Friday, December 29, 2017

The Top Twenty Books of 2017

Yes it's that time of year again when everyone lists the best of the best and The Reading Frenzy is no different. As usual its a melting pot of genres. Wow what a hard decision and not one done lightly. So without further ado I present 

The Reading Frenzy's Top Twenty Books of 2017

note- these are in alphabetical order not order of importance!

1. Class Lucinda Rosenfeld

Class was my first read by Rosenfeld and was one of those timely reads that really make you think and at times scratch your head.
The review is courtesy RT Book Reviews

2. Dark Winds Rising Mark Noce

Dark Winds Rising is book two in Mark's Queen Branwen series and I would recommend it for any lover of historical fiction and strong women protagonists.
you can also enjoy my interview with Mark and read my full review- HERE
And read my review of book one Between Two Fires on Goodreads - HERE

Marc Noce
Noce’s Dark Winds Rising is outstanding, a sequel to his amazing debut Between Two Fires and continues the story of Queen Branwen and King Artagan. It’s an unforgettable epic love story, a tale of wars and peace featuring the beautiful unblemished Wales landscape and the brutality of the time period. The combination of Christian and pagan practices, the characters reverence of the Arthurian legend plus the factual Welsh places and history mixed with the myths and fiction is unmatched and benefits both the entertainment and educational value of the read. But its definitely the I am Woman Hear Me Roar, courage and fortitude of this young yet wise beyond her twenty-one years, Queen Branwen that will steal reader’s hearts and make this bound for the keeper shelf. The novel is strong enough to stand on its own but should be read in order.

3. Devil’s Cut

Devil's Cut is JR Ward's third and final installment in her Bourbon Kings series. Now I love JR's Black Dagger Brotherhood and her spinoff paranormal series and wondered what I would think of her more mainstream fiction. Well in a nutshell I LOVED THEM. Books one and two also made my best of lists so it's no surprise that Devil's Cut is here too.
You can read my entire audio review HERE

Book #3 in The Bourbon Kings trilogy
JR Ward
The final installment of JR Ward’s The Bourbon Kings trilogy is akin to a mangled train wreck, it’s not pretty, it’s painful to experience but you have no choice but to watch it unfold. It’s a heady mix of Dallas and Dynasty and book three is all about solutions, closures and new beginnings of a family who easily puts the D in dysfunction.
The absolute mastery of her storytelling is clearly evident in this finale by the way she puts a solid conclusion to a story still so up in the air when it started. The eloquent narrative will take readers back to a more “gentile” time but with all the present day toys, vices and technology plus the constant play on words dialogue give the read a certain timely realism. Her characters run the gamut from over-the-top to salt of the earth, and each and every one is absolutely necessary to the telling of the tale.
Book three picks up right where book two left off so this is NOT a story you can skip around with, and is a trilogy I will definitely revisit.
This series/trilogy is a must read for all lovers of family dynamics, dysfunction and those who love a good mystery. And is a yet another impressive work from an author I love and respect.
One footnote; do not pass over the JR’s author’s note at the beginning of the book. It’s amazing.
I was fortunate enough to listen to each of the novels in the trilogy and whoever chose Alexander Cendese for the narrator outdid themselves.
His southern drawl-y baritone is unmatched and I could easily picture him reciting these novels with a cigar in one hand and a neat glass of Bradford reserve in the other. He dots every i and crosses every t and perfects, men, women, Kentucky drawl, NYC banker, drunk, sober, high-class or blue collar and does it with style. Even if you read these novels don’t ever pass the chance to experience the mesmerizing voice of this über-talented narrator.

4. Every Wild Heart Meg Donohue

Every Wild Heart was a pull on the heartstrings, a single mom and her teen daughter. It was a delight.
My review below is courtesy RT Book Reviews

5. Forever a Hero Linda Lael Miller

No one quite tops the Queen of Western romance in my book and Linda Lael Miller's Forever A Hero makes top marks and then there's nothing quite as good as a second chance romance.
The following review is courtesy RT Book Reviews

6. Holiday In The Hamptons Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan's From Manhattan With Love series have all got top marks this year but Holiday in The Hamptons had a second chance romance and the extra Je Ne Sais Quoi that made it an over the top read. But I'm also giving Moonlight Over Manhattan and New York Actually honorable mentions.
The following review is courtesy RT Book Reviews

7. Lie To Me

Lie to Me was a can't put it down twisting turning OMG page turning thriller where the reader was kept in the dark and guessing the whole read and a trademark kind of read by this bestselling author who I have been a fan of and a personal favorite of mine for years. Lie To Me was also a group read pick on my Expats Goodreads group which JT as always was kind enough to join in as she was traveling the country promoting the book. 
You can read the entire review HERE

Lie To Me:
Ellison’s latest stand-alone thriller is a non-stop who-done-it of epic proportions where the line between villain and victim is thin and at times nonexistent and lies are the ties that bind. With an edgy dialogue and a plot that’s full of surprises and will draw readers in and keep them guessing until the end she weaves her web of deceit, betrayal and death staring a duo of at times dueling husband and wife authors and a villain that’s an enigmatic real piece of work. Her duel timelines are the perfect way to tell the story and her dual settings of Tennessee and Paris add depth to this page turning chiller.  The nail-biting storyline and the OMG finish will have readers staying up late to finish this unforgettable, best seller bound, must read.

8. Red Sister

It was totally by accident and lucky for me that I found the dark fantasy of Mark Lawrence.  Red Sister is book one in his new Book of the Ancestor series. It was fantastic and had all the things I love about Mark's novels, dark prose, a violent world and fantastic storytelling. I can't wait to read Grey Sister that releases in April '18.
You can read the entire review and my exclusive interview with Mark HERE

Red Sister
Red Sister, book 1 in Lawrence’s new Book of the Ancestor trilogy is amazing and a testament to his masterfully unique storytelling voice. Using his characteristic dark prose he’s made sure to dot all his beautifully violent world building i’s and cross all his mystical magical t’s eloquently locking together all the intricate story pieces. His noir-ish lead character(s) and amazing co-stars drive this fast-paced action packed start to another of his epic tales giving new meaning to Holy War. Nona is not his first child protagonist and like his first is an unapologetic combination of innocence and maturity garnering not only empathy from his audience but a bit of terrible awe as he takes Nona and her friends from wet behind the ear novices to full-fledged, licensed to kill, warrior nuns.

9. Someone To Love Donna Alward

Donna's sweet Darling VT series revolves around the three Gallagher brothers and the town's legendary Kissing Bridge. But this read has something really special it was all heart, broken hearts, mended hearts and some pint sized costars that stole the show.
You can see our interview about this book HERE
The following review is courtesy RT Book Reviews

10. Sycamore Bryn Chancellor

There's just something special about an author's debut and this debut featured an 18 year old mystery with twists and turns that never stop. It was quite the Merry Go Round
The following review is courtesy RT Book Reviews

11. The Chosen

JR Ward gets two best books in 2017, her The Chosen is a book I've been anticipating ever since these two unlikely lovers first met and what a ride it was, this series still gives me heart palpitations.
You can read the entire review HERE

The Chosen by JR Ward
Audible edition narrated by Jim Frangione

#15 in NYT Bestseller Ward’s Bestselling series is full of surprises, action, scorching romance and OMG revelations. And it’s a story that she’s been simmering and I’ve been salivating for. It’s amazing how she has kept her novels fresh so many reads into the series but she does it with her iconic, in-your-face, unapologetic characters, her gritty, street-wise dialogue, the non-stop, fast-paced action and in the last few installments her side stories featuring a past couple. This is not a series you can start this late in the game like you could skip around a bit at the beginning because there’s just too much history you’d miss. But if you’ve been living under a rock and have never experienced this series and you’re a die-hard fan of paranormal/urban fantasy romance it will be well worth your while to pick this series up.
The audible edition is once again put in the oh so capable voice of Jim Frangione who rocks every voice, every emotion, every intonation, every sex, every scene and every species with an unmatched and unforgettable expertise that gives listening to the novel a real edge over just reading it.

12. The Christmas Cowboy Hero Donna Grant

Donna Grant hits a huge home run with this sexy sweet Lone Star series debut. Her staring couple a wounded hero and a heroine with backbone plus some rock star teenaged costars put this on the best list.
The following review is courtesy RT Book Reviews

13. The Crusader’s Vow by Claire Delacroix

Claire Delacroix aka Deborah Cooke is one of my all time favorite authors and I love everything she writes wether paranormal, urban fantasy or historic romance. Her Champions of St. Euphemia are page turners but not just because of the romance, she's got a serious history lesson going on in each of these reads, with Templar Knights and relics involved it can't go wrong.
You can read my entire review HERE

The Crusader’s Vow
Claire Delacroix

Claire Delacroix’s latest Templar tale, The Crusader’s Vow is like a panoramic walk back in time. Rich in historic fact and fiction her authentic landscapes, conversational dialogue and depiction of characters make the read honest. Her riveting storyline is a tale of two cultures and the indispensible conviction that love conquers all. Her characters major and minor are superb and her use of Scheherazade’s tales and the revelation at the end is compelling, but it’s definitely her stars, Leila and Fergus that are the real standouts in this novel. The book reads well as a stand-alone but reading in order will fill in all the necessary blanks.

14. The Cuban Affair

The Cuban Affair is Nelson Demille's latest just released in October and its a fantastic read. For fans who are yearning for John Corey this protagonist will make you forget all about him. From his irreverent star to his iconic tongue in cheek narrative to the breathtaking Cuban scenes this is a stay up all night to finish it novel and  got a starred review from me.
The following is an excerpt from my review courtesy LibraryJournal

“DeMille's latest is a timely stay-up-all-night, nail-biting page-turner featuring his iconic tongue-in-cheek, articulate, rhythmic narrative. His affably irreverent protagonist, fantastic believable supporting characters, and tense, realistic Cuba-set scenes including some jaw-dropping revelations make this a must-read for his many fans.”
Library Journal (starred review)

15. The Guests on South Battery

I'm a definite series lover and one of my favorite series is Karen White's Tradd Street series staring her ghost seeing heroine Melanie Trenholm. What I love most about this series is over the course of the reads I've watched Melanie soften, mature and open her heart to become a great nurturer. The Guests on South Battery is #5 in this fantastic series. I can't wait for book six.
The following review is courtesy RT Book Reviews.

16. The Library of Light and Shadow

MJ Rose is another longstanding favorite of mine and I'm lucky that I get to review her works for LibraryJournal. The Library of Light and Shadow is #3 in her Daughters of LaLune series and has it all from mystery to magic and of course a love story too taking place in the Art Deco post WWI era it was amazing.
The following is an excerpt from my review courtesy LibraryJournal

“The sophisticated and finely detailed narrative and exquisite storytelling draws readers into an esoteric post-World War I, art deco era. Yet it’s the compassionate and articulate narrator who brings this heartbreaking but hopeful story to life. Unforgettable.”
– Library Journal (starred review)

17. The Vanishing Season Joanna Schaffhausen

This debut blew me away it was terrifyingly brilliant, I couldn't put it down. When I read a thriller I want to be wrong the whole time I'm guessing, I want to be utterly surprised when the final act closes and the villain is revealed and Schaffhausen did that and more.
The following review is courtesy RT Book Reviews

18. Touch of Red Laura Griffin

Griffin is another of my go to authors and I know that everything she writes I will love to read and her Tracers series featuring the Delphi Crime Lab has everything that serious romantic suspense fans look for and even though I've enjoyed each and every tale they can be treated like stand a lones too.
You can find my entire review HERE

Touch of Red
Laura Griffin

Griffin’s latest is a pulse-pounding nail-biting thriller that features her iconic, state of the art Delphi Center crime lab. The stars, Brooke, an über brilliant, yet wary of men crime scene investigator and Sean, an alpha macho San Marcos TX homicide detective with a huge ego and big heart are a genuine and likeable couple, and their head butting is just as entertaining as their romance is smoking hot. The author’s amazing attention to detail illuminates real facts in an incredible piece of fiction cleverly weaving an intricate web of a chilling mystery but not revealing “who-done-it” until the very end. The novel will satisfy both fans of crime drama as well as fans of romantic suspense. Finally the highlighting of the real vulnerability of troubled kids and the degenerates who prey on them is disturbing and eye opening. Novel can be read as stand alone.

19. Until IT Fades K A Tucker

KA Tucker is another first time author for me in 2017 but I will be reading her again because she's one heck of a writer and Until it Fades is the perfect example of what a romance fan wants including one heck of a premise.
You can see our interview about the book right HERE
The Following review is courtesy of RT Book Reviews

20. Wryd Blood

Donna Augustine is another author that sort of fell into my life and I'm so thankful she did, she's frequently on the blog because when I find a good thing I like to share it. Wryd Blood is book one in a brand new Urban Fantasy series,  its a fantastic mix of UF and post apocalyptic that begins 900 years after the big bang (so to speak)
You can see Donna's character interview HERE 

Wyrd Blood Book 1
Donna Augustine
Augustine’s first in a new series is a melding of sorts of NA- Urban Fantasy and post apocalyptic fiction set in a world almost a thousand years after the demise of civilization. Her attention to detail in her inventive world building gives readers a clear visual of her fantastic people, places and things. Her main protagonists are a fabulous pair, there’s Bugs a mix of wisdom, innocence and common sense and Ryker an enigma whose quiet strength makes him the perfect leader. Her other players are all interesting and the storyline is action packed and engaging and will leave her audience salivating for book two. Well done!


  1. Wow! JR Ward scored 2, huh?! I keep getting her books, and confess that they've ended up in the TBR pile which I hope to get to sometime in 2018. You've given some other great choices too! Happy Friday! Hugs...RO

    1. Thank you RO for always making The Reading Frenzy a stopping point!

  2. Some great titles! I will have to go back and look at some of them!

  3. These are really good ones! I loved The Vanishing Season!!!

  4. Oh my goodness, yes, it was a great year for reading. Ward's Devil's Cut was one of my most anticipated ones. I loved both hers this past year, Red Sister, and Cowboy Christmas Hero. I really want to try that KA Tucker.

    1. OMG you will be blown away by Tucker Sophia Rose, it was an unexpected pleasure :) Happy New Year

  5. I love all your choices Debbie, I definitely need to add some of them to my TBR pile! I hope you have a wonderful New Year!

  6. SOme good ones there, and some ones I want to read

  7. What a great list! I've only read three from here and some I have heard of. Will you be doing an anticipated reads for 2018? I'd love to know what you're looking forward to for next year!

    1. Hi Odette, thanks for the kind words and no unfortunately I don't do an anticipated reads post mainly because so many of my fabulous finds are because they are contract reviews that I do for the two publications I review for. There are some auto buy authors like JR Ward, JT Ellison and Laura Griffin that I don't editorially review but most of those listed above have been happy accidental finds. Happy 2018 to you I'd love to see what you're looking forward to reading!

  8. I had read K. A. Tucker before and did like her but Until it Fades - oh my totally addictive, loved it. And as you know Devil's Cut was on my list too. I saw it in the paranormal shelf at the bookstore today, that really annoyed me!! Oh dear you are adding to my wish list of reading!

    1. Right Kathryn, Until it Fades was my first read by her but OMG is right. Yes I saw Devil's Cut on your list. Really on the Paranormal shelf do they know how to read at your bookstore LOL. And you're welcome from your friendly neighborhood book pusher LOL ;-)

  9. I haven't read most of those but they sound good.

  10. I've not read any of these, but I will have to try some of them. I did have several great books in 2017. I'm hoping for just as many in 2018.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    1. Here's to hoping that comes true Melanie! Happy New Year

  11. Hi Debbie, nice top 20! :) First time visiting, hope there are more and, hope I get to see you around as well.

    Happy New Year, dear!

    1. thanks for visiting and thanks for the kind words I hope to see you around too! Happy New Year

  12. A good mix of books, Deb! I still need to read that one from Grant.

    1. Thanks Anna and I know how much you love cowboys, I hope you love him as much as I did!