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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book #6 Under the Mistletoe

I'm busy baking cookies for a cookie party tomorrow.  But since I'm really trying to force myself back into the habit of blogging, I wanted to make sure I posted another book in the 25 books of Christmas.

Under the Mistletoe by Pam Knight was a fun little read.  It wasn't outstanding, I read it last year and don't think I'll re-read it this year, but it had holiday spirt and was enjoyable.

Because I'm tired and want to be able to turn my attention back to tomorrow's cookies, I'm going to share the excerpt that sold me on the book, and is on the amazon website:
Elle took the stairs because she didn’t think being in the elevator again would do anything to help her concentration. She pushed open the heavy door to the stairwell and heard a yelp and a thump. “Oh my god! Did I hit someone?” Elle slipped past the door and turned to find Cooper crumpled against the wall holding his face. Forgetting all about how nervous he made her she rushed over and pulled away his hands to inspect any damage.

If he had to get pummeled by a steel door—this was totally the way to do it. The first thing Cooper saw when his hands were pried away from his face was a smooth creamy peach colored throat sprouting out from the deep vee neckline of a white almost sheer blouse. He groaned.

“Does it hurt terribly?” 

She sounded so worried. Cooper wavered between agreeing that it hurt and sounding like a wimp or admitting the real reason for his groan and facing that harassment suit. “No. I’m okay, I think. No big deal.” He tried to lift himself off the floor.


“Eleanor!” Cooper interrupted. “You’re bleeding!”

“Of course I’m not—you are.” Elle held her palms out so he could see the blood smeared across them wasn’t hers. There was a lot of it. 

“I’m bleeding?” Suddenly he was feeling a little dizzy. Shit. He was going to faint in front of this woman! Could his day get any worse? Maybe he was going to die. If he was on his death bed no one would blame him for just one little kiss, right?

“Don’t be so melodramatic—you aren’t going to die.”

Oh, good lord! Had he been talking out loud? “Did I say that out loud?”

Elle laughed. “I think you might have a concussion. This is ruined, right?”

She was unbuttoning his shirt. Usually this fantasy didn’t include so much blood and the blinding headache, but he’d take Eleanor Loring undressing him anyway he could get it. “I guess that means you aren’t going to give me that kiss?” She balled up his $200.00 shirt and pressed it to the side of his head.

“Do you think you can walk? You are going to need stitches. Should I call someone?”

“Right, no kiss.” Cooper tried to concentrate. He probably could walk, but falling over and crushing her was not acceptable. “Mark Rosenberg is the on the fourteenth floor. His number is in my phone.”

A moment later Elle handed him back his phone. “He’s on his way.”

“So Mark is going to be her in about 90 seconds?”

“About that I guess.” Elle was concentrating on the gash in his forehead and didn’t notice him move until it was too late.

Cooper dragged her into his lap and molded her body to his. He kissed her fast before she could protest. She tasted like blood—but that was probably his fault. He didn’t care anyway. Her hair was twisted up with some kind of pencil shaped hair thing—easily discarded. Her curls bounced down around his hands as he held her in place enjoying the softness of her lips and the tiny sighing noises she made in the back of her throat.

“Should I come back later?” Mark was standing over them in way less than 90 seconds.

“No.” Cooper groaned as Elle extricated herself. “I was just enjoying my concussion.”

“Is that what the kids are calling it these days?” Mark grasped him under one arm and helped him to his feet. 

Part of him knew he should say something before he left her there. Apologize for kissing her, thank her for taking care of him, ask her to marry him… something. But the world was making a lot less sense with every second so instead he just waved at her as Mark pulled him along.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book #5 A Country Kitchen Christmas

A Christmas story about food bloggers?  Sounds good to me!

A Country Kitchen Christmas was a fun little read.  It is short, so I think you could read it on your lunchbreak.  Penelope is a very successful food blogger, with one little problem - she can't cook!  She shares a lot of stories about her time on her farm, except she sold the farm years ago to a high school classmate.  Now, because of a contest with the food network she is back on the farm, and back in the life of Derek the man from high school.  This story really reminded me of a religious version of the  movie Christmas in Connecticut.

Day #5, that means we're already 1/5 of the way through the 25 days of Christmas!  I'm going to need to do some reading this weekend, so I have a full 25 books to post about.  Thanks to all the holiday books recently available for free download at Amazon.com, that shouldn't be a problem.  Today's book is one I snagged for free last year.

Book #4 The Mistletoe Mishap

After some steamy book choices, I wanted to throw in some more wholesome choices.  While I read both, I understand why some readers prefer to stay away from steamy romance books.

The Mistletoe Mishap is a fun little regency holiday read.  Isabella shares a passionate kiss under the mistletoe, with Viscount Alderton.  All too soon, he realized that he'd grabbed Isabella, instead of her cousin Caroline.  They have the same unique shade of hair.  One little kiss ends up leading to some problems, and eventually a HEA.  Good clean fun, and Christmas and the tradition of Twelfth Night are incorporated into the story.  All very good fun!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Home for Christmas

Home for Christmas by Kate Davies is a wonderful holiday read.  One of the things that makes this story unique is that it is about a widow, Sophia, with an adult daughter.  Sophia's husband died almost two years ago.  Her daughter is going to spend Christmas with her almost fiance, so Sophia decided to book herself on a cruise.  There is just one problem, Ethan, the man who has been Sophia's rock since her husband's death, doesn't want her going on a cruise without him.

While this is a short read, I think it is really heartwarming to see someone find real love twice in their life.  Bad things happen, but life can go on and happiness can still exist.  I really like that message, and I really like this quick read.  I also managed to score it as a free read in November 2011, so that added to my enjoyment.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 2! I'll be Mated for Christmas

Today's review is for I'll be Mated for Christmas by Rebecca Royce.  The first thing you need to know is that this is a story from Decadent Publishing's 1 Night Stand line.  The premise behind all of the 1 Night Stand books is that Madame Eve is a bit magical, and she runs a 1 Night Stand dating service.  While many of the clients believe they're committing to a one night situation, Madame Eve is actually pairing them with their happily ever after (HEA).  I was a bit hesitant to read a book in the 1 Night Stand line, as I'm a big fan of the HEA, and didn't really see that coming out of a one night stand.  Once a fellow reader explained to me that they were actually magical matchmaking stories, I was willing to try a few.  What I enjoy most about the 1 Night Stand stories is that they're a quick read, something that I can start and finish at night when I'm relaxing before bed.

In I'll be Mated for Christmas, we meet Bethany.  She is a human, and her human mother married a werewolf after she was born.  So she has two half-siblings who are werewolves, and she lives at the pack with her half-siblings and step-father.  Her mother died when she was little, killed by a rogue wolf.  Her step-father, unfamiliar with raising human children, gave Bethany a rather cold childhood.  Bethany recently lost a lot of weight, and now she's told her siblings that she's moving away.  She just has to have a 1 night stand first.

In the mythology created by Ms. Royce, the werewolves can recognize their mate by smell.  When the new Alpha enters the house, he immediately knows Bethany is his mate.  But Bethany as already taken off.  Luke happens to know Madame Eve, and gets set up as her 1 night stand.  If you like stories about women losing their virginity, then that appears in this book when Bethany and Luke hook up.  I'm not a big fan of the plot device personally, but it shows up frequently in Romance novels, so obviously some people enjoy this type of story.  Of course, Luke and Bethany find their HEA.

Overall, this book was only ok.  There wasn't a lot of Christmas magic in it, it just took place around Christmas.  That is a complaint I have about a lot of books that sell themselves as Christmas stories.  I want the holidays to be a key plot device, not a holiday that could really be interchangeable with other holidays.  

Bethany's character has a lot of emotional damage, and I wasn't sure that in such a short story, we were really given a chance to see her move beyond that damage.  There is also a back story with Luke that I felt like we never got all the details.  I'm not sure that the short 1 Night Stand story format was best for their love story.

There are two additional related stories, both 1 Night Stand stories by Rebecca Royce. Believe in Me is about Bethany's half-brother, and Paging Dr. Wolf, about Bethany's half-sister.  I haven't read Believe in Me, though I think it has been ranked low on Amazon, a bit unfairly by a reviewer who didn't realize I'll be Mated for Christmas is first in the series.  Paging Dr. Wolf was better than I'll be Mated for Christmas in my opinion, but didn't have a holiday theme.  In Paging Dr. Wolf, Cara has signed up for a 1 Night Stand, hoping to have the same luck as her siblings.  Before the date can occur, he's attacked by a rouge werewolf, and starts changing.  When him and Cara meet, he's a hot mess of instinctual need for his mate, and a human wanting to act "proper".  Cara has to help him come around to his wolf, and the pack ways.  I enjoyed seeing her doing a little bit of guiding.

Overall, if you're looking for a few enjoyable quick reads, I'd check out all three books.  But with a price tag of $2.99 a pop, and less than 40 pages per story, I think there are better ways to spend your ebook budget. I hope to be posting about some of those in the upcoming days leading up to Christmas!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

25 Book Reviews of Christmas

My life has changed quite a bit since my last blog post in 2011.  I had to stop doing French Fridays with Dorie due to some changes in my personal life.  Maybe I'll be able to pick it up in the future.  In the last year or so, I've been reading a ton on my kindle.  To try to get me back into blogging, I decided to write about a hobby, reading!  So I'll be doing the 25 book reviews of Christmas, or trying to at least.    To ease into the first review, I'm using a review I wrote for Amazon a year ago that has a lot of helpful votes.  I hope to get my words flowing on this blog during this holiday season, and this is just a way to get me started.

This is a short holiday read, that the author uses to set up some characters for later books in her Raising Cain series. Upon finishing this book, I didn't feel the need to read the other books in the serious, there aren't really loose ends left after this book ends, so that is nice if you're just looking for a holiday read, and not a new series.
The premise of the book is that Noelle moves back to her hometown, and tries to get a job at the local bar, Raising Cain. The bar is owned by the Cain family and her best friend is Casey Cain, but Casey's older brother Cash makes all the decisions. He says jobless Noelle can't work at the bar, so Noelle takes a job as a bell ringer - right outside the bar. Sparks fly back and forth between Noelle and Cash, and a battle of wills takes place before we get to the HEA.
Comparing this book to the descriptions of the other books in the Raising Cain series, I think this book must be tamer. There is some dominant male action by Cash, but nothing that gets into the BDSM scene or multiple partners, like the descriptions of some of the later books in the series. Overall, I thought this was a cute, quick, holiday story and I treated it as a stand-alone.

Friday, June 3, 2011

FFwD Warm Weather Vegetable Pot Au Feu

My hubby, Mr. Hobby, and I decided to try out the slow carb diet for two weeks. We only made it four days, it was making us cranky because we were hungry all the time and we started snapping at each other. As Tim Ferris points out, you can eat a lot of spinach, and not come close to the calories in eating the same portion size of rice. I adjusted this week's FFwD recipe to be slow carb friendly by leaving out the potatoes (white foods are a no-no) and putting sugar snap peas in their place.

I don't own a wok, so I used my dutch oven. It seemed fitting, since that is what I make my winter soups in, and this was soup like.

I was about to poach my egg whites (the only white food allowed) and I realized I had no vinegar. I figured that since it was just the two of us, it wouldn't matter if my poached eggs weren't pretty. Not pretty is an understatement. They really didn't stay together well, as you can see from what stayed in my skillet when I pulled the poached egg whites out.

The finished product was yummy! I was able to use my homegrown cilantro for the first time, and that was exciting! Too see what everyone else did, be sure to check out FFwD!