Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: Christmas Eve At Friday Harbor

Title: Christmas Eve At Friday Harbor
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: York Evening Press (UK),St. Martin's Press (US)
Pages: 211 (UK)

Plot: Bachelor Mark Nolan is given stody to his niece Holly, who's mom and Mark's sister died in a car accident. He decides to return to Rainshadow Vineyeard, the family business and take care of Holly. But then he finds a letter Holly has written to Santa with having one wish only: a mew mom. Mark wants to make her wish true and decides to find a woman to marry and to raise Holly with.

One day Mark and Holly meet Maggie Flynn, who owns an unconventional toy shop and is just that. There is an instant attraction between Mark and Maggie, but Maggie isn't what Mark had in mind as a future wife and after being heart-broken, Maggie decided to stay alone.

But then, this wouldn't be Christmas without some magic...

I think... I liked this book a lot. It is the first in Lisa Kleypas new series and maybe that's why the US version is a bit high-prized. I bought the UK version, which was much cheaper here in Germany and IMO has the nicer cover. I liked the story and the characters and I think there is huge potential for the upcoming books, which will be dealing with Mark's brothers. I tought, this one was pretty entertaining, but would have made a great full-length novel. In contrast to Lisa Kleypas' other contemporaty novels, this one is not a first person narration, which I like much better.

It was a good read in my opinion, but I already heard different voices. If you like Lisa Kleypas, you will like this. It' not her best, but I think it was fun getting to know the characters and the setting at San Juan Island.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review: A Christmas Promise

Warning! This review is high praise on this book and praise only. Keep on reading if you don't mind. *g*

Title: A Christmas Promise
Author: Mary Balogh
Publisher: Dell Books
Pages: 272
Genre: Historical

Plot: Randolph Pierce, Earl of Falloden, and Eleanor Transome are being married for the wrong reasons. Randolph needs Ellie's money, whereas Ellie wants to keep a promise she gave her late father. But when Christmas arrives and with it a whole bunch of Ellie's family, the season's magic lets Randolph and Ellie forget about money and duty and leaves them as a man and a woman, who are just right for each other.

I think ... I am deeply in love. So far, I have read about fifteen Christmas romances and reviewed about nine of them. None was a good as this one. First of all, it is a full-length novel. Not novella or short story or whatever. The author has enough time to develop characters and storyline. No rushing here, which is very refreshing after reading all these fast and shallow romances these last weeks. I immediately had the feeling, that I was reading a Christmas story of an experienced writer. Mary Balogh has a huge talent and specials skills to make her characters come alive and believable.

The storyline is great. I like how the characters get together, see each other in the beginning and then get closer, although there are so many obstacles in their way. There are some wonderful, wonderful scenes in this book, which made me feel the butterflies dancing in my tummy, because I was so involved in the story. I like that in a book. When you lay the book aside and need some moments to come back into reality. Totally what happened with me here.  The Christmas theme is present on every page and it was fun to see how the Earl develops a feeling for the season, which wasn't there before.

Honestly, please read this. I am not really a fan of historicals. I read them, but usually prefer contemporary romance. But this one is special. Now, go to your local bookstore or shop here. Curl up with a cup of coffee or tea, make sure you got cookies around and start reading. I'll see you after page 272. Let me know, how you liked it. I am deeply in love. (Oh, I already said that)

Happy Reading!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: The Christmas Clock

Title: The Christmas Clock
Author: Kat Martin
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Pages: 185

Plot: (Because of bad time management I used this one. Sorry.) Teddy Winters was eight years old that Christmas, too young to understand all the undercurrents swirling around him in the tiny Michigan town of Dreyerville. He wasn't able to value that Christmas for the miracle it truly was. Teddy only knew he wanted to buy the beautiful Victorian clock in the window of Tremont Antiques as a gift for his grandmother, Lottie Sparks, a woman desperate to find him a home before her rapidly progressing Alzheimers left him an orphan. Teddy didn't know that in trying to buy the clock he would meet Sylvia Winters and Joe Dixon, a couple, once in love, desperate to overcome the past. He didnt know he would form a friendship with his neighbors, Floyd and Doris Culver, two people struggling to revive their long-dead marriage. He didnt know that these people would fill his Christmas with magic and hope; that the love of his friends would change his world, and that he would forever change theirs.

I think... This is a keeper.  Really. A book to rest in your shelf all year and to be picked up again and again at Christmas time. I loved it. It has the child-needs-parents theme, but is so different from all the others, that I totally believed in the story. The characters are well-built and loveable, especially Teddy and his granny. I had no problems to buy the love story and understand how it developed or what went wrong back then. Only once, I had the feeling it was a bit rushed, but it was no problem at all as the book as a whole is a lovely Christmas story with depth and it will definitely warm your heart.

And - oh! - check out the cover! This wonderful, wonderful Christmassy cover in bright red. It has to make you feel the spirit of Christmas. Please say it does!

Run and grab yourself a copy and then buy some more and stuff them into the stockings of beloved ones.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review: Home For The Holidays

Title: Home For The Holidays
Author: Sarah Mayberry
Publisher: Harlequin SuperRomance
Pages: 245

Plot: Single father (*sigh*) Joe Lawson has to raise his kids alone after the sudden death of his wife two years ago. Moving into a new home, he meets his neighbour, Hannah Napier, who he shouldn't fall in love with, but just cannot stop it. Hannah feels the same, but has plans, that make her leave Melbourne. Although Joe can hardly let her go, he doesn't wanna stand between her and her dreams and so the holidays won't be as merry without Hannah.

I think... I had a rough start with this one. I started reading and then put it aside. I think I was kind of fed up with the single parent theme. (Why the hell does it occur so much within Christmas stories??) However, when I picked it up again, because it was on the schedule for the challenge, I really liked it. The characters are sympathetic and the storyline is fine. This is not great writing, such as Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Nora Roberts do it, but it was okay. I kind of missed the depth of some parts of the story, but it was a nice read. It's okay for the money and I liked the setting being in Australia. I don't wanna post spoilers, but in the end there will be a major BANG! so be prepared for that.

Happy Reading!


...very slowly, I can feel the mood coming. Although I am reading Christmas novels for a whole month now, I did not feel the spirit so far. Today, I felt like checking the Christmas decoration boxes for the first time this year. I am thinking about baking and crafting and presents (yikes!). What about you? Are you iin the middle of preparations or didn't even start? What presents do you give to beloved ones and how do you decorate your home? I would love to know.

BTW, everybody can leave comments. Anonymous comments are working, so you just have to dothe word verification to avoid spam. Leave comments, everybody!

Plus, make sure to check out the recommendations page, because there have been lots of updates from readers.

I have another great something coming during Christmas week, and I am more than happy with what a great job our writers have been done so far. Three lovely women are writing our very own Christmas novella and what I have read so far is amazing! Cannot wait to publish and have you read it. So far, folks.

Happy Reading!

Review: Hot For The Holidays

Title: Hot For The Holidays
Authors: Lora Leigh, Angela Knight, Anya Bast, Allyson James
Publisher: Jove / Penguin
Pages: 344

Ah, the cover! I usually NEVER EVER buy books, because of a nice cover. But when I saw this one, I was lost. Tight abs plus candy cane ... a winner. I thought. I was wrong. Totally wrong. Not. My. Kind. Of. Book.

*sigh* What can I say? I read the first two stories and then stopped. I thought, they were okay, but that's about it. I guess, there are a lot of readers out there, who might like this book, but I am a bit fussy, when it comes to romantic suspense. I can handle vampires. Apart from these superpowers and drinking blood, they are pretty human, so I am okay with that. I cannot handle any other kind of mysterious creature. Skinwalkers. Honestly? Nope, not for me.

This might be a book for you, when you like suspense and are open-minded enough. Unfortunately, I am not. Maybe someone can tell me and the other what you thought about it, in case you read it? Let us know!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Family & Friends Discount

I am having a family&friends discount on my regular online shop, so I thought I'd have you play as well and I am offering book covers with a 33% discount now for USD 10,-!! Available during November only! Go this way for book covers and this way for my DaWanda Shop. Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: The Gift

Heya, everybody! After spending a long weekend abroad in London, I am back to business and here's the next review. Yes, I am a bit behind with my schedule, but it's a challenge, right? Let's review then.

Title: The Gift
Author: Nora Roberts
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 297

Plot: There are two novellas in this Christmas romance, which both deal with the single parent theme.

Home For Christmas: Jason Law spend the last years travelling for his job as a reporter. All the time he only had one woman on his mind, the girl he left behind, Faith Fitzpatrick. Now, he is back for Christmas and to win back her love.

All I Want For Christmas: Identical twins Zeke and Zach only have one wish for Christmas this year: a new mum. And she should be all her teacher Miss Davis is. But their dad Mac Taylor is not willing to risk his heart, until Nell changes all their lives.

I think... Yeah, what can you say about the Queen herself? This is Nora Roberts, and although she is using the single parent theme here, I totally buy it. The storylines are well developed, I totally dig the characters, especially in the second novella, and the book made me feel all merry and absorb the Christmas feeling. Both thumbs up!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Holiday Seduction

Title: Holiday Seduction
Author: Jaci Burton / Lauren Dane
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages: 205

Plot: The first Christmas book of the erotica genre, which I read for the challenge, containing two novellas. I am pretty new to the genre, but I  like it. In case you do not like graphic language or the explicit description of sex, this is no book for you.

Unwrapped Amy Parker has a special erotic fantasy, that her co-worker Justin found out by incident. Being secretly attracted to Amy, he decides to make her fantasy come true on a business trip to Hawaii over Christmas.

To Do List Belle Taylor is a successful business woman, who usually lists up her goals in order to achieve them. But then she takes a small vacation to spend Christmas with the family and a hot and heavy kiss with her brother's best friend Rafe Bettencourt makes her re-write her lists.

I think... If you like the genre, you might also like this book. I am not too much into the first novella, cause I fell the storyline is rushed and it didn't make me feel all christmassy with the setting being warm and sunny Hawaii. But the second story was just perfect. I didn't have the feeling, that the author focused on the sex only, although it was hot and steamy. I was totally able to understand the characters. The storyline and the relationship between hero and heroine was well developed and I liked the writing. I have no idea if that is possible, but if you can find Lauren Dane's To Do List as a single novella, I would recommend to buy that one.

One thing I like about this book is the cover. Isn't it pretty with the reddish color and the sparkling lights? I like it. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wanna Write?

Writers, here's your chance! With the help of some writing friends, I wanna publish our own Christmas novella during Christmas week right here. The idea is to have five writers (published or unpublished, doesn't matter) to write a short romance together. Part One is already being worked on, and will hopefully be finished by the end of the week. Anybody, who wants to join and go on with the second part? Please contact me and I'll mail all the info.

Plus, you are welcome to play around this blog. Recommend books, shop covers and/or discuss novels with me. I'd love to be this place more crowded.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: On A Snowy Night

Title: On A Snowy Night
Author: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Mira Books
Pages: 370

Plot: This is Debbie Macomber's 2004 edition of her annual Christmas book with these two novellas...

The Christmas Basket High-school sweethearts Noelle McDowell and Thomas Sutton split up under worst circumstances over ten years ago. This year Noelle is back to celebrate Christmas with her family and she and Thom realize, that they still have feelings for each other. It could be so easy, f it weren't for their mothers' old rivalry.

The Snowy Bride Jenna Campbell is flying to Alaska to get involved with a man she met over the internet. Unfortunately the guy in the plane's next seat doesn't think it's a good idea and she ends up in Snowbound, Alasaka with Reid Jamison snowed in for some days, just a month before Christmas.

I think... This was my first read by Debbie Macomber. I have been stumbling over her name for some years now, but just never felt tempted to read one of her books until now. To be honest, I do not feel like hitting the virtual shelves at Amazon now. I thought the book was okay, but not a have-to-read. For the first novella, the two mothers really got on my nerves. Imagine me sipping a nice tea, tucked in on my couch with the book and rolling my eyes. Yep, that's how it was. The story of Noelle and Thom was nice, but way too predictable IMO.

The secoond novella was better, but not overwhelmingly good either. Snowed-in. Again, rolling my eyes. What's it with that? It's a repeating storyline within Christmas novels and it is pretty cheesy most of the time. Honestly, why would a single woman travel to Alaska, cause she wants to find a husband there she has never met? What is she? An idiot? And then she goes with this total stranger and stays with him in his cabin. Snowed-in. Yeah, who's going to buy that? Well, I don't. Plus, it totally irritates me, that the hero is wearing a full beard. Yuck.
What I liked about this novella were the minor characters. Very funny, they do keep the story going and make it a bit more entertaining. As for the love story, I thought it was, as well, way too predictable.

Ah, I don't wanna sound so negative, but this book just doesn't work for me. It was okay. Average. If you find it on your mom's or BFF's bookshelf or at your local library, you might give it a try. But you do not have to spend the moeny for it. And, it's not at least a tiny bit steamy. Nope, some kissing, but that's it. I missed the physical aspect of romance. You know what I mean. *g*

I would love to hear your opinion. Have you read it? Did you like it? Me being too harsh? Come on, discuss!

Help Me Out!

Everybody, I have updated The Books page with the schedule for the next weeks to come. I really need some input for the final week, so can you please recommend any kind of Christmas romance that you enjoeyed? I already added some of the books from the Recommendations page to my TBR. You should really check this site out, too. So, what to read during the final week? Any ideas? Spill!

Wanna Shop Book Covers?

Just to remind you, that you can purchase book covers over this blog right now. I had at least ten enquieries concerning book covers, so here you go. You can let me know, in case you'd like a different design or color. Just e-mail me (via profile). Happy Shopping!

Review: Yule Be Mine

Title: Yule Be Mine
Author: Lori Foster
Publisher: Zebra Books / Kensington Publishing
Pages: 337

Plot: A compilation of four Christmas themed novellas by Lori Foster. Containing these four titles:

He Sees You When You're Sleeping A wonderful, wonderful story of Booker and Frances, who are next door neighbours, secretly in love with each other. But then Booker comes up with the perfect Christmas gift and everything changes.

White Knight Christmas Officer Parker Ross hates Christmas. His neighbour Lily Donaldson loves it. Will Parker learn to appreciate gifts, cookies and misteltoes when Lily's the one to show him some merriness?

Do You Hear What I Hear? Sergeant Osbourne 'Ozzie' Decker thinks Marci Churchill is a freak, who is talking to pets. But apart from that, she's a knock-out, too. When a donkey from y nativity scene disappears, he feels like he should personally check out if Marci is involved into that theft.

The Christmas Present Beth Monroe wants to payback her cheating fiancé by having a close encounter with his best friend. Levi Masterston cannot believe his luck when he finally gets to hold Beth in his arms. But it needs more to make these two finally stick together.

I think... From all the Christmas novels I read so far, I liked this one best. It is no secret, that I am a huge fan of Lori Foster anyway, so I had to pick up this release. As often, I have a little problem with anthologies and/or compilations. Sometimes, I feel like the storylines are a bit rushed, way too fast and I regret not having read the characters' story in a full-length novel. This was the case with White Knight Christmas and The Christmas Present. Both stories are nice and written pretty well, but I would have loved to read more. You just got to know the characters and how they work and then -wooosh!- they are happily-ever-after in love. Huh? Still, nice reads.

I loved the other stories, though. As in deeply. He See's You When You're Sleeping is a wonderful, very christmassy love story. Full of romance, sexy and funny. Lori Foster even manages to add some minor characters, which make the story more vivid and interesting. Great writing on such few pages. Same with Do You Hear What I Hear?. Honestly, IMO the best Christmas romance novella so far. The characters are unique, the writing is fast, funny and steamy and the storyline is interesting, full of varieties without being predictable. I even had to laugh so hard, it made me teary. Loved it!

Alltogether a wonderful holiday read. Very Christmassy with lots of snow and Christmas trees. Plus, the cover is really pretty. Make sure to run and grab yourself a copy for a great holiday read!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Red Hot Santa

Title: Red Hot Santa
Author: Cherry Adair / Leanne Banks / Pamely Britton / Kelsey Roberts
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 325

Plot: Four sizzling stories about four special agents working for a covert agency, all of them trying to keep their protectees safe for whatever that means. The book contains these novellas, which are all connected and even contain cameos of former characters, although there are four different authors.

Snowball's Chance
Santa Slave
Big, Bad Santa
Killer Christmas

I think... this book is a GREAT (in capital letters!) holiday read. That's why I didn't wanna tell something about the plots in detail. It's very much worth the money and you should experience by yourself this adventurous read. What I liked a lot was the fact, that four different authors managed to write an anthology that contains four connected stories. It kind of reminded me of Charlie's Angels, apart from the fact, that the agency boss in this case is a woman called Roz. She holds the whole book together and it worked out pretty well.

As for the holiday feelings, I didn't feel very christmassy while reading. There are some Christmas trees and some Santas (dead ones as well), but I wouldn't call it a Christmas book. Nevertheless, run and grab yourself a copy, ladies. These agents are sexy as hell and kick some butt. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Next Read

I just wanna remind you, that the next book to read and discuss on the schedule is Red Hot Santa by Cherry Adair and others. It's an anthology of four (connected) seasonal stories. I already read it and it was fun, so make sure to read and jump into the discussion. Review will come tomorrow.

Oh, and there was an update at The Books page. Schedule for week 5 is up now. Just in case you wanna read with me. It will be official vampire week. *g*

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This Way

Just in case you didn't read the post about it. There are some book covers available right now. To shop, please go this way.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Santa, Honey

After all kinds of introductions, a giveaway and a hot cover, let's start discussing books, alright? The very first book on the schedule was an anthology by Kate Angell, Sandra Hill and Joy Nash. I do not have any rules concerning reviews, so I'll just let you know, what the book is about, how I liked it and I would love to have you jump right into the discussion. There might be spoilers, so be aware. Here's the review:

Title: Santa, Honey
Author(s): Kate Angel, Sandra Hill, Joy Nash
Publisher: Dorchester Pub / Love Spell
Pages: 322


Ho, Humbug, Ho (Kate Angell) Alex Boxer, ball player for the Richmond Rogues, is forced to community service in the small town of Holiday, Florida. Wearing a Santa costume, he has to spend some days in the community and do his job, when all he wants to do is leave and spend some time with booze, twins and team mates in South Beach. But then he meets Holly, the nutcracker, who was entrusted with the task to supervise him as long as he is doing the Ho, Ho, Ho...

I think... I am a huge fan of the Richmond Rogues series by Kate Angell. There are four books so far and all of them are fabulous. That's why I really wanted to read this anthology as it contains a RR novella. Kate Angell's writing is unique, fast and fun. She can make me laugh out loud and I like that in a book.

Alex Boxer is a great hero. Although he seems rough and shallow at first sight, he soon shows his real self, which contains a high standard concerning moral and equality. Holly therefore is lost from the first moment. Ah, do you like it as much as I do, when you realize that there is no denial that the heroine will fall hard for that guy? She is a lovely, warm character and I felt like I found a friend, the first moment I met her. She has a strong personality, but easily opens her heart for Alex. I like these two. I really do.

As for the Christmas stuff, it was fun. There were Christmas trees, carols, cookies and all the fun of costumes in this story. Not too much, just the right amount to make me feel merry.

This one definitely is a great read.

Naughty Or Nice (Sandra Hill)  Luke Carter is hostaged by Jessica Jones - on Christmas Eve, while he was wearing a Santa costume. So was she. None of them had the slightest touch of suspect, that this hostage might lead into the best Christmas of their lives.

I think... Oooookay...what do I think? Well, I just didn't get into the story. I read it, but didn't feel any connection to the characters and I had the feeling I had to roll my eyes way too often during reading. The problem with novellas is, that you have to be pretty good as a writer to make readers believe the story within a short amount of time. I didn't believe. The sex was hot. I liked that. But that's it. For me. Maybe you have another opinion and I'd love to hear about it.

As for the Christmas features, I had the feeling, that the author tried to squeeze in as many seasonal features as possible. Ah, it sounds so negative, which it really wasn't. It was okay, but just didn't knock me off my feet. 

Christmas Unplugged (Joy Nash)  Two sisters, as different as can be, and two brothers. On a snowy Christmas in the woods. No electricity and no chance to reach the world outside for some days. That's it in simple words.

I think... During my Christmas reading I found this snowed-in theme pretty often. Sometimes it's really cheesy, sometimes it's great. In this case, it's the latter. Oh, how I loved the characters. Emma and Jake bond easily, whereas Casey and Matt have to grow into their relationship, which is told in wonderful and believable words. I like the writing of Joy Nash. I haven't read anything else by her so far, but her writing really got me hooked. She created great characters within 115 pages, but I feel like I have known them for a long time.

There is a lot of snow involved, a lovely Christmas Eve celebration and the presents rock.

I don't wanna tell too much, so let me just say, that I really, really enjoyed this story. Great read!

Three novellas, three very different ways of writing and plotting.
I didn't like all the stories, but I think the book is worth buying anyway. 
A nice holiday read.

Giveaway Winner & Book Covers

Everybody, thank you for making the giveaway such a huge success! I chose a winner with the help of There were 63 entries with double and triple entries for followers and blogger, and our winner had the number 62, which would be Sherri!

For all the others, book covers are available right now in the little shop right here. I haven't planned to make more, so be quick. ;o)