Caroline’s Top Reads of 2013

1483293_10201261455993754_1572058602_nHello readers, I hope that you have all had a great year in 2013 and have had a chance to bury your head in many a good book this year. It has been a great first year for Tina and myself at A Reader’s Review Blog and we have made many online friends with authors and readers alike, as well as have a steady growth in followers. Thanks, guys. I hope that you all have a fantastic Christmas and a very Happy New Year! x

I would like to take you on a journey through my favourite reads of this year. Initially I was going to pick ten but soon realised that there have been more than ten to leave an impact on me. However, some of them are part of the same series and so I have given the whole series a mention. In all there  are about 14/15 titles and they are in no particular order. (It would be impossible for me to number them!) Most genres are covered, including paranormal, fantasy, dystopian sci-fi, romance, comedy, thriller and horror. Romance is a theme that runs through many of them quite strongly.

Please click on titles for our full review and blurb!

Romantic comedy

the-debt-the-doormat_1Well, I had to begin with a rom-com. I absolutely LOVED The Debt & the Doormat by Laura Bernard. The comedy elements to this great book reminded me that of the style of Helen Fielding’s ‘Bridget Jones’ and Miranda Hart’s ‘Miranda’! With a fantastic love story making up the focus of the novel there are so many other aspects to this book, with various family members and work colleagues providing sub plots and more comedy. It is also very heart-warming. A perfect read for anyone who loves a great chick-lit! I am over the moon to hear that there will be a sequel next Spring!

Romantic paranormal

Unscathed

Unscathed is a collaboration by two of my favourite authors, Tim O’Rourke and C.J. Pinard. Initially a contemporary romance, this story is sweet and heart-warming, with two young people falling for each other. However, Unscathed is unique. As you read on there becomes a paranormal element that raises it’s ugly head at times and causes some trouble between our two young lovebirds. I enjoyed the unpredictability of this story and in many of the author’s solo books too. They both provide the element of surprise!

Paranormal/Fantasy

Vampire Seeker (Samantha Carter #1)I’m going to have to begin this genre with possibly my favourite book since the beginning of A Reader’s Review Blog. Tim O’Rourke’s Vampire Seeker’ is the ultimate action/adventure, fantasy/paranormal and sci-fi all rolled into one for me! From a vampire seeker in London, following a possible Jack the Ripper copycat in 2012, to a cowgirl in the Wild West in 1888, Samantha Carter is a brilliant heroine. With plenty of action and gore, as with all of Tim’s stories, this is a thrilling, rollercoaster-like quick read with a little sexual tension too! Now signed to Little Brown/Piatkus publishing, the hard copy will be released in January 2014. However, it is available as an e-book for the Kindle at Amazon.

Now, if one is to mention Tim O’Rourke it is impossible to not bring up his Keira Hudson series. Keira is a young policewoman and is taken out of her comfort zone when she goes to work at The Ragged Cove, where there have been people going missing and some turning up dead. It isn’t too long before the reader is opened up to a fantastic world of vampires, Lycanthrope and follow Keira on a journey like no other. Again, Tim’s writing is complete with punchy lines, high impact action scenes, comedy and romance. The Keira Hudson series is followed by many and Tim will soon be writing his third series under the Keira Hudson title! Please click on the links below to read all of our reviews thus far on the Keira adventure.

Vampire Shift (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 1), Vampire Shift – The Graphic Novel (Volume One) (Keira Hudson Series One) –  illustrated by Craig Twyman, Vampire Wake (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 2), Vampire Hunt (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 3), Vampire Breed (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 4), Wolf House (Potter’s Story) (Kiera Hudson Series 1 Book 4.5) – novella, Vampire Hollows (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 5), Dead Flesh (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1), Dead Night – Potter’s Secrets (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1.5) – novella, Dead Angels (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 2), Dead Statues (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 3), Dead Seth (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 4), Dead Wolf (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 5) and Dead Water (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 6).

Control (The Soul of Voodoo, #1)With Control (The Soul of Voodoo #1) by M.C. Lavocat we begin to go a little darker into the paranormal. In many ways the first part of Control can appear to be a romantic love triangle situation but as the reader gets sucked in too, by the spell, we realise that it is so much more; where lives are at stake, time is not as it seems and people’s destiny’s are affected! There is nothing we can do to prevent it – or so it seems – but we have to find a way! A curse, a spell, voodoo even is considered when darker events take place and the ‘control’ or lack of it goes to a complete extreme. This is a must-read for those that love dark, paranormal horror, mixed with comedy and romance!

The Mating (Law of the Lycans, #1)Earlier this year Tina and myself focused on a Werewolf theme. During this time I read two fantastic books that I have been longing to read the sequels to. The first, Nicky Charles ‘The Mating (Law of the Lycans #1)’, was recommended by a follower of our blog. I was grateful for the recommendation as The Mating was gripping from the beginning. It is a romantic suspense and the tension is apparent almost immediately as the main character, Elise, is mated to an Alpha of a neighbouring pack. However, this was not her choice.

Cursed: A Werewolf's TaleThe second of my werewolf stories is Cursed (A Werewolf’s Tale #1), also known as ‘Frostbite’, by David Wellington. Cursed concentrates on the survival of a werewolf who finds herself lone in an Arctic forest, where a pack of others is trying to track her down. It is rather a chilling paranormal which includes some ferocious and horrific attacks, making this a bit of a horror too. It is gripping and the Arctic setting fits in nicely with the characters as they seem too cold to air any romance. It is a case of can they learn to live separately or must they try to eliminate the other in order to survive?

BorealAndJohnGreySeason1Box-v5_mediumBoreal & John Grey (Complete Series One) by Chrystalla Thoma is one of the best paranormal/urban fantasy series I have ever read. There is definitely something for everyone with this magical story of the human world having Gates appear from another world, where it brings Shades, snakes, dragons, dwarves and goblins, not to mention sexy elves! The story itself is complete with action and adventure, mystery and romance. And what’s more is that you can purchase all 5 books under the one title.

Horror

on-the-lips-of-children_1One of the most chilling stories I have read is Mark Matthews On the Lips of Children! This is definitely one to read under the covers as we follow the horrific ordeal as a marathon runner and his family are held captive by some scavengers. Mark Matthews’ writing is so clear, the reader doesn’t miss a thing – even though they may wish they had at times. For the taste of the heebie jeebies and a good scare this one is highly recommended!

TatterdemonTatterdemon by Steve Vernon was our Halloween Horror. There is so much going on in this book, but at the same time it’s enough to handle. Tatterdemon focuses on a cursed town of 300 years, where now some of the townsfolk turn on each other. This horror holds it all, from witches, ghosts, zombies and killer scarecrows and complete with resurrections, spells and voodoo. It is a little crazy as well as being a fantastic fearsome horror!

Horror/Dystopian Sci-fi

Stilts ResizedStilts (Tessa Dark trilogy #1) is the latest book released from author Tim O’Rourke. It is also Tim’s first dystopian. I was so curious to read this one as it completely different from anything else I have ever read. Stilts is a story of survival. The only place that remains save is the prison that Tessa has been serving time in. However, outside the prison the world is not how she remembers it and the only living creatures outside appear to be similar to melting zombies, ‘scorchers’! It won’t be too long before the prison supplies run out and so the only hope they have is for some to leave the prison to bring back supplies. To prevent the scorchers from touching and melting them they find a way to travel with the use of stilts. With a romantic story running parallel with the survival story this proves to be a brilliant read.

And my last genre, but certainly not least is ………………..

…………….. Thriller

16150880[1]Although an avid reader of romance and the paranormal, I do love to read a great thriller. And my following thriller favourites really stood out to me this year. One of my first reads of 2013 was A Presence in Russell County (The Organization Book 1) by S.J. Sprague. In a County where police corruption is high, Samantha Biggers finds herself in a vulnerable situation. After chatting online to a guy for two years she leans on him for support. He is an ex-military man who is part of The Organization. An organization targeting corrupt law enforcement officers. Once The Organization are involved, Samantha’s safety is a priority as well as bringing down the corrupt officers.Mulberry_WEB.sm I do love this series as not only is there the crimes and the thrills but there is also romance amongst the main characters. Later this year I also read the sequel, Mulberry (The Organization Book 2). Mulberry again has a great crime story involving corrupt police and continues with the romance surrounding Samantha. The main difference being that Samantha is now a member of The Organization! I do like the characters and the whole idea of The Organization. The Organization can deal with these corrupt officers swiftly through the justice system. This is definitely a series to look out for. And Jesse Butterfly (The Organization Book 3) will be released in early Spring 2014!

17617578[1]-001Now for this little treat, Tina and myself both reviewed Addicted by JoAnn DeLazzari for Blue Star Books. Set in a Colombian jungle, journalist Nikki Bradley is trying to find sufficient evidence to bring down a high and mighty drug trafficking operation. However, when she gets captured by these organised criminals the tension mounts as they have the potential to do with her as they please. One of her captors, King, although fearsome and rugged, he does prevent the others from harming her and the intensity and passion grows between them. Nikki desires him in ways she knows she shouldn’t. The chemistry and tension between these characters, as well as the setting in the jungle, reminds me of ‘Romancing the Stone’ and/or ‘Crocodile Dundee’ – although perhaps more adult-based. A very sensuous read. Hmmmm, I will certainly have to read this one again!

The Hourglass Killer Trilogy - All 3 BooksAnd finally, but again, certainly not the least, I have The Hourglass Killer Trilogy by LR Potter. Consisting of three books: Dwindling Sands, Shifting Sands and Cascading Sands. I am glad that I read the whole trilogy together as each story combines together perfectly with the following one. This one is a dark crime thriller, concentrating on Tess Champion, a female detective who has been subjected to a violent sexual crime. However, when she returns to work, she and her partner are faced with the murder of a woman who has been seriously sexually harmed in similar ways that she has. Is she being paranoid, or could there be a connection between this case and her own? Each step of this trilogy is quite adult-based, especially given the crimes committed. The reader is also aware of how each step of the case affects Tess and the people around her. However dark it gets, once you are gripped you really can’t put this book down!

And so as we move on into 2014 I am looking forward to reading some more great reads by some great authors. Where possible I am hoping to follow the series’ I have begun as well as begin some new ones.

I hope that I have intrigued you enough to take a peek at our full reviews. (Reviews can be seen by clicking on the titles). And if you are really keen we also have the links to Amazon UK and Amazon US.

If you have any great reads of this year that you would like to share with us, please feel free to comment below! We’d love to hear some of your favourites 🙂

Be sure to keep a look out for Tina’s Top Reads of 2013, coming shortly. And again, we both wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Caroline 🙂

Caroline’s current reading list

Hi readers, I have been settling back into the routine since the summer hols. I hope you all had a fantastic summer and settled back into your routines too :). Autumn and Winter are my favourite times of year as we watch the temperature begin to drop, leaves falling from the trees, with Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year still to come. It’s that time to snuggle up on the sofa in the evening, with a warm cup of cocoa and escape to wherever you’d like with a brilliant book!

And so, what are my new adventures going to be? Well, we have had a great response from new authors to review their work and you will also find some of my favourites on the list too. It really is a mixed bag from paranormal,  fantasy to crime, romance and even some comedy! (Please note that all title links will take you to their Goodreads page.) So without further ado, over the next quarter or so I will be reviewing the following titles:-

BSI: Bureau of Supernatural Investigation (An Enchanted Immortals novella) – C.J. Pinard (paranormal, urban fantasy)

BSISupernatural creatures have roamed the Earth since the beginning of time. There was a time when humans would not tolerate having vampires and other creatures in their midst, stealing their young and killing their fellow human beings. These humans took care of business with pitchforks, sharpened stakes, and fires. As the centuries passed, the supernatural creatures learned that they needed to hide in order to survive. As they did, humans evolved, and after a few decades, humans no longer believed the tales from mythology and folklore. Then the creatures became more bold again, showing themselves when they should have stayed hidden.

In 1945, the assistant director of the FBI suffered a horrible tragedy, which he learned later was supernaturally related. He created a small branch of the Department of Justice called the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation – the BSI. Little did he know that there were already men and women policing the world of the supernatural – or the “Fae.” The only difference was that this other group had a huge advantage over the humans running the BSI; they were also immortal, just like the creatures they policed. Should the BSI and the Immortals work together to keep the peace?

Follow agents and Immortals from the four supernaturally busiest places in the country – San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. and watch the BSI evolve.
Vampires, shapeshifters, succubae, and Immortals. What is the Justice Department hiding?

BSI: Bureau of Supernatural Investigation is an Enchanted Immortals novella, approximately 36,000 words, with an excerpt of Enchanted Immortals at the end. This novella may be read in any order in the series.

Dead Water (Keira Hudson, Series 2 Book 6) – Tim O’Rourke (paranormal, urban fantasy)Dead Water (Kiera Hudson Series Two, #6)

With Sam and Kayla missing, Kiera, Potter and Murphy head for the Dead Waters. Here they hope to find their missing friends and the answers to why their flesh keeps cracking like that of a statue. Knowing Potter has lied to her, Kiera is struggling with her feelings for him. Therefore, Kiera tries to keep Potter at a distance, scared that she might get hurt again.

With Skin-walkers and statues close behind them as they make their journey to the Dead Waters, Kiera can’t help but fear she is being led straight into a dead end.

Tatterdemon – Steve Vernon – HALLOWEEN FUN!!! (horror)

TatterdemonIn 1691 the town of Crossfall taught the witch Thessaly how to die. They beat her, they shot her, they hung her – but nothing worked. When they finally tried to bury her alive Thessaly set the field against them. The first man died as a gust of wind harrowed the meat from his bones. A root,flung like a dirty javelin, cut a second man down. Many more deaths followed. The Preacher Fell impaled the witch upon her very own broom but she dragged him down into the field to wait for three more centuries.

Three hundred years later Maddy Harker will murder her bullying husband Vic. She will bury him in the field as she buried her abusive father years before that. The very same field where the revenant spirit of Thessaly Cross lies waiting.

In three days Vic will rise again – a thing of dirt, bone and hatred.

Men will call him the Tatterdemon.

And hell – and Thessaly – will follow.

When It Happens to You – Molly Ringwald (contemporary, chick-lit)

When it Happens to YouWhen it happens to you, you will be surprised. That thing they say about how you knew all the time, but just weren’t facing it? That might be the case, but nevertheless, there you will be.

Molly Ringwald mines the complexities of modern relationships in this gripping and nuanced collection of interlinked stories. Writing with a deep compassion for human imperfection, Ringwald follows a Los Angeles family and their friends and neighbors while they negotiate the hazardous terrain of everyday life—revealing the deceptions, heartbreak, and vulnerability familiar to us all.

In “The Harvest Moon,” a stay-at-home mom grapples with age, infertility, and an increasingly distant husband. In “Ursa Minor,” a former children’s television star tries to rebuild his life after being hospitalized for “exhaustion.” An elderly woman mourns the loss of her husband and her estranged relationship with her daughter in “The Little One.” In “My Olivia,” a single mother finds untapped reserves of strength to protect her flamboyant six-year-old son who wishes only to wear dresses and be addressed as Olivia. And in the devastating title story, a betrayed wife chronicles her pain and alienation, leading to an eviscerating denouement.

As the lives of these characters converge and diverge in unexpected ways, Ringwald reveals a startling eye for the universality of loss, love, and the search for connection. An unflinching yet poignant examination of the intricacies of the human heart, When It Happens to You is an auspicious literary debut.

The Debt & The Doormat – Laura Barnard (chick-lit, comedy)

the-debt-the-doormat_1Poppy and Jazz have been best friends from the first week of university. Whenever these two get together trouble isn’t far away and things haven’t changed much. When Jazz gets herself into financial trouble Poppy, being a good friend, offers to help. She instead ends up being talked into swapping lives, with Jazz insisting it will be good and help her get over her broken heart.

Poppy is thrown into a new life, full of crazy housemates. There’s fitness freak Izzy, horrendously beautiful bitch Grace and the slightly gorgeous, if not incredibly grumpy Ryan.

Quickly, with the help of Jazz, her life is thrown upside down. Madness ensues and her need to please everyone gets her in more trouble than she could ever imagine.

Before she knows it she’s got a fake boyfriend and is hiding so many secrets she’s scared they’ll spill out any minute. With a bullying boss, a sex crazed colleague, a mental mother and three brothers each with their own dramas, life has gotten pretty difficult for Poppy. And all of this would be much easier, if she could just stop falling over.

Will she get her life back to normal before her brother’s upcoming wedding? And will she want to?

Roping Love – Tamarra Hoffa (contemporary romance)

Roping LoveTen Years ago love slipped through Chance’s lasso. This time “He was going after her and she didn’t stand a chance, just like a calf in a chute, he was going to rope her with his love and ride back into her life.”

Carrie Stewart is a dedicated horsewoman. She runs a successful breeding and training program. She is a good friend, a good sister and a favorite aunt, but she has been burned by love. Carrie has never gotten over her first love, Chance Ryan. After ten years of absence Chance shows back up in her life. Should she risk her heart again, with the man who left it broken at her feet in the past? Chance has some serious work ahead of him to win back the one woman he could never forget.

Lightpoints – Peter Kassan (science fiction, paranormal)

LightpointsWhat if you suddenly discovered you had a sense-and powers-that almost no one else in the world did? When Amanda Lindner Nichols, a 24-year-old graphic artist living with her husband in Queens, New York, is revived from a near-death experience, she discovers she perceives everyone around her as points of light-but not with her eyes. She soon learns she can not only perceive the life energy of others, but she can give and take it. With the help of others like her, she brings her husband Chris to the brink of death and back to bestow on him the same remarkable faculty, and they’re the happiest they’ve been. But not for long. All over the world, people who’ve been revived from their own near-death experience at just the right moment discover themselves with these same unusual powers. They find ways to use them-some for good and some for evil. When Amanda and Chris encounter a ruthless group of gangsters with the same faculty, tragedy follows-and Amanda faces the greatest challenge of her life.

Baby, You’re as Sweet as 3.14159265 (101 Funny Love Advice Answers, 20 Sexy Stories, & Lots​ of Jokes)- Hog Wild (ADULT comedy)

WARNING: Content may not be suitable for people offended by naughty words, honest thoughts about love, and sexual thoughts of sextastic sex with sexy people.

(Edited synopsis due to rude words that may not be suitable for all) From the book…

A lot of girls like a guy who is a bad-ass. That’s why my conversations with women go like this:

GIRL: I like a man of danger.

ME: Come back to my place and we’ll open the .exe attachments in my email!

Dear Shirtless Guy in his Profile Picture, you REALLY want to impress girls? Get a job and pose in front of your cubicle.

They say you can get a girl to like you, if you can make her jealous. So I make sure the girl sees me with a pretty expensive handbag!

Girls like when you tell them about the adorable things that children do. For instance, like when my little nephew asked me, “When babies are in the tummy do they use mommy’s belly button as a window?”

Cute!

Thank God he didn’t ask what they use as a door!

Pastels & Jingle Bells (Heavenly Bites Novella 1) – Christine Feldman – SEASONAL FUN!!! (contemporary romance, seasonal)

Pastels and Jingle Bells (Heavenly Bites Novellas, #1)(Set for publication for November 1st, 2013)

Trish Ackerly never expected to cross paths with Ian Rafferty again, but when she spots the former bully of her childhood years through her bakery window, she thinks she may just have been given the best Christmas gift ever:  the opportunity to finally give Ian the comeuppance he deserves.

But clearly she does not have a knack for this whole revenge thing, because before she can make good on her plans, Trish gets inadvertently drawn into Ian’s life in an unexpected way that lets her see just how different the man is from the boy he used to be.  In fact, much to her astonishment, she actually starts to like the guy.

A lot.

Trouble is, Ian doesn’t know who she really is, and explaining it to him is going to be a little difficult now—which is bad news, because Trish is starting to realize that all she really wants for Christmas this year…is Ian.

Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook – Kelly I. Hitchcock (contemporary)

Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo StorybookTwelve women, twelve tattoos, and a narrative thread that weaves them all together, Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook is a collection of stories that answers that lingering question in the back of your mind when you see an inked woman: what does your tattoo mean (or perhaps – what were you thinking)? From a parent’s suicide to the birth of an unlikely child, the stories behind why women tattoo themselves are literally worn on (and sometimes under) their sleeves, and retold on these pages.

Complete with artwork from the original tattoo artists and a foreword by Dr. Marta Vicente, one of academia’s foremost voices in Women’s Studies, this series of literary vignettes celebrates real, everyday women and their tattoos that, while they may seem insignificant at the time, are a symbol of the larger struggles and triumphs that make them who they are. These stories explore the idea of tattoos bringing together women from different worlds, and teaching them how these worlds might not be as far apart as they think.

The Drake Equation – Heather Walsh (contemporary romance)

The Drake EquationShe’s a Democrat, he’s a Republican. She spends her days fighting global warming at an environmental non-profit, he makes his living doing PR for Bell Motors and their fleet of SUVs. But as soon as they meet, Emily Crossley and Robert Drake realize they have encountered their intellectual match. You’re never challenged, he tells her. You’ve surrounded yourself in a cocoon of people who think exactly the same way you do. She hurls the same accusation back at him, and the fiery debates begin. Despite both of their attempts to derail it, there is no denying that they are falling in love. But their relationship is threatened by political differences, Robert’s excessive work hours, and Emily’s fear of losing her identity as she falls deeper in love. Can their love survive? The Drake Equation is a tale of modern love and all its complexities.

Animus – Thomas Evans (crime)

AnimusA family is torn in half when a careless killer evades justice. Jason McDowell’s bad choice to drive to work drunk one morning leaves a father dead, a daughter in a coma and her twin sister and mother to try and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Three years later, while Jason has gone on with his life, ignorant of the struggles of his victims, someone has decided it is time for him to face justice.

Bounty Hunter – S.J. Hollis (fantasy)

Bounty HunterWhat do you do when your magic makes you a target? Run. Fight. Die.

14-year-old Kai Koson had nothing to do with the apocalypse, thank you very much. He was just a baby the day a coven of blood witches ripped a hole in the universe and the demons fell screaming from the sky. Earth and its magic perished. Witchkind was hunted and annihilated.

Now, because he was born a witch, Kai must spend his life running and fighting for survival. Even his own uncle seems determined to abandon him.

With nothing left to lose, Kai runs away and joins a team of galactic bounty hunters. But instead of providing an escape, it sets Kai on a path that will destroy everything he believes about himself and the apocalypse, transforming him into the most wanted teenager in the galaxy.

Written with humour, imagination and darkness, Bounty Hunter and its protagonist Kai Koson stand confidently beside Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider, Young Bond, Mortal Engines and Harry Potter.

I also wish to read The Keeping (Law of the Lycans, Book 2) (sequel to The Mating) by Nicky Charles, Dead Push (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 7) by Tim O’Rourke, plus many, many more.

I hope you have enjoyed looking through my mixed bag! Happy reading, guys 🙂

Caroline Barker