There have been so many great books this year, it was a very hard choice but, in no particular order, here are my top 12 reads/listens.
- Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. Alternating between the past and present and telling the story of a family drama. After the death of their father, sisters Meredith and Nina struggle to really get to know their seemingly reserved and cold Russian born mother. As the sisters finally begin to discover their mother’s tragic story the three women can reach out to each other and find the bond that ties them together. My review.
- The Martian by Andy Weir. Mark Watney is part of a team of astronauts sent to Mars and because of a terrible misunderstanding he is left behind. Completely alone and facing certain death, Mark struggles to survive in a totally alien environment. When the people back at NASA discover Mark is still alive the race is on to rescue him before his supplies run out. My review.
- Once Dead by Richard Phillips. The first of three prequels that set up the Rho Agenda trilogy. Jack Gregory is the CIA’s top assassin but when an encounter with a notorious criminal goes wrong Jack is left for dead. On his death-bed Jack is revived by a dark entity and has the choice of being a host to the demon or death. A sci-fi thriller with a supernatural twist. My review.
- Swan Loch by Randy Mixter. A really lovely, romantic and touching story that traverses time. Swan Loch is a peaceful New England town until a killer strikes. Police Chief Chris Hayward and FBI agent Jake Stanton try to solve a seemingly impossible case and for Chris it becomes very personal. Just when all hope is lost Chris finds the most precious thing in his life. A touch of the paranormal in this mystery thriller. My review.
- The Black Hours by Alison Williams. A chilling tale of life during the time of the self-styled Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, as he travels the country seeking out those he believes are in league with Satan. Seventeen year old Alice Pendle finds herself under suspicion in a tale of persecution and superstition. A suspenseful and gripping drama which mixes fact with fiction. My review
- Beyond Midnight ~ Asunder by Sarah M Cradit. Part of the paranormal Southern drama series, The House of Crimson and Clover, Asunder finds the Deschanel family reeling with the backlash of shock and horror brought on by the results of a two hundred year old curse. Hope brings them together to face whatever the future may hold. My review.
- Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler. A uniquely different concept and delivery with characters that parallel the life and times of Henry VIII and his wives in a modern day setting. Harry Lanchester’s dream of becoming a rock star is shattered with the death of his older brother and as Harry steps up to take the reins of the family business his life takes on an uncanny resemblance to the famous erstwhile King of England. My review.
- The Test by John Lansing. Although I’m loving the Jack Bertolino series, this short story is so touching and evocative, with incredibly vivid imagery and beautiful writing that it had to make this list. From the present day Jack Morgan looks back on his teenage years, being a fourteen year old growing up in the Long Island of the 1960s amid the racial tensions of the time and how it affects the rest of his life. My review.
- Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius. Frank Barnes, a homeless veteran, is content living on the streets and making the most of the little he has. Chloe Barnes is evicted and left destitute with two small children and finds life in shelters harsh and unforgiving. The two lives are interlinked and brought together in a compelling storyline. My review.
- Don’t Touch (Null City #2) by Barb Taub. Lette Simoneau inherits a drastic form of the family ‘gift’ or curse as Lette thinks of it. Everything she touches each day turns into something different. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to the conclusion that boundaries are self-imposed and as such are surmountable. An imaginative and fun story with a likeable protagonist. My review.
- Disappearing In Plain Sight by Francis Guenette. A very well crafted novel centred on the very tight knit community of Crater Lake on the shores of Vancouver Island. The characters are all genuine and the way they deal with their feelings and situations is very believable and show the complex layers which make up human nature. My review.
- Passing Through Perfect by Bette Lee Crosby. Book three of the Wyattsville series is set at the end of the Second World War as Benjamin Church returns to Alabama. A powerful and moving tale of the prejudices and intolerance of the time, showing the good and bad sides of human nature regardless of skin colour. My review.
And my top 5 series.
- Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey. This is a supernatural urban fantasy series which really caught my imagination with a very unlikely hero – or anti-hero would probably best describe James Stark, half angel, half human. Stark’s return from 11 years in hell, bent on revenge is a sharp, hilarious and sardonic tale. MacLeod Andrews portrays Stark and a multitude of diverse characters perfectly. Audiobooks 1-3.5. Audiobooks 4-6
- The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. An Urban Fantasy series featuring Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, who lives in Arizona and runs an occult bookstore. Atticus draws his power from the earth through the Druidic tattoos on his arms. He is able to shape shift and enjoys hunting with his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon. A fun series full of myths, legends, gods, goddess, witches and demons. Superb performance by Luke Daniels, with distinct voices for each character. My reviews 1-3, 4-6, 7
- The Project Eden Series by Brett Battles. This is a really compelling storyline. As Daniel Ash’s world crashes down around him he’s catapulted into a nightmare scenario. He can’t comprehend the fact that what happened is no accident. And there is worse, much worse to come as a deadly organisation plots the end of humanity as we know it. MacLeod Andrews delivers a flawless narration. My reviews.
- The Georgie Connolly Series by E.L. Lindley. Georgie Connolly is a transplanted English woman living and working in Los Angeles. Feisty and very often landing herself in hot water, Georgie acts on the spur of the moment, without thinking things through. A change from the norm, Georgie is not connected to law enforcement but makes documentaries, no matter how serious the subject. A fun and easy series but with dangerous undertones. My reviews #1 #2
- The Black Series by Russell Blake. Artemus Black is a Hollywood P.I. Down on his luck, with money problems, anger issues and an assistant who ridicules him endlessly and a fat cat that hates him. Life couldn’t get much worse. A great characterisation of an easy to like protagonist with a cast of memorable, humorous characters and excellent and witty story lines. My reviews #1, #2, #3, #4
- Author: Marsha Cornelius
- Published: February 2013 by Hickory Flat Books
- Category: Romantic Drama
Frank Barnes is content living on the streets of Atlanta. A soup kitchen and a makeshift shanty sure beat his days as a POW in Vietnam. But Chloe Roberts can’t handle the eviction that sends her into the hell of homelessness.
Many thanks to Marsha Cornelius for sending me a copy as part of Rosie Amber’s book review team.
Frank and Chloe, for completely different reasons find themselves homeless. Frank is happy enough on the streets, collecting cans each day to make a little money. After the horrors of fighting and battling to survive in the Vietnam war, he returns to the US disabled and ignored and turns to alcohol and drugs to dull the physical and mental pain. Another homeless man, Randall, helps Frank work through his issues, get dried out and cleaned up. They forge a close friendship.
This morning, he woke to a cold, sluggish fog that has his foot throbbing before he even stood. His only relief was to shift his weight to his toes and keep pressure off the heel. Of course, the gimp walk didn’t do much for his appearance. People already shied away from his long hair and shaggy beard. The shuffling limp and tortured expression convinced onlookers he was a derelict.
Frank makes the most of the little he has, with his good friends and the little community they have built. When all Frank knows is destroyed horrifically and violently one night, and he almost loses his life, he doesn’t know whether he will be able to claw his way back again. Until a chance meeting changes his life forever.
Chloe, after being abandoned by her husband, and with no-one to turn to for help, is left with two children and debts she can’t pay off. After losing her home and all her possessions, she doesn’t know how her life could get any worse. But it can…a whole lot worse.
She could not speak. Reaching out, she took the check from the sheriff’s hand and stared at it as though she might find a number out of place, or something on the small piece of paper that might explain where the money had gone.
Sinking further and further into a pit of despair and hopelessness, Chloe can’t se a way forward. She is at the mercy of a very defective system of shelters, incompetent childcare and predatory men, leaving her emotionally battered and completely drained. Until a helping hand reaches out to pull her back from the brink.
The story is told from both Frank’s and Chloe’s points of view. It brings home the stark reminder that the homeless of this world are actually out there, struggling to survive from day-to-day against sometimes unimaginable odds. Losing it all. How far can one person fall before all hope is gone. This is a fascinating book with wonderfully developing characters and a sometimes harrowing storyline, dealing with the complex issues and situations the homeless can, and more than likely do, face.
I was drawn to Frank immediately, there’s depth and authenticity in his character. He’s had a really rough deal but despite everything he cares about others and does whatever he can to help. Chloe hasn’t had a happy life and, I think partly because of that, chose poorly when it came to a husband and father for her children. The two characters’ lives are interlinked and brought together in a compelling and profound storyline. Their portrayal is genuine, believable and endearing. The writing is accomplished and descriptive with a reality that encompasses so many emotions, hope, love, anguish, misery, all of which shine through the narrative.
A really excellent read which enforces the old adage, never judge a book…You never really know the true story behind a person’s appearance and what events forced them into a certain situation. Or how a single act of kindness can be the start of changing someone’s life for the better.
About the author
After working for fifteen years as a cafeteria manager in an elementary school, I turned in my non-skid shoes for a bathrobe and slippers. Now I work at home, writing novels, ranting on Facebook and Twitter, and occasionally whisking a Swiffer across dusty surfaces.
Like thousands of others, I thought I could write romance, but soon discovered I was a dismal failure. I did increase my repertoire of adjectives such as throbbing, pulsing, thrumming, vibrating, hammering, pumping . . .
I live in the country north of Atlanta with my husband, and two molly-coddled cats. My two grown sons occasionally visit for clean laundry and a hot cooked meal.