Happy New Year’s Eve, friends! We’re ready to ring out the old and welcome in a whole new year of reading and reviewing at The Novel Approach, so let’s say farewell to 2015 with our final “Best Ofs” from Sammy, Sadonna, and yours truly.
Of course, you can enter to win a few e-titles from our lists, and in case you missed them, there’s still time to enter the giveaways from the rest of the team: Carrie/Jennifer, Jules/Lana, Lynn/Karen/Maryann.
And now, here they are, Simply the Best…
- Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe
I could go on and on describing these amazing characters. I could speak of the lush and vivid prose that creates the setting for each life event discussed in the book. I could remark on how I have never experienced such a rush of emotions that included true worry that these two men would never admit their love for each other in time—even knowing they’ve already achieved their happy-ever-after. I could say again and again, read this story—it is a beautiful slice of history wrapped in a love that transcends all obstacles life chooses to throw in its path. But I will leave it at this…Other Side of the Line is a journey of love and endurance you will not want to miss. I highly recommend it to you.
- When I Grow Up by John Goode
John Goode has this uncanny ability to create stories that have that gloriously scary yet exhilarating feel of being on a runaway roller coaster. You love the ride but pray you survive the end of it. This latest Foster High installment nearly did me in. Every character you love, and some you hate, is in this story. They converge in a town that is still able to destroy a person with its inability to move forward, to see all the dark and nasty secrets that are covered in that sweet home town persona it gives off. Each character has their part to play in supporting Kyle during one of the toughest chapters in his life, and all of them will do whatever it takes to protect one of their own. The problem is that Kyle is nearly beaten by none other than himself. He has used up every get out of jail free card he has with Brad, and there really may be no way to salvage what he has come so very close to destroying on the path to growing up.
- King John by Edmond Manning
This was perhaps the most gut wrenching King novel to date. In previous books, we had been privy to Vin’s great moments of self-doubt and frantic worry that he was not going to do right by his Lost King—that he would be the thing to prevent a king from crossing over due to his fumbling, heavy handed acts that were meant to aid his king rather than hinder. This was the Vin we had grown used to—the one that we would shout at again and again to stop berating himself, stop worrying, stop running away from his own destiny. In this novel, author Edmond Manning has done the unthinkable—he has lulled us into this false sense of security. He’s come along side us and, with a nudge and a wink, assured us that Vin was just doing that “Vin stuff” he does and all would work out in the end. Till now. Till King John. Till an ending so shocking that I actually dropped my Kindle. No, say it is not so, Mr. Manning—say it is all just another elaborate clue that will lead to a happy-ever-after for our Vin–our Lost King who surely will get found.
- The Love of Wicked Men by Brandon Shire
I cannot pinpoint one thing that should make you read this book. I can only tell you that this novel is so compelling that I devoured it in record time, and may have whimpered at the end when I read that a second season may be planned. Season one of The Love of Wicked Men is undeniably one of the best novels I have ever read. I highly recommend it to you.
- Slaying Isidore’s Dragons by C. Kennedy
Awww me, there is so much to this novel I have barely given you the beginning of why it is such an outstanding read. This bold, sweeping saga is a compelling story of redemptive love and healing grace. The people who inhabit Cody Kennedy’s Slaying Isidore’s Dragonsare heartbreakingly real and heroic, and their story is so important. I highly recommend this novel to you. It is one that will impact your life in so many ways and remind you that we must all be dragon slayers.
Honorable Mention: A Way Back to Then by Robert Halliwell
- Knight of Ocean Avenue by Tara Lain
The resolution to this story is so very rewarding. I really enjoyed every single second of this book. All the secondary characters are really well written – even that PITA mother. I loved the rest of Billy’s family and Shaz’s “family” as well. This story is really about being true to yourself and finding what makes you happy then just going for it, even if you don’t think it maybe fits all your visions of what your life would be like. What a great lesson! I wish I had learned that lesson a lot sooner in life.
- Crossing Borders – Z.A. Maxfield
*Sigh* ZAM is truly a master of writing intimate family dramedy. As usual, her dialogue and the emotional IQ in this story is spot on. I so loved these characters and Crossing Borders sucked me in from the first page. Tristan and Michael, and their families and friends, feel like people you’ve known forever – and in a good way. If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend you do it right away.
- Cronin’s Key III – N.R. Walker
I have to say that I, for one, am sad to see this series end, and I’m hoping we at least get some little visits along the way with Alec and Cronin – and their friends – because they are a great couple and I will miss them. The way the author has woven history and mythology together throughout the series, along with creating such an interesting cast of characters in these vampires (with a couple of humans thrown in), it has been really fascinating. I still think these would make great movies, with Alex O’Loughlin playing Alec.
- Wild Fragile Vines by Vivien Dean
What a beautifully poignant story of a love that smolders for many years before it can burn brightly. Wild Fragile Vines is highly recommended as a wonderful example of a complete short story.
- The Last Thing He Needs by J.H. Knight
Tommy O’Shea’s life is crappy on his very best day. His mother died when he was young, and his father chose again, unwisely, and his stepmother is a drunk/junkie as well. He has shouldered the responsibility of his younger siblings, really, since was fifteen. At twenty-two, he just keeps trying to keep it all together. There are seven other O’Shea children – from Colleen, who is seventeen, down to twins Zoe and Max, who are still babies. In between are Mikey, Collin, Davey, and Carrie. Each of them is dealing with the family drama in their own way.
- The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles
From a macabre butterfly obsession to a demented Pied Piper to the very human enemy bent upon destroying our Mr. Caldwell, KJ Charles has mined the depths of imagination to come up with another outstanding novel to add to her body of work. One can only imagine there are more stories Robert Caldwell had to tell, but he saved the best of them for this collection, ensuring the novel’s place as one of the best I’ll read in 2015.
- Resistance by Amy Rae Durreson
The plot of this book is every bit as robust and gorgeous as that of Reawakening. There are moments of joy among the sorrow, and suspense amid Death that runs rampant through the streets of Tiallat and lays waste to those in its path. Durreson once again engages the reader’s imagination and uses her talent to illuminate every scene and paint a word picture that allows us to envision every detail of this novel’s setting. Resistance is a hero’s journey through trials by fire, a fire that burns strong and true and faithful, and cleanses and strengthens a god’s soul.
- Dangerous Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk
Both Henry and Vincent are fortunate to have people in their lives—Jo and Lizzy—who love and want the best for them, are the voices of reason, and who help to make up what many would call a bit of a misfit family.
And, where there’s love, it seems there’s always a way.
Dangerous Spirits is crackin’ good spec fic, fraught with emotion, tautly paced, packed with danger and chills, and—simple as this—it’s what we’ve come to expect from the author. This is an effortless read—unless you take into account the spikes in blood pressure—so light a candle, lay your salt lines, say your prayers, and dig into the fun.
- Blue on Black by Carole Cummings
Blue on Black is yet another outstanding novel by this author. I have had the pleasure of reading all her published work to date and can say without reservation that each of her books is an experience that may make you think a little harder, but the payoff in the end is always well worth the journey. When you’re in the mood for an Alt U, Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure trip into an (un)reality of (un)imaginably fantastic proportions, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Blue on Black.
- Devil’s Jawbone by BJ Sheppard
Author BJ Sheppard has tapped into the darker side of his imagination and pulled together a collection of horror stories that showcase the human monster which has the potential of lurking within all of us. Starting with “Legion,” this anthology takes on an eerie tone as the author begins to draw his circle. Imagery and allegory are painted in rich tones of the unknown in a poetic prose that does nothing but make the reader curious about what sort of place he’s leading us into. As it turns out, this author’s creativity is not only impressive, but he’s also just a bit disturbed in only the best possible way for those of us who love a good chill up our spines.
Honorable Mention: Fool’s Gold by Jess Faraday