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My Favorite #Reads of 2017! #Books #amreading #reviews

Once again, it's time for my annual write-up of favorite reads, a post I love doing each year, since I'm passionate about reading and sharing the books I've enjoyed.  This year, I got even more books in, as I joined Audible and began listening to books as well as reading.  Now, I listen to about 3 books a month this way, and I'm thrilled that my publisher will soon be offering two of my novels, Gull Harbor and Haunted Souls, on Audible.  They are both in production right now, and I can't wait to hear my own novels as audio books!    

Now, on to my 2017 list!  I enjoy reading almost every genre, so there are a few represented here, but of course I have my preferences. Some of my picks don't necessarily fall neatly into a single genre, either, and I guess it's no surprise that these are my absolute favorites, given that I also write in a mixture of genres (steamy romance combined with haunting mysteries).  So I'll start with those two novels, which both have elements of three different genres.

Mixed Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Suspense

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase

Black Rabbit Hall was one of my favorite books of 2016, and I was beyond excited when I saw Eve Chase had another novel out. The Wildling Sisters did not disappoint. Chase creates haunting, poignant, atmospheric tales, written so beautifully I have to re-read sentences to make sure I'm appreciating every word. In both books, she manages to capture the past time periods of the dual-time lines with details and descriptions that draw the reader in, and similarly in both books, the houses serve as mysterious characters in their own right. There is intrigue, suspense, and family drama, both in the present and the 1959 timeline.  While the pacing might not work for readers anxious for revelations, I savored every bit of the journey, especially the languid, hazy summer days of the Wilde sisters, filled with nostalgic reminders of being on the cusp of adulthood, filled with longing, impulse, and fleeting moments that become etched into memory.

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

I didn't realize this was Kate Morton's first book--for me, it's the fourth I've read, and I think my favorite so far. This is an amazing story reminiscent in many ways of Downton Abby, but the layers go much deeper and the story blends the past with the present in the form of a confessional narrative. Morton's writing is beautiful and the imagery she creates with words is impressive. A great read with romance, intrigue, secrets, and history.

Historical Fiction ~ based on true events

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

An incredible and poignant read that I have recommended to everyone. Although I'm no expert on this time period, it's obvious this true story is meticulously researched, both from the details included and the author's note at the end. The three Points of View make it even more compelling, allowing the reader to become immersed in the story from different perspectives. It's a mesmerizing book, horrific in places and hopeful in other places, and a beautiful testament to the human spirit.

Young Adult Fantasy Romance/Historical Romance

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I saw this book on a list of suspenseful must-reads, and decided to give it a shot. I was hooked right away. Like many books I enjoy, the genre is a bit hard to describe...YA historical fantasy romance maybe? The world-building was superb, the prose was lovely, the storytelling was well-paced, and the characters were compelling. There's a lot of conflicts in this book, the main one being Shazi's struggle between her quest for vengeance and her feelings for her new husband, spurred by her growing suspicion things are not as they seem. That along with her affect on the "cold-hearted" boy keep the romantic element intriguing. There a themes similar to Twilight (boy who should/wants to kill the girl but can't) and The Hunger Games (using strength and wits to be the lone survivor against the odds), but wrapped up in a very different story, and set in ancient Persia (I think) where magic exists. 

Literary Fiction

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things  by Bryn Greenwood

Warning: very difficult subject matter.  This is a powerful and compelling story with characters that literally came alive for me. Because it deals with a very taboo subject, it's not going to be a book for everyone. But for me, it was an un-put-downable journey into a desperate world many of us thankfully know little about, and despite the darkness, there are pinpoints of bright light; love and resilience in the face of heartbreaking tragedy and neglect. The title is perfect...real life is full of both ugly and beautiful things.

Psychological Suspense

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Another warning:  some difficult subject matter; but I am able to remind myself with fiction that it didn't really happen.  However, this talented author did have me worrying about the main character and upset about some of the things that happened, which means I was completely engaged.  In fact, I found this nearly impossible to put down; probably the best Psychological Suspense I've read this year, and I've been reading a lot of that genre! Disturbing, creepy, suspenseful, and compelling, this book kept me up past my bedtime. Did I like all the subject matter? Of course not, there was a psychopath in the book, and we needed to see just how evil he was and to what lengths he would go in order to feel the danger to the other characters. I shudder just thinking about him! 

If you're interested in any of my past lists, see:

Favorite books of 2012

Favorite books of 2013

Favorite books of 2014

Favorite books of 2015

Favorite books of 2016

One of my romance/ghost mysteries, Gull Harbor, just recently became a #1 Bestseller on Amazon again, and hit the #1 spot in a few categories on Barnes and Nobel as well, which was thrilling.  If you enjoy the combination of steamy and a little spooky, give it a's still on sale for just a few more days!

Hope I've offered some helpful recommendations for readers here--and I'm always looking for great new reads, so feel free to share your favorites in the Comments section below.  Happy reading and Happy 2018! 
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