Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best books of 2016 (in my opinion)

Can you believe tomorrow is the first day of 2017?!  I'm still in shock, personally.  Where did 2016 go?  Did it fly by for anyone else?  It seems like I was just halfway botching doing one of these posts for 2015 and now, a whole year has passed in the time it took me to blink!  Am I the only one so not ready to start another year?  Not that I have any say in the matter, unless I want to keep dating my checks for 2016, I can't do anything to change it . . .  So, without further ado, seeing as this is primarily a book blog, my Best Books of 2016 list!  And be sure to leave me a comment and let me know what's on your favorite reads list and if I left anyone out!
Oh, and these are in no particular order, which is driving my alphabetizing self crazy.  But this way will be more fun, right?

Book: Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson
Reason: As always, Ms. Henderson is one of my
very favorite authors and I loved the depth she brings
to this story.  Evie is a unique character and I so enjoyed
getting to know her, along with the rest of the cast. 
I can't wait for her next book, which is on my most anticipated list!
Book: Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig
Reason: Tox, plague, suspense, Kasey,
what-happens-next, London, can't-put-it-down,
Israel, Ram, Syria, questions.  So many reasons . . .

Book: Giver of Wonders by Roseanna M. White
         Reason:  I'm not really a "Christmas person."  But this
       story brought it to life in a brand new way.  I loved the
         unique time period and how it took the truth of Christmas
         back to the beginning, to when the celebration was still new
      and the sense of awe wasn't yet lost in traditions and shopping
 and gift giving.

Book: Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman
Reason: This book is both sweet and passionate,
humorous and serious.  I loved getting to know
Sam and Shannon.  Laughing and crying with them
and anticipating that Cat's book will hopefully be next.
Book:  Without Warning by Lynette Eason
Reason:  Ms. Eason is one of my go-to authors when
I want a book that will keep me on the edge of my seat,
but also has characters that touch my heart, and this one
perfectly fits the bill!  And spoiler, though the next book is on
my anticipated list, I can go ahead and tell you that it is ah-mazing, too!

Book: The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White
Reason:  I'm always a sucker for marriage of convenience
stories and this one quickly became one of my favorites.
I loved watching Brice and Rowena learn how to intentionally love
someone.  And as always, I loved the suspense Ms. White weaves into
her books.

Book: Playing the Part by Jen Turano
Reason:  Jen's books always crack me up!  Just ask Lucetta
about the moat or Bram about his motley crew of staff and pets.
Complete with a dress-hating goat and a basement that doubles as a dungeon.

Book: Her One and Only by Becky Wade
Reasons:  This cover!  I mean, honestly.  The Porters (if you haven't read
her books, you're totally missing out).  Also, a hot football player
and a female bodyguard.  Can you say "sparks"?  So many
sigh worthy moments between these pages!

Book: Close to You by Kara Isaac
Reason:  It's set in New Zealand.  Hobbits are a feature.
I loved the chemistry between Allie and Jackson.  And the dialogue!
Definitely an excellent debut novel!

Book: Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey
Reason: Honestly, I think this was one of the
first books I read this year and I totally need to read it again,
because I remember adoring it, but I don't recall why!
But, it's on here anyway.  Just because.  And I can't wait
to read Still Life!
Book: Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar
Reason:  Tessa has a way of bringing the Bible to life
that I just so enjoy!  Her books cause me to look at the stories
found in God's word more closely, to see the people behind the words written
on a page and to wonder what they must have been like.  I love
her unique take on things and the questions she raises that cause me to stop and think.

Book: Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson
Reason:  Returning to the Red Door Inn.  Getting to hang out in Caden's kitchen.
Adam - so swoon-worthy!  Seeing PEI through their eyes.  I can't wait
to make a return visit next year!

Book:  A Harmony for Steve by Hallee Bridgeman
Reason:  I've been eagerly anticipating this book for a couple years
and was so not disappointed!  Ms. Bridgeman tackles some very difficult
subjects in this story, addiction and spiritual warfare being the biggest ones.
And she does in a way that was totally engrossing.  I didn't want to put the book
down for anything.  Her books are so realistic and I loved being draw into
Steve and Harmony's lives, as well as getting to reacquaint myself with some old friends.
I couldn't choose between these next two books, so they're both on here! 

Books: A Time to Speak and A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes
Reasons:  These are books two and three in Ms. Brandes' Out of Time series
and I couldn't pick just one of them!  They each had an impact on me and caused
me to reevaluate how I view things.  I loved the honesty in how Parvin approaches God
and following her path as she sought His will and fought to right a terrible wrong.
These books were my first foray into the dystopian genre and will hopefully not been my last!  
Well, I think that's all I can manage to think up right now.  So Dear Reader Friends, who am I missing??  I know there's at least a couple books that I've misplaced in my brain that deserve to be on this list, but I just can't remember!  I'm also doing a "most anticipated" list in a day or two, so please chime in with what you think should be on it, as well! 
Thank you so much for stopping by and Happy New Year!
P.S. I was too lazy tired to find the links for all of the books here, but you can find all of them on Amazon and most of them everywhere else, should you be interested in checking them out further.  I've also reviewed most of them here, if you'd like to see my thoughts on them.  I'm still only doing this thing halfway.  Oops!  

Friday, December 9, 2016

My Review: Conspiracy of Silence, plus GIVEAWAY!

You know when a book description begins with "This is the way the world end" that said book is going to be epic!


This Is the Way the World Ends.
Four years after a tragic mission decimated his team, Cole "Tox" Russell has been disavowed by the United States.  And that's fine - he just wants to be left alone.  But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Tox and his former Special Forces team regroup to work with FBI deception expert, Kasey Cortes, and fiery archaeologist, Tzivia Khalon, to search the globe for answers - and a cure.  As the mission leads from one continent to another, it becomes clear they're not just fighting a plague but battling an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and the threat for a global pandemic rising, Tox and his team realize their sole chance might be to reach back through centuries of silence to find the only answer that can save them all.

About the Author:
Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She's penned over a dozen novels, including The Quiet Professionals series and the A Breed Apart series. She and her hunky hero hubby have a fun, crazy life with their children and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia.

My Review: 5 stars!
There are so many things I could say about this book.  It has 400+ pages and hours of my life were spent between those pages, immersed in a story so compelling I found myself glancing up every so often, making sure I wasn’t in [insert country] with the team, chasing down leads and running for my life.  I’ve found few authors that can hold my attention the way Ronie Kendig always does, even on the second and third rereads.  Her stories practically demand my undivided attention, because otherwise, I’ll be turning back the pages in a matter of moments, trying to figure out what I missed and how on Earth they ended up there.  This story moves so quickly that the both the characters and I were struggling to get our bearings and catch our breath.  If you pick up this book expecting to find a quick, light read, don’t.  This story is hard, sometimes it’s dark, with the realities of war, and it goes by so quickly that you may find yourself looking back and trying to figure out how you’re already halfway through and you just blinked.  This book most definitely met and majorly exceeded my expectations!

As already noted, Ms. Kendig’s books always keep me on the edge of my seat and if I were to try to give a reason why, I wouldn’t have one beyond simply “her writing.”  There is something about it that I find so compelling and that draws me in again and again.  She undeniably knows how to do suspense and she does it on a whole new level.  The twists and turns of this story often left me hurrying to catch up with the newest bend and then quick as a blink, it would change, again.  And she does it in a way that comes across as believable.  Some things do touch the side of outlandish here and there, but even the characters agreed.  There are several controversial topics touched on and argued about throughout the story and I appreciated how honest the conversations they have are: the fear, doubt, questions, and in the end faith, carry weight and emotion in a story that moves so rapidly I wonder that there’s a moment to breathe.  I was pulled in so thoroughly from the very first chapter that by the time I turned the final page, I felt as though I had taken the journey with them - questions, doubts, bullets, arrows, wisecracks, black eyes, unknowns and all.

One thing that sets this book apart from Ms. Kendig’s previous books is the characters.  This book doesn’t so much focus on one particular character and their story, but more the team as a whole and the events taking place.  I confess to being a little confused in the beginning of the story, as I tried to make each character fit into a specific role, then finding that didn’t work.  Cole “Tox” Russel is a main character, but so are Kasey Cortes and Tzivia Khalon, and really the team as a whole.  I wanted them to each fit in the usual boxes: hero, heroine, best friend, villain, character who’s book comes next, and so forth.  But these characters just refused to fit the mold and I found myself having to readjust my thinking.  I did really love the dynamics of the team: Cell with his sarcasm, Ram with his connections, Kasey learning where she fits, Chiji the calming presence.  There are a couple team members that I didn’t get to know as well, so I’m definitely going to be rereading this book for that, but also to catch all of the threads that didn’t connect the first time around or that I flat out missed because I was rushing to find out what would happen next.

I do have to add that if you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend reading the prequel novella that takes place a few years before this book.  It fills in a few otherwise gray areas and gives an extra layer of detail.  It isn’t a must and doesn’t directly tie in, though events that happen in it are referenced a few times here and there.
Overall, I immensely enjoyed this book and will most likely be found rereading it the first chance I get.  

If you took the time to read my review, thank you so much!  If you just scrolled down here to get to the giveaway info, then keep reading - you made it past most of the gushing.  :) 
So, I accidently ended up with 2 paper copies of Conspiracy of Silence and rather than hoarding both of them, which was my first instinct, I decided to share one with someone.  There should be a Rafflecopter form below to help me keep everything straight (if that's possible).  The giveaway will end at midnight on the 18th and I'll email the winner the next day.  Unfortunately, this giveaway is only open to US visitors. 

Oh!  And if you haven't had the opportunity to read the prequel novella The Warrior's Seal, it's currently FREE on Amazon Kindle (if you don't have a Kindle, the app is free).  I HIGHLY recommend it and if you're new to Ronie's books, this is an excellent way to check out her writing and see if it's your cup of coffee (because Tox would cringe at tea). There's a link for it below, along with purchase links for Conspiracy of Silence.

Final note:
Ronie also has a super awesome giveaway happening on her site!  You should totally go check it out!  Click here to be directed to the giveaway.

Thanks again for stopping by!  I hope someone makes you laugh today.  :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Warrior's Seal (FREE e-novella!)

Conspiracy of Silence

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