Friday, April 6, 2012

Winter Wishes by Vivi Andrews, Vivian Arend, and Moira Rogers

Title: Winter Wishes
Contributing Authors: Vivi Andrews, Vivian Arend, Moira Rogers
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 2010
Format: E-Book
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Review copy from publisher

TANGLED TINSEL is the tale of Kyle Branegan, a cat shifter who is trying to hide is involvement in the Cougar Corp, and Eloise Scott, a cat shifter who happens to be an undercover cop for the human police force. When Kyle thinks his tryst with Eloise will be a brief and steamy romp that will be over and done with as quickly as it happens, he ends up getting the shock of his life. This little sex kitten is no kitten at all; she is a police officer who has been instructed to keep watch over him in an effort to keep him out of danger. Being held captive is a royal pain, but being handcuffed to the bed of a woman who exudes sexuality and spunk isn’t too terrible in Kyle’s book. 

But when Eloise plans to take Kyle to her quiet hometown to watch over him until the New Year, things are anything but quiet. With her parent’s new found richness and an ex-boyfriend sniffing around, Eloise has more than she can handle without having to put up with the sexy stranger she is forced to keep track of, and things become even more tangled when Kyle and Eloise announce their fake engagement.

In NO ANGEL Sasha is forced to endure the Christmas from Hell, literally. When her boyfriend Jay is sucked into the vortex of Hell, an angel informs Sasha that she has been chosen to be a Champion of Virtue who must battle for Jay’s immortal soul. But Sasha is not exactly on the nice list this year. Struggling with the reasons why she was chosen to fight for the side of good, she must find a way to bring Jay back from the depths of Hell. But what she doesn’t realize is that Jay has returned back to hell because his expired visa, a visa that allowed him to roam the mortal plane, a visa that expired three months ago. Now he must answer to his stepfather, Lucifer.

FREEZE LINE begins when a twenty-first century ice age occurs, leaving lone wolf Shane Sullivan above the freeze line. But he enjoys being a lone wolf simply because he has no desire to join the packs closer to the border for fear that their feral instincts will turn him from man to monster. He’s a man with a plan until the time of the Winter Solstice when he stumbles upon a dying witch named Nadia, who has escaped the captivity of northern lab and needs his help returning to her people and her magic in the south. But as the pair travels further south, Shane is having more and more trouble controlling the beast within and Nadia isn’t sure that she wants him to.


"Winter Wishes" is an anthology of holiday themed romance novellas including 'Tangled Tinsel' by Vivian Anders, 'No Angel' by Vivi Andrews, and 'Freeze Line' by Moira Rogers who deliver three tales of romantic encounters that take place during the holiday season.

This anthology is anything but your typical collection of Christmas tales. Each story adds a little sugar, a little spice, some things naughty, and some things nice. Each novella was incredibly well written and has the ability to not only capture the reader’s attention with the first sentence, but to hold on tight throughout each story. 'Tangled Tinsel', 'No Angel', and 'Freeze Line' all captivate readers by the blending of holiday cheer, eroticism, love, and the slightest bit of humor. 


"Winter Wishes" is well worth the time investment. Each author brings something different and exciting to this collection. Should a future anthology including the works of any or all of these authors be put on the market, I would definitely pick up my copy as soon as possible.

RATING: 8/10

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Title: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: October 31, 2006
Genre: Gothic Fiction
Source: Library Rental
My fascination with Shirley Jackson began at the age of fifteen. My Sophomore English teacher, Miss Randall, created a lesson plan around Gothic literature. Reading tales such as How Much Land Does a Man Need and The Yellow Wallpaper filled my mind with horrific images that evoked the spirit of the writer and horror fan within me. But it wasn’t until we read Shirley Jackson’s gothic tale The Lottery that I learned what true terror meant.
Years later I remain in awe of Jackson’s work and was overjoyed to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Just when I thought that her work couldn’t be any more intriguing, this novel comes along and proves once again why Shirley Jackson is a master of Gothic Lit.
Sisters Merrikat and Constance Blackwood live a secluded life in the dingy old mansion. But after what happened to their family what choice do they have? Rumors swirl as reminders of Constance’s trial are beginning to resurface, the trial in which she was acquitted from poisoning the elder members of her family. The girls are happy living a secluded life with their uncle, the lone survivor of the poisoning. But when their cousin decides to pay a lengthy visit, strange and unfortunate things begin to happen, and Merricat must face some truths that have always remained unspoken.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously sinister tale that creeps into the depths of the reader’s soul. This novel grabs the reader at the very beginning and holds on tight until the very last sentence. With lovable and loathsome characters, this novel introduces readers to the world of the Blackwood family and opens a magical yet dark atmosphere through the eyes of Merricat. The plot is original, the characters are powerful, and the setting is one of the creepiest of all time. With such a fantastic melding of characters and events, We Have Always Lived in the Castle will surely make the hair on your arms stand on end.
Rating: 10/10

The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Cindy Woodsmall

Title: The Scent of Cherry Blossoms
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Publication Date: February 21, 2012
Genre: Amish Romance
Source: Review Copy
I am not quite sure how I became so interested in the world of Amish romance. My typical choice of books usually involves steamy love scenes, murder mystery, and paranormal creatures with a lust for violence and accumulating sex partners. When I learned that Amish romance was actually a genre I couldn’t believe my ears. I had to see it for myself. It began with Cindy Woodsmall’s Sisters of the Quilt trilogy and skyrocketed from there. So whenever I need a break from otherworldly creatures and sex kittens, I turn to the world that Cindy Woodsmall has created in Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania.
The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is the Amish romance version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In a world where it is forbidden for Mennonites and Old Order Amish to become romantically involved, childhood friends Annie Martin (of the Mennonites) and Aden Zook (of the Old Order Amish)find themselves drawn to each other in a way that they have never experienced before. After being abandoned by her father in New York and despising the manner in which her mother allows her siblings to behave, Annie must return to Apple Ridge and her grandfather, Moses, to gain a perspective on the life that she leads. Annie couldn’t be happier; she will be arriving just in time for the blossoming of the cherry trees in her grandfather’s orchard. She tries to make herself useful by helping the Zook family run their diner since Roman, Aden’s twin brother who was paralyzed in a farming accident years ago, is assisting his uncle in mechanic work during the busiest time of the year for Zook’s Diner. Annie is overjoyed to see her old friend Aden. But what neither of them counted on was falling in love and the trials and tribulations they must face in order to overcome two worlds that are trying to tear them apart.
The Scent of Cherry Blossoms is a wonderful love story. Combining sorrow, joy, laughter, and journeys to self-discovery, this novel has something for everyone. The interaction between the characters creates tremendous tension while to plot drives them both together and apart.
The characters are endearing, the Amish lingo and history are thoroughly explained, and the setting paints a beautiful image of springtime.
Rating: 8/10     

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"The Heart of Texas" by RJ Scott


This is the first m/m romance that I have ever read and I am now a fan for life. When my very best friend Heather told me that it was like "an episode of Dallas" I moved The Heart of Texas to the top of my reading list and was very glad to have done so (thanks for the advice Heather, you are awesome). This story has all the drama you could want and more. I found myself literally gasping at some of the surprises this story had for me. It's so great I might even read it a second time (something I never do).

When playboy Riley Hayes is cheated out of his portion of the Hayes company he makes it his mission to gain what is rightfully his while doing everything he can to irritate his father. A simple stipulation is set: the portions of Hayes Oil will be redistributed should Riley wed for love and remain married for the duration of one year. After dubbing this a ridiculous requirement Riley does something that he knows will anger his father while it still fits within the agreement of the contract- he marries Jack Campbell, the son of the family's arch rival. After blackmailing Jack into one year of marriage Riley discovers that he not only has it within him to be a good person and to fall in love with a man but he has become a good person because of Jack and has fallen in love with him because of it. Could Jack possibly love Riley after everything he and his family have put the Campbell family through?

Filled with lies, deceit, murder, vengence, lust, love, violence, blackmailing, stuggle for power, cowboys, and tycoons The Heart of Texas has everything a reader could possibly want in a novel. I know that some readers might be leary about reading an m/m romance if they have not read one previously but trust me it is a fantastic read which I highly recommend.

The characters are incredible. RJ Scott does an amazing job of making you love the compassionate characters and hate the downright dirty stinking evil characters. I was very impressed that RJ Scott, being a woman, was able to write from a homosexual male perspective and make it so believable. Truly a very well written and plotted out story.

There is not a single dull moment in this book and in the conflict resolution as well as character development throughout the plot is impeccable. The scenery makes you feel like you are (no pun intended) in the heart of Texas and each chapter makes you want to delve deeper and deeper into the lives and of Hayeses and Campbells.This is truly one of the best constructed stories that I have had the pleasure to read and I highly recommend it.

Again, this story may not be for everyone but I recommend that you at least give it a shot because it is incredibly well written and imaginitive with the perfect amount of lust, love, betrayl, and tension.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Cell" by Stephen King

CELL Pictures, Images and Photos

Cell by Stephen King is terrifying yet heartwrenching. There were moments that completely grossed me out and others that literally made me cry ( I get attached to my fictional characters) but every moment had me on the edge of my seat.

After sealing the deal on his latest comic book creation, Clay Riddell is overjoyed and feeling triumphant as he strolls through Boston, ready to make his way home to Maine. But his joy is shortlived. A pulse seems to be emitted from every cell phone in the world, causings it's listeners to go insane and eventually become zombies who kill anyone in their way.

After meeting up with survivors Tom McCourt and Alice Maxwell, the band of three make their way from Boston to Maine with hopes of finding Clay's son Johnny and wife Sharon. But the journey is long and difficult, especially since the zombie-like creatures seem to be evolving and their spokesperson, dubbed The Raggedy Man, seems to be controlling the dreams and actions of those who were not changed after the pulse.

I loved this book! My only problem with it is that *SPOILER* you never learn who or what caused the pulse to begin with. But with that being said I thought this book is one of the best Stephen King books thus far. Incredibly written, perfect plot, wonderfully detailed, and just all around fantastic.

The characters in this book really grab you and pull you into the story. They are diverse yet, through their goals and terrors, they are the same. There are characters that make you love them and characters that make you loath them. But ALL of them make you feel something.

I highly recommend this book to zombie lovers as well as people who enjoy post apocalyptic stories, and of course readers who love other works by Stephen King.