Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Minute Read-A-Thon: Wrap-Up Post!

Welcome to my Wrap-Up Post for the Last Minute Read-A-Thon!!

Vonnie @ Vonnie's Reading Corner and I have been co-hosting this fabulous read-a-thon for all of us who still had to catch up on our reading before 2013 went out the window, and 2014 came flying in!  Now we have reached the end....

 I'm very happy to report that I have indeed achieved my reading goals! I have already posted one review, and will post the other two in the next few days, since all three books are part of my participation in the 2013 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge, which will end on January 6th, which is the Feast of Epiphany.

For more information about each book, just click on the cover of each one.  I am also including a few comments about each.


The first two stories included in this book were absolutely wonderful!  The third one, though, I didn't enjoy as much.  More details forthcoming in my review, which you can find HERE.


This was a really delightful read!  In spite of some awkwardness in the prose style, and characters I didn't completely like, I enjoyed the time-travel plot!  I'll give more details in my upcoming review!


I greatly enjoyed this, my very first Debbie Macomber novel!  I had no idea she was such an entertaining romance writer!  I finished this one at 11:06 PM last Sunday night, and felt like throwing up fireworks!!  I can hardly believe I really did it!!

 If you have already published your wrap-up post, don't forget to enter my giveaway, as well as Vonnie's!

Thanks to you all for participating, and may you all have a very Happy New Year!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Due to a glitch, the widget above 
is no longer accepting entries.
Please use the new widget below.
After this extended giveaway ends, 
winners for each will be picked,
and put into a hat.  There will be one winner from the first widget, and one from the extended widget.  I will pick the final winner out of the hat.
The second widget is ONLY for 
those who have already 
participated in the Read-A-Thon.
I apologize for this problem, 
but did the second widget to avoid 
asking Read-A-Thon participants to enter the contest again, with an entirely new widget. 
Once more, my sincere
apologies for this unforeseen glitch.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Regency Christmas Proposals, by Gayle Wilson, Amanda McCabe, Carole Mortimer ( Fourth review for the 2013 Christmas Spirit Challenge)

This is my fourth review for
The 2013 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge,
whish is hosted by Michelle @
and runs from
November 22, 2013, to January 6, 2014!

To participate, just click on
the link above.

Regency Christmas Proposals
Gayle Wilson, Amanda McCabe, Carole Mortimer
Mass Market Paperback, 284 pages
Harlequin Books, November 1, 2010
Christmas Romance, Historical Romance

Book Synopsis:
"The Soldier's Christmas Miracle", by Gayle Wilson: Wounded soldier Guy Wakefield has finally found the woman who saved his life. Isabella Stowe accepts his gratitude, but it will take more than a kiss under the mistletoe to convince this world-weary widow to accept his proposal....

"Snowbound and Seduced", by Amanda McCabe:  Mary Bassington, Lady Derrington, longs to be the carefree woman she once was. But she gets more than she bargained for this Christmas when she's snowbound with old flame Dominick, Viscount Amesby, who reignites her passion for life—and love!

"Christmas at Mulberry Hall", by Carole Mortimer:  Spending Christmas alone with his unconventional ward pushes the boundaries of propriety—and self-control—too far for Lord Gideon Grayson. So he takes delectably pure Amelia Ashford to Mulberry Hall—but that pesky mistletoe is still all around....

My Review

This collection of Christmas romance stories, all set in the Regency period of English history, is definitely a nice one to have around when the snow is falling outside, and one is curled up by the fire, with a cup of hot chocolate or tea.  It's even nice when one has fled to the comfort of an air-conditioned room, while the December temperatures outside are in the 80s!  Whether you're sipping a hot drink, or a cool smoothie, these stories will be sure to transport you to another century, as well as another culture.

However, I must say that I didn't like all three stories equally.  I prefer the first two, and there are several reasons for this preference.  In the first story, "The Soldier's Christmas Miracle", we get solidly fleshed-out, very compelling characters, even within the confines of a short story.  The premise behind the plot -- that of a very grateful soldier -- is a good one, and is plausible, as well.  Guy Wakefield is a very sensitive man, one who is noble and kind, for he doesn't force himself on the woman he's grateful to -- the widowed Isabella Stowe.  Granted, he is pretty insistent in winning her affections, but remains a gentleman throughout.  It's Isabella who finally comes to her senses, and decides to accept his courtship.  The relationship does take some time to develop, reaching an important crisis point when Isabella believes that Guy once again needs her help.

I found this to be a very sweet, gentle story, one that gave me the warm, fuzzy feelings that a good romance usually leaves its readers with.  I certainly want to read more of Gayle Wilson's work!

The second story, "Snowbound and Seduced", was also great reading!  It had a very poignant, rather nostalgic tone throughout, as well, because it involved a relationship that should have gotten the participants to the altar, but didn't.  Years later, circumstances once again bring them together, and they join forces in order to stop a crazy elopement -- that of Lady Derrington's younger sister.  Once again, both of the main characters are well-developed, and very likable.  Dominick is a wonderful man, and the widowed Mary (Lady Derrington), although guilt-ridden because she's a very responsible person, also longs to throw caution to the winds, and give free rein to her passionate love for this man she should have married years before, but couldn't, due to certain circumstances.

The one thing I found slightly objectionable about this second story was that there was a little too much sex in it (although it wasn't overly graphic) for a Christmas story.  In spite of this, I greatly enjoyed reading about Dominick and Mary's relationship!  I also discovered a slight Jane Austen influence in the plot, which totally delighted me!

Unfortunately, I didn't like the third story, "Christmas at Mulberry Hall", quite as much as I did the other two.  For one thing, I just couldn't feel much interest in the characters, because I really couldn't like them much.  Their dialogues were rather stereotyped, and reminded me too much of those in Jane Eyre, although Ms. Mortimer is not as witty as Charlotte Bronte.  Still, Lord Grayson does come across as a Mr. Rochester clone, although he's not half as attractive, mysterious, or irresistibly masculine as that gentleman is.  As for his ward, Amelia Ashford, I liked her less than I did Grayson, and couldn't relate to her supposed plight.  She is at first a total ingénue, but then later practically throws herself at Grayson.  At one point, she even cries all over him, while he attempts to calm her down without getting to a 'point of no return', sexually speaking.  Amelia's behavior in this scene was totally inconsistent with the way she was initially presented. 

This story develops much too fast.  The characters are very antagonistic toward each other at the beginning, but in a matter of just a few days, they're madly declaring their love for each other.  This is totally illogical, given the circumstances in the story.  There's no time lapse, as in the other two stories. Everything takes place within the space of less than a week.  This is just not believable. 

This story is an example of the sort of plot that should really be allowed to develop within the longer novel format.  Wilson and McCabe were definitely able to accomplish their goal of uniting the lovers in their stories in spite of all obstacles, all within the confines of the short-story format.  For some reason, Mortimer is unable to do this, at least not in a believable manner.

This story also has a rather peculiar thing about it -- the author uses too many exclamation points, especially in the beginning.  This is a rare occurrence in professional stories, and I was very surprised to find it in this one.  Amateur story writers usually indulge in this type of thing much too often.  It's very annoying, and tends to take the reader right out of the story, too.  Mortimer really should have known better.

Much as I would love to give this collection a solid five stars, I find myself unable to do so, and it's completely due to that third story.  That's a shame, because the first two stories are certainly great examples of the romance storyteller's art.  The third story, though, simply wasn't all it should have been.  Had the author decided to expand it into a full-length novel, dropping most of the exclamation points along the way, I do feel it would have improved immeasurably.

Since the first two stories were, indeed, really good, I will give this book four stars.  I do recommend it, however, because the first two stories are really and truly worth reading.  I would go as far as to say that they're magical, because, as all lovers know, falling in love is truly a magical experience!  Therefore, curl up by the fire, or adjust your air conditioner, as the case may be, and settle down with this book.  Just don't get your hopes up too high about that third story!



Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Minute Read-A-Thon: Updates

We're nearing the end of the Last Minute Read-A-Thon of 2013, hosted by Vonnie @ Vonnie's Reading Corner, and me.

The only challenge for you now until the end of the read-a-thon will be to finish your last minute reads.  Once you are done, you can go ahead and publish your wrap-up post, sharing your link in the Linky widget.  

Like Vonnie, I will be putting up my wrap-up post later on today, or perhaps tomorrow, New Year's Eve.  I hope you're all having fun and almost done  accomplishing your goals!!  I've been doing very well myself, but more on that when I publish my own wrap-up post!

Be sure to enter our giveaways!!    


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Last Minute Read-A-Thon: Remembering 2013 Mini-Challenge!

Welcome to the Last Minute Read-A-Thon's third Mini-Challenge: Remembering 2013!!

Vonnie @ Vonnie's Reading Corner and I are co-hosting this fabulous read-a-thon for those of us who still have to catch up on our reading before the year 2013 goes out the window, and 2014 comes flying in!

This is today's challenge:

Answer the following:
1. Best Book of 2013
2. Worst Book of 2013
3. Favorite New Author
4. Book that surprised you.
5. Book that disappointed you.

Well, this is a challenge indeed!  Since I am an eclectic reader, and read nonfiction as well as fiction, I'm going to have to include sub-categories for the first two categories above.  I can't rate a young adult novel as compared with a literary fiction novel, for instance.  Also, these are my own selections of books read this past year -- not necessarily of books published in 2013.  So here goes..... (Click on each cover for my review of each book.)

Best Literary Fiction Novel of 2013

There were two books I loved, and couldn't decide between them, so I'm mentioning them both!


This is an absolutely enthralling story about a young woman totally dedicated to her art -- singing opera.  The prose is poetically beautiful, and the main character totally engaging!  It was published in 2012.


This book is a wonderfully moving one, with luminous prose and unforgettable characters!  It was published in 2013.

Best Young Adult Novel of 2013


I loved this totally enchanting story!  The author is an established one,  but this is the first of her books I've ever read.  Her world-building is excellent, and the action and characters excellent!  This novel was published in 2013.

Best Christian Fiction/Christmas Romance of 2013


This novella deeply touched me.  It's a wonderful story with a great main character, and truly miraculous events!  I'm so glad I picked it up! It was first published in 2002.

Best Nonfiction Book of 2013


Although this is a New Age book, and I don't agree with all of the author's ideas, I still found a lot of very helpful advice within.  Paradoxically, I discovered that some of the concepts presented had much in common with Christian teachings!  This book was published in 1986.

Worst Book of 2013

I really can't think of any books that I would place in this category.  True, there were a few that could have been better, but none could be considered the absolute worst.

Favorite New Author of 2013

I have three authors for this category, because I really couldn't make up my mind  which one I preferred.  Here they are:

This is the author of Aloha, Mozart, which is her gorgeous 2012 debut novel.  I discovered her through Novel Publicity Book Tours!

She's the author of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow, her 2013 debut novel.  I discovered her through TLC Book Tours!

She's been around for a while, but was a new author to me.  I picked up an omnibus edition of three of her Christmas novellas. This edition is titled The Treasure of Christmas, and contains the novella Angels in the Snow.

Book that surprised you


When I first read this novel in high school, I found it extremely boring.  I recently picked it up again, and found that my opinion hadn't changed that much.  But then, I read it a third time, and, to my surprise, actually enjoyed it! 

Book that disappointed you

I can't really say that any of the books I've read this year have disappointed me -- at least, not entirely.  Sure, there were a couple of books that contained some disappointing elements, yet I did enjoy them, for the most part. 

 My Reading Progress

I'm about to start Chapter 5 -- which begins on page 54 -- of Angels at the Table!

After I finished this post, I went back to the novel, and read until 3:20 AM.  I made it to the end of Chapter 10, on page 131.  So I'm about to start Chapter Eleven!  Woot, woot!! 

If you have participated in this mini-challenge, don't forget to enter my giveaway, as well as Vonnie's, on her blog!

The only challenge for tomorrow is to finish up your reads and have a wrap-up post by the end of the day, or early the next day.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Last Minute Read-A-Thon: Love It or Hate It Mini-challenge!

Welcome to the Last Minute Read-A-Thon's second Mini-Challenge:
Love It or Hate It!!

Vonnie @ Vonnie's Reading Corner and I are co-hosting this fabulous read-a-thon for those of us who still have to catch up on our reading before the year 2013 goes out the window, and 2014 comes flying in!

This is today's challenge:

Post up book covers that you love
and hate, explaining why.

(Note: I usually post a cover feature titled "Shelf Candy Saturday" every week.  Since this mini-challenge post deals with covers, too, it will replace my regular feature, only for this week.  For a sample of an SCS post, just click HERE.) 

I've decided to post covers for the same books, so as to compare them with each other.

Fahrenheit 451

I had chosen another cover, but, on second thought, took it down, as it was much too provocative.  This one, although a bit too simplistic for my taste, does suggest the theme of this novel without trying to be overly dramatic, as the cover below does.  One thing I do like about this image is that it's abstract.  It would be much too painful for me to see actual books burning....


I hate, hate, hate this cover!!  I've seen this horrible "newspaper man" on several editions of this book, and I can't stand him!!  The idea is metaphorical, I know, but I just don't like this ugly guy!  And the 'flames' shooting up around and on him look so silly!  They don't give the impression of fire at all.  Also, the title and author's name are much too big, and not well-placed.  Ugh!!

Jane Eyre

This is the cover for the Everyman edition of this classic novel, and I adore it!!  The image is a gorgeous detail from a 19th-century painting.  I love the idea of Jane reading as she travels by coach to Thornfield Hall.....I am so happy and proud to own this beautiful treasure!

This is an older B & N edition of the novel, and I can't believe they actually released it for sale!  There are so many things wrong with this cover!  The woman really looks more like a man, poor thing, and appears much too old to be 18, which is Jane's age in the book.  The lighting makes it look as if she has a black eye, and she has this very stupid, vacant look in her eyes.  The last thing, and it's a killer -- is that horrible hand, which is much too small, and is very awkwardly painted.  It doesn't even look like it belongs to her!

Wolfsbane (1)

This was the original, beautiful cover for the hardcover edition of the second novel in Andrea Cremer's acclaimed Nightshade series.  Why it was changed, I'll never know!  Heck, none of us fans will ever know....there was a huge protest (I participated by emailing the publisher) when Philomel announced they were changing the cover.  This cover goes perfectly with the one for the first book in the series!  They obviously have the same style.  Both covers are also absolutely gorgeous and very feminine!  Take a look below, and you'll see what I mean.  By the way, this cover is used for the Kindle edition of the book, so it really wasn't entirely eliminated.  However, I detest ebooks, so that doesn't make any difference to me at all.



Isn't this an absolutely gorgeous cover?  It's so feminine,  with those beautiful calla lilies!  Thankfully, Philomel kept this one!  As you can see, the Wolfsbane cover below does not match this one at all.  Publishers should retain the same style in books that belong to a series.  That helps to sell the books, after all!  Oh, well.....

Wolfsbane (2)

This is the cover that replaced the original one, shown above (it's for the hardcover edition, too).  While I don't dislike this cover at all -- in fact, I actually love it -- I do think it destroys the continuity of the series.  I do like the fact that Calla, the young heroine of the series, is here portrayed as a strong, yet feminine, character.  I do like  the design itself, with its bold shapes, and the moon in the background.  So my main objection to this cover is not that it's ugly, in comparison with the original, but that it simply doesn't match the style of the first book in the series.

The Tiger Saga

This is a collection of covers that I totally love!  This collection is also a very nice example of how one publisher kept the same style throughout the series.  Each cover is unique and original, and yet, the same style prevails in each cover.  This is because of the intricate design pattern at the top of each cover, as well as the same font being used in each one.  However, the painting style for the animals depicted makes it obvious that they were all done by the same artist. Now why couldn't Philomel have done this with the Nightshade series covers?

 A Darker Dream

This is the cover for the 1997 mass-market paperback edition of this novel, which is one of my favorite vampire romances.  Everything about this cover delights my artistic eye!  It's mysterious, sensuous -- in a good way -- and utterly compelling!  The title and author's name are beautifully done, as well.  Every design element just fits together perfectly!

This is the cover of an earlier 1997 mass-market paperback edition of this book.  What a contrast!  First of all, why didn't they simply make the couple larger, and get rid of the guy's head towering over them?  Why is he necessary at all?  He's not attractive; in fact, he strongly reminds me of the singer Marc Anthony, who is not a handsome fellow, poor thing, although he is a great singer.  To continue....this is just a  badly-designed cover.  The font used for the title and author's name are badly placed, too.  If the guy's face were eliminated, and the couple made much larger, the title and author's name could then be moved up, and would be much easier to read.  There's one more thing I dislike about this cover -- the image of the couple is much too provocative.   

Embrace the Night

Here the situation is reversed!  I much prefer this older cover to the newer one!  For one thing, this guy is absolutely gorgeous, whereas the one in the cover above is not.  This one looks like such a romantic figure, with the wind ruffling his hair, and that penetrating gaze.....I also like the way the couple is integrated into the cover with no problem, which is not the case with the other cover above.  The hero, Gabriel, is a totally swoon-worthy vampire....  Also, the letters of the title and author's name are much more easy to read in this cover.  Needless to say, I bought this edition of the book!

This cover doesn't do a thing for me!  It, too, is supposed to be mysterious and compelling, like the newer cover of A Darker Dream, but it's not.  The woman seems to be in pain, as if she were in labor, or perhaps had a stomachache.  Lol.  The moon and clouds don't seem related to her at all.  I do like the fonts used for the title and author's name, but that's about it.  When I bought the book, I made sure I would get the cover with Gorgeous Gabriel on it, and not this one!

My Reading Progress:

It's exactly 4:08 AM as I write this, and I have just finished The Christmas Town!!  I didn't do much reading yesterday....  I was on the computer most of the day, and then had to go out to do my hair in the evening.  It took a while for me to prepare this post, too.  However, as soon as I finished the post, and scheduled it to go live at midnight, I got back to the book, which I really enjoyed!  I was indeed able to cover some ground -- I finished it!!  Now I'm going to shut down and get some sleep, happy, and yet sad, that I finished this book that I've totally fallen in love with.....

If you have participated in this mini-challenge, don't forget to enter my giveaway, as well as Vonnie's, on her blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tomorrow is the "Remembering 2013" mini-challenge!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Last Minute Read-A-Thon: Rainbow Book Spine Mini-Challenge!

Welcome to the Last Minute Read-A-Thon's first Mini-Challenge:
the Rainbow Book Spine!

Vonnie @ Vonnie's Reading Corner and I are co-hosting this fabulous read-a-thon for those who still have to catch up on their reading before the year 2013 goes out the window, and 2014 comes flying in!

This is today's challenge:

Grab books from your shelf that have
the following spine colors to
make a rainbow: red, orange, yellow,
blue, and violet.

Since I'm one of the hosts, I'm supposed to publish a post for this challenge, although I didn't think I would be participating myself, for the reason that will become more than obvious, once you take a look at the pictures below......  (Hint: how am I supposed to find any books in these humongous piles?  And these are just partial views of my collection.....) 

Actually, I do see some rainbow colors here.....but
not in any specific order.  Lol.

Hmmnm.....there seem to be some rainbow colors here, too. 
Again, in no specific order.

Well, hey, am I a natural-born 'book rainbow-maker'? 
Except a very random one?
What say you, oh, wise read-a-thon participants?

I would definitely like to encourage each of you to participate in this fun mini-challenge, if you can! (Maybe you, too, are a natural-born 'book rainbow-maker', eh?) Remember, Vonnie and I are counting each mini-challenge post as 2 entries!
So, I hope you decide to join in!  Have fun!

Not signed up yet?
Have no fear!  Just link up HERE!!

Updates on my reading progress:

I have finished
Regency Christmas Proposals,
and will hopefully have
the review up soon!
I am now on page 126 of
The Christmas Town.

Be sure to enter the giveaway below,
as well as the one on Vonnie's blog!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tomorrow is the "Love It or Hate It" book cover mini-challenge!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Last Minute Read-A-Thon: Launch and Giveaway!!

Vonnie over at Vonnie's Reading Corner is
helping me host the second annual
Last Minute Read-a-Thon!!
This is the 2013 edition, and
we're both very excited!

Today is launch day for the read-a-thon!!
Each participant gets to post
their reading goals for the duration
of this awesome reading event!

There's still time to
sign up, so we hope you do!

Just click HERE for all the rules,
and to sign up.
Here are my own reading goals!

Since I'm a slow reader, I have to be very realistic
regarding what I think I'll actually
be able to accomplish....
I do need to finish up some reads
for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge,
which will end on Jan. 6th.

Click on each cover for more information
about the book.


I've already read the first two stories,
which were lovely!
I have one more to go, which I'm pretty sure
I can finish before the 30th.


I've read the first 64 pages of this book,
and really like the story!
I've been going back and forth between
this one and the one above. 
They're both that good!!
I will attempt to finish it by the 30th.


If I get through the two books
above fairly quickly,
then I'll go ahead and attempt this one!

This read-a-thon includes giveaways!!
There will be two winners --
one on my blog, and the other
on Vonnie's blog!
Mine is an international giveaway,
so please check to make sure
TBD delivers to your country.
You can do that HERE.
Happy New Year, everyone,
and good luck with your reads!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway