'Tis the Season (Part 1)



For some of us it's that time of year when we are transitioning from Thansgiving into Christmas and from Fall into Winter. To mark the occasion, Wendy and I have decided to do a series of Holiday related posts. Part 1 is naturally about books! 

I really try to enjoy this time of year and I admit, I've already mailed my holiday cards out (**GASP**). I also have a love for Christmas movies so I've been watching them for a couple weeks. BUT I have to raise a huge STOP sign when it comes to holiday music and decorations, I'm just not there yet. As for holiday themed books, here's what's on my shelf.


A Highlander Christmas by Janet Chapman
The Secret Life of Mrs. Claus by Carly Alexander*
Don't Look Down by Jennifer Cruise <== Oops, this one isn't a Christmas book but it somehow made it's way into the pic. I blame the red spine ;) 
The Dangers of Mistletoe by Theresa Alan
Icing on the Lake by Catherine Clark
Must Love Mistletoe by Christie Ridgway
Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbit Macomber*
Let it Snow by John Green etc.
The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson*
The Christmas Shoppe by Melody Carlson*


I also have a few holiday themed ebooks:

Jingle all the YA by various authors*
Forever Christmas by Christine Lynxwiler
Bah, Humbug by Heather Horrocks*
Merry's Christmas by Susan Rohrer
Sweet Inspiration by Penny Watson*
Snowed Under by Jude Ryan
All I Want for Christmas is You by Lisa Mondello

There's no way I will get to them all but there are a few that I'm eyeing up more than others. I marked those with a * above.

How about you, do you enjoy holiday themed books or movies? Which are you most looking forward to reading/watching?


________________________________________________________________

I think the buildup to Christmas is more fun than the day itself. My favorite way to spend a December evening is curled up with a cup of coffee and a great book. Unfortunately my hardcopies are all packed as we are preparing to move so I can't take a picture of them to share with you, but some of the Holiday book I have are:

No Place Like Home by Fern Michaels
Family Blessings by Fern Michaels
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

These are the ones I have on my Kindle:

Forever Christmas by Christine Lynxwiler
All I Want for Christmas is You by Lisa Mondello
Mistletoe Mischief by Stacey Joy Netzel
Blame it on the Mistletoe by Joyce Magnin


Book of Lists

This idea (and the text below) came from Kapachino blog but I actually saw it on Cat's Thoughts blog. I'm a list lover so I decided to join in the fun....plus it was a great excuse to buy yet another notebook!

"Every month there will be a topic for a list, and the object is to craft it on a blank page, take a photo of your list, then blog it. You can get elaborate scrapbook-style, or even jot it down with your favorite pen. If you want, you don’t even have to make a book and you can just blog about the list topic (even though then it’s not really a book of lists, but that’s cool). My style is somewhere in the middle."

I went with a small, simple Black n' Red notebook. I also made my own title page which I will probably spruce up at some point.



I'm a little late joining and the first topic list (wishlist) is supposed to be posted on December 3rd...next week. I will not make it by then but I'll try to have my list posted later next week.



Cover Reveal: The Midnight Spell by Rhiannon Frater and Kody Boye


The Midnight Spell - Publication date: February, 2013

Best friends since kindergarten, Adam and Christy have always been the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas.  The other kids call Adam gay and Christy a witch.

On both counts the bullies are right.

Their junior year in high school seems destined to be the same old same old until Christy decides to cast a love spell for Adam at the midnight hour. The next day an alluring and mysterious boy enrolls at school and sets hearts a flutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome football player Ian seems to be going nowhere fast and her witch puberty is making her life miserable.

When a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, the best friends realize that finding a boyfriend is the least of their worries. Soon Adam and Christy will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before, and will again.



Cover designed by Phatpuppy Art.

AUTHOR BIOS

Rhiannon Frater

Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. Inspired to independently produce her work from the urging of her fans, she published The First Days in late 2008 and quickly gathered a cult following. She won the Dead Letter Award back-to-back for both The First Days and Fighting to Survive, the former of which the Harrisburg Book Examiner called ‘one of the best zombie books of the decade.’ Rhiannon is currently represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry + Literary Media agency. You may contact her by sending an email to rhiannonfrater@gmail.com.

Author Links:

Kody Boye

Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and the dark fantasy novel Blood. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror,) while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years(Bitten by Books.) He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area.

Double Review: Parallel Visions (A Psychic Teen Novel #1) by Cheryl Rainfield

Goodreads Summary:

Visions can kill you. Would you risk your life to save someone else’s?

Kate sees psychic visions of the future and the past – but only when she’s having an asthma attack. When she “sees” her sister being beaten, she needs more visions to try to save her, along with a suicidal classmate – but triggering her asthma could kill her. Parallel Visions is the story of one brave, caring girl whose unusual gifts put her own life in danger.





Jen’s Thoughts:

I was so drawn into this book that I’m just sitting here staring at my screen at a loss on where to start with my review. I loved it and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it before the author contacted me about possibly reviewing it.

Cheryl Rainfield writes in a way that makes you feel so much for her characters. She also makes you stop and think about what it’s like to experience what the characters are experiencing. You wonder if you would act the same in those situations? Kate is such a great main character and I love that she keeps trying and she continues to fight for herself and others.

Parallel Visions is emotional and suspenseful but at the same time it’s so sweet. It shows that if you find yourself lost in a bad situation it is possible to find your way back. It’s definitely a book I would recommend others read.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Wendy’s Thoughts:

This was the first book I have ever read by Cheryl Rainfield, and I am truely speechless.

The story sucked me in from the very beginning and didn't let me loose until I was finished. It was just so good I had to read it in one sitting.

It does contain some subject matter that may not be for everyone, such as rape, suicide, and domestic violence, but the way it is written is just amazing.

Kate is 16, but has never been a "normal" teenager. She has visions that are brought on by severe asthma attacks. She desperately tries to help the people she "sees" but there's only so much she can explain when people are already skeptical.

I don't want to give anything away, but this book is certainly a Must Read!! I will be recommending Parallel Visions as well as Cheryl Rainfield. I personally can't wait to read more of her work!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Wendy and I received a review copies of this book but that did not affect our reviews in any way

Cheryl Rainfield's website
Parallel Visions on Goodreads
Parallel Visions on Amazon and Kobo
(has not been released on Barnes & Noble yet)

Shelf Candy Saturday (27): Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards



Shelf Candy Saturday is hosted by A Night's Dream of Books.


Phoenix (Black City #2) 

by Elizabeth Richards

 Weeks after his crucifixion and rebirth as Pheonix, Ash Fisher believes his troubles are far behind him. He and Natalie are engaged and life seems good. But his happiness is short-lived when he receives a threatening visit from Purian Rose, who gives Ash an ultimatum: vote in favor of Rose's Law permanently relegating Darklings to the wrong side of the wall or Natalie will be killed.

The decision seems obvious to Ash; he must save Natalie. But when Ash learns about The Tenth, a new and deadly concentration camp where the Darklings would be sent, the choice doesn't seem so simple. Unable to ignore his conscience, Ash votes against Rose's Law, signing Natalie's death warrant and putting a troubled nation back into the throes of bloody battle.


Just like the first book in the Black City series Phoenix has a gorgeous cover!  I love the flaming feather and the shadow it casts over the cityscape.



Make Believe Anthology

Goodreads Summaries:

Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski

An impetuous act unwittingly makes Alesuela the fulfillment of the Sovereign’s Blood Oath to their Goddess. In five days, she’ll be forced to make the greatest choice of her life: become the virginal sacrifice already promised, or force the man she loves most to die in her place.

With an impossible choice in front of her, she searches for ways to undo the oath, and in her quest, finds not everything in her life is as she expects.

The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford

There is only one way to save Elton Fletcher’s brother from an insanity-ridden death.

After years away from home, fighting for his people, Elton returns to discover his only sibling, Cayden, possessed by greed and malice, and responsible for malicious, unthinkable deeds. Cayden, though, isn’t the only one afflicted by the Amulet of Ormisez, and Elton finds himself in yet another battle, where the price of failure could be his own life.

Birthright by Lynda R. Young

Christa can mask the pain and hide the scars, but running from a birthright is impossible.

She’s tried to escape her grief by fleeing to a small town in Florida. Much to her frustration, the locals think they recognize her even though she’s never been there before. To make things worse, a man named Jack spouts outrageous theories about her.

Both spur Christa to bolt, to start fresh yet again, but there’s something about Jack that intrigues her enough to stay. The only problem? Someone else wants her to leave, and they won’t stop until she’s dead.

Petrified by Kelly Said

A mysterious storm has replaced summer with winter, devastating crops and smothering Castle lands in snow. Prince Sterling August stands alone as a leader, lost in personal grief as well as a desire to help his people but with an inability to do either.

The answers he needs await him, but without Lochlyn, a woman who’s just as isolated as Sterling, he’ll never see what stands before him, cloaked in illusion.

Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton

Emily is a Red, a woman whose sole purpose in life is to produce offspring. When her husband dies and leaves her childless, she risks her life and forsakes the safety of Terra – a disease-free city born after the nuclear holocaust. Beyond its boundaries, she knows, survives a man with whom she can be properly paired.

The Outside, though, holds secrets the government struggles to keep, and what Emily discovers on her quest for a mat will change her life forever.

Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield

From a charity auction, to a stroll in the park, to the craziest night of her life. Nicole Harrington can’t help but wonder how a simple event went so drastically wrong.

Of course, the male escort she booked is wholly to blame. Not only charming but shrewdly intelligent, Benjamin Gold drags Nicole into a platoon of unimaginable problems – ones from which she’ll have to find the courage just to survive.


My Thoughts:

Honestly, I wanted to read this anthology just because I really enjoy J.A. Belfield’s writing (and she rocks, Go Julie! Lol) but was pleasantly surprised when I ended up loving the other stories as well. With mystery, deceit, fate, grief, greed, romance, and action each story has its own engaging elements but all are sprinkled with a morsel of magic. Definitely a great read!
 
Overall rating: 5 out of 5

Make Believe on Goodreads
Make Believe releases December 3rd

Terri Rochenski's website
J. Keller Ford's website
Lynda R. Young's website
Kelly Said's website
Jennifer M. Eaton's website
J.A. Belfield's website


At Random on Facebook



At Random is now on Facebook!!
Check it out HERE.

Double Time (Sinners on Tour #5) by Olivia Cunning **Over 18 Review**


Goodreads Summary: 



Olivia Cunning delivers the perfect blend of steamy sex, heartwarming romance, and a wicked sense of humor in this menage story featuring the hottest guy in the Sinners band.

Trey Mills, the notoriously sexy Sinners rhythm guitarist, gives up his bisexual lifestyle and is swept into a hot, heady romance with Reagan Elliot, a female rock star sensation. But when Trey encounters Reagan's sexy bisexual roommate, Ethan Conner, he can no longer deny who he is or what he wants. Reagan heartily agrees to a solution that opens up a hot new world of sexual experience--and love--with the two men she wants the most.
 
My Thoughts: 



*OVER 18 REVIEW*


**Beware before reading that this book does have spoilers for future books.**
           
First of all I was extremely po'ed when I figured out that this wasn't book three but actually book five! Apparently this is the publishers fault and not the authors so my review doesn't reflect my dislike.
 


I was very excited to read Treys book as he was a character that I just loved from book one and I wanted to see him get his happy ending.
 
This book starts out with Trey warring with himself to let go of Brian and trying to push himself to let go and move on. Treys brother Dare invites him to help judge a contest for Exodus Ends (Dares band) new rhythm guitarist. It is here that Trey meets Reagan. They spend a day together and he thinks he has finally met the one he can settle down with. There is only one problem; she doesn't know about his bi-sexuality and he doesn't know how to tell her.

This entire series so far is excellent! I mean what could be hotter than smoking HOT rockstars? I am really looking forward to reading the rest of this series. Olivia Cunning is an amazing author and does not disappoint!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Shelf Candy Saturday (26): Double Time (Sinners on Tour #5) by Olivia Cunning



Shelf Candy Saturday is hosted by A Night's Dream of Books.


Double Time (Sinners on Tour #5) 
by Olivia Cunning
**Over 18 book**

Olivia Cunning delivers the perfect blend of steamy sex, heartwarming romance, and a wicked sense of humor in this menage story featuring the hottest guy in the Sinners band.

Trey Mills, the notoriously sexy Sinners rhythm guitarist, gives up his bisexual lifestyle and is swept into a hot, heady romance with Reagan Elliot, a female rock star sensation. But when Trey encounters Reagan's sexy bisexual roommate, Ethan Conner, he can no longer deny who he is or what he wants. Reagan heartily agrees to a solution that opens up a hot new world of sexual experience--and love--with the two men she wants the most.

Goodreads
Authors website
Amazon

This is an erotica novel and only for Adults! I think the cover fits the storyline perfectly. It is on the revealing side of the spectrum but the story inside is just amazing. It is very easy to be sucked into this book and the rest of the series so I just had to share it with you. Please check back on Monday for my review of Double Time!



Pretty When She Dies (Pretty When She Dies #1) by Rhiannon Frater

Goodreads Summary:

Amaliya wakes under the forest floor, disoriented, famished and confused. She digs out of the shallow grave and realizes she is hungry…

… in a new, horrific, unimaginable way…

Sating her great hunger, she discovers that she is now a vampire, the bloodthirsty creature of legend. She has no choice but to flee from her old life and travel across Texas. Her new hunger spurs her to leave a wake of death and blood behind her as she struggles with her new nature.

All the while, her creator is watching, He is ancient, he is powerful, and what’s worse is that he’s a necromancer. He has the power to force the dead to do his bidding. Amaliya realizes she is but a pawn in a twisted game, and her only hope for survival is to seek out one of her own kind.

But if Amaliya finds another vampire, will it mean her salvation… or her death?

My Review:

And my love for Rhiannon Frater’s books continues! I wouldn’t say this is my favorite Frater book (The First Days still holds that title) but it’s still a great read!  

One of the things that stood out for me was the roles of the female and male main characters. In a lot of books, the male mc tends to become just as important to a books storyline as the female. It was different in this book, I liked the male mc and he played an important role but not so much as to take away from Amaliya, the female mc. She remained the focus throughout. She did have a knack for getting herself into bad situations but considering she was new vampire with no direction I think she did fairly well.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Marriage Mistake (Marriage to a Billionaire #3) by Jennifer Probst

Goodreads Summary: 

Carina Conte has had a crush on her brother Michael’s best friend, Max Gray, since she was a teenager. Nowshe’searned her MBA and come to work at Michael’snewventure, America’s fastest-growing bakery empire. But some things never change: her family still treats her like a child. Withthree drop-dead gorgeous siblings, she’s still the ugly duckling of the bunch. And Max, the company’s new CEO, still barely notices her.

Max knows Carina Conte is strictly off limits. But hot-blooded lust wins out at a conference when the two share a scorching one-night stand—and are busted by her mother! Now, forced by old-world Italian tradition into a marriage he’s not ready for, Max is miserable—and Carina is furious. Her new husband is about to realize that hell hath no fury like a woman transformed.

My Thoughts: 

This is my favorite of the series so far. I loved this story and in my opinion each book has gotten progressively better. I can't wait for more from this author.

Max & Carina have known each other since childhood; as Max was her brothers best friend. I love stories like this where the couple starts as childhood friends and it grows into the love of a lifetime.

Once again Carinas mother played a part in nudging the couple together as she did in book 2. Mama is a very sneaky character and I hope we see more of her.

I would definitely recommend this title as well as the series!
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5


Swag Winners!


Below is the list of winners from last week's swag giveaways. 
A BIG CONGRATS to all of the winners!!



Giveaway #1 – Jennifer Morgan

Giveaway #2 – Amy K

Giveaway #3 – Abbey

Giveaway #4 & 5 – Wall-to-Wall Books – Wendy
AND Miki

Giveaway #6 – Britt

Giveaway #7 – Tiffany H.

Giveaway #8 – Beckey W



If you don't remember which swag pack is which you can check it out here

Congrats again winners! I'll be contacting you all :)

Shelf Candy Saturday (25): Cheryl Rainfield



Shelf Candy Saturday is hosted by A Night's Dream of Books.


Scars by Cheryl Rainfield


Kendra, fifteen, hasn't felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can't remember the most important detail - her abuser's identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it's her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from mMeghan, the classmate who's becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra's abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. Scars is the unforgettable story of one girl's frightening path to the truth.


Hunted by Cheryl Rainfield


Caitlyn is a telepath in a world where having any Paranormal power is illegal. Caitlyn is on the fun from the government troopers, who can enslave , torture, or even kill her, or make her hunt other Paranormals. When Caitlyn settles down in a city, she falls for Alex, a Normal (someone without Paranormal powers), which is dangerous because he can turn her in. And she discovers renegade Paranormals who want to destroy all Normals. Caitlyn must decide whether she's going to stay in hiding to protect herself, or take a stand to save the world.

Cheryl Rainfield on Amazon & Barnes and Noble
Cheryl Rainfield on Goodreads
Cheryl Rainfield's Website

I really like these covers, they both grab your attention and then stick with you. I came across Scars because of all of the 'drama' surrounding it a while ago. Some people thought it shouldn't be on YA shelves because of the cover and content. Sure it's a dark book about sexual abuse and self mutilation but at the same time I have read many many comments about how this book has helped people. Abuse and cutting are both things that teens sometimes deal with in their lives and I think it's amazing that Cheryl Rainfield was brave enough to broach both subjects. Back to the covers, Scars cover is so powerful and it's expecially powerful because I've read that it's actually a picture of Cheryl's arms. Maybe that's why the book was so memorable for me...knowing the author experienced the same things (or something similar) to what Kendra experiences in the book. But I'm off topic again, I think the cover background is also fitting, it's dark and the texture looks like it could be slashes or cuts. The texture of Hunted is also eye catching along with the shadow of an arm. I haven't read Hunted yet but it's definitely on my to be read list!


Feral Sins (The Phoenix Pack) by Suzanne Wright

**OVER 18 REVIEW**

Goodreads Description: 

If your inner wolf and your body react rather enthusiastically to a psychotic Alpha male who’s own wolf has a tendency to turn feral, it can’t be a good thing, can it? Entering into a bargain with him wouldn’t be good either. Unfortunately, Taryn Warner, a latent wolf shifter, doesn’t have many options open to her right now. Okay, she has no options. Basically it comes down to whether she’ll do what it takes to escape the arranged mating with the sick SOB that her father set up. As the answer in this case is yes, it looks as though she’ll have to agree to Trey Coleman’s deal…she’ll have to mate with him instead.

Having always disliked shifter politics, Trey Coleman hadn’t bothered trying to form alliances with other packs. Now that his uncle – a wolf with many alliances – means to take Trey’s territory and his pack, he has no option but to form some alliances of his own very quickly or he’ll be easily outnumbered in the upcoming battle. He figures that the easiest way to do that would be to mate with a female who’s Alpha is powerful and influential. There’s only one problem with that – he would then be stuck with her, and the last thing Trey wants is a mate. When he hears of Taryn’s situation, he offers her a deal – if she falsely claims he’s her true mate and allows him to claim her, he’ll save her from her arranged mating and then let her leave after the battle with his uncle is over.

Sounds like a pretty straightforward deal...but soon Taryn and Trey realize they got more than they bargained for. Their mating instincts to protect and possess are weighing on them, they crave each other’s touch and company, and their inner wolves don’t like it whenever they’re apart. Add in that they’ll have to deal with this for an entire three months until the day of the battle finally arrives, and they’ve got themselves a recipe for disaster – or maybe for something quite the opposite.

Warning: This novel contains an extremely sarcastic Alpha female, a broody possessive Alpha male, bitter in-laws, voyeuristic enforcers, a whole lot of dirty talk, and steamy bedroom battles for dominance. Reader Advisory: This book also contains a graphic ménage scene - not for the faint-hearted.

My Thoughts: 

I was pulled into this story from the very beginning and it was very hard to put down. If I would've had more "me time" I would've finished it in one sitting. Instead it was a weekend read.

I really liked that this one was different that other werewolf books I have read. The characters are more wolf-like in their reactions and decisions than in other "shifter" books. That is just the impression I got from it.

Trey and Taryn are both Alphas even though Taryn is latent (unable to shift). This causes them to but heads pretty often. There is also alot of funny banter within this book.

I loved this story and I am very eager for book 2 "Wicked Cravings" that is expected to be published in March of next year.

As a general rule I don't usually read other reviews on books right before reading them and I am glad I didn't. I found that alot of reviewers had issues with the scene that is mentioned in the description as a *Warning*. I however did not. I thought it was a very sexy scene and I am glad I was able to read this version. According to the authors blog Feral Sins is being professionally edited and will be published and available in multiple formats in Feb 2013. A stipulation of the publisher is that sex scenes only be between two characters so the group scene is to be relpaced with one that is only Trey and Taryn. You can read more about that here.

Favorite Quotes:

"All I know is that I don't want you to leave. If you do I'll hunt you down and bring you back, Taryn. I shit you not, I will. Not because of our deal or my wolf, but because I want you here with me." -Trey

The next one is a short conversation between Trey and Taryn regarding Greta, Treys grandmother.

"I know she's being a little difficult right now, but she's one of those people who grow on you."
"No she's one of those people who are like Slinkies."
"Slinkies?"
"Yeah. Basically useless, but they make you smile when you push them down the stairs."

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Authors website
Amazon
Goodreads