Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Jersey Girl Book Reviews: Top Ten Books Read In 2017

2017 turned out to be a challenging year when it came to reading, reviewing and hosting virtual book tour events for Jersey Girl Book Reviews. Unexpected family events and personal health issues derailed my reading goals in the second half of 2017.

From NY Times Bestselling Authors to Indie Authors, I have read 53 wonderful books, and trying to narrow it down to my Top 10 favorites has not been easy. While I have enjoyed every book, here is the Top 10 Books I Read in 2017 that simply moved me the most.

1) Ashes by Steven Manchester

2) The Thursday Night Club and Other Stories of Christmas Spirit by Steven Manchester

3) Beach Breeze by Joanne DeMaio  

4) The Beach Inn by Joanne DeMaio                           

5) Wish Me Home by Kay Bratt

6) The Sex Bucket List by Prescott Lane                                  

7) President's Day by Seth Margolis

8) Crossing The Street by Molly D. Campbell

9)  The Outsider by Anthony Franze


10) Cards From Khloe's Flower Shop by Isabella Louise Anderson


And there you have it, my Top 10 Books that I read in 2017! 

Check out my complete 2017 books read on Goodreads: 

Stayed tuned to see what fabulous books are in store for 2018 on Jersey Girl Book Reviews! 

The Thursday Night Club and Other Stories of Christmas Spirit by Steven Manchester (Book Review)

The Thursday Night Club and Other Stories of Christmas Spirit by Steven Manchester
Publisher: Fiction Studio Books
Publication Date: PB - October 25, 2017 / eBook - November 1, 2017
Format: Paperback - 190 pages
               Kindle - 5154 KB
               Nook - 6 MB
ISBN: 978-1945839160
BNID: 978-1945839146
Genre: Christmas Novella Collection

Buy The Book:
Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

A joyous and deeply emotional collection of three unforgettable Christmas novellas.

With a series of #1 bestsellers like Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair and Pressed Pennies, Steven Manchester has established himself as one of the premier voices of moving and heartfelt fiction. Now, he collects his three unforgettable Christmas novellas in one volume.

The Thursday Night Club: Five college friends, three men and two women, have been getting together every Thursday night to share humble meals and an abundance of laughter. But when tragedy takes one of them, leaving the others to question the fairness of life, the Thursday Night Club decides to embark on a contest in the memory of the generous spirit of their fallen brother. The objective of the contest is simple: whoever performs the kindest deed by Christmas night wins the pot – four quarters. And there are only two conditions: the benevolent deed must be anonymous, and it cannot cost a single penny to pull off. As the four friends undertake the contest, the healing begins and they become inspired beyond their expectations. There might be a winner in this competition, but it is very clear there will be no losers.

A Christmas Wish: Steph is on a search for truth in her heart as she faces the prospect of real love for the first time. Brian is out to enjoy his favorite season in a way that doctors never thought he could. And at the center of it all is their grandmother, affectionately known as Mama, a woman of remarkable commitment and charity who knows something very important about making Christmas wishes come true.

The Tin-Foil Manger: Published in this volume for the first time, this is the story of Nancy, an elderly woman with little to live for and Jeanne, the caretaker who wants to believe that Nancy has more to live for. Together, they embark on a journey to the past – a past of modest Christmases, tin-foil mangers, and abundant love – to rediscover the time when Nancy felt truly alive. Nancy’s memories and how they touch Jeanne, will turn this Christmas into one for the ages.

Rich with emotion and profound with meaning, these three stories of Christmas spirit that will strike a chord in your heart any time of year and make you look at the holiday season in new ways.

My Book Review:

Every once in a while an author comes along who writes novels that are so powerfully compelling, poignant, and thought provoking, that they pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul. For me, that author is Steven Manchester and his latest Christmas Novella Collection, The Thursday Night Club and Other Stories of Christmas Spirit.

The Thursday Night Club and Other Stories of Christmas Spirit is a wonderful holiday novella collection that features three heartwarming stories revolving around the Christmas Spirit theme. 

In The Thursday Night Club, after the tragic death of Jesse, one of the members of the Thursday Night Club, the remaining four college friends Izzy, Ava, Randy, and Kevin decide to honor Jesse's memory by paying it forward and making a positive difference in the world. 

In A Christmas Wish, Grandma Angela "Mama" encourages her granddaughter Steph to search within herself for the truth in her life, to have faith, make a Christmas wish, and believe that it will come true. 

In The Tin-Foil Manger, elderly nursing home resident Nancy Guillmette has lost her desire to live due to the progression of Alzheimer's disease, and is slowly wilting away. Nurse Jeanne encourages Nancy to make the most of every day she's given on earth, and together they embark on a walk down memory lane as Nancy revisits her beloved childhood memories when Christmas traditions meant so much to her. 

In each of the novellas, the reader will be easily captivated and drawn into these sentimental and touching stories. You can't help but get swept away and experience the full gamut of emotions as each heartwarming story stirs your soul and celebrates the true meaning of the Christmas Spirit.

While I enjoyed reading all three stories, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much The Tin-Foil Manger resonated with me. As a retired NJ licensed nursing home administrator, I was instantly drawn into this beautifully written and thoughtful story dealing with Alzheimer's disease. Over the years I have witnessed many residents, families, and staff deal with this traumatic disease, and author Steven Manchester does a wonderful job of providing the reader with an inspirational story that will simply tug at your heartstrings.

If you are looking for a wonderful collection of Christmas novellas that will get you in the holiday spirit, then look no further, The Thursday Night Club and Other Stories of Christmas Spirit is the collection for you!


About The Author

Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers, Twelve Months and The Rockin' Chair. He is also the author of the award-winning novel, Goodnight, Brian, as well as the critically-acclaimed novel, Pressed Pennies, A Christmas Wish (Kindle Exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), Just in Time (novelette), The Thursday Night Club (novella), and Gooseberry Island. His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Jailbird by Taylor Dean (Virtual Book Blast Event / Contest Giveaway)

In association with I Am A Reader, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book blast event for Jailbird by Author Taylor Dean!

About The Book

Jailbird by Taylor Dean 
Book 2: Sound of Silence Series
Publisher: Taylor Dean Books
Publication Date: December 1, 2017
Format: Paperback - 214 pages
               Kindle - 1083 KB
ISBN: 978-1548351175
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Buy The Book: 

Buy The Series:
Book 1: Stone Silence
Book 2: Jailbird
Book 3: Hothouse Flower (Pub Date: January 1, 2018)

Book Description:

My hometown decided to rename me Jailbird.

Every day I silently scream out, “My name is Mia Faraday!” My time in jail does not define me. I am so much more than one heated mistake.

And yet, my slip-up weighs on me. There’s so much more to the story than anyone realizes. I must face Stony, my ex, and confess everything.

I don’t want to. I’d rather have five teeth pulled. While I’m awake. Without anesthesia.

But this is something I have to do, something I need to do. Not just for Stony. I need to do it for me. Especially for me. I can’t move forward with my life until I gain closure from the past.

When I meet Grayson Elliott, I am easily pulled into his orbit and it’s exactly where I’d love to stay. He makes me laugh and not take life so seriously. He makes me want to live again.

But I don’t love me right now, and that healing needs to come first. I’m not relationship-ready or marriage material. My mind is focused on redemption. I want it. I need it.

Besides, when Grayson hears about my colorful past, I’m sure he’ll be gone before I have time to utter the word goodbye.

After all, who could ever love a jailbird?

The Sound of Silence Series is a three book series:

Book One: Stone Silence, Spencer’s Story 
Book Two: Jailbird, Mia’s Story 
Book Three: Hothouse Flower, Shay’s Story

Each book has a happy ending and there are no cliffhangers. 
They are not standalones and should be read in order.

Hate waiting for the next book in a series?
You won't have to wait long!

Hothouse Flower, Book Three will be released on January 1st, 2018

Book Excerpt:
Stony and Spencer’s Place.

Ugh. It’s magical inside the fenced-in property, as if I just walked into a secret garden. Stony always said he was going to build himself an oasis in the middle of the prairie land, and he did it. I didn’t expect it to be quite this beautiful. Green grass covers small rolling hills. Sidewalks meander the property. Flower beds bloom madly with all the colors of the rainbow. It’s almost like being inside of a Thomas Kinkade painting.

I want to run. I want to turn around and erase this serene picture from my mind. I’m not sure I want to witness Stony’s happily-ever-after. The consolation is that now I know I didn’t ruin his life. I should feel grateful for that knowledge. I kind of do and I kind of don’t. My emotions are a tangled mess when it comes to Stony. I’ve had two years in jail and a little over a year in Galveston to think about this moment, to anticipate exactly what I want to say to him. Now that it’s upon me, I can feel my mind going blank.

But I’m doing it anyway.

I march forward with determination in every step and I push on the doorbell before I can change my mind. I hear a Windsor chime echo through the house in a majestic sort of way. A little more cringing goes on inside of me at the perfection of it all.

The seconds before the door is answered seem interminable. I’m a hot mess.

Lock me in a tank with hungry—no—starving sharks. Put me in a lion’s den and let them have me for dinner. Make me appear on that dumb TV show, Naked and Afraid.

Anything but this. I don’t want to face Stony. I don’t, I don’t.

About The Author

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.

Contest Giveaway

amazon or paypal

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway 
 Ends 12/22/17 

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. 


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Virtual Book Blast Event

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Mother's Lie by Jo Crow (Virtual Book Blast / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book blast event for A Mother's Lie by Jo Crow!

A Mother's Lie by Jo Crow
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Publication Date: November 28, 2017 
Format: Paperback - 382 pages
               Kindle - 3781 KB
ISBN: 978-1979295420
Genre: Psychological Thriller 

Buy The Book:
Amazon   (Currently is free on the Kindle Unlimited Program) 

Book Description:

When her child’s life is at stake, a mother will do anything to save him.

Clara McNair is running out of time to save her son, James. When the two-year-old is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, only an experimental treatment can save his life. She desperately needs money to pay for the surgery, but she’ll have to travel back to the site of her darkest memories to get it.

Clara has escaped the demons of her youth—or so she thinks. It’s been ten years since the mysterious disappearance of her parents. Widely suspected of murdering her mother and father, Clara fled west to start a new life. Now, a documentary film crew is offering cold, hard cash—enough to pay for James’s treatment—in exchange for the sordid secrets of her past.

With no other choice but to delve into a long-ago tragedy, Clara must unravel the lies surrounding that terrible night. Facing hostile gossip, Clara is fighting to clear her name and learn the truth about what really happened. But how far will she go into the dark to save her son—and herself?

Book Excerpt:

Chapter One
Dense red clay was pushing between the teeth. Pond mist drifted across the manicured lawns, wisping through the dark eye sockets. Parts of the cranium were shaded a vile yellow-brown where decomposing leaves clung to its surface like bile expressed from a liver. The jawbone was separated from the skull, its curved row of teeth pointing skyward to greet the rising sun.
Two feet away, closer to the oak tree, other bones were piled haphazardly: a pelvis, high iliac crests and subpubic angle. A femur, caked with dirt, jammed into his empty skull. Sunlight decorated the brittle bones in long, lazy strips and darkened hairline fractures till they blended with the shed behind them.
It was peaceful here, mostly. The pond no longer bubbled, its aerator decayed by time; weed-clogged flowerbeds no longer bloomed—hands that once worked the land long ago dismissed. Fog blanketed the area, as if drawn by silence. Once, a startled shriek woke the morning doves and set them all into flight.
It was the first time in ten years the mammoth magnificence of the Blue Ridge Mountains had scrutinized these bones; the first song in a decade the morning doves chorused to them from their high perch.
A clatter split apart the dawn; the skull toppled over as it was struck with another bone.
In a clearing, tucked safely behind the McNair estate, someone was whistling as they worked at the earth. The notes were disjointed and haphazard, like they were an afterthought. They pierced the stillness and, overhead, one of the morning doves spooked and took flight, rustling leaves as it rose through the mist.
A shovel struck the wet ground, digging up clay and mulch, tossing it onto the growing mound to their left. The whistling stopped, mid note, and a contemplative hum took its place.
Light glinted on the silvery band in the exposed clay—the digger pocketed it—the shovel struck the ground again; this time, it clinked as it hit something solid.
A hand dusted off decayed vegetative matter and wrested the bone from its tomb. Launching it into the air, it flew in a smooth arc, and crashed into the skull like a bowling pin, scattering the remains across the grass. With a grunt of satisfaction, the digger rose and started to refill the hole from the clay mound.
When it was filled and smoothed, and the sod was replaced over the disrupted ground, the digger lifted the shovel and strolled into the woods, one hand tucked in a pocket as they whistled a cheery tune lost to the morning fog.
Excerpt from A Mother's Lie by Jo Crow. Copyright © 2017 by Jo Crow. Reproduced with permission from Jo Crow. All rights reserved.

About The Author

Jo Crow gave ten years of her life to the corporate world of finance, rising to be one of the youngest VPs around. She carved writing time into her commute to the city, but never shared her stories, assuming they were too dark for any publishing house. But when a nosy publishing exec read the initial pages of her latest story over her shoulder, his albeit unsolicited advice made her think twice.

A month later, she took the leap, quit her job, and sat down for weeks with pen to paper. The words for her first manuscript just flew from her. Now she spends her days reading and writing, dreaming up new ideas for domestic noir fans, and drawing from her own experiences in the cut-throat commercial sector.

Not one to look back, Jo is all in, and can’t wait for her next book to begin.


Contest Giveaway

Win An Amazon Gift Card 

eBook Copy of A Mother's Lie 

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jo Crow. 
There will be 1 winner of one (1) gift Card AND 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of A Mother's Lie by Jo Crow. 
The giveaway begins on December 5 and runs through December 11, 2017.
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Virtual Book Blast Event

Event Participants:

A Dream Within A Dream
Suspense Magazine
Mystery Suspense Reviews
The Book Divas Reads
Books, Dreams, Life
Cheryl's Book Nook
Quiet Fury Books
Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Mythical Books
The Bookworm Lodge
A Readers Diary
Simply Kelina
Bookishly Me
Brooke Blogs
Tales of a Book Addict
CMash Reads
Bound 2 Escape