & views increased
  • TLC Book Tour pages
  • Chapter by Chapter Tour pages

Top Countries of Visitors in 2015: = 60 in Total

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • India
  • Australia
  • Russia
  • Germany
  • The Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • Philippines

4. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

To be honest!? Each time I posted a Reader Interactive Question at the bottom of one of my book reviews and/or a regular blog post (as it could have been underneath a weekly meme), I was hoping I might have been able to carry on the conversation about the stories I had read or the musings on my mind per each Question I had asked! Therefore, if you see the cloud tag “Bookish Discussions” click through that category at your leisure and see if you find inspiration to leave me notes throughout my blog! I keep all posts OPEN to new COMMENTARY which easily can be left by login via: Name/Email (email is only seen by me!), WP/WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter!

5.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Can we simply summarise this section by saying #epicfail?

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Looking Ahead at 2016:

Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Michael Green.
Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Michael Green.

(and now back to the 2015 End of the Year survey!)

1. My current backlog | otherwise known as the books I dearly wanted to read in 2015 and sadly lost too many hours in which to do so:

Every book blogger goes through a period of time where life interferes with their reading queue and for whichever reason led to the initial ‘lost hours with the books they were eager to review’, their backlog started to develop. Mine is quite impressive, I grant you that, but it will not be continuing to grow. I am hopeful as I get to read these stories and post my reflections on their behalf, the authors will forgive my absences from them. I never meant to abandon them but I had a challenging few years personally and I never could recover the ground I lost in which to read them. I generally declare October 2014-October 2015 being the hardest twelvemonth, even though in reality the difficulties started a bit earlier in 2014.

I welcome you to follow my progress via my reading tweets (let me know your following me!) and/or on my Bookish Events [2016]. I originally intended to post the ENTIRE backlog by February’s end; this was prior to my month long illness in December [2015]. I had already inked out dates in which I was going to post a considerable amount of the books, as I was hoping to spend December fully immersed in books. Obviously this did not happen; at best, I celebrated the distraction from my woes with Doctor Who airings Christmas week (yes, I was ill at Christmastime, oy!). I believe I can get a lot done by the end of February, but if I need a bit more time into the opening of March I am telling myself not to ‘over worry’ and take it ‘one story, one post’ at a time. I will get to each of these lovelies, that much I am certain!

If you currently have a backlog of ‘must reads’ especially those your working towards reviewing, did you also find yourself with reader’s guilt and remorse for lost hours?

Summer + Fall Challenge Reads + a few extras:

[ remember those horrid lightning storms? eh. ]

I am grateful to a publicist I reached out to in January who helped me sort out the best way to read and review all the lovely books I selected to host on my blog. She gave me the ‘key’ which was quite simple once I saw the advice: reverse the order whilst reading Fall then Summer! #sohappy!

all in her head by Sunny Mera #FRC2015 (review) 1 March, 2016

Postcards from the Sky by Erin Siedemann #FRC2015

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain #FRC2015

The Black Velvet Coat by Jill G. Hall #FRC2015

Just the Facts by Ellen Sherman #FRC2015

Rooville by Julie Lang #FRC2015 | Summer

Sleeping with the Enemy by Tracy Solheim #FRC2015 | Summer

The Legacy of Us by Kristin Contino #FRC2015 | Summer

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Satisfaction by Andee Reilly #SRC2015

The Red Sun by Alane Adams #YASRC2015

Surface by Stacy Robinson *extra*

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica #SRC2015

Beautiful Girl by Fleur Phillips #YASRC2015

Vote for Remi by Leanna Lehman *extra*

The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmeieri #SRC2015

Summer by Summer by Heather Burch #YASRC2015

The Last Letter & The Road Home by Kathleen Shoop #SRC2015

Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde #SRC2015

Fire Season by Hollye Dexter *extra*

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave #SRC2015

+ a few extras borrowed through my library of whom purchased them for me

or purchased books being featured outside of my own requests

Be sure to visit my Bookish Events 2015 to see which ones I read at the start of Summer 2015

before continuing towards the end of the year.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Leftover Science Fiction + Sci-Fantasy:

[from Sci Fi November]

  • Impossible by C.A. Gray
  • The Dragon of Unrest by Anthony Russo
  • Time and Again by Deborah Heal
  • Unclaimed Legacy by Deboarh Heal
  • Every Hill & Mountain by Deborah Heal
  • Prophecy by Paul Mark Tag
  • White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy Paul Mark Tag
  • The Gin Thief by S.C. Barrus
  • Trans-Continental Girl by E. Chris Garrison

Indie Romance | Womens Fiction: (Hallo, May!)

  • Pieces of Granite by Brenda S. Anderson
  • Lila’s Choice by Laura Brown
  • Like There’s No Tomorrow by Camille Eide
  • French Twist + French Toast by Glynis Astie
  • Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby
  • Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey
  • Asher’s Mark by Amy Durham
  • Dare to Kiss by S.B. Alexander
  • Saving Mossy Point by Donna Winters
  • On the Edge by T.S. Krupa

A bit more:

  • Rose in the Wheel, Blood for Blood, & Die I Will Not by S.K. Rizzolo
  • The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull
  • The Queens Rivals by Brandy Purdy
  • First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost by Iain Reading
  • Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue by Iain Reading
  • Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the R.M.S. Titanic by Iain Reading
  • I, James by Mike Hartner
  • The Kingdom Within by Samantha Gillespie
  • Pig Park and The Smell of Old Lady Perfume by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez
  • The Secret Life of Lucy Liu by Jean Ramsden
  • Promises Under the Peach Tree & Nights under the Tennessee Stars by Joanne Rock
  • Flower from the Castile by Lilian Gafni
  • Alaina Claiborne by MK McClintock
  • The Grip of God by Rebecca Hazell
  • A Woman of Fortune + Where Rivers Part by Kellie Coates Gilbert
  • A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd

Related to #HistoricalFix:

  • Crown of Dust by Mary Volmer
  • The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman
  • Haunted by Lynn Carthage

2. Books You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

(outside of my backlog because those stories held a pieces of my heart all year)

From ChocLitUK: (awaiting release in paperback)

Evie Undercover by Liz Harris (review)

The Wild One (Coorah Creek, No.2) by Janet Gover *review coming April 2016

The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk by Sally Malcolm

The Lost Girl by Liz Harris

Search for the Truth by Kathryn Freeman

*There are others, but I am unsure if they are releasing in [2016] or [2017]

In general:

The Lady Darby Mysteries by Anna Lee Huber

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

A Spear of Summer Grass + Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig

The Uninvited by Cat Winters

Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasoh

*this list continues to expand on my Leafmarks 2016 Book Jar List! If the link doesn’t pull up the full list, you can see a partial portion of it on my Leafmarks Profile.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? (and those courtesy of Edelweiss)

*this list continues to expand on my Leafmarks 2016 New Books TBR List! The first ones I placed on this list I found via the twitterverse, too!

4. A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

SEQUELS:

The Clan Chronicles

Hiro Hattori

Ian Quicksilver

Lucy Campion

Reclamation (after Eruption)

First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies

A Tipsy Fairy Tale

SIRENS (anthology) by World Weaver Press

Guinevere Tale No.2

*others I am not thinking of but will be wicked happy to read!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Blogging Life In 2016?

Be more cognisant of blogging the in-between chapters of my blogging life outside of reviews, blog tours, guest author features, etc. To show more of who I am outside that scope of focus and to find a newfound blissitude in blogging a bit more spontaneously and without a hard deadline to meet.

6. A 2016 Release You’re Positively Itching to Read and blog about:

The next installment of The Clan Chronicles and Hiro Hattori!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

End Notes:

Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Nick Casale.
Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Nick Casale.

I selected the photograph above to reflect my intention to share my knitty life with my readers and my twitterverse friends – as knitting is such a calming balm to my spirit! Except to say, when I’m stressing about my backlog (remember, it’s WIP to ‘let go’!). I love the capture of this image because it shows there are other bookishly knitty spirits out there! I’d love to find the BALANCE I’ve been seeking, as I best shared with Ms Macomber earlier in the year:

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Top Ten New Year Bookish Resolutions:

via Top Ten Tuesday @ The Broke and Bookish

Read more of my own books from my bookshelves as I’ve pulled a selection of stories across the genres I love gathering to be read as soon as my backlog is cleared. I love the diversity of choices but I also love the freedom in knowing by scaling back how many blog tours per week and month I’m hosting, I have more flexibility to reach for a book on my bookcase shelf! The very first book I’m going to be re-reading is A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lesson to kick-start my readings of her first three trilogies I fondly call *The Daughters of Boston*.

Read more Classical Lit & INSPY Fiction – I have two self-declared reading challenges on my blog which encompass both of these designations and I’d like to become actively involved with fleshing out the stories whilst I re-find the joy in being active in both blogosphere communities.

Read more of my library check-outs than blissfully enjoying their presence on my library shelf, where I admire their covers, curiously ponder the meaning behind their synopsis and try not to tempt myself to sneak a chapter here or there when I’m under deadline! The only takeaway from my guilt of re-queuing more #librarybooks than I read, is knowing I’ve helped other patrons find the stories I dearly want to read! #Truth! straight from the librarians! Never knew there are some library readers who solely seek out ‘checked-out books’ to read!

Dig back inside the YA books I found at the library as I had this wicked happy moment where I had my reusable bags and just randomly went stack to stack, pulling down books I recognised from reading about in the book blogosphere and/or read convos about on Twitter. Some of them I found right then and there as I read title by title and tried to sort out what to read by the back jacket copy! It was a lot of fun but became a frustration as I just lost too many hours.

Re-read the stories I’ve wanted a ‘second look’ at since I became a book blogger!

Re-join bookish memes and book blogosphere events which I feel are more to my liking now as a 3rd Year Book Blogger but only participate if I truly feel inspired to blog about their pitched Qs and/or themes. Try to reach out to new book bloggers as I do so, whilst visiting their responses.

Re-acquire a habit for frequent visiting of the blogs I am following via Bloglovin and try to seek out a few new ones to subscribe as well. I started off being a frequent commenter on book blogs and specifically author (group) blogs whilst making my rounds in the blogosphere when author’s toured around to different book blogger blogs. It was my chatty nature that led me to create Jorie Loves A Story to give myself a place to blog the heart out of stories but also, as a portal to sharing a bit more than what I could share in the expanse of a singular comment.

Try my hand @ book photography and be more mindful of blogging about #bookhaul, #LibraryBooks and #BookMail whilst remembering to send out the tweets to share my gratitude to the authors, publicists and publishers. I want to continue to expand what I’m doing but also, re-identifying my presence here on Jorie Loves A Story and on @joriestory’s feeds.

Remember to gather books from the thrift shoppes and the dollar store where I am finding such incredibly lovely finds! Also, try to remember to go to library book sales or shoppes. And, then without hesitation or wait – READ THEM! Laughs at self.

Find my balance. Let go of the things I cannot change (hallo, Serenity prayer!). Find authors who will let me betaread their stories. Equally read Fiction & Non-Fiction whilst participating in Katie @ Doing Dewey’s #NonFictionFridays. Most of all – continue to advocate for stories & authors.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

3rd Blogoversary Badge created by Jorie in Canva

This is going to become my *new!* tradition: to post my ‘end of the year survey’ on my blogoversary, as it makes a good reference point for me as a blogger. I started to compose the original posts for this blog on 31st March, 2013 and I mark each ‘year’ on my blog by the 31st of March sequentially! Therefore, each blogoversary starting this year will featuring a journalling of ‘my past year’s reads’ inasmuch as a recapture of all the lovely guest features and other bookish bits I’ve had a heap of joy bringing to my readers here on #JLASblog!

I appreciate everyone who is taking this journey with me and I thank you dearly for your interactions with me – through your commentary here on the blog, your convos via Twitter and your private messages which give me a nod towards understanding what you enjoy reading!

Here’s to another incredible twenthmonth

as I begin my THIRD YEAR as a BOOK BLOGGER!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

| I celebrated my 1st Year on Twitter |

| Celebrating my 2nd Year as a Book Blogger |

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

I look forward to seeing your comments as a continuance of celebrating my 3rd Blogoverary! As if you’ve visited me lately you might have noticed this announced in the footer of my blog!? My countdown clock for my blogoversary changed over!

Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

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Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

{SOURCES: The End of the Year Survey by Jaime @ The Perpetual Page Turner provided for book bloggers to fill out as a summation of their year; used with permission. 2015 End of the Year Survey hosted by Jaime @ Perpetual Page Turner badge created by Jorie in Canva. Book covers, Author photographs, and Tour Badges provided by authors, publicity agents, publishers or tour host companies to be featured on a tour stop blog, as a way to get the word out about the title and author. All of which is used with permission. As hosts we are encouraged to help get the word out about the authors and their novels even on non-tour stop posts; likewise for books received in exchange for an honest review for non-tour events. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. 2015 Year of Stories Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Austin Ban. 2015 Best of the Best Stories Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Jasper van der Meij. 3rd Blogoversary Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Comment Box banner created by Jorie in Canva. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all. "I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story) more >> | Hire me as a betareader | Policies & Review Requests
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Posted Thursday, 31 March, 2016 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, End of the Year Survey, JLAS Update Post, Jorie Loves A Story




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2 responses to “2015 End of the Year Reading Survey : The stories behind #JLASblog’s 2nd Year!

  1. Carolyn Steele

    What a humbling honor to see Soda Springs mentioned in so many categories. Thank you, Jorie, for your steadfast encouragement. Congratulations on your third blogoversary! Long may JLAS *wave*!

  2. Wow! What an in depth and incredible post! I’m honoured Avelynn is amongst your top books for 2015. Your passion for reading and blogging inspires awe—88 novels, 20 short stories in 365 days! A tremendous feat. I look forward to reading more about your love of all things bookish. <3 And, thanks to your reviews, I've added a few new titles to my own 2016 TBR list. :)
    In gratitude,
    Marissa

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