Hello and thanks for stopping by to take a look at my TOP TEN Fiction Reads of 2018:
Part 2: My TOP Five.
The following five books ticked all my boxes. They all possessed that marvelous X-factor for me.
So, what is my version of the X Factor? Ah! For me it’s that shining place outside of myself, a wonderous reality that some authors take you to as willing captives. A place where the story has me so utterly committed to it that putting it down would be followed by a rebellion against my need for sleep.
It’s when an authors words linger in your memory in a voice you could clearly hear as their characters voices.
It’s those pristine moments when you find yourself invested in the outcome of the journey.
It’s when ALL of your senses become heightened, it’s when the pleasure of reading it comes to an end, and you feel richer for having read it, yet bereaved by its absence.
That’s MY X-Factor.
Counting down from Number 5:
THIS SECOND CHANCE BY D.L FINN
Newly married Rachael Battaglia finally had it all. The only detail that stained Rachael’s perfect wedding was a gift she received. It was the exact present that her late ex-husband had given her on their wedding day — a snow globe. That marriage was not what she had envisioned, and she endured years of his abuse and charm until one night she escaped with two kids and one on the way. Now Rachael was headed to Hawaii with an amazing man and her chance at happiness. Unbeknownst to Rachael, she had an Angel on her side, although this Angel might not be able to save Rachael and her family from the evil that surrounded them. This is a tale of love, past relationships, things unseen, and redemption. Will Rachael find her happy ending, or will this evil thing get its way?
MY REVIEW: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Great read for all those who enjoy romance with a supernatural element.
Life doesn’t always offer us second chances to get it right. When it does we treasure and hold on to it with both hands. That is the premise on which this well-written book is built.
Author D.L. Finn takes us on an intricately woven journey. The characterizations of both Rachel and new husband Tony are beautifully depicted, so much so that we as readers care about them and want their future to grant them the happiness they have thus far been denied.
This author has that marvelous gift of bringing our emotions to the forefront of the reading experience.
Rachel’s first marriage was a tormented and violent nightmare which ended as her then-husband died in an alcohol-fueled car crash.
She has finally learned to trust again with the love and support of her new husband, but the package she receives on her wedding day threatens the very fabric of their new found love as she is catapulted back in the nightmarish memories of the violence that characterized her first marriage.
Forces unseen are waging a battle, the eternal joust between good and evil plays out its hand as Rachel’s eldest child Eddie, fathered by her first husband, heads down the same violent destructive path that his father once walked.
The author caught and held me captive as the paranormal elements of this book were woven so cleverly into the story. The plot twists were both unexpected, continuously engaging and introduced with an assured hand.
If you enjoy a love story with depth, the chance of redemption and hope for the future happiness of the characters you have come to care about this book is for you.
I recommend it for all those who enjoy a great read with a supernatural element.
“The Contract:between heaven and earth” By Authors Gwendolyn M Plano and John W. Howell.
The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.
Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.
My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Fast paced and action packed. This book will satisfy even the most devout thriller readers.
I was both excited and curious to read a book co-authored by two authors who have earned my admiration for each of their books. Authors John W. Howell and Gwen Plano both have resoundingly earned five-star reviews from me for their individual works.
Their total diversity of writing styles and genres would have presented them with a challenge when undertaking to co-author this work.
I’m delighted with the outcome. They’ve met and exceeded my expectations.
This book goes beyond man’s earthly desires to dominate and control his environment. It takes you to the dark places fueled by man’s thirst for absolute power.
It shows you the joy of the heavenly plane, and the release from pain that it offers.
Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien a nurse are chosen by the divine council of heavenly elders to become their representations on earth.
The reader is taken on a thrill ride as the story develops, each of the characters are beautifully crafted and intensely visual, with wonderful dialogue moving the book along at a great pace. The character development is outstanding.
The relationship between Brad and Sarah develops over a relatively brief span of time, as they are thrown together by circumstance, and make the decision to stay together by choice. Their tender and developing love for one another is deftly handled, adding the depth of warmth that the story demands.
This work has been meticulously researched, and all references within it add to the utterly convincing terrorist threat, and the dark forces at work in the corridors of power, bringing into question the motives of players that may have been seen initially to have no hidden agenda whatsoever.
Fast paced and action packed. This book will satisfy even the most devout thriller readers.
The conclusion was intense and utterly believable. These authors have amalgamated their individual skills into a first-rate work of fiction.
This work stands tall in celebration of good people willing to lay down their lives to protect and defend their country and the principles on which it was founded.
I found this to be a riveting reading experience, and one I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Contact information: John W. Howell
Contact Author Gwen Plano;
Purchase The Contract on Amazon.
Number 3: The Fall of Lilith by Vashti Quiroz-Vega.
In The Fall of Lilith, Vashti Quiroz-Vega crafts an irresistible new take on heaven and hell that boldly lays bare the passionate, conflicted natures of God’s first creations: the resplendent celestial beings known as angels.
If you think you know their story, think again.
Endowed with every gift of mind, body, and spirit, the angels reside in a paradise bounded by divine laws, chief of which are obedience to God, and celibacy. In all other things, the angels possess free will, that they may add in their own unique ways to God’s unfolding plan.
Lilith, most exquisite of angels, finds the rules arbitrary and stifling. She yearns to follow no plan but her own: a plan that leads to the throne now occupied by God himself. With clever words and forbidden caresses, Lilith sows discontent among the angels. Soon the virus of rebellion has spread to the greatest of them all: Lucifer.
Now, as angel is pitted against angel, old loyalties are betrayed and friendships broken. Lust, envy, pride, and ambition arise to shake the foundations of heaven . . . and beyond. For what begins as a war in paradise invades God’s newest creation, a planet known as Earth. It is there, in the garden called Eden, that Lilith, Lucifer, and the other rebel angels will seek a final desperate victory—or a venomous revenge.
“[A] compelling narrative that . . . strays far from traditional biblical text . . . A well-written, descriptive, and dark creation story.”—Kirkus Reviews
MY REVIEW 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Dark Supernatural Fantasy at its Best!
When I had finished reading this book, I sat back and thought about what exactly it was about it that had totally captured my attention and kept me riveted until the early hours of the morning, long after I should have flipped off the light.
Author Vashti Quiroz- Vega has undertaken a mammoth task in “The Fall of Lilith” and she could have quite easily opted for the easy road in depicting the eternal battle of Good .V. Evil. The fact is that she has not done that. Make no mistake, that is indeed the premise on which this well-written book is based, but this author has none of the stereotypical tried and true characterizations that frequent many books attempting to cover that dark premise.
Instead, we are given a deeper insight into the urges that drive these characters, with Lilith’s character being only one of many that frequent this epic. Lilith, of course, is pivotal and as such her driving characteristics are what influence the narrative. She is multi-faceted with her initial desire to do as her ‘God’ had instructed being overridden by her passionate nature, her guile, and her inability to accept that she was all she could ever hope to be in the ‘heavenly’ sphere.
It is that dissatisfaction, that boredom, and her driving and at times overwhelming desire for something more that drives her. Her clever manipulation of the other supernatural beings (Angels) is a joy to read. There are no boundaries that she does not attempt to tear down by the sheer force of her will. She uses her beauty as a weapon, and the forbidden acts only lead her forward with her need to experience more than this life in ‘heaven’ permits.
I have long been fascinated by the supernatural. This author has delved deeply into the religious aspects that permeate any story that focuses on the ‘angels’ being cast out from heaven, she has acknowledged that, and then taken those understandings and beautifully crafted a vision of the alternative possibilities.
Much has been written by other reviewers that cover the plot very adequately, I prefer to focus instead on the driving force behind the individual characterizations. None of the characters in this book fail to engage me as a reader, they are each capable of arousing my understanding of the ‘demons’ that drive them. I by turns laughed at the dialogue, then caught myself tearing up when hurt was dealt out in the coldest of ways.
This book is not for the faint-hearted reader. The author has clearly stated that it is written with an adult audience in mind.
The scenes in this book that capture the essence of lust and desire are written with a clever hand, I found them totally necessary in the plot development and as such, they were never a grab for the ‘sex sells’ probability we so often find in fiction.
We witness the struggle to overcome the initial hardships on a dangerous ‘Earth’. The need to belong to another being, and the ultimate desire to survive at all costs, regardless of who may get caught in the trap of our own making along the way. The thirst for revenge is hovering darkly as the book reaches it final pages. This is the first book in a series. I will most certainly be back to read the remainder.
Author Vashti Quiroz-Vega has captured the essence of Dark Supernatural Fantasy. She should be proud of her accomplishment.
Number 2. Cusp of Night by Mae Clair.
The truth hides in dark places . . .
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.
Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .
My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟A Book that held me spellbound from page 1.
I love the Paranormal genre, and when it is written with deep insight into the darkness of human behavior it becomes a welcome crafting of thriller and suspense to add to the mix.
Author Mae Clair is unafraid to take her readers to those dark recesses, she challenges her creations to give us a reading experience we simply must finish and can never forget.
For the images she creates here linger in memory long after the final page has been read.
The combination of times past that are inextricably connected to the present is delivered with skill, as we are taken on a journey from Pennsylvania today back to the late 1890’s.
I enjoyed meeting Maya, and her understandable need to discover the truth behind the deaths of seemingly disparate people. Her discoveries will place both she and those she holds close in peril, but the fear that threatens to overwhelm them, drives them onward.
If you love a read that challenges you, a read that leaves you gasping and hungry to keep reading, then Cusp of Night is for you.
You will discover that the hour of 2.22 am will take on new meaning. Turn on all the lights, lock all the doors, and keep your cell-phone handy.
This book will take you on one hell of a ride.
Mae Clair can be found on the following links.
Website and Blog
Facebook Author Page:
NUMBER 1: What Sara Saw by Stephen Geez.
The boy looked back.
A simple pencil drawing, this depiction of a child watching from the reeds of a country pond frustrates and angers Geoffrey, unexpected reactions that stir Phrekka’s lifelong passion for understanding the elusive power artists infuse in their creations.
Their only clue a “Sara” signature, the unemployed graphic designer persuades the enchanting Korean-American curator to help him discover more images by this enigmatic artist. From her world of privilege and mystical spiritualism to his of heartland farms and fundamentalist values, they will cross the country in search of the meaning in Sara’s sketches, an odyssey to divine one extraordinary person’s singular secret for touching people’s souls.
Staggering revelations entangle them with issues of mortality and faith, sexuality and family violence, obligation and responsibility, deception and truth. Only by looking close at the dark and profane will they have any chance of coming together to create a legacy more beautiful than either ever imagined.
What Sara Saw paints exquisitely vivid portraits of two young people who must follow their hearts to recapture that innocent grace long lost to the whims of circumstance and fate.
MY BOOK REVIEW: “WHAT SARA SAW” BY STEPHEN GEEZ
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A joyous and relentlessly honest work of memorable fiction.
Every once in a while an author comes along that taps into my vulnerability and causes me to willingly expose my jugular vein in doing so.
Stephen Geez has done this with What Sara Saw.
This book is a journey to be undertaken with no pre-conceived notions of comfort. For Stephen Geez dares us to go beyond the familiar. He invites us, via the characters of Geoffrey and Phrekka to take a chance, and in doing so he gifts us with characters rich in contradictions and as afraid of their own reactions to one another as any of us are when undertaking a journey into unknown or previously unexplored emotions.
I was re-introduced to the complexity, joy, and fear we mortals undertake when we first venture into the world of each other’s experiences. There is a depth of feeling and keen sense of awareness within these pages that touched me
What Sara Saw is both a joyous and relentlessly honest work of memorable fiction.
I recommend it to all that want their reading experiences to linger with them, and cause them to explore their own vulnerability.
What an awesome reading year it has been. I thank all of these authors for granting me many pleasurable hours of marvelous escape into each of the journeys they have taken me on.
And a huge thank you to the many folks that have taken the time to stop by to help me celebrate their works.