Friday, December 21, 2018

Nadaness In Motion's Top Books of 2018

Every year I make a list of the "best of the best" books I've read. I'm glad I made my wished-for book count in 2018, where I've come across some beautiful and inspiring books.

There were several more books I had hoped to finish – and see if they would make it to this list – but starting October time was not on my side, followed by no reading in November for NaNoWriMo, which I won by the way, then December is just rolling by and I've also been unable to pick up where I left off.

The books in this list are not put in any order whatsoever. Most are indie books but some are with traditional publishers. Making it to this list does NOT mean that the other books weren't great but as I said this is the "best of the best". For all other reviews, check out the full Book Reviews page.

This year's list has poetry, short stories, and novels spanning horror to children's books, mysteries to becoming-of-age books. Just to name a few.

So, what were the best books I've read in 2018?

Here they come!

Breathe. Breathe. by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

A collection of dark, fantastical and realistic, beautifully-written, highly visual poems and short stories, where several pieces that reminded me of literature, such as "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Great Expectation". Al-Mehairi later told me personally and in an interview that my connections were spot on.

Two main themes recur throughout Breathe. Breathe., namely abuse and violence against women, which I believe Al-Mehairi brings some of from past pains in her life, and the idea of breathing; the need to breathe and let go.

"Night Stalked", "The Heirloom", and "Clock of Doom" were among the 10-star poems in the collection. Here's an excerpt from the poem:


There's no escape
From the claustrophobia
of monotonous chirps,
as the hands move without
empathy or pardon for the soul."

The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer
is a short story collection spanning realism to paranormal, including sad-and-heartbreaking family and romance to creepy tales that will have you hiding under your bed!
There is a tonne of creativity in this collection and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“They were a little nosy like you officer,” a voice said. “I can’t have people coming and disturbing the dead.”

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Diva by Gemma Halliday and Kelly Rey

A highly humourous, fast-paced, exciting, and enjoyable cozy mystery. Loved every bit of it and couldn't put it down.

"Do you think we should knock on that door?"
"I think we should leave and never come back," Irene said. "Rebecca Lowery probably jumped out of her casket and ran off by herself when she got a look at this place."

The book has all the aspects Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is popular for – but differently. Holmes "hardly a celebrity. Especially considering he didn't actually exist". The address for the now popular but elusive detective is in Baker Street, while Irene Adler is the narrator's best friend and main accomplice in creating the detective façade.

The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh by Carolyn Arnold
"The fate of the world could be at stake."
"Not to make too dramatic a statement, but yes, it could be."

Archaeologist and adventurer Matthew Connor receives a phone call from friend and former lover, Alex, to join her on what could be the discovery of a lifetime in Egypt. Alex claims to have uncovered a pharaoh's tomb AND the famed mythical Emerald Tablets, which may have the secrets of the universe. Anyone who acquires the tablets would have major wealth and power but if they fall into the wrong hands, well the world as we know it would be in great peril.

The lost pharaoh is believed to be son of Khufu, and I must applaud Arnold for the massive research she has done and put into the novel, making it realistic and plausible. There are a lot of historical tidbits in the book, which prompted me to do my own research after I finished reading.

The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett

“We are all of us running, Tom, from poverty and disappointment, perhaps, some of us from cruel expectations. It takes courage to see ourselves truly, to take pleasure in our modest achievements. I’m not sure I have that courage. Or that I will ever now find it. Pray God, I am wrong. That like Elffin, I will one day find wealth where I least expect it.”

The book is an emotional story about family, hardship, a journey to something better, and how fairy tales can bring people together. Bridie, the protagonist, is a kind-hearted 15-year-old who is on the cusp of growing up. She wants to live in the world of fairy tales, while her mother and step-father seek to drag her to the real one. A Welsh couple on board the ship sailing to Australia help her realise that she can have both fairy tales and the real world.

There were so many beautiful quotes in this book. Lots of wisdom and the characters all develop on their journey to a new land with promised opportunities.

“Fairy tales are nonsense.”
“We all need stories, Mr. Bustle. They help us understand our lives.”

The Tides Between also inspired my poem The Stone.

Academia of the Beast by K. N. Lee
A fast-paced fairytale retelling of the Beauty and the Beast with a dark twist and lots of beautifully-flawed characters, Academia of the Beast is a must-read on all levels.

"She saw within him a soul just as lost as she was. When he held her hand, she was at peace."

Allyn is a witch, a breed that's being hunted down, who meets the princes of Elastria at a party. One of the princes is Conall, whom Allyn had met previously. A brief encounter rekindles their love but there are darker forces at bay.

"We found her."
Conall froze. "What?"
"You heard right…. Not just any witch. We found the one that Lennox told your father about. She sounds incredible. None of the others were able to do the things she did that night in the woods. And no one escapes Lennox."
"Whatever you do, don't let Lennox find out."

The Writer's Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann

This book is an encyclopedia of writing tips and help. To say that it is a wealth of information is understatement. It's a five-star must-read for newbie and seasoned writers alike.

“Although you’ll encounter a few “rules” in this book, writing is not rules. It is a fusion of emotions, senses, and conflict. Whatever engages your readers should be the rule.”

"Clear the throat. Irritating in real life. Ditto in fiction."

Madam Tulip by David Ahern
In the first instalment in a fast-paced, exciting, Ireland-set paranormal mystery series, we meet unemployed actress Derry O'Donnell with a possible ability to see into the future through tarot readings. She poses as fortune teller Madam Tulip at a celebrity charity event where she encounters a dead body.

"Derry O'Donnell was fully qualified for unemployment in three different dialects."

The book is full of lots of laugh-out-loud situations, sleuthing, and excellent imagery and similes. Five stars to this ride. Plus, Ahern creates Madam Tulip from his previous work in the art and acting industry, giving depth and experience to the novel and characters, and how they act and react.

"Next to Marlene, Derry felt like a hobbit - a hobbit overweight and round even by the famously relaxed standards of hobbits."

BackStabbers by Julie K. Mulhern

Ellison Russell has a knack for finding dead bodies and by that I mean if there was ever a Guinness World Record for the number of dead bodies found, Ellison Russell would break the record several times over.

"Of the three partners at Bisby, Marshall, & Wallace, one was hospitalised, one was murdered, and one was a murder suspect."

There were a lot of angles to the mystery, allowing Mulhern to keep the reader off-track most of the time. There's also a lot of "show-don't-tell". Used expertly throughout the book.

"You have that sound in your voice."
"What sound?"
"The I've-found-another-body sound."

Ronaldo, the Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester

A fast-paced, enjoyable, and humourous children's novella that parents will love reading to their children over and over.

"Don't just think it. IMAGINE! See it, feel it, believe it. You can do anything, if you truly believe in yourself."

Every page and chapter in Ronaldo, the Reindeer Flying Academy features a black and white picture of one or more of the characters, helping readers, especially children, visualise the story.

Silent Lips, Speaking Hearts by Tarek Refaat
This Arabic collection of short tales of women is both inspiring and highlights many social problems. Some of the stories are funny and some are serious; but all are nicely-handled.
The review is still in Arabic but I still plan to translate it to English and update the link here later.

Hardened Hearts anthology

Last but certainly not least is the Hardened Hearts anthology published by Unnerving and featuring 17 short stories of heartache, heart-breaks, and as the title suggests, hearts that have turned to stone or worse. While the book, for me, opened with a not-so-impressive tale, the rest just blew me away, wrenching my heart deep within.  

Some of the stories in this collection will move you deeply, others will keep you guessing, and some will have you putting your hand on your heart as you try to separate fiction from reality.

The anthology features authors like Calvin Demmer (yes, you've met him in The Sea Was a Fair Master above), Theresa Braun (interviewed by Nadaness In Motion), Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi (also above and interviewed on this blog), Somer Canon, Tom Deady, and many more amazing authors and wordsmiths.

Full book review of the Hardened Hearts anthology. 

And here's the full list in an a stunning image by my friend and designer Sara Ahmed <3 o:p="">

Monday, December 17, 2018

Release Blast for A Me and You Thing by Taylor Dean

A Me and You Thing by Taylor Dean


Golden couple, Sawyer and Quinn Denali, have an amazing love story. A match in every way, their happiness is evident to all who spend time with them. The arrival of twin baby girls completes their picture-perfect family.

When Quinn has the opportunity to help others on a two-week volunteer trip, she reluctantly leaves her family, knowing a short break from the demands of motherhood will be good for her.

She doesn’t expect the trip to change her life forever. But it does. It changes everything.

Struggling from day to day, the young family moves forward, finding happiness . . . and love.

But fate isn’t done mixing things up in their lives. When an unexpected event leaves them all reeling, the unspoken question rings loudly and can’t be ignored: “What happens now?”

A Me and You Thing is a novel that explores the strength of enduring love and friendship.

Praise for A Me and You Thing

Wow! This heart-tugging romance blew me away. It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride of epic proportions…so prepare yourself. My heart soared up into the heavens, then was dragged into the bitter misery of hell, like being dragged behind a pickup truck for a mile or so. Ouch! But I got my happy (actually, glorious!) ending, so I loved it. The ending was so much more fulfilling because of what my heart went through to get there with the characters. This story is unique and refreshing—not your run-of-the-mill predictable romance that doesn’t stick with you when you finish. No! This one is made of super glue, and will be stuck in your heart forevermore. ~Author Charissa Stastny

Here's my recommendation. Don't read the summary. Don't read any more reviews. Order this book now! Clear your calendar and plan to spend the day reading. You'll be thanking me if you do. ~Kathy Habel

Author Taylor Dean

Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of clean romance in her line-up.

Cover Reveal Giveaway Details

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/28/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Takhayyal writing prompt 92: End & Start of Year Magic

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's bi-weekly picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal.

The holidays are almost here and I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I hope you'll find some time to write a piece, no matter how short.

I hope you like the December 2018 writing prompt, which for me seems to mix magic with Christmas. 

Update: This will also be the January 2019 prompt since it would be great to have a bit of magic to start the new year with ;)

So, is this father Christmas? A wizard in red robes? What is he up to?

Your words, your story (or poem)... you decide!

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!


Sunday, December 2, 2018

On the Count of Three by Carolyn Arnold - Book Review

Book: On the Count of Three
Author: Carolyn Arnold
Publication Date: 10 December 2018
Publisher: Hibbert and Stiles

"Our unsub has never been about hiding the identity of his victims. He's always left their teeth intact and never mutilated their faces, making identification easy."

On the Count of Three by Carolyn Arnold is the seventh instalment in the Brandon Fisher series. This is my first read in the series and I didn't feel lost in any way with it being the seventh.

I loved that the book opens with a flashback from the killer, initiating suspense from the first page. The "unsub" appears to seek out recently-released people who were found guilty in drunk-driving accidents.

Miami police department (PD) officer Kelly Marsh investigates a murder and thinks there is a serial killer on the loose. So, she calls former mentor Jack Harper and his FBI team to assist her with the investigation.

A lot of emotions are flying as Kelly struggles with her boss, who doesn't do much but get the spotlight, while Brandon Fisher, a member of Harper's team, feels that there is some kind of history between Kelly and Jack. Throughout the novel, we see Brandon being jealous of Kelly, creating some occasional humour and suspense.

"Not only had they been happy to see each other but every word that came from [Kelly's] lips seemed to make Jack proud. And in contrast, everything I said was frowned upon. Literally."

On the Count of Three reminded me of the show Criminal Minds, and later one of the characters voices my thoughts. I felt that several of the characters were similar to those from Criminal Minds; Zach is a lot like Spencer Reed, and their lead Jack Harper is a bit like Aaron Hotchner.

Also like the series, there were some bits that felt like the quotes they used at the beginning and ending of each episode. Still, the book is different in its own way.

"The BAU?" Her brows rose in perfectly shaped arches. "Like from that TV show Criminal Minds?"

Each character has their pros and cons; I liked the medical examiner with her black humour, and Kelly, a woman hell-bent on bringing justice to those who deserve it and one who views the perpetrators who were murdered by the killer as victims.

My Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC)

One of the things I really liked about On the Count of Three is the use of actual policing and procedures. Arnold provides detailed information about body decomposition and lividity in a way that is both educational and exciting.

There is also lots of conversation throughout the book to keep the pace quick and the reader's mind working.

"Hope was a double-edged sword. It could empower and destroy. In some ways, hope was worse than closure. Especially, when bad news came on the tail end of sparked optimism."

I felt that On the Count of Three had too many perspectives. Nearly all were in the third person, with the exception of Brandon's, which was in the first person. In most cases it was easy to pick up whose perspective the reader was seeing the events from.

The sections where the killer was the speaker were interesting, showing how they felt, spoke, acted and reacted, and so on.

"I would kill to sleep in."
She had no idea how exhausting kidnapping and killing were. How both deserved a nice, long snooze afterward.

Although the book is one of the Brandon Fisher series, Brandon is not the only main character. We see perspectives from various characters including Zach and Kelly. I felt that Brandon wasn't the know-it-all who had all the answers. Again, since this is my first read in the series, I don't know if this is the case with the other books – but it is something I thought worth mentioning.

Overall, On the Count of Three is quick-paced and exciting. The reader is easily immersed in the investigation as the FBI and Miami PD detective seek to uncover clues and pinpoint bits and analyse what is going on to catch the serial killer.

"Charm and charisma were two of the best weapons in any murderer's arsenal. Sweet, yet sticky like honey."

The language is easy and I picked up some new investigative and medical-examiner terminology. I enjoyed Arnold's word choice throughout On the Count of Three, including the quotable bits at the beginning of some chapters. But particularly how the book ends not only by catching the killer but through word choice.

"Chaos and aftermath didn't have to be viewed as horrible. Light came from darkness."

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Check out this post by Carolyn Arnold on Five Steps to Profiling a Serial Killer.
Note: I received an advanced reader's copy (ARC) of On the Count of Three from the publisher Hibbert & Stiles in exchange for an honest review.


The following book in this series is Past Deeds, which I got as an ARC in 2020 and gave a 5-star review.

Update: I've finally picked up one of the police procedural books in the Detective Madison Knight Mystery series. I started with book 10 What We Bury and I loved it!

More book reviews for books by Carolyn Arnold on Nadaness In Motion: 
Cozy mysteries in the Mckinley Series: Coffee Is MurderHalloween Is Murder, Money Is Murder and Exercise Is Murder. 
Historical fiction and adventure in The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh

About the Author:
CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international bestselling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author, in her genre, with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.TM
Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and two beagles, Max and Chelsea. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

Friday, November 30, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018, Mission: Completed

It gives me great pleasure to announce that I've completed NaNoWriMo 2018 AHEAD of schedule!

Yes, I finished those 50,000 words two days before the deadline!


This means I've done and finished NaNoWriMo two years in a row AND each time I've upped the game and learnt things.

November started out with a cold for me and there were several days I couldn't write. But there were several others when I wrote 2,000, 3,000 and even 5,000 words!

Writing is like running a marathon. Your mind feels like it's been whipped around, after trying to beat a car on a race track. But when you write, even 500 words, you feel like you've accomplished something.

When you finish NaNoWriMo, you feel like you've accomplished A LOT.

There were many months in 2018 when I couldn't write. But when November started, I knew that there were sacrificed to be made and I made at least 25 nights of the 30-day month count.

Sleep is one of the things you have to sacrifice often during NaNoWriMo. But trust me, it's worth it!

Not only did I pass 51,000 words, my story isn't complete. I have about three or four chapters to go (may be more depending on the characters' actions) that I will continue working on in December.

Here's my NaNoWriMo Success Certificate!

Where's yours? Leave it in the comments below or send me Twitter or Facebook link with your winning post. I'd love to share the joy and support you.