Sunday, December 21, 2014

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop!!




Welcome to this stop in the 
Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop,
sponsored by
Kathy @ I Am A Reader!!


This hop runs from midnight, 12/21/14 
to midnight, 1/1/15!!
There are over 125 participating blogs,
all offering AMAZING prizes!!

For my giveaway this year,
I will be offering ONE LUCKY 
INTERNATIONAL WINNER a book of
their choice, worth up to $15.00,
from THE BOOK DEPOSITORY!!!!

Please make sure TBD delivers to your country.
You can do that HERE.


Christmas is just around
the corner, so this just might be
YOUR Christmas present
from A Night's Dream of Books!!
GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE!!





  

Merry Christmas 
and
Happy Holidays!! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR, TOO!!



Be sure to check out the other AWESOME giveaways!!



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Shelf Candy Saturday #137: Christmas With Mary Engelbreit: Here Comes Santa Claus

 


Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!


This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful book covers!
It also provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
simply go HERE.



Here's my choice for this week!



 Christmas With Mary Engelbreit: 
Here Comes Santa Claus
Mary Engelbreit
Hardcover, 143 pages
Oxmoor, first edition
August 2, 2002
Christmas Decorating, 
Christmas Traditions, Nonfiction


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1974013.Christmas_with_Mary_Engelbreit?ac=1




My Thoughts About This Cover

This is such a beautiful, whimsical cover! It really captures all the enchantment of this, the most wonderful season of the year! 

Of course, Engelbreit is known for her gorgeous art, which, although indeed whimsical, is never "cute" in a cliche sort of way, but instead, delights the viewer with its clean design and brilliant colors.

The Santa Claus on this particular cover has a decidedly Nordic feel, and in fact, is patterned on the Father Christmas image more common in those countries. His ridiculously long, pointed shoes remind me of fairies and elves, and are also a sample of this artist's subtle humor. Santa nevertheless is able to trudge through the snow, his bulging sack laden with goodies, with his trusty staff. Instead of reindeer, he has a faithful little dog at his side. 

The frame is very nicely detailed with small flowers, and I love the 'mellow yellow' color against the night-sky blue, which is speckled with stars. I believe the frame has a slight Art Nouveau influence, as well.

The lettering is very nice, too, of course; it's part of Mary Engelbreit's signature style.

This cover is perfect for one to get into the holiday spirit, since Christmas is just around the corner!





Mary Engelbreit Online Links
 
  
 


What do you think of my 
choice this week?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!





Friday, December 19, 2014

Blog Tour: Mini-Review & Giveaway!! Of Sentimental Value, by Princess Fumi Hancock




Welcome to this stop in the blog 
tour for Of Sentimental Value,
sponsored by 
Bewitching Book Tours!!




Of Sentimental Value
Princess Fumi Hancock
Trade Paperback, 328 pages
Princess In Suburbia
July 17, 2014
Cover Artist: Phatpuppy Arts Studios
Mystery, Romantic Suspense




Bestselling author, Indiefest and African Oscar Award-winning filmmaker, host of an African Oscar-nominated TV talk show, an African Heritage Leadership Award recipient and a globally sought-after transformation interventionist, Princess  Fumi Hancock  delivers an inspirational and intriguing romantic suspense story, yet laced in mystery and comedy: Of Sentimental Value, a titillating and jaw-dropping adventure set between the deep rich forests of Africa and the southern flat plains of Nashville, Tennessee. 
A twenty-one year old, young African immigrant, Siberia Tonka has all the ingredients of a successful writer: commitment, dedication, and drive to become famous. Until her dream of becoming the next bestselling media sensation in America is threatened by an inexplicable cosmic force! Buried and spiraling in insurmountable debt and a string of misfortune hovering over her, she is forced to pawn her most valuable possession. But when told her sister’s life in Africa hangs in the balance and that she would die if the artifact is not returned back to the rightful owners, Siberia in desperation sets out to retrieve the artifact by any means necessary. A mystery is released and the stakes are high! The harder Siberia tries… the closer she seems, yet the farther she is from solving the turmoil.
Alas, in the midst of this chaos evolves an undeniable love triangle between Siberia, a wealthy rugged-looking African, but Nashville-based, art collector (Alan) and a simple American consignment store owner (Jake).
Will Siberia retrieve the artifact in time to save her dying sister, Naiya? Who/what wins her heart -- money or true love?


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22963395-of-sentimental-value?ac=1






This excerpt has a hypnotic quality to it; I can almost hear the beating of that drum....I am drawn into the story, which takes place in  an exotic land, a land of strange legends -- Africa. The author sets the scene very well, and the woman named Yemoji comes to life, with her frightening eyes and evil presence....

Other book excerpts, which I have read on Amazon, tell me that this is not only a novel full of suspense and romance, but also steeped in the mysteries of the dark continent. 

Siberia Tonka sits under her village's iroko tree, and dreams of one day being a bestselling author. She is not afraid of the spirit residing in the tree, although she's been told that, should she ever see it appear, it will mean her death.....

From what I've read so far, this sounds like a truly fascinating novel! And the movie must be absolutely riveting!!






Spiraling through the murky haze is a stream of white smoke; Africa’s humid and gloomy weather punctuated the striking of an African “bata” drum; a sign of impending doom in this Never-never land called Oyo, set majestically in the flat plain fields of West Africa.
       Wrapped in ruffled white sheets and face painted with pungent white chalk, distinct tribal marks from Oyo; she chuckles and giggles out loud, sometimes overpowering the African “bata” beats rippling the air. This enigma of a mystery woman’s deep tones carries with it an air of danger and magic. Her fiendish chuckles are exaggerated by her threatening mannerisms. She adds to the mystery in the air by thrusting out her spectacularly painted arms, holding a uniquely designed African clay pot filled with bubbling steaming water. The steam spiraling out of the magical pot is hypnotic. She begins to laugh again as the rhythmic African beat gently fades, instantly replaced by an urgent tick-tock sound, intensifying the anxiety. Seeing my clandestine woman’s animated and daunting striking face, Yemoji becomes boisterous as she squints her overpowering eyes; eyeballs fiercely protruding, eliciting intense fear in those who behold the strange sight. 
      As the tick-tock sound gets louder, Yemoji abruptly clutches her magical pot to her bosom. Her arms stretch out with purpose, displaying her remarkably long claw-like nails. She beckons me closer. Yemoji welcomes hushes me into undeniably captivating presence, placing one finger to her sultry lips.
“Sshh! Sshh!”
Suddenly, the tick-tock sound intensifies yet again as Yemoji’s thunderous and wickedly cold laughter reverberates into the atmosphere.
“Did you hear me? I said.... Sshh! Sshh! Siberia! Si-be-ria!”



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tour Review/Giveaway!! The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, by L.G. O'Connor


The Wanderer's Children
(The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, #2)
L.G. O'Connor
Trade Paperback, 402 pages
Collins-Young Publishing, LLC
December 16, 2014
Angels, Pararnormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy



Book Synopsis 
The Wanderer’s mission three decades ago: secretly sire children to hide his bloodline, and protect them until their destinies can unite in the final battle between good and evil. That time has come...

Cara Collins, the First of the Holy Twelve, longs for one last peaceful weekend with her bridesmaids as she plans her wedding to Simon Young, her former Trinity Guardian, before duty calls with the Angelorum to gather the Twelve and prepare them for battle. Life, as she knew it, has changed; weird is Cara’s new normal. Her newly acquired Nephilim DNA is wreaking havoc on her and those closest to her as her body transforms into Amazonian proportions and an overabundance of pheromones threatens to land her in hot water with Simon—not to mention a sudden suspicious outbreak of “insta-love” among her friends.

Michael Swift, Cara’s Trinity Messenger, has spent months running from his attraction to Cara’s brazen best friend Sienna, the only woman who has ever skirted his considerable defenses. But if he wants a future with her, he must confront his tormented past head on, or risk losing her and destroying the future of the Angelorum.








Note

Since I didn't have the time to read both books,
I decided to read Trinity Stones,
the first one in the series.



(The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, #2)
L.G. O'Connor
Trade Paperback, 355 pages
She Writes Press
April 22, 2014
Angels, Paranormal Romance,
Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy


Book Synopsis:
Anxiety-ridden New York investment banker, Cara Collins, has little to smile about on her twenty-seventh birthday between a hostile work environment and her impossible romantic situation with her longtime friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon. But before the day ends, she learns she has inherited $50 million—a windfall that must remain secret or risk the lives of those close to her.

As Cara unravels the truth surrounding her inheritance, she makes a startling discovery: angels walk among the living, and they’re getting ready to engage in a battle that will determine the future of the human race. In the midst of these revelations, she meets mysterious and sophisticated Simon Young, who offers her the promise of romance for the first time since Kai—but when Kai and his daughter are kidnapped by dark forces, Cara must choose: accept her place in a 2,000-year-old prophecy foretold in the Trinity Stones as the First of the Twelve who will lead the final battle between good and evil . . . or risk losing everything she holds dear.


 






I  became hooked on paranormal romance and urban fantasy some time ago, so I know a great read in either genre when I come across one. This novel is one of the very best that I've ever read, and I can't wait to start on the sequel, The Wanderer's Children! Without a doubt, O'Connor is an author to watch!

This first novel of the series blends the romance with the fantasy action so well, they both captured -- and held --  my attention. The world-building was so detailed, so logically-developed and explained, that I had no trouble at all getting immersed in the story from the very beginning of the book. 

The characters are very likeable, as well as very realistic. They're by no means perfect, but their flaws are understandable, given their individual histories. Besides, these flaws are counterbalanced by their strengths. Cara Collins, for instance, has panic attacks, and is still pining for a former boyfriend, now married. However, she is also an extremely intelligent, very resourceful woman, as well as a very compassionate person, with a great capacity for love.

Simon Young, the man she eventually falls in love with, is also flawed. He's not who Cara believes he is, but again, when his background is revealed, the reader can understand exactly where he's coming from.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Blog Tour: Mini-Reviews & Giveaway!! Otherworld Realms, by Isabelle Saint-Michael




Welcome to this stop in the Isabelle Saint-Michael Blog Tour,
sponsored by 
Bewitching Book Tours!!

There are mini-reviews and excerpts 
of both books,
as well as a giveaway!!





Practical Uses for Princes with Pointed Ears
(Otherworld Realms, #1)
Isabelle Saint-Michael
Trade Paperback, 378 pages
Otherworld Romance, Sept. 26, 2014
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Cover Artist: C.L. Smith


Book Synopsis: Lillian Chambers was just an ordinary high school teacher, until she fell through a Fairy Circle. When she came to on the other side, she was surprised to find herself in the company of an Elven prince she thought only existed in her dreams. Now she’s slaying monsters and rescuing Prince Tallyn, instead of playing the part of the damsel in distress.

Tallyn had been the protector of his kingdom for over one hundred years. He knows that the world is filled with danger around every corner, but these days he’s finding himself babysitting the annoyingly fearless Lady Lillian.

When their worlds collide sparks fly, humorous situations ensue and the only thing for sure is that neither will ever be the same. Practical Uses for Princes with Pointed Ears takes readers on an adventure into a modern fairytale where we explore what it really means to fall for Prince Not-so-Charming.





First of all, the title of this novel is totally hilarious! It's obvious that the prince in question is an elf. I wonder what those 'practical uses' could be.....
The excerpt below is a very intriguing one. The female narrator seems to be dreaming, yet everything is very vivid and detailed. All these details lead to some interesting speculations. Is this nameless narrator in some alternate dimension, in which she can see, hear, and feel everything going on in the real world, but cannot be perceived herself? Or is it the men who are in this alternate world, to which she has access, although she's not sure how? The author, Isabelle Saint-Michael, has certainly set up the scene beautifully.  The tension intensifies when the narrator senses the approach of danger, yet is unable to warn the men.  This author has quickly captured my interest in these few short paragraphs, and I definitely want to know more!
I really need to get this book!!






My dreams were more vivid than usual. It was like I was standing there with my favorite imaginary hunk. He and several others were packing up horses. There was a great deal of laughter and teasing among the men. They poked at each other until finally he had to step in and tell them to calm down. Even as he reprimanded them his smile shone brightly. I had never seen him smile with such a youthful presence.
Moments later another man appeared, just as handsome as my dream guy. “Tallyn!” he called, and my heart skipped a beat as I watched the man of my dreams turn to wave.
“Tallyn,” I could feel myself whispering. He turned and looked in my direction, as if he had heard me. His face fell a little when he couldn’t see me standing there.
“What’s wrong?” the taller man asked him.
I watched as Tallyn shrugged. “I was just thinking about how I was going to have to see your face every morning for the next few days and it quashed all the fun out of our camping trip.”
The taller man laughed, only to turn when someone called, "Maerryn!" which I guessed was his name.
I could feel the cool breeze on my skin, causing the hair on my arms to stand up. I watched with interest as the men finished packing up and began to ride away. I followed them through the forest I had seen a hundred times in my dreams. After a few hours they crossed the river in a shallow area then headed up a steep cliff, guiding their horses one at a time along the narrow ledge.
By midday the group reached the top of the cliff and stopped for lunch. The food smelled amazing cooked over the open fire. I felt my stomach rumble. When it did, Tallyn placed a hand on his stomach and looked around with confusion.
He was beautiful to look at, even with uncertainty creasing his brow. His green eyes deepened in color and his breath stilled. It was like he was looking right at me but couldn’t see me. With a shake of his head, he rejoined the conversation around him.
They packed up and left, heading across a path at the top of the cliff that led into another forest. The group seemed more hesitant when they entered the new area. They rode close together for hours, and when darkness finally threatened, they found flat ground and made camp. The horses were tied up, dinner was caught and prepared, and then the wine came out.
Boys will be boys, I thought to myself as they laughed, sang and passed around the bottles.
Behind me I heard the crack of twigs underfoot. Suddenly, I sensed someone else was there. I turned, looking in the direction of the sound, and I saw shadows moving through the woods towards the encampment. Panic filled me and I tried to scream, but I was just a watcher without a voice.




Purchase Links

Paperback Edition


Ebook Edition 
$1.99 ON AMAZON US 
FROM DEC. 21st to DEC. 27TH!!



Saturday, December 13, 2014

Shelf Candy Saturday #136: A Thousand Pieces of You, by Claudia Gray

 


Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!


This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful book covers!
It also provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
simply go HERE.



Here's my choice for this week!



 A Thousand Pieces of You
Hardcover, 360 pages
Harper Teen
November 4, 2014
Dystopian Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, 
Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction,
Young Adult Fiction


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17234658-a-thousand-pieces-of-you?ac=1




My Thoughts About This Cover

This is one of the most unusual, oddly haunting covers I've ever seen. It's also one of the most stunning!

The top of the cover displays a rather sinister-looking, very futuristic type of city. The steely-gray (with a slightly greenish tint) skyscrapers look very cold and inhumane against the dreary sky. This is quite fitting for the cover of a dystopian novel. Furthermore, their closeness to one another gives me a feeling of claustrophobia.

As for the upside-down cityscape which is the other half of this cover, it's a contrasting one. The predominant color is a hot pink, shading off into a purplish gray.  

Interestingly, the bottom cityscape is full of church steeples and spires. The dome of the Vatican is clearly visible, as are the onion towers of a Russian Orthodox church.

The two contrasting images could be a metaphor for the clash between an unfeeling, atheistic future society, controlled by powerful corporations, and a warmer, more spiritual society of the past. Alternatively, it could also be a metaphor for two types of control -- one materialistic, and one religious.

This novel obviously includes time travel in its plot. I love time travel, finding it totally fascinating! 

I love the image's irregular edges; they make me think of a watercolor that's not quite finished, which, again, is very appropriate for the plot, as there are multiple realities that blend one into the other.

The font used for the title and author's name is perfect for this cover -- it's very stark and plain, and the letters are spaced out, thus reinforcing  the theme of separate realities.

I was lucky enough to win this book from the blog, Feminist Reflections, owned and created by Benish Khan, who blogs about books, beauty, entertainment, and lifestyle.

The brilliant cover artist is UK graphic designer Craig Shields, and the designer is Elizabeth Clark. Shields graduated from Lincoln University, and is a member of Depthcore. From their description, they are "....an international art collective focused on modern digital art, incorporating illustration, photography, animation, and audio." The site was founded by Justin Maller and Kevin Stacey in 2002; members are artists from all over the world. Shields' clients include Digital Arts Magazine, Charles Schwab, Coca-Cola, and Sprite.




Craig Shields Online Links
  
 


What do you think of my 
choice this week?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!





Friday, December 12, 2014

Book Review: A Door County Christmas (First Review for the 2014 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge)



This is my first review for the 5th Annual Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge,
sponsored by
Michelle @ The Christmas Spirit!




A Door County Christmas
(Romancing America Series)
Becky Melby, Rachael Phillips, Eileen Key, Cynthis Ruchti
Barbour Books, Sept. 1, 2010
Anthology, Christian Fiction, Christmas Romance



Book SynopsisPeer behind the closed doors of a Wisconsin tourist town gone dormant for the winter season. Watch as the drama and romance start to heat up—just as Lola the innkeeper promised her four single friends a year ago when she gifted them with her prayers and a Christmas cactus. Will each woman find love—along with cactus blooms—as promised?




https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8472455-a-door-county-christmas?ac=1



Print Edition
Amazon CA


Digital Edition
Barnes & Noble






The adjective "heartwarming" has been a bit overused, but it happens to be the best one to describe this wonderful Christmas-themed collection of novellas. Each story is guaranteed to give the reader those "feel good"  vibes typical of this joyous, magical, holy season.

All of the stories in this beautiful collection take place in an equally beautiful area of the United States -- Door County, in the state of Wisconsin. They are all subtly interrelated, as well, for they all have to do with a Christmas cactus that's supposed to bloom right around the time that love blooms for each of the four main female characters.

The first story, "The Heart's Harbor", by Cynthia Ruchti, introduces the reader to the quirky and lovable Lola and Harland Peterson, owners of the Heart Harbor Victorian Inn. Lola is also the organizer of a well-known annual event -- The Christmas Tea. This year, however, she is unable to host it, so she volunteers her niece, Amanda Brooks, for the job, much to the latter's dismay. Surprisingly, Jordan Peterson, who has just arrived, offers to help....and Amanda is the first one to receive a Christmas cactus from Lola. This is a sweet tale totally laced with romance and the holiday spirit!

In "Ride with Me into Christmas", by Rachael Phillips, recently-widowed Joanna Flick is the second woman to receive a cactus. Joanna doesn't have a green thumb, but her neighbor, Paul Sorensen, sure does. He has been curious about her ever since she moved in next door, but Joanna has simply been too depressed to want to do much socializing. Fortunately, a spider in her kitchen sends her screaming outside, and Paul kindly offers to get rid of it for her....This is a tender tale of two lonely people who have lost their spouses, and are tentatively reaching out for love again.

The third story, "My Heart Still Beats", by Eileen Key, is my favorite one in the collection, in spite of the cheesy-sounding title and somewhat predictable plot. That's because I'm a totally unabashed, sentimental, and hopeless romantic.... So I love sweet, mushy stories, and this is definitely one of them!  

The plot deals with a pair of delightful octogenarians, Vestal and Hilde Grissom, who have hired a young woman named Madison Tanner to be their chauffeur. Madison drives them back to their beloved house in the town of Ephraim, located in Door County, which their niece is determined to make them sell. There, Madison meets handsome, widowed realtor Grant Sterling and his sprightly ten-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. Maddy is the third cactus recipient, and the stage is well set for love....If you are a sentimental romantic like me, this one will definitely tug at your heart!

"Christmas Crazy", by Becky Melby, is a totally unique as well as funny story, concerning the unusual little disasters that befall a group of comedy actors in the town of Sister Bay. Here's another niece -- Jillian Galloway, whose uncle, Buster, is the proprietor of Doorbuster's Comedy Theater. Jillian is a copywriter for an advertising agency, but she's not happy at her job, and her uncle definitely needs her help at the theater. 

Enter handsome, Brazilian-born Enrique Jimenez (nicknamed "Ricky Jimmy" by one of the actors), a rather mysterious handyman who will collaborate with her at the theater....

Jillian, nicknamed "Jilly", has also received one of Lola's Christmas cacti, which she has promptly named "Jolly".

I really should read more Christian romance, especially at this time of year. Such stories are obviously tailor-made for this very special time of the year. They are sweet, tender, and full of the true meaning of Christmas. The ones in this book also weave some very appropriate Biblical verses into the plots, and that's a refreshing change of pace for me, since I have read far too many romance novels in which God, if mentioned at all, might very well be part of an expletive.

Those who relish Christian romance will surely love these gentle stories that are full of "warm fuzzies". They're cozy, beautiful, contain humorous moments, and focus on the celebration of the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years ago.... These are stories of true love -- not just the love between romantic partners, but also between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and even between neighbors. Most importantly, they clearly portray the love and care of God for each of the characters. They are festive, and the setting is perfect for a "White Christmas". What more could a hopelessly obsessed Christmas fan want? This fan is very satisfied indeed!


MY RATING:
   





Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of ‘Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark’ through her novels and novellas, speaking for women’s events and retreats, writers’ events and retreats, nonfiction books and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. Her books have been recognized by RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Retailers’ Choice Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and Carol Award nominations, among other honors, including a Family Fiction Readers’ Choice Award.



 Rachael has been nominated as a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Awards competition with her first fiction, a novella called "Ride with Me into Christmas" (in A Door County Christmas, Barbour Publishing, 2010). Her second novella, "Pirate of my Heart" (in A Quaker Christmas, Barbour) was released in September 2011, and a third, " In Tune with You" (in Cedar Creek Seasons, Barbour) was published in the spring of 2012. She also co-authored a Barbour reference book, Women of the Bible (2011).



Eileen Key, freelance writer and editor, resides in San Antonio, Texas, near her grown children and two wonderful grandchildren. She's published nine anthology stories and numerous articles and devotionals. Her first mystery novel, Dog Gone, from Barbour, released in 2008, and was reprinted in 2013. A second mystery novel, Forget-Me-Not, was released in 2011. She has also co-authored two other titles in the Romancing America Series, from Barbour, and has also contributed to the anthology, Threads of Time, published on Nov. 8, 2014.



A Wisconsin resident, Becky Melby has four married sons and fifteen grandchildren. When not writing or spending time with family, she enjoys motorcycle rides with her husband, and reading. Becky has co-authored nine Heartsong Presents titles and four Romancing America Series titles. She has so far published three novels in her Lost Sanctuary Series.