Thursday, January 14, 2021

Nadaness In Motion's Top Books of 2020



It's that time of the year again. 2020 has been a stressful year for many.

I was able to beat my original plan of 24 books to expand to 30 then to 36 and finally 40 books. 

I was hoping to read more and write more this year, but 2020 had other plans for me. My freelance writing career took a leap and my reading progress varied and slowed but still I finished over 36 books, with about 3 or 4 more open.

 

So here's my list of the best books I read in 2020, not arranged in any order whatsoever!

 

Trending Topic #Murder by Sarah E. Burr

It's one of those rare occasions where you find the sleuth working in field related to you.

That and I've been going over the idea of making the main character of my cozy mystery novel a social media guru. Then comes Sarah E. Burr and her fashion blogger Coco to serve me a 5-star read.

"Stacy Lockner was killed with an eighty-thousand-dollar teapot."

This is the first book in the Trending Topic series and I can't wait to see what Sarah will do in the coming books.

 

What We Bury by Carolyn Arnold

What We Bury by Carolyn Arnold is the 10th book in the Detective Madison Knight Mystery series and my first read in that series. I loved it.

It's fast-paced, exciting, and kind of like reading a CSI novel.

Madison is hell-bent on bringing a killer to justice. She vows "to protect and serve the city of Stiles meant something to her down to her marrow."

 

Amari and the Night- Brothers by B.B. Alston

I read Amari and the Night Brothers in December but boy did I fall in love with it!

The main character is a black girl, something you don't see often. She's smart, she's flawed, she's funny, she's beautiful; she's amazing.

The author literally throws a ton of trouble in her way but she acts as herself and she flourishes.

"What if I told you that living among us are all the things we've come to pass off as myth? Dwarves and sphinxes, mermaids and oddities you could see with your own eyes and still not believe – these and countless more dwell in our towns and walk our streets. One might be your neighbour or even your favourite teacher."

Amari and the Night Brothers is by all means a 10-star read.

 

The Body Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann

This is book is just WOW. And I'm not saying that because I wrote the foreword. But because it is.

I read another book in this series The Writer's Lexicon in 2018 and loved it.

Here's a quick quote from The Writer's Lexicon:

“A groaning heart paints a different picture than a cartwheeling one. In each case, a single word tells how the protagonist is feeling.” (From examples on replacing “pounding”)

The Body Lexicon offers synonyms, word variations, ideas, writing prompts, colors, and everything you can thing of related to each part of the body.

Currently writing my book review of The Body Lexicon so stay tuned and keep checking my book reviews page.

 

The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips

This middle grade story is literally about three mean characters. And it's surprisingly awesome, hilarious, and a must-read.

"For the first time in his life, Ebenezer was sad that he didn't have a family of his own. It would have saved so much time and energy if he could have just fed one of his children to the beast."

It also includes several fun illustrations, in case you're not visualizing enough.

An absolute 5-star read.

 

The Case of the Broken Doll by Alison Golden

I started the Detective Graham Mystery series one night when I was overwhelmed. Little did I know that I'd fly through three books!

Plus author Alison Golden was doing a one-free-book-a-week to help people stay busy during the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Case of the Broken Doll was my third read in the series and I couldn't put it down. Unlike the rest, this was more of a cold case from Detective Graham but it was just WOW.

"People don't just vanish into thin air, Marcus. I know the world is a strange and mysterious place, but I'm still a big fan of cause-and-effect when it comes to explaining what people do and why."

Amazing writing, plot, mystery; amazing everything!

A 10-star read.

 

How My Blog Got 1 Million Visits in 7 Months by Patric Morgan

I don't remember where or how I downloaded this short e-book but it was definitely a book I wish I'd read two years ago, when I first started my freelance writing and blogging career.

I've gathered much info in that time but still enjoyed reading How My Blog Got 1 Million Visits in 7 Months. It offers lots of actionable tips and ideas plus Stewart gives examples from his own writing and blog.

I believe it's available for free via the writer's website.

Note: This is a non-fiction read.


Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold

I'd almost forgotten I'd read this book in 2020. It's been a long year I thought I read it sometime in 2019 but great that it was last year so I can include on this list.

Past Deeds by Carolyn Arnold is a mystery thriller but from the Brandon Fisher series.

Like the Madison Knight book, it's fast paced and both books share a mystery or punned-book-title.

"Humans were much like wild animals, feeding of the carcass of misfortune, sucking it bone dry for their own advantages, whatever those may be."

The Brandon Fisher books are a lot like the TV series Criminal Minds and less about the forensic details in CSI and Madison Knight.

That said, this is a must-read. If I had to pick between Brandon Fisher and Madison Knight, I'd go for Brandon Fisher.

 

Death at the Café by Alison Golden

Another Alison Golden read and another series I started in 2020 was the Reverend Annabelle Dixon Mystery Series.

Death at the Café is the first book in the series, introducing Reverend Annabelle, whose curiosity turns her into a sleuth.

"Where are we going?"

"Baker Street."

"Home of Sherlock Holmes," Mary added, joviality returning to her voice.

"Perhaps he can help us with this confounding turn of events!"

Another 5-star read.

 

On Borrowed Crime by Kate Young

Kate Young is a new author for me. I was expecting a cozy mystery but I got a cozy bordering on thriller and I love every second of it!

When the sleuths are bookworms from a book club, count me in.

Young kept me guessing the whole time and when I finished I was breathless!

"Digging into these types of cases shines a great big spotlight on the one holding the shovel. Those responsible won't like it."

Young has a lot to live up to when she writes other books in this series and I look forward to reading them.

 


It seems I've read way too many mysteries in 2020. But who can blame me when there are so many amazing authors out there and of course blog tours and ARC copies? :D

But I've been enjoying reading mysteries and thrillers lately. I've also been postponing working on my first cozy mystery novel. I have a completed first draft but lots of work that needs to be done.

 

As for what I'm planning to read in 2021, I've compiled a list. It's by no means comprehensive and I still have some leftovers from my 2020 list but new year means new books to read.

What were your favorite books from 2020?

Let me know in the comments below.

 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Crime Scene Connection by Deena Alexander - Book Review & Blog Tour

 

Book: Crime Scene Connection

Author: Deena Alexander

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Christian Literature, Romantic Suspense

Number of pages: 224

Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense

Publication Date: 12 January 2021

ISBN-10: 1335404996

ISBN-13: 978-1335404992



Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAYS – yes 2 Giveaways – at the end of this blog post.

 

Synopsis:

Her writing was fiction,

until a killer made the danger very real…

A serial killer’s imitating crime scenes from Addison Keller’s bestselling novel, determined to make her the final victim. But with former police officer Jace Montana and his dog at her side, Addison might just be able to unmask the murderer. With time running out as the killer closes in, she must confront her past and unravel long-buried secrets…and hope they can all escape with their lives.

 

Book Review by Nadaness In Motion

 

Crime Scene Connection by Deena Alexander is a mystery and thriller novel with bits of romance and what I expect is a bit of Christian literature.

I loved how the book opens directly with fast-paced action. No introduction. Addison Keller is in her room struggling with the fact that not only has a killer mimicked the crime scene in her new best-selling novel, but also sent her before and after pictures of the victim.

"The same long dark hair as the rest of the victims Addison had conjured up. Guilt hammered her. If she hadn't written that book, the killer might never have chosen these victims."

Then she hears footsteps and has to make a run for it. That's when the pace spirals and we dive deeper into the action. It's also short after that we meet the second main character, Jace.

A former cop, who had to leave the force because of Addison's corrupt-cop-ex-husband, Jace is all about protection. He's forced to help Addison but as the story progresses, he begins to admire her and see the other side of her. The side that says she didn't know her husband was corrupt or "a monster."




Crime Scene Connection is narrated from the third person perspective of the two main characters: Addison and Jace. That said, we don't get a repetition of events, as I've seen in books that offer two viewpoints. Instead, the dual points of view add to the suspense and allow the author to jump between scenes and emotions.

The main characters in Crime Scene Connection are flawed. And Deena Alexander points that out in the end. Flaws make characters stronger and better. Surprisingly, Addison's flaw is selflessness!

You'd think selflessness is a virtue. But with Addison, it isn't. In fact, there were many instances where I felt her selflessness was over-the-top. It wasn't believable and it annoyed the hell out of me.

"Don't you get it? I can't be responsible for another murder. I can't stand the thought of another woman dying because I chose her, because I brought her to the attention of some serial killer."

Addison's character reminded me of Madison Knight from the Madison Knight Mystery Series by Carolyn Arnold.

There is also the multiple references to statements from the Bible, which made me think Crime Scene Connection falls under Christian literature. The reason is the Christian bit was evident in the book compared to other mysteries I've read. And it put me off a bit. Mainly because I wasn't expecting it.

Also part of the characters belief made it appear as if they were too conservative or over-the-top. That's how I felt about it. Like the scene where Addison was three and her mother lied. (You'll have to read it to find out).

I don't have a problem with religion being part of the equation. I've read the Reverend Annabelle Dixon Series by Alison Golden and the Christian bit didn't bother me, even though the main character was a reverend.

In terms of pace, Crime Scene Connection is super-fast-paced and enjoyable. That said, the pace means the book takes place in 2 to 3 days, which hurts the believability of the novel. For almost 3 days, almost none of the main characters gets any sleep. These are my thoughts.



crime-scene-connection-by-Deena-Alexander
My review copy and a nice cup of Earl Grey tea

As for the mystery, it's a powerful and gripping one. From the first chapter, Addison is being targeted by a killer and she doesn't know why. In addition, she has childhood memories that she keeps pushing inwards into her mind.

Add to that, her ex-husband Brandon wants to make her life miserable. Or she's overdoing it in believing anything she does, he'll turn into hell for her.

So, Addison is literally running from everyone and everything in her life. That said, there's strength to her character and a willingness to sacrifice herself so that others don't get hurt.

In addition to the killer getting inspiration from her book, the book itself is part of a series and the first part ends without catching the killer, while the second book hasn't been released. Addison has to try writing more to see if she can uncover the killer's motives in Crime Scene Connection in order to get back to her life.

"Yeah, well there's another problem."

"What's that?"

"It didn't happen until book two."

"I thought you said book two hasn't come out yet."

She held his gaze. "It hasn't."

In the course of Crime Scene Connection, Jace questions the logic of a mystery novel where the killer isn't found. Addison gives a why-not argument, although I'd have to agree with Jace on that one.

There's some romance in Crime Scene Connection. But for me it wasn't believable because of the two-day timeline of the book. It's true Addison and Jace are placed in a terrible situation and have to give comfort to one another. But I felt that falling in love in the span of two days was too much. If it had at least taken a week, I'd have been able to swallow it just a bit.

I also felt that Jace's character developed more than Addison. Addison is a complex character. She gives off strength and weakness at the same time.

Overall, I think Crime Scene Connection is an interesting thriller. I'd been expecting a mystery but the pace combined with the action and mystery turned into an entirely different experience. A good one too.

Overall rating: 4 stars.

Note: I got a free copy of Crime Scene Connection by Deena Alexander as part of a blog tour via Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

 

About the Author:

Deena Alexander
Deena grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, where she met and married her high school sweetheart. She recently relocated to Florida with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs.

Now she enjoys long walks in nature all year long, despite the occasional alligator or snake she sometimes encounters. Deena's love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn't sleep through the night, and she now works full time as a writer and a freelance editor.

Connect with Deena Alexander via her Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Bookbub.

Purchase Links –

Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo  - Harlequin  - Books-a-Million  - Target

Indiebound - Walmart  - Apple Books  - Google Play

 

GIVEAWAY Time

First, there's an exclusive Giveaway via Nadaness In Motion

Use the Rafflecopter widget or link below to enter.

What do you get? A $10 Amazon gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Second, there's a tour-wide giveaway via Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for a $25 Amazon gift card. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Keep up with the rest of the blog tour for Crime Scene Connection by Deena Alexander, including more book reviews, spotlights, guest posts.


Friday, January 8, 2021

A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann - Spotlight

 Today, I'm featuring a spotlight for A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann.

This is post is part of a blog tour with TheWriteReads.

Happy reading!

 



Book: A Sparrow Alone

Author: Mim Eichmann

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Living Springs Publishers

Publication Date: 15 April 2020

Number of Pages: 312 pages


Synopsis:

1890's Colorado. Desperate following her mother's sudden death, thirteen-year-old Hannah Owens apprentices as domestic help with a wealthy doctor's family in Colorado Springs.

When the doctor declares bankruptcy and abandons his family to finance his mistress Pearl DeVere's brothel, however, Hannah is thrown into a vortex of gold mining bonanzas and busts, rampant prostitution, and the economic, political and cultural upheavals of the era.

Two of Cripple Creek's most colorful historic characters, Winfield Scott Stratton, eccentric owner of the richest gold mine in Cripple Creek, and Pearl DeVere, the beautiful madam of The Old Homestead, come to life as this old-fashioned, coming-of-age saga unfolds, the first of two historical fiction novels by debut author Mim Eichmann -- a tribute to the women who set the stage for women's rights.


Sparrow Alone has a current average rating of 4.4 stars on Goodreads (4.8 on Amazon) and has already been reviewed by some bloggers in the TheWriteReads gang. Check out @GinaRaeMitchell’s 5-star review on Goodreads.

 

About the Author:

Mim Eichmann has found that her creative journey has taken her down many exciting, interwoven pathways.  For well over two decades she was known primarily in the Chicago area as the artistic director and choreographer of Midwest Ballet Theatre and director of its home, Midwest Ballet Academy, bringing full-length professional ballet performances to thousands of dance lovers every year and was the recipient of many arts’ programming grants.  

 

A desire to become involved again in the folk music world brought about the creation of her acoustic quartet Trillium, now in its 15th year, a folk band well known for its eclectic repertoire performing throughout the Midwest that has also released four cds.  She’s also written the lyrics and music for two award-winning original children’s cds, “Why Do Ducks Have Webby Toes?” and “Wander Down Beyond the Rainbow” and occasionally schedules concerts of her children’s music and movement programs.

 

Always captivated by the writings, diaries and journals of late 19th century women, as well as that era’s economic, social and political upheavals, Ms. Eichmann has now put pen to paper and the historical fiction novel she has been passionately researching, its rich synopsis gradually evolving over many years, has finally become a reality.  We hope you’ll enjoy A Sparrow Alone and its sequel Muskrat Ramble.


Monday, January 4, 2021

Nadaness In Motion's 2021 TBR List – Lots to Read!



Where do I begin with a new reading list?

I've held back from buying books for almost 2 years but started buying again between October and December 2020.

I'm planning – and I stress "planning" – to read more print books so that when people visit my library I don't have to say "I haven't read this or this or this!"

That said, I love to explore new books, series, and of course meet new authors. So book blogging will remain a part of me.

I have been gradually overcoming my fear of reading self-help books and will continue to do that in 2021 and years to come.

For the 2021 TBR list, there will be some Arabic books in there as well and of course whatever my book club decides on will be shown directly on Goodreads.

I had a 2020 TBR list post as well, and I read some of the books on it but naturally I got sidetracked – I mean what bookworm doesn’t?! :D

First, there are the books I haven't read from 2020 (Oops!). I'm halfway through several books to including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, plus a few books from the 2020 list are going to be pushed to this year.

Overall, I'd LIKE to read 30 books this year and increase them as I go.

 

So, let's get on to the reading list. I'm dividing it into Non-Fiction, Fiction, and Poetry books.

Would love to hear about books on my list you've read or are planning to read.

(Note: I'll be updating this post with links to the book reviews written)

 

First: Non-Fiction Books

Mark Manson Book 2 :D

The last book I finished reading in 2020 was The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. I'd already bought book 2 by Manson which is – brace for it – Everything Is F*cked! (Oops!)

I'm not going to start the year with it but I definitely plan to read it in 2021 – and probably be done with Manson once and for all.

Currently working on my book review of The Subtle Art.

 

Al Khoroog 'An El Nas by Dr. Mohamed Taha (Loosely translated to Leaving the Mold)

(الخروج عن النص)

This book is a short psychology book, written in colloquial Egyptian Arabic. I'd heard good things about it.

Its author Dr. Mohamed Taha is a psychiatrist and this book has short chapters so I'm looking forward to it. I even bought a second copy and gifted it to a friend.

 

The One-Page Marketing Plan by Alan Dib

I already started this in late 2020 but I'm only 10% done so it's definitely a book I want to finish and learn from this year.

As you can see, the book title is super attractive. Especially if you're a marketer and copywriter like me.

 

El Maskoot 3anno fi El Tareekh by Wassim El-Sisi (المسكوت عنه في التاريخ)

(Loosely translated to: Secrets in History)

This book is about stories and historical bits in Egyptian history that no one speaks about. Plus the cover is quite catchy!



 

El Tagreba El Fekreya Le Roh Ommo by Kirollos Bahgat (Humorous title, can't think of a translation!)

Like Manson's books, this one has an equally catchy title but without the F words. My copy is edition no. 60!

Having finished around 75 pages, this book offers more content and ideas in the realm of psychology. The writing is in Colloquial Egyptian Arabic.

 

Eyes of Wisdom by Dina ElMessiri

I picked up this book, by chance, at the Cairo Book Fair 2019 but only just remembered it. It's a quick-read with motivational messages and experiences.

The author Dina ElMessiri is a personal development coach and NLP practitioner.



 

Second: Fiction/Novels/Collections

Mysteries in Ancient Egypt (by Various)

(غموض في مصر القديمة)

You know the "don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover" saying? Well, I ignored it and bought this collection of mysterious, potentially horrifying, short stories based on the cover and title.

It's an Arabic collection and I don't know any of the authors. So fingers crossed!

ancient-egypt-books
Mysteries in Ancient Egypt (left) and The Tour Guide (right)


Morshed Syahi by Reem Bassiouny (Title translation: The Tour Guide)

I picked up this book when I went to a book signing for Dr. Reem Bassiouny. I also sign my copy of the Mamluk Trilogy (ثلاثية المماليك) which I was told was undergoing translation into English.

The Tour Guide is a much shorter story and I won't deny the backstory and the size caught my eye since The Mamluk Trilogy is over 700 pages long! 


Crime Scene Connection by Deena Alexander

I'm reading this for a blog tour I signed up for with Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours.

It's a mystery but not a cozy I think. I'm due to read and write my review AND publish it by 5 January! Oops!

 

Saleeb Moussa (Moussa's Cross)

This is a police-thriller novel that I've seen being recommended in many Facebook groups for bookworms.

I got it and my mum started it first and says she's enjoying it. She says it's like a Dan Brown novel. So I'm excited to start it myself.

 

Lumina and the Goblin King by Cari Lyn Jones

This is a fantasy novel with fairies and goblins and magic. I got this as a review request at the end of 2020 and I'm looking forward to reading it. I'll probably start it in February or March.

 

The Little Grave by Carolyn Arnold

I got an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) of Carolyn Arnold's newest thriller The Little Grave. I'll be reading this in January so stay tuned!

Here's a small part of the synopsis:

It’s been five years since Detective Amanda Steele’s life was derailed in the path of an oncoming drunk driver. The small community of Dumfries, Virginia, may have moved on from the tragic deaths of her husband and daughter, but Amanda cannot. When the driver who killed her family is found murdered in a motel room, she can’t keep away from the case.

As Amanda edges toward the truth, she gets closer to a secret as personal as it is deadly. 

 

To the Moon and Back by Jean Nicole Rivers

This is a horror novel from the author Black Water Tales: The Unwanted, which has garnered over 25,000 views on my blog, making it the most-viewed post on Nadaness In Motion EVER!

 

The Hecatomb by J Edward Neill

If you're on Twitter, then you should be following J Edward Neill and enjoying his dark-themed artwork. He's also an author and I plan to read his short story collection The Hecatomb in 2021. If you haven't guessed, it's a horror collection.

 

Inside the Whispers by A.J. Waines

In 2020, I read Waines' No Longer Safe. In 2021, I plan to read book 1 in her Samantha Willerby psychological thriller series Inside the Whispers.

 

Third: Poetry

While I love reading poetry, I leave that to poets and authors sending me their work. I do have a few poetry collections that I'd like to read in 2021. But aside from those, I leave it to chance J

That's in addition to Actualizing Devotion by Hamza Matar and Stanley Park by Sapphira Olsen, both of which I got as review requests in 2020 but didn't get a chance to read.

 

My latest book haul - Arabic books for me and mum

Fourth: Anything That Comes Along the Way

There are lots of books I want to read – a bookworm's dilemma. But armed with this list, I can focus on reducing the number of print books and e-books on my to-read list.

As I mentioned, there are still some leftover books from 2020. I already have about 3 or 4 open that I'd like to finish.

I also expect more review requests and ARCs to come in. Plus, I'm part of a book club so more books on that front.

And you never know what you might just pick up here or there.

 

Have you read any of the books listed here? Or are you planning to read any of them?

I'd love to hear what you think and what you're planning to read.

If you've created a similar list and published it on your blog, feel free to share the link in the comments below.