01-19-19 – Judith Ashley – My Sanctuaries and Safe Havens: Writing and Spiritual Practices

Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Sanctuaries and Safe Havens: Writing and Spiritual Practices

By Judith Ashley

Writing has been a refuge, a safe haven for me since I started writing fiction in 2002. At that point, I didn’t even have a writing process nor did I have any idea of things like genres or tropes.

What I did have were stories that infiltrated my night and day dreams. Scenes so real I could hear, see, smell and taste the people and food in the stories. My body recognized the emotions of my characters so I laughed and I cried. My jaw clenched, my stomach churned, my lungs seized right along with my characters. And when all seemed lost, the prayers for strength, for guidance, for protection appeared on the page.

The Sacred Women’s Circle series shows the power of spiritual practices to support us on our life’s journey.

What do we do when we are no longer comforted by the religious customs in which we were raised?

Like myself, my characters created their own spiritual path. They took bits and pieces from the religions they grew up with that still brought them peace. But they went a step further and created their own path. Because they are all equal in this sacred circle, they respected each other’s individual practice while forming The Circle’s foundational traditions.

As you read their stories, you’ll see the differences between them, what they rely on during difficult times. You will also have a road map if you want to create your own sacred circle.

What’s the difference between a sacred women’s circle and a women’s circle? Answer this question and you’ll know:

What would your life be like if you were unconditionally accepted, unconditionally supported and unconditionally loved?

What happened to me when I first talked to traditional publishers about my series? The feedback I got that was consistent was that I needed to build conflict in The Circle. In other words, the women had to have disagreements between them. A good old-fashioned fight, with members taking sides, etc. I was told there wasn’t a market for a story where women got along, believed in each other, supported, accepted and encouraged each other. All stories needed conflict. The reality that each of the women had a major life conflict going on in their personal life outside The Circle wasn’t enough.

The good thing about that feedback is that I stopped and really took a look at my stories. The core principle or foundation in a sacred women’s circle is that we will always be accepted, always be safe no matter what. The Circle is our Haven, our Sanctuary, our place to rest, to heal, to restore ourselves before going forth to do battle in the world once again.

What battles do these women face? Domestic violence, recurrent breast cancer, spousal abandonment, custodial interference aka child stealing, death of a spouse, conflicted core values, etc. Most of us have dealt with these issues or know someone who has. With that assessment my choice was clear. I became an Indie Published Author.

So I ask again: What would your life be like if, when facing one of these major life events, you had a place where you were unconditionally accepted, unconditionally supported and unconditionally loved?

My large crystal altar
One of my 2019 goals is to spend more time reaching out to those people who’d like to experience being in that space. What that means is claiming the Pagan Spiritual practices that are an integral part of each book.

Yes, my heroine’s find their happily-ever-after but what’s as important is they come to rely on, to find strength in their spiritual practices and their relationships with each other. That’s why I write what I believe is best called Contemporary Romantic Women’s Fiction or for even more clarity: Contemporary Romantic Pagan Women’s Fiction.

Another of my 2019 goals is to change out the Keywords, etc. on the on-line vendors and my website by the end of January 2019 to more clearly reflect the Pagan Inspirational theme in my books.

Also on my 2019 radar is publishing Ceremonies, Prayers and Resources. CPS is a short booklet of the prayers and ceremonies from this series as well as Visions of Ireland (working title) which is the 9th book in the series. And if all falls into place, I’ll have the 10th book at least in draft form or actually published before the end of this year.

What suggestions do you have for the best way to let people know about my books? And, do contact me at Judith@JudithAshleyRomance.com if you are interested in my doing presentations or workshops on the various practices and concepts included in these stories.

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic women’s fiction that honors pagan spiritual practices that nourish the soul. The Circle is the haven where each heroine has the support of the others to sustain them as they overcome obstacles and find their happily-ever-after.
Learn more about Judith's The Sacred Women’s Circle series at JudithAshleyRomance.com

Follow Judith on Twitter: JudithAshley19

Check out Judith’s Windtree Press author page.

You can also find Judith on FB! 

© 2019 Judith Ashley

Friday, January 18, 2019

My Best Book of 2018 #superhero #romance

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of sci-fi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions. I had a really bad year reading wise in 2018. I started a few books but didn't finish - not through the fault of the book. Several were non-fiction, most not romance. Mostly the few I did read were old, familiar favourites from Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Barry Hughart.

So when I saw the first topic for 2019 would be my fave read from the previous year, I thought I'd better try a bit harder. I read two shorts/novellas, one that had been on my to-read list for a while, and the latest release from one of my auto-buy authors. And the auto-buy won.

I'm a huge fan of Liana Brooks' Heroes and Villains series, so I snapped up the latest soon after its release in October. I know I will get a sweet superhero romance with caring heroes and sassy heroines (regardless of which might be the super). The Polar Terror is a side story in the main series, and the hero is viewed as a bit of an anti-hero by name. I liked the idea of someone who could be seen either way by the general public. The heroine is a sceptic, the only person in the book who isn't convinced...
Kaddy Chaak’s career is in jeopardy, her social life is non-existent, and instead of spending the holidays at home with everyone she loves, she’s in the hospital with her chronically-ill, probably-dying nephew Everett, wondering if her dead sister could have fixed this. The one bright note in an otherwise bleak winter is a potential visit from the Polar Terror, the only super villain north of the 66th parallel, to make little Everett’s hospital wish come true.  

Kaddy’s not really expecting him to show. At best, she expects a lackluster cosplayer with a half-hour to spare.  

What she gets is a swoon-worthy stranger full of secrets, who might just sweep her off her feet–and maybe help her leave the past behind, once and for all.  

As always, a sweet, heart-wrenching yet also heart-warming romance with some superhero action thrown in that earned a 4* rating from me and a highly recommended.
Maybe this year I'll get a bit more reading done. 😱

Thursday, January 17, 2019

2018 - A great year for books

  In 2018 I did something I've NEVER done... I took a personal retreat. A time in nature (well, not hard core - I mean there was running water, a flush toilet, and a bed) where I could relax and read!

With this scenery how could you not enjoy a book???? I read 5 books just that weekend. My overall goal for 2018 was to read 50 books with 20 of them being new to me authors. So to say which ONE was the best, well that's sort of like picking between doughnuts...

How can you pick just one?

My favorite young adult is Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton
In the ancient river kingdom, where touch is a battlefield and bodies the instruments of war, Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood. The same women who killed her mother without a single scratch.
But when Mia's father announces an alliance with the royal family, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Determined to forge her own path forward, Mia plots a daring escape, but could never predict the greatest betrayal of all: her own body. Mia possesses the very magic she has sworn to destroy.
Now, as she untangles the secrets of her past, Mia must learn to trust her heart…even if it kills her.

My favorite 'self-help' book...which I generally don't read because usually they want to give up doughnuts and vodka and well that isn't happening. But Jen Sincero never said that!!!!
 In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bitesized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you've never made before.
By the end of You Are a Badass, you'll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

And my best fiction book... is by a 'I'll-buy-everything-she-writes' author... Rebecca Zanetti 
 Hide. That's all Pippa can do to escape the terror chasing her. But now that she's off the grid in a safe house, she finds plenty of interesting things to watch through the window. Like her new neighbor, with his startling green eyes, killer smile, and sexy bad-boy tattoo . . .
Run. Malcolm West is fleeing the hell he unleashed in his last assignment as an undercover cop. A backwoods bungalow sounds like the perfect place to start over. Until he discovers he's been set up . . .
Fight. Someone's gone to a lot of trouble to bring them together. No matter how much he resents that, and his own driving needs, Malcolm will have to dig deep and let loose the banished killer inside himself, or Pippa's fears could come true faster than the flip of a bolt in a lock . . .

And while I was reading really great books, I developed a taste for coffee. Well my hubby was it's not coffee but I say yes. It's Donut shop k-cup– coconut mocha mixed with 2 tablespoons Hills Brother Mocha Cappuccino with a really really hearty splash of Coffee Mate coconut cream creamer – yummmmmmmyyyy!" I'm doing a give away on my young adult facebook page - Tasarla Romaney. Drop by sometime and tell me what is in my cup for a chance to win a coffee or tea sampler.

Until next month!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My 2018 Best Books

There is something about interlocking stories within a book that really appeals to me. I have no idea why. Maybe something from deep down in my psyche or in a past life? Who knows. It's the same with movies. My all time favourite movies (which all have this theme) are Babel, Crash and The Red Violin (check them out, they're amazing).

Maybe I'm just greedy and want more than one story for my money!

So it's not surprising that the books I enjoyed most during 2018 had this common thread. My 'reading' involves a mix of digital, hard copy and audio books and these are just a few those which gripped me and had me reading/listening more than once :

The Shape Of Us by Lisa Ireland
 (link is for the ebook but image is from the hard copy because I love this picture so much)

A touchingly emotional story of four women sharing a battle with weight loss and subsequently sharing each other's lives and supporting each other through relationship ups and downs.

Very relatable because Lisa paints a very realistic picture of female relationships. The strength of them, the fragility and the importance.

Four very different women meet in an online forum for weight loss and soon take their friendship into the real world.

What I love even more than a book about interwoven stories is a series of books about the same characters (which is why I'm currently writing Book 1 in my own series!)

The 'Mischief Bay' series by Susan Mallery 
Four books about four groups of friends, whose lives also intersect in the small town of Mischief Bay. Strong friendships weather real life problems, griefs and share joys. Once I'd read one, I had to read the rest.

Three Sisters by Susan Mallery 
(Book 2 of the 3 Book 'Blackberry Island' Series)

 Another book about three friends who live in three adjoining houses (The Three Sisters).

Three women with complex, compelling lives and relationships who rely on each other for support and sometimes the brutal truth.

I'm yet to read the other two books in this series, but know I'll be drawn in to the life of this small town just as strongly.

While this style of book is my absolute favourite, I do read beyond the interwoven relationships theme. This next book did start with another trio of friends, but then concentrates on the erotic and romantic adventures of one.

Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren

Can't say enough how much I love this book!

'After a crazy Vegas weekend celebrating her college graduation—and terrified of the future path she knows is a cop-out—Mia Holland makes the wildest decision of her life: follow Ansel Guillaume—her sweet, filthy fling—to France for the summer and just...play.'

Of course it becomes more than just an erotic game and emotions run high.

The emotions in this story are raw and real - and the sexy sections are some of the best I've ever read. Christina Lauren knows exactly how to combine the two.

Catching Captain Nash by Anna Campbell

 Anything by Anna is fabulous. If you want strong, totally believable emotion with sizzling sexual tension then you will never be disappointed.

'Five years after he’s lost, presumed dead, Captain Robert Nash escapes cruel captivity, and returns to London and the bride he loves, but barely knows. Five years is a long time, and beautiful, passionate Morwenna has clearly found a life without him. Can he win back the wife who gave him a reason to survive his ordeal? Or will the woman who haunts his every thought remain eternally out of reach?'

Loved it!

Looking forward to another year of disappearing into beautifully created worlds and meeting flawed and relatable characters in 2019!

Visit Andra's own creative world at www.andraashe.com

Monday, January 14, 2019

2019 Dream a big Dream!

By: Marcia King-Gamble

It's the beginning of a new year and  a time when hope and  optimism abounds.  Many of us couldn’t wait to put the year behind us, because 2018 was a challenging year and a true test of faith.

Our nation saw a record of unprecedented natural disasters, ranging from the deadliest wildfire in California's history to the worst hurricane hitting the East Coast since 1969. In September, Hurricane Florence flooded the Carolinas and the amount of rain surpassed statewide records.

In October, Hurricane Michael became the strongest storm, (based on pressure,) to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Camille in 1969. It left behind a trail of destruction and brought with it the strongest winds since Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992.

2018 brought with it unexpected deaths of celebrities like designer, Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain. These tragedies shocked the world. In Parkland, a neighborhood, close to me, the Stoneman Douglas tragic shooting of seventeen students, and faculty, turned the world on its ear, making us realize how vulnerable we are.

 Less publicized were the personal struggles many people faced, and the fear that any moment we could be engaged in a nuclear war. But there were feel good moments too. 

The economy did extremely well. Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, gving young girls hope they too could have a Cinderella moment.  More women than ever entered the political arena, and the twelve Thai boys, and their coach, trapped in a cave, all made it to safety. The world let out a collective breath.   

In terms of best 2018 Romance novels (and I am a romance writer,) the usual notables made the list.  Authors like Eloisa James, Brenda Jackson, Amanda Quick a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz, Beverly Jenkins, and newcomer, Nalini Singh. Then there was that book that everyone put on their  holiday list - Becoming Michelle Obama; an instant bestseller.


On a personal note, I was fortunate to have two releases in December of 2018. Magnolia Moments, the fifth in the Eighty-Eight Mississippi series was released right before Christmas https://amzn.to/2D7y5ci, and Ring in the Holidays, a novella,  followed in time for New Years Eve.  https://amzn.to/2TNKA1Y

Here’s an excerpt from Magnolia Moments:

 “Morgan’s waiting. Won’t want to keep her, now,” Dani said, sniffing.

“She can wait. Let’s get one thing straight. I have absolutely no interest in that woman beyond getting the information I need. Now give me a kiss.”

Dani initially seemed reluctant to even get close. Eventually she relaxed in his arms. And as usual, what was meant to be a meeting of the lips, segued into a heart-shattering kiss of mega proportions. Bryce felt as if he’d been zapped by lightening. He was actually shaking. His inclination was to take Dani to bed right there and then, but the teacher was waiting downstairs, and he would have to put passion on hold. 

"We’re not done,” he said, putting Dani away from him. 

Wiping her smeared lipstick with one hand, she headed downstairs, Bryce on her heels. He followed, admiring her curves in the form-fitting dress that seemed custom-made and hugged all the right places. 

Spotting him, Morgan got to her feet. Her eyes flashed with annoyance when she realized he was not alone. 

“I hope you don’t mind me stopping by,” Morgan said, her voice way too chirpy for his liking. She held out her hand. “I came because it’s such a nice day and I thought we could ride together. And while I l show you the town, I could answer your questions.”

Bryce had no choice but to take the hand Morgan proffered. Her offer was just too good to turn down. “I’d like that.”

“Well, I’ve got to get back to work,” Dani said, giving him the side eye. “You two have fun.” 

Bryce watched her walk away, thinking he would much prefer spending the time with her than Morgan, but he needed vital information. He could finish up what he’d started later.

An excerpt from Ring in the Holidays below:

The sparkle in Stefan’s eyes when he spotted her made her regret not putting up with the cold and wearing that hot, gold dress. Stefan gave her a tight hug, almost lifting her off her feet. He smelled of pine. 

“Just, look at you. Very chic,” Stefan added, tweaking her beret when he set her down. “Shall we?” He offered an arm.

The restaurant, another popular Manhattan eatery, was only blocks away. It was decorated in a blue, silver, gold and white theme. Huge baskets of white poinsettia were strategically placed on gold-plated pedestal tables as they entered. The interior smelled of cinnamon, pine and food. They followed the hostess to the rear. Stefan had to have requested special seating, because a sparkly, white netting was swept aside so they could slide into the private booth.
“How did you find this place?” Rianna asked, gazing through the gauze netting at what looked to be several well-heeled clientele. She’d spotted the politically incorrect fur jackets draped over the backs of chairs, and the ladies’ necks draped in expensive pearls and diamonds. 

“A friend recommended it,” Stefan said. “I told him I needed a special place with lots of holiday spirit to take a very special lady.”

Rianna felt her cheeks heat up. She managed a mumbled, “Thank you,” and swept off her tam, shaking out her curls. Stefan swept a wisp of escaping hair out of her eyes.

Things were moving way faster than she was comfortable with. She was just starting to process her feelings for her best friend’s brother and trying to figure out whether the growing attraction could be attributed to a holiday season when no one wanted to be alone. Were these genuine feelings or brought on by nostalgia? For so much of her young life she had resented him. How could she want him so badly now that he’d become an adult?

Wishing you all many adventures in 2019. May you have reading choices that will make your toes curl. Remember you can choose to be happy or unhappy. I choose happiness, and I'm always grateful for what I have.  

 Make it a happy, healthy, and fun New Year.

About Marcia King-Gamble:

Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Romance at Any Age!

by Courtney Pierce

You could call me a quasi-romance writer, but my books tend to focus on the complications of life experiences of older characters. The romance part swoops in as an end-game reward that must be earned. And boy do my protagonists work hard for it. I love plopping characters into a dung storm of their own creation. These seasoned players come into a relationship with enough baggage to rack up a fortune in luggage fees at the airport.

Romance with more mature characters is fun to write. I can create conflict on top of conflict in emotional layers. All can be going along swimmingly, then BAM! Geological layers of hurt get nicked from a word, a gesture, or a tone of voice, and the dig triggers a reaction. Old wounds of backstory percolate in the background like an App on a smartphone, always running and sucking battery life. 

Creating a backstory of complicated emotions, such as aging, divorce, death, family drama, health issues, and super-bad old habits adds to the sweet and savory richness of a story. It's what makes characters real. Many of mine are rooted in people I've known in my life. Some personalities can't be made up because the truth is just too darned good to ignore. Of course, the details are changed to protect the innocent . . . or not-so-innocent.

Ah . . . and there's that element of surprise, the unexpected circumstance of opportunity that changes the course of the story. A turning point can be a chance meeting that flips the heart, and then makes a character do irrational thingsgood and bad. In the second book of my latest trilogy about the Dushane sisters, Indigo Lake, the main character marches into an attorney's office ready for a fight about a lawsuit. Instead, she's knocked to her knees at how attracted she is to this man. And the feeling's mutual, but not without a cat-and-mouse game of wits between them. 

One other technique I use is to infuse a serious situation with humor. My character's response to a dire circumstance can be to say or do something ridiculous to ease the tension. For instance, when my character can't remove her old wedding ring after getting engaged, she ends up in the emergency room to have it cut off, but not before giving a dramatic lecture to the young intern about love, spontaneity, and romance. She spews out everything she, herself, has fantasized about having in a relationship. All of her wishes and dreams are told to a stranger who holds a saw and smells like antiseptic. Oh , . . and she does all this while donating her blood to save her fiance in surgery. The moment the ring falls away and clangs to the metal tray, the whole book takes a major turn. The antagonist of an old wedding band is conquered and my character goes into hero mode.

In my new book in progress, Big Sky Talk, it takes a bit of magical realism to nudge my characterssome oomphtoward a goal of happiness. Older players need spark. Set in Montana, a powerful combination of resources is needed to break through to the chewy centers of the tough-as-nails sheriff and a lonely, clairvoyant retiree . . . including some help from a gun and a grizzly bear. This will be a different kind of romance story to write, but all my same antics will be in play. The fun part will be to incorporate the wisdom of Montana's Native American folklore that will build a frame of authenticity toward a healthy relationship.

As in real life, older characters have a different sense of urgency in matters of the romance. Younger ones can turn their backs on a failed relationship and move on, but time is running out for tired hearts. Falling in love is like a gasp of fresh air to refuel our fantasies of youth, and we take bigger chances to make a relationship work. We fall deeper and harder because not doing so is riskier. Who the heck wants to die alone wrapped in baggage, with no arms of a lover to make it all okay? I could never let that happen to my characters. Unacceptable.

The drama in life gives meaning to a relationship, especially in fiction. It takes two perspectives to work it out and conquer those demons. Then they turn out the lights to hide those bodies and crawl inside each other for emotional solaceand, yes, that's their beautiful reward. 

Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer splitting her time between Kalispell, Montana and Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband. stepdaughter, and their brainiac cat, Princeton. Courtney writes for the baby boomer audience. By day, she is an executive in the entertainment industry and uses her time in a theater seat to create stories that are filled with heart, humor and mystery. She has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. Active in the writing community, Courtney is a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and on the Advisory Council of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She is a member of Willamette Writers, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and She Writes. The Executrix received the Library Journal Self-E recommendation seal.

Audiobook now Available!
Check out all of Courtney's books at: 

Print and E-books are available through most major online retailers, including Amazon.com.

Available Now!
Book 3 of the
Dushane Sisters
The Dushane Sisters Trilogy concludes with Indigo Legacy, available now. There's love in the air for Olivia and Woody, but will family intrigue get in the way? Ride along for the wild trip that starts in a New York auction house and peaks in a mansion on Boston's Beacon Hill. 

The Dushane sisters finally get to the truth about their mother.

New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."

Friday, January 11, 2019

Cleaning The Green Way by Diana McCollum

Friday, January 11, 2019

Let me just say up front, this is a repeat of a post from 2012. Cleaning is what I'm doing everyday. My mom passed December 5, 2018. We all lived together for  7 years. I've been cleaning out closets, coming across pictures, letters and cards from my mom's past. Believe me when I say I've cried a river,  because I have. I'm not quite up to writing a new blog post. I hope to in February. 


First let me say that I am so-o-o envious of Paty Jager’s writing space pictured in her April 2, 2012 post right here on Romancing the Genres Blog.

Up until our move to the High desert in OR I had a spare bedroom that I had turned into my writing room. There were bookshelves that lined the walls, a magnificent computer stand with doors that closed and locked when not in use and even room for my exercise bike. The computer stand stood in the corner by the window. I could look out into my garden whenever I wanted to. I had all the room I could possibly need or want.
Fast forward to now. I have a small stand cramped into a corner of our T.V. room. I do have a window I can see out to the bushes and the road. My writing books are packed in the garage, except for one shelf of “How to…” and research books that have found a home on the one free shelf in the closet.

I have found with this smaller space that I have become a neater writer. My stacks of notes and papers have to be organized, dealt with or thrown away because there is no room for those stacks to grow. No free space on the floor either

Now to get back to the subject at hand, cleaning the Green Way is not only good for the environment it is good for the pocket book. 

My friend and one of my critique partners, Louise P. lives in Kansas and last week sent me a list of Green Cleaning Recipes. I spoke with her today (since I haven’t tried any of the recipes) and asked her if she had tried them.

Louise said she made and tried the furniture polish and it works wonderfully. Her dining room table has never been so shiny.
So here’s the Green Recipe for wood polish:

1 cup mineral oil
25 drops of pine essential oil 

Mix in a spray bottle by shaking up. Do this each time before using.
Then when you polish in the different rooms of your house it will smell like Yule time. If you don’t like pine, try cedar or clove essential oil.

What cleaning short cuts, saving time or money, do you use?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Best Books I Read in 2018 by Lynn Lovegreen

According to my Goodreads list, I read a dozen books in 2018. (I think there are actually more, if I include books I read for historical research or read but forgot to add to my book review list.) Some of the dozen were published last year, and some I just got around to reading in 2018—when your to-be-read list is as long as mine, it takes a while to get through it! 

I enjoyed all of these, so rather than choose one book as the best, I’m taking the liberty to come up with a few winners. Although I read some great books meant for adults, I chose books for younger audiences here to encourage our Romancing the Genres followers to try books and authors they may not know. 

Best Middle Grade Book: Hunger: A Tale of Courage by Donna Jo Napoli

Another great historical novel from Donna Jo Napoli! Engaging and well written as well as historically accurate--I couldn't wait to see how Lorraine would help her family survive the Irish potato famine.

I would classify it as MG because of the main character's age and issues, but teen and adult readers who are into history or Ireland would also enjoy it. Napoli also has a glossary, bibliography, and historical notes in the back.

Best Contemporary Young Adult: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

You may have already heard about the novel or the recent movie. This book won lots of awards, and deserved them all. Starr is an African-American teen who lives in a poor black neighborhood and goes to a mostly white prep school. Her worlds collide when a friend is shot by a police officer.  

Brilliant, thoughtful, heart-breaking, and heart-warming! I recommend it for both teens and adults.

Best Historical Young Adult: Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Mercy challenges people's expectations of Chinese-Americans while finding her place in an elite boarding school. Then the San Francisco earthquake provides challenges and opportunities of its own. Great historical details, and I loved the strong heroine! Highly recommended for teens and adults.

Best Heart-Warming Book: The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely

Loved this book! Brendan Kiely weaves teens, love, music, poetry, family, and more into this road trip homage to the Odyssey. 

Teddy's dad is dead and his mom is married to her job, so his grandpa has basically raised him. As Gpa is losing his memories to Alzheimer's, Teddy tries to recover them by taking him to where he met his wife. Teddy's friend (and crush) Corrina goes along to escape her stifling adoptive parents and get a chance to pursue the musical life she's always wanted. With parents and the police looking for them, they take the back roads across the country, and discover more than they expected. 

Lots of heart in this book--you will be rewarded on many different levels. Although this is an awesome book for teens, adult readers will also enjoy it.

Happy New Year! May you find lots of great books to read in 2019!

Are you on Goodreads, too? You can find me there at 

Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for fifty years. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.