My 2015 Book Awards

I’ve recently noticed book awards being given out by fellow authors that also review books.  That got me thinking.  Why can’t I do the same thing?  Sure, my awards really won’t mean much in the grand scheme, but it’s always nice to be recognized for our efforts.  Especially when the trolls smash through our doors and proceed to stomp and tear our books apart.  Even a small award, no matter how insignificant could brighten someone’s day.
I hadn’t realized how many books I’ve read in the past year, until I started going through my posts, looking for all the books I rated with 5 feathers.  Some categories I only one or two books I rated with 5 feathers.  So let’s start with them.

Humor & Entertainment

First Place goes to: PRESCRIPTION FOR DISASTER: the Funny Side of Falling Apart by Candace LaFleur.

 Prescription for Disaster: The funny side of falling apart

What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? It’s funny, it’s sad, all at the same time. Being born with a rare congenital disease, Toxoplasmosis, I can relate to some of what Candace has gone through. I, too, have been used as a case study, paraded in front of medical colleagues for everyone to exam the freak of nature. In my case, instead of being born mentally handicapped, which most children are, my disease attacked the optical nerves in my eyes.  Because of experimentation by my infamous eye doctor, I ended up with tunnel vision, dead spots in my eyes caused from nerve damage, and lack of perspective.  Just so he could write a case study with his name on it. I was fifteen at the time. They have a name for it now, iatrogenic disease.   

Reader Warning: Do not read with food or drink in your mouth.  You will inevitably end up snorting it out your nose.  Seriously, I was snorting so bad I sounded like a pig.  So, be aware of your surroundings.  You don’t want your boss catching you reading, when you should be working.   My favorite anecdotes were the changing room with the sweater.  Oh my.  I could just see that happening to me.  And then there was the falling elevator.  I was almost rolling on the floor. I haven’t laughed that hard over a book in many years.  Well done, and I’m looking forward to book 2. I highly recommend this book, and give it 5 feathers.

Anthologies & Short Stories

Third Place goes to The Cat, The Crow, and The Cauldron.

THE-CAT-THE-CROW        

Reviewing an anthology is tough, especially when the stories are from different authors, and different genres. Fortunately, I’ve read stories from every author but Joe DeRouen. After reading his story Good Fortune, I’m looking forward to some of his full length books.

Even though I read, and review, in multiply genres, I still have favorites, such as paranormal and sci-fi. As the Highlander said, There can only be one.

So, without further adieu, the short story I loved the most, hands down, was Treaters by CJ Rutherford, and I’ll tell you why. I love Stephen King, and Treaters reminded me so much of The Mist. And not the made-for-TV version, the actual book. Totally different ending. The story grabbed my attention from the beginning and drug me right along until the bitter end Great job.

CJ is the author of the Souls of the Never series. I’ve read the first 2 books in this series, and I must admit, I can see improvement in his writing.

Second place had a three-way tie: Nothing Scares Me by Celia Kennedy author of Venus Rising, Five Stories Up by Zeece Lugo author of the Daniel Fork series, and Roast Pumpkin by Leonie Rogers author of the Frontier series, rontier Incursion

No matter what your taste, you’ll find a story to your liking. I highly recommend it for an excellent Halloween read. I give my 5 feathers.

Second Place goes to SULLENIA by Tony Lewis.

TONEY-LEWIS 

I’ve heard about this book from my fellow Creativia authors and they all raved at how funny these stories were.  So I was very delighted to find out they were right.  There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor and I found myself laughing aloud quite a few times.  I also heard this book is being made into a movie.  And I can see why.  As I was reading, I kept thinking, these antics would be perfect on the big screen.
I can’t say enough about how well-written and developed the characters are.  There’s Ollie (half vampire), Stitches (zombie), Flug (Frankenstein remake), Ronnie (the invisible man) and Ethan (werewolf).  There were a lot of other secondary characters, like Mrs. Ladle (witch) who was always there to save the boys.  My favorite character was Stitches.  If he wasn’t putting his foot in his mouth, literally, then he was always in some type of predicament where body parts were falling off.  He must have one big spool of thread.
I really enjoyed the first two stories, Wherewolf and Cup and Sorcery.  They were fun and original and I would give them each 5 feathers.  By the third book however, Wuthering Frights, I was starting to get extremely tired and bored of Tony Lewis’ interjecting narrations between the scenes.  I know they were meant to be funny, but I found them a trifle overbearing and distracting from the plot.  He would go on, sometimes for a whole page, on a different tangent than the story.  He used this type of narration in the first two books, but they were limited to a few sentences sprinkled here and there and actually added humor to the plot.  I would give the third book 4 feathers.
If you’re looking for a fun, original, laugh-out-loud monster story, then you must read this book.  I give it 5 feathers.
First Place goes to MISTLETOE MAGIC.

MISTLETOE-MAGIC 

Mommy’s Favorite: Family holidays can bring out so many buried emotions, rather good or bad. The spite we’ve felt over the years can suddenly come boiling to the surface, and ugly secrets we thought were long buried are brought to light. Such is the case in this tale. I really identified with Sam’s plight as her mother dotted on her brother, Alexander. Then, one day she discovers a secret and decides to reveal it as a Christmas present to her older brother. Unfortunately, she had no idea how deep and dark the secret really was. I enjoyed the story, and the ending reminded me of my short story, Nightmare Storm.

Simple Blessings: If you’ve read Heather’s book The Soldier’s Secret, you’ll recognize the characters in this book. I thought it seemed so fitting that she chose them for her Christmas tale. To me, it felt like this story tied up some loose ends to her novel. It’s the kind of Christmas we all dream about, being surrounded by loving family and friends. I loved this tale and it brought tears to my eyes. This one is tied for first place.

Hershey’s Christmas: Heresey is a dog from Patricia’s book IRON MIKE. I’ve heard a lot of really good things about the book, but I haven’t read it yet. Reading this short story has inspired me to read it now. In fact, it’s the next book on my TBR list. Patricia has done a fabulous job portraying the emotions of a dog. We really get to know Heresey’s character, and the tough decision he has to make to save Christmas for the children. My one point of contention was, in trying to save Christmas, what Heresy was willing to scarf ice would’ve destroyed Christmas for the children anyway. Death is death, no matter who it would’ve been. I also enjoyed the dark slant she placed on Santa Claus.

Claude Saves Christmas: If you know CJ, you understand he has a dragon named Claude living in his head. So it made perfect sense to me that Claude would be the subject of his Christmas tale. How can Claude help Santa deliver al his presents in time? I found myself chuckling over some of Claude’s observations. Oh, to have some of the mermaid’s whiskey. This is a light, fanciful story which I really enjoyed, and it would’ve been one of my favorites, but I felt it ended to abruptly. Sorry.

Just in Time for Christmas: I’ve read several of Jada’s books, and she always throws in a curve ball or twist. This story is no exception. Jada’s stories always have a smattering of romance in them too. My favorite character is Wikket, the cat. As I’m a feline lover, that’s a given. You’d think time travel and a Christmas tale wouldn’t mix, but it does. This is a very entertaining story, and I enjoyed it to the end.

A Soul for Christmas: This is the first story I’ve read by Singh, and I see I’ve been missing out. Imagine being the famous crossroads demon, the bargainer of souls, then one day, you no longer have the zest for your job. What is a demon to do? DM did a wonderful job building Paimon’s character. I could really feel his dilemma. I really loved this story, and it ties for first place.

Each of these stories were well-written, with good character development and they all deserve 5 stars.

HORROR  

I love a good horror story, unfortunately, I didn’t read that many scary books this year.  Out of the ones I did, only two deserved a five feather review.  My criteria for the winner was it had to creep me out.  Totally!  Well, I found it.
Second Place goes to Behind Blue Eyes by DM Wolfenden.

DM-WOLFENDEN  

What a powerful, dark, tragic tale with an unrequited romance interwoven throughout the story.  The story starts with Vasile, one of the most evil vampires I’ve met since Eco in Unholy Testament.  As Vasile searches for his new mate, little does he know that the woman he grants everlasting life to, Elizabeth Sutton, will ultimately be his demise.
There are several sub-plots in the story, but the main plot revolves around Mia and Cain.  Mia is 10 when she first meets and helps Cain.  From that moment on, a bond is forged that will end up being their salvation.  I really enjoyed these characters and the terrible events that life kept throwing at them.  I felt very connected to them and they were really believable. Cain is my type of man, dark, hunky and tragic.
Some of the lower star reviews complained there were too many characters the author just threw away in the middle of the story, that these disposable characters didn’t help or advance the plot.  I totally disagree.  This story stretches across several generations from when Cain was first turned.  Every character introduced in this story helps with the plot and character development for Cain and Mia.  Sure people died, but a horror story isn’t a horror story without victims.  If you don’t understand that, then you shouldn’t be reading horror stories.
And I must say, some of the deaths were pretty graphic and gruesome.  I write horror and some scenes even made me squeamish.  When I think back on it though, it’s more Cain’s rage and the realization that he feels no remorse or guilt for any of his actions.  A true vampire at heart.
This is a wonderful tale and I highly recommend the book.  I give it 5 feathers.
First Place goes to CIRCUS OF HORRORS by Carole Gill.

CAROLE-GILL

If you’ve read any of Ms Gill’s books before, be prepared to be shocked.  This tale is one of the darkest, twisted, sick reads I’ve read in a very long time.  Her voice in this book is totally different from anything she’s written.  It took me awhile to get into the story and characters, but once I did, it just sucked me in further and further.  I really don’t want to go into the plot or characters too much, as the enjoyment of this story is the discovery that the reader makes as Gill unfolds the evil lurking everywhere.
Fred Dodger is totally clueless to everything going on around him, he just knows something is off and not right.  But he and his father have terrible secrets, some he’s forgotten. At the end of almost every chapter, Gill slips in little clues about what Fred isn’t seeing or acknowledging.  Quite ingenious.  All of the supporting characters from the clowns, to the midgets and Baby Alice have their own terrible, dark secrets.  You can’t help but feel sorry for them.  Then along comes Joe and everything changes.
I wasn’t too happy with the cadence of the writing at the beginning, but the characters and plot were so strong, I just had to keep reading.  I was thoroughly entertained in the most horrific way and I give this book 5 feathers.  If you love true horror, this has to be on your TBR list.

MYSTERY, THRILLER & SUSPENSE

I had two books that fell in this category, both full of drama and suspense.  One was a darker tale, one was interlaced with sardonic humor.  How to chose?  Well, I couldn’t, so I split them out by their sub-genres.
First Place for Female Sleuths goes to: Sam’s Song by Hannah Howe. 
Product Details HANNAH-HOWE
This is the first book I’ve read by Hannah Howe, and it won’t be my last. I stumbled across this book in a small reading group I belong to. First off, the book covers more than just a great murder mystery.
Samantha Smith, enquiry agent, is hired by Milton Vaughan-Urquhart, manager of pop star Derwenda de Caro. Her job? To find the person slaking his client. When the story starts off, we see Sam as a tough capable woman. But as she starts her investigation, finding herself thrown into the crazy world of music stars, and a sex-crazed Woody, we see her weakness emerge.

Sam has a damaged personality. She won’t let herself trust or get close to anyone again. Of course you would expect that after being raised by an alcoholic mother, then being stuck in an abusive marriage. Dan is the typical abuser. They tear you down, to make you dependent on them, but they still love you. Howe did an awesome job portraying an abusive relationship. But during her investigation, Sam runs across Alan, and suddenly she’s confronted with choices. To love, or not to love?

I really enjoyed this story. There wasn’t anything I could find wrong. The plot was well-developed and advanced at a good pace. The characters were complex and three-dimensional. I related to Sam and even though Woody was a woman’s worst nightmare, when it came to the other sex, I couldn’t help but like him. And I can’t forget Sweets, DI MacArthur. I rolled my eyes a few times at his attempt at humor. I look forward to seeing him in the next book. The ending wasn’t a surprise, per se, but some of the events leading up to the end were. I was satisfied with how the book ended, and I’m looking forward to reading more about Sam, Alan and Sweets.

If you love a good murder mystery, with a dash of humor, you need to read this book. I give it my 5 feathers.

First Place for Crime goes to: FALSE SECURITY by Angie Martin.
Product Details ANGIE-MARTIN
This story is written in three parts. In the first part, we’re introduced to Rachel who has a secret and mysterious past. Who is she running from? Against her better judgment and all her fears, she starts a romance with Mark, a man who always thought of himself as a bachelor.
I won’t go into the other parts of the story, as that’s for you to discover. Even though the first part doesn’t have much action in it, as we’re discovering who Rachel and Mark are, the story is so well-written time passes by quickly as you read along. Angie Martin gives just enough clues in the first part to keep you turning the pages, wanting to know more. And there is an explosive revelation at the end of part one. One that Mark wasn’t prepared for.

As I read through parts two and three and learned about Donovan and his character, I kept thinking, what was it that turned him from the benevolent person to the abuser he ended up? Was the abuser always there, but he was able to curtail it by never letting himself become vulnerable by loving someone else? So this story is also about abusive relationships and the denial of their partners.

I really enjoyed this story, and Martin did a fabulous job getting me to feel her characters. I can’t wait to read the sequel. I highly recommend this story and give it 5 feathers.

SCIENCE FICTION – DYSTOPIAN

This was a another tough category as I’ve read two books that I really loved.  One took place in the present, one in the future.  I weighed them back and forth, and they each had strong storylines and characters.  I couldn’t make up my mind, so I went and split the award into Present and Future.  Since these are my awards, I can do what I want.
First place for Dystopian- Present goes to: IRON MIKE by Patricia Rose.
PATRICIA-ROSE  Product Details
I’ve heard raves about this book from some of my fellow authors.  I was told it was the best book they’d read all year, so I couldn’t wait to buy my copy.  And I was not disappointed.  Part of what grabbed my attention was that some of the POV chapters are by a dog named Hersey.  If you’ve read the Christmas Anthology, Mistletoe Magic, then you already know about Hersey.  He’s the main character in Heresy’s Christmas. 
This is Patricia’s first novel, and believe me, it’s not written like a first time author.  I was very impressed by how complex the plot and characters were.  You can feel Mike’s anguish when he has to make decisions that will impact the children he promised to protect and deliver to the New Fort Knox.  And I can’t say enough about how much I loved Heresy’s side of the story.  It’s like Patricia got right inside of a dog’s head.  As for the aliens, they are truly unique and creepy.  I do not want to ever run cross a Feeder.  YIKES!  Of course, by the time you realize you’ve found one, it’s too late and now you have a long, painful death awaiting you.  What an imagination.
I must admit, the ending left me a little off balance.  It’s not what I was expecting.  I know there’s a sequel, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Earth and Iron Mike.  If you love dystopian / post-apocalyptic stories, then you need to pick this one up.  I give it 5 feathers.    
First Place for Dystopian – Future goes to: STRONGHEART’S WOMAN by Zeece Lugo.

ZEECE-LUGO  

I was introduced to the lovely, spicy, witchy woman, Setiyah, in the first novel of this wonderful world, Daniel’s Fork. In that tale, she was an older woman and the widow of Lord Victor Strongheart. This book tells the story of a younger Setiyah and Lord Victor, how they met and the obstacles they each overcame to realize their true love. I love Setiyah’s character. She’s head-strong, independent, saucy and loyal to her core. But she can also be soft and vulnerable. 
By the established Accords, the only way Victor Strongheart can become the Lord of Daniel’s Fork, he must wed the Choctaw Chieftain’s daughter, Princess Annasai. Yes, she’s everything a hot-blooded man could want, beautiful, sexy and passionate. But, she’s also willful, spoiled and selfish. She has a hard time relating to the needs of her people and their misfortunes. As Victor becomes closer with Annasai, he realizes she’s not the one that has claimed his heart and the best woman to serve the people of Daniel’s Fork.

I really love the concept of Daniel’s Fork, and could see myself living in this type of world. I hate our modern existence and what we, as humans, have lost to the God of progress and technology.l I also think that Zeece Lugo outdid herself with this book. It’s more alive with drama and emotions than the first one. The story is gripping and fast-paced, and I couldn’t wait to get to the conclusion. The story is well-written and the characters each have their own voice. I loved this story and can’t wait to read more from this extremely, talented author. I highly recommend this tale and give it my 5 feathers. Good job.

PARANORMAL

This is one of my favorite categories, and I read a lot of books in this genre.  Most of them only earned four feathers or below.  Here are the three top winners.
Third Place goes to: CHAYSIING DREAMS by Jalpa Wiliby.

JALPA-WILIBY  

Tess has a perfect life, everything comes easy and natural, the best parents, top of the class in high school, terrific athlete and awesome friends.  Her life is perfect, except for the same invasive nightmare that’s haunted her, her whole life.   Is it her in the nightmares or a vision of someone else?  Who is the girl running from?  On her sixteenth birthday, Tess meets a mysterious boy named Joe.  She’s never really felt any romantic feelings for a boy before, and has always scoffed at her Mom about love at first sight.  But she feels an instant connection/bond to this boy and doesn’t understand why.  Unfortunately, she never sees him again. Or does she?
I ran across this book in several different reading groups and I’ve heard nothing but good raves for this book.  I’m finally glad I had a chance to read it.  The praises are well-deserved, and I can’t wait to read the second one, Chaysing Memories.
The chemistry between Tess and Joe then Chris is so palpable, I felt like I was right here with them.  Even with Jack, which Tess sees only as a friend, you can feel his yearning, wishing their relationship was more than just friendship.  This is the type of book you can’t really describe in a review as I don’t want to give away any of the twists and turns of the plot.  But you will live through all the joys and sadness of Tess’ life, especially when she finally understands the meaning of true loss.  Will she be able to pick herself up and learn to live again?
The ending of the book was perfect to set up for the sequel.  It leaves a lot of unanswered questions.  I want to know more.  How does Chayse escape?  How will Tess get her memories back?  Who and what are Tess and Chayse?  Are there more of them?  I absolutely loved this book and give it 5 feathers.
Second Place goes to: OUTVIEW by Brandt Legg.

BRANDT-LEGG  

Several years after his father died from an unexpected heart attack, sixteen year old Nathan Ryder started having “outivews”, living traumatic, painful deaths of people from the past.  Fearing for his sanity, not wanting to end up in a mental institution like his older brother Dustin, Nate keeps his problem a secret, until the “outviews” start happening during the day.  He finally decides to let his best friends, Kyle and Linh, in on his secret.  Between them, they start unraveling the truth about the “outviews” and the death of Nate’s father.  Was it a heart attack, or murder?  Unknowingly, their search into the truth alerts a government agency, and now they’re running for their lives, trying to stay alive.  But all they want is Nathan, because he’s one of the Seven.
The plot of this wonderfully written story resonates in my inner being, as I’ve always believed in reincarnation and the mental abilities that we, as humans, have forgotten in our pursuit of greed and power.  I’m not sure I believe in multiple incarnations at the same time, but who knows; maybe I’ve run across myself before and never knew it.  I do know that my late husband and I shared several past lives together.
Between a budding love interest, betrayal by a trusted friend and the relentless pursuit of the government, this story kept me very involved.  I loved all the unique characters Nathan met in his search for who he really is and what abilities he possesses.  This is the first book in the series and it ended with me wanting to know more.   If you love young adult stories, with a mixture of paranormal and intrigue, this book is for you.  I give it 5 feathers.
First Place goes to: CHAYSING DREAMS by Jalpa Wiliby

JALPA-WILIBY1  

Why do some writers have characters that reach off the pages and capture your heart and soul?  While other writer’s only write drab, boring characters?  True, some of it’s the writing skill of the author.  Yet I’ve read books that were very elegantly written, but I just couldn’t get attached to the characters.  What were they missing?  I ponder this question a lot as I examine my own writing.  How do you get readers to feel for your characters?
Well, that’s one question Jalpa Williby doesn’t need to ask herself.  She has a very simplistic writing style, nothing fancy or over-the-top, but she writes with such raw passion and fire that her characters draw you into their lives.  She did tell me she cried while writing this story.  Maybe that’s the secret.  If the writer can’t feel the emotions of their characters, how will the reader.
 I’ve never been an advocate of book series; I want the whole story in one book.  Usually the second one in the series isn’t as good as the first book and the third one isn’t as good as the second.  You get my drift.  But I found the exception in this case.  After finishing Chasying Dreams, I knew I had to read the second book.  And, believe it or not,Chaysing Memories is actually better than the first book.  I’ve heard that the third and last book of the series, Chasying Destiny, is even better.  Now I can’t wait.
Chasying Memories starts 4 months after the ending ofChasying Dreams.  I can’t go into much detail as I don’t want to give away any of the storyline.  Suffice it to say, I did figure out some of the consequences of Tess and Chayse’s union, but the ending was unexpected and totally devastating.  Talk about a see-saw of emotions.  Wow!!.  The second book also enriches the secondary characters like Jack, Kylie and Aunt Jema and the strong bond they share with each other.  And there’s Gem, the wonder dog.  I want one of those!
If you’re looking for a HEA romance, you won’t find it here, but if you’re looking for raw emotions and passion, this book is for you.  I give this wonderful tale a well-deserved 5 feathers.

Historical Romance

Third Place goes to: SILENCE OF SCANDAL by Jackie Williams.

JACKINE-WILLIAMS  

I must admit, I’ve ran across this book cover in several groups and my eye has always been drawn to the cover. I mean, who doesn’t want to see a shirtless, hunky man. Right? The cover bespeaks elegance and historical romance. And that’s just what I got. The story was beautifully written and for the time period the story takes place in.

I fell in love with the older Alexander. He returned from the French war to find his family in ruins, his father & brother dead and some unknown blackmailer after the family jewels. What a homecoming. Now the man that bought up his deceased brother’s debts is forcing him to marry his daughter. But there’s more to his brother and the woman he married than he knew.

There is some intrigue, but we pretty much know who the woman is that Alexander marries. You’ll understand when you read the story. What makes it fun is their discovery of each other. And there are some steamy scenes. I loved the bathtub one.
The story has strong secondary characters and I loved the humor, at Alexander’s expense, sprinkled throughout the story. Especially after his marriage and drunk in the local tavern.

This is a series and now I’m looking forward to reading the next one in line. If you love steamy, historical romances, you need to add this one to your TBR. I give it 5 feathers.

Second Place goes to: DARK SHADOWS by Jana Petken.

JANA-PETKEN  

This historical tale starts with a very dark and dramatic flair as Mercy Carver is brought forth into life.  The anguish of her father, Thomas Carver, over the loss of his beloved wife, Joan, is so heartfelt.  Overwhelmed with his loss, he performers the ultimate selfish act, suicide, but in such a fashion to make you squeamish.  Yuck!  What a way to bring a child into the world.
Now it’s 18 years later and Mercy Carver is celebrating her birthday, but she’s unhappy as unknown to her, she was promised to an old wealth merchant when she was a child.  Chaffing at the bit, wanting to explore the world and see more than the neighborhood she was brought up in, she devices a scheme to escape her bonds, if only for a few hours.  But her best laid plans run afoul and now her life will never be the same.
I love Mercy Carver with her well developed character, and such a contrast to the evil, vile Madame du Pont.   Ms. Petken did an awesome job building up this despicable person.  I wanted to stick a knife in her a couple of times.  There’s a lot of adventure in this story, as Mercy travels from England to America and finds herself at the beginning of the Civil War.  She endures trials and tribulations and comes out stronger because of them.
This is a wonderful romantic story and I recommend it for anyone who loves these types of books.  I give it my 5 feathers.
First Place goes to: THE SOLDIER’S SECRET by Heather Osborne.

HEATHER-OSBORNE  

The Soldier’s Secret has been awarded the Readers Favorite Five Star badge. And I certainly understand why. This story is beautifully written and steeped with rich historical events. Not the best from our history, and definitely the most costly in needless death tolls. Heather Osborne depicts the horrible fighting and living conditions during the Civil War in great detail and I can’t even begin to imagine what life as a soldier had to have been like. Why a woman, especially from a genteel background, would place herself in peril in that type of world speaks of strength and loyalty for the people she loves. And that is exactly who Emma Mansfield is.
As her brothers rush off to fight the war, Emma’s left behind, feeling useless and worried about her brothers. She wants to fight, but our society back then didn’t condone women on the battlefield. They were meant to stay home and tend the wounded or raise money and materials for the war effort. That wasn’t enough for Emma, so she conspires with an older, trusted friend to help her get to the front-lines.

We travel quite a distance with Emma as she searches for her brothers and then tries to return home. During her travels, she makes a mortal enemy, but she also finds love. I thought the pacing of the story was a little slower at the beginning but it picked up as the story progressed.

If you love historical romances and the civil war, you’ll want to read this story. I enjoyed this tale and give it 5 feathers.

ROMANCE

Third Place goes to: CHEATING TO SURVIVE by Christine Ardigo. 

CHRISTNE-ARDIGO  

To start with, this book wasn’t written to condone cheating in a marriage.  The three women actually try to talk each other out of, to them, their necessary evil.
We have three women with three different dynamic families, husbands and illicit affairs.  Heather’s ill-fated marriage was doomed from the beginning as she married out of pressure from her peers, her family and her own insecurities.  Lance is a totally self-centered man with no concerns about his wife or his children.  He only wanted a trophy wife and someone that treated him like his mother.  Please.  Grow up.
Catherine and Victoria on the other hand, actually married out of love.  But as happens in young marriages, people grow up and change.  Usually apart.  If you don’t share any hobbies or interests while you’re dating, you surely won’t share any once you’re married.
Out of the three illicit affairs, Catherine’s was the most dangerous and evil.  But, ironically, her wrong type of affair brought about the biggest change in her self-awareness and the greatest happiness.  Victoria is my age and the type of man she meets is right up my alley.  I can only wish.
Oh, and let’s not forget Jean, their boss.  Ardigo does such an awesome job in her portrayal of this hateful, spiteful woman.  We all know someone in the workforce that always takes credit for someone else’s ideas and work.  I did get a tad confused though, when Heather went to pick up something at her house and met Jean’s husband.  I thought that was going to go somewhere, but it didn’t.  I believe that part of the story could’ve been erased without affecting the story.
I would also like to applaud the author for using creative simile’s that related to their work as Nutritionists.  I don’t know how many readers caught those.
This is a wonderful read, and I couldn’t wait to get to the end.  I highly recommend the book and give it my 5 feathers.
Second Place goes to: VENUS RISING by Celia Kennedy.

CELIA-KENNEDY  

1) Book cover/title – This is a very beautiful cover.  I’ve had my eye on this book, and the cover is what made me interested in reading it.  The picture and title are appropriate to the story.  5 feathers
2) Characters – The characters are extremely well-developed.  Akshaya and Jared are not one-dimensional paper cutouts.  Celia does a fabulous job at keeping the dialogues fresh and fun and I I loved the flirty banter between them.  Both characters are believable and I felt their pain and their joy.  Even the secondary characters, like Tim Owens, Jared’s friend, and Akshays’s family members, were exactly who they were meant to be.  5 feathers
3) Plot/storyline – As this is a romance story, we all know how it’s going to end.  After all, 99% of them are HEA.  But, it’s the journey getting there, which counts.  And journey we do.  I thought at times the story line went longer than it should have, but both characters had to find and face themselves.  In Akshaya’s case, it was all the way back to India.  I really enjoyed the different cultures that Celia brought into the book.  I love learning new things.  There’s plenty of drama and emotions, so you’ll have some teary moments.  There is definitely a progression in Akshaya and Jaed’s personalities.  Both had scars, whether physical or mental, but I felt Akshaya did the most growing, as she had to learn to overcome both.   5 feathers
4) Editing/formatting – Unfortunately, this was an issue.  There were no chapters, so if I wanted to go back to a specific place, I couldn’t.  The formatting was terrible, at least on my kindle.  There were no paragraph indents, most of the time double spaces separated them.  But sometimes, those double spaces became single, and when there was conversation, it made it confusing to know who was actually doing the talking.  I had to go back several times and reread part of a page just to find out.  There were also some proofreading problems, but those didn’t detract from my enjoyment.   3 feathers
A very enjoyable story, and I highly recommend it.  My rankings come to 4.5, which I’ll round up to 5 feathers.
First Place goes to: WHEN THE WORDS ARE SPOKEN by Simone Beaudelaire

SIMONE-BEAUDALAIRE  

This is another masterfully written story by Simone Beaudelaire.  Sheridan and Michael were introduced in the first of this series When the Music Ends, and it’s not necessary to read the first book as this story will stand on its own.  But to get the full impact of what happened to Sheridan and understand why she Michael hasn’t hooked up yet, you need to read the first one.
This story is more than just two people getting over an abusive past and learning to trust and love again, it’s also about the fear of marriage and the uncertainty of being a parent.  Especially in Michael’s case as he grew up in several dysfunctional settings.  He lacked faith in himself.
I also enjoyed the way Sheridan was the only person who could see past the façade Michael erected to keep people away from him, though he never understood that’s what he was doing.
If you enjoy a strong romance plot and innocent sex, you’ll want to read this book.  This is a Make-you-feel-good-inside story.  I give it my 5 feathers.

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

Third Place goes to: THE CARTOGRAPHER by Craig Gaydas.

CRAIG-GAYDAS  

One day Nathan goes spelunking with his best friend, Sam, the next he’s being offered a job as the new Cartographer for an Explorer’s League from an intergalactic Consortium.  This would be any teenage boy’s dream, to travel the galaxies like Captain Kirk, discovering new planets and life-forms.  But reality sets in, and now Nathan finds himself at the center of a conspiracy and the only Human able to save the planet Earth.
There are plenty of unique alien creatures, all of which are well-detailed and very believable, and the storyline is intriguing and full of action and adventure.  I really enjoyed the story and am interested to see where book two goes.  My only complaint is that everyone is either, roaring or bellowing.
If you like space faring tales and young adult books; you’ll enjoy this action-packed adventure.  I give it my 5 feathers.
Second Place goes to: CAR’AS TWELVE by Chantel Seabrook.

CHANTEL-SEABROOK  

I got hooked on this story almost from the beginning. I love fantasy worlds and characters, but so many books are lacking in the depth of the plot or characters. Not this one. This story is full of emotions, intrigue and adventure. I really enjoyed the concept of the Queen having to choose from 12 consorts. Yummy. Who wouldn’t want all that testosterone, masculinity & manliness just hanging around? Of course, not all of the men are whom they appear to be. And that could be Cara’s downfall.
I really liked Cara’s character. She started as a naive girl from an impoverished province, but because of her bloodline connection to the Goddess Annul, she suddenly becomes the chosen one for Queen. She has not a clue what that entails and she’s not even sure she believes in Annul. Now she’s stuck with 12 consorts she’s not sure what to do with, and, of course, an evil Queen to fight. And evil she is. But she’s not the only one in this tale. Chantel does an incredible job depicting her characters.  They are totally believable.  Out of the men Cara has to choose from, my favorite is Tahdaon. I love dark, troubled men, but also men who are loyal and will fight for whom they love. Since this is Book One of a series, I kinda knew which consort Cara would make her king. So, I’m still cheering for my man. I can’t wait to read the next book.
My only complaint about this story is the writing. It is well-written, but the writer has a tendency to overuse certain phrases, and they got pretty old after a while. A good editor would solve that problem.
If you love a great fantasy world, with a medieval type setting and lots of drama and adventure, you’ll love this book. I give it 5 feathers.
First Place goes to: FRONTIER INCURSION by Leonie Rogers.

LEONIE-ROGERS  Frontier Incursion

I absolutely loved this story and read the book in almost one day. I just couldn’t put it down. Even now, I’m still going through the story in my mind. That’s quite an accomplishment for the author, as I read so many books, most of them I never think about again. What drew me in right from the beginning were the Starcats. I’m feline by nature and love cats, especially big cats. The symbiotic relationship between the Starcats, and their partners, put me in mind of the Dragonriders of Pern. They didn’t have the same telepathic or emotional abilities, but who knows, maybe they will, as Leonie hasn’t finished with the Frontier world, or it’s people yet.
The characters and the world of Frontier are well-written and very detailed, but not to the point of being boring. I felt as though I was trekking right along with the Scout Patrols as they explored new areas of Below, tracking down the invading insectoid Garsals.  And the descriptions of some of the fauna was very intense, like the Sliders and the Tornado Snake.  Very imaginative and totally believable.  I can’t wait to see what happens with Shanna, her Starcats Storm & Twister, and Patrol 10.
If you love big cats, and richly detailed fantasy worlds, you’ll love this story. I give it 5 feathers and I can’t wait to read the 2nd book.

Congratulations to all the winners.  Hopefully, you’ll find some new authors here to read and enjoy.  Until next year.

About Sahara Foley

Bio: Until my husband died on Christmas 2012, I never thought about becoming a writer. In fact, the act of writing a story terrified me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading, just never had the knack for writing. The thought of writing dialogue scared the bejeebers out of me. See, Bob was the writer. He wrote stories for years but could never get a traditional publisher interested enough to publish even one. Now I understand why, as they were unpolished outlines. Then, after 30 years together, Bob passed away and my life was turned upside down. About a month later, I was sitting around my apartment, trying to adjust to the worst event in my life, when a little voice spoke to me. Why not publish Bob’s stories? To be truthful, ever since the advent of self-publishing, I always wanted too, that’s how much I believed in his stories. But I knew I would have to fight him for every little change I made to his outlines. Sorry, honey, but they had to be done. So, I pulled out the box of stories, dusted them off, and started on a new adventure: The World of Self-Publishing. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. I finally published several short stories early in 2014, then my horror novella, It Lives in the Basement. While I was working on them, I was slowly learning the craft of writing, and getting The Secret of Excalibur ready for publication. Excalibur was my favorite story of them all, and in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted a publisher. One day on Twitter, I ran across a tweet from Creativia Publishing, and that was another game changer for me. I signed up with them in December of 2014, and it was the best decision I’ve made. One thing I’ve discovered on my new adventure, are all the really awesome and talented Indie Authors. If you find the right community of Indie Authors, all they want to do is help each other. I found that I love promoting them and their books, so that’s how I setup my blog. For readers to meet Indie Authors. Anyway, enough about me. Here’s all my contact information: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/booksbysaharafoley Twitter: https://twitter.com/SaharaFoley Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/saharafoley/ Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SaharaFoley/posts Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sahara-Foley/e/B00J9ST32U/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
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19 Responses to My 2015 Book Awards

  1. Pingback: Book Awards #2 | Hannah Howe

  2. What a great idea. I need to do this since I’ve read so many books as well. I’ve read some of your above choices (Hannah Howe, Jana Petken, and DM Wolfenden, and I have to agree with their inclusion in your list.

  3. Thank you so much! What an honor to be included in this. ?

  4. DM Wolfenden says:

    Thank you so much Sahara, I really appreciate your review.

  5. carolegill says:

    i just about fainted. Just saw! thank you so much, first place! Incredible. thank you.

  6. carolegill says:

    Reblogged this on MARSocial Author Business Enhancement Horror Post and commented:
    thank you! Please note that Creativia will be releasing Circus of Horrors in the New Year.

  7. Thank you for your super review. I’m delighted that you liked my book enough to include it in this fabulous list. I’ll be trying out a few more of the books you enjoyed so much!

  8. Hi Sahara. Thank you very much for this honour xxx

  9. Reblogged this on Jana Petken and commented:
    Sahara Foley’s top reads of 2015

  10. huntersjones says:

    That’s great! Glad to know 2015 was so good to you. You are a very deserving person. xoxo

  11. Pingback: Congratulations to Leonie for winning the Reader's Junctions 2015 Book Award for Frontier Incursion | Hague Publishing - Blog

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