Sunday, December 30, 2012

Awesome 2012 Montage Widget - Books Read

Love this cool widget from Goodreads. Here is a nice montage of the 141 books that I read in 2012.

If you are curious how to get it here are the instructions:

  1. I created a shelf called "2012 - Reads" at the beginning of the year to organize my books by reading year. Each time I read a book in 2012, I just included that tag.
  2. Go to your profile on Goodreads and select to "Edit".
  3. Select the folder "Widgets" from the top.
  4. Scroll down to the Grid Widget section and change the drop down menu option from "Read" to "2012 - Reads"
  5. Copy and paste widget Java script to your place of choice.

Michelle's 2012-read book montage

Dragonfly in Amber
Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone
Enemy Lover
Where Dreams Begin
The Duke's Perfect Wife
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart
Wild Wild West
Second Chance Pass
Paradise Valley
Virgin River
Shelter Mountain
Whispering Rock
Temptation Ridge
A Virgin River Christmas
Forbidden Falls

Michelle Kelly's favorite books »

Friday, December 28, 2012

Stocking Full of Cole by Brynn Paulin

Tamah Jones and Cole Greenwood's book

Stocking Full of Cole 

By Brynn Paulin

Book Blurb: When Tamah Jones came home for the holidays, the last thing she expected was to learn that Cole Greenwood, a man eleven years her junior, wants her and has for years.
For Cole, Tamah has always been unattainable. Now, however, he’s ready to make a move and prove he’s the one for her. He’s ready to give everything, just to be hers, but the two must overcome geography, age difference and her overbearing family before being together can be more than a distant Christmas dream.

Provided a review copy by publisher for a honest review

Stocking Full of Cole is a sweet story with erotic elements. Brynn Paulin has wrote some very steamy erotic books in the past so this one is quite tame in comparison. 

The real spin on Stocking Full of Cole is that since Tamah is eleven years older, she used to babysit Cole. He has always had a crush on her and over the years, he has loved her from afar. Now that he is twenty three and well established, Cole is going to make his move. As luck would have it, Tamah is single. 

I quite liked the fact that she was older. I really don't think age should play to heavily on a romance as long as it is legal and they are in love. There were times where I felt that Cole was actually more mature than Tamah so clearly in this situation, age should not have mattered. 

The intimate scenes were well written and full of romance. With the  added bonus of having Christmas time for the setting, there was a lot of opportunity for romance. I loved the horse drawn sled ride and the Christmas stocking present. It was all very warm and moving. If you can look past the bad cover, you'll enjoy the story. 

Teasers: Annoying father, snowballs against window, caroling off-key, pie bidding

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Just a Kiss Away by Jill Barnett

Eulalie Grace LaRue (Lottie or Lollipop) and Sam Forester's book

Just a Kiss Away

By Jill Barnett

Book Blurb:Arriving on a lush Pacific island, Eulalie Grace LaRue was soon to be reunited with the father she hadn't seen since childhood. Yet before Lollie's dreamed-of meeting could take place, the lovely Southern belle was caught in the crossfire of a violent revolution -- and thrown into the rugged arms of Sam Forester.
On the run in the jungle, the battle-scarred soldier of fortune didn't know what to do with the pampered blonde placed in his care. Survival was his top priority, but he could not resist Lollie's seductive charm...or deny the growing attraction between them. Though Sam thrived on chance and risk, falling in love was the one chance he wasn't willing to take.
Powerless against the desire that consumed them both, Lollie surrendered to his passionate embrace. But when he dismissed her affections, she was determined to fight for prove that in the steamy heat of paradise, two hearts would find the love of a lifetime....

I'm exhausted after this read. What an adventure. 

Despite the fact I could not stand the heroine, Lollie, Just a Kiss Away was a great story. One adventure after another. I guess I have to thank Lollie for all of those moments but still, annoying is one effective word to describe her. 

Just a Kiss Away seemed like a really long book. It kept going and going and just when I thought it was going to wind down, something else popped up. Lottie and Sam experience one adventure after another. Hacking their way through bug infested jungles to escaping mercenaries and armed soldiers, Sam put up with a lot of Lottie's inexperience and jinx ridden aversions. 

I understand why Lottie was the way she was. In 1896 women were still really sheltered and with Lottie having a whole slew of older brothers guarding her every move, the lady never got to experience much. Lottie could barely walk by a table without toppling it over. A lot of screaming, crying, whining and sulking by Lottie almost had me giving up on the book. I am not a fan of helpless women and Lottie was pretty much the most helpless women I have ever about. Even her general attitude was childish. I stuck it out because I was driven to see how it would all end. I am glad I did. 

Sam may have been a mercenary but Lottie was his match. I could not tell you how many times I felt sorry for him. Not pity. I felt sorry for him because I would never want to be stuck with a person like Lottie tracking through jungle. He had way more patience than I ever would have had. 

Lottie antics did allow for some very funny scenes and just as many eye rolling moments. There really are no slow pauses in Just a Kiss Away as the story was constantly moving. It was like an action movie. 

Some great quotes:
Lollie and Sam yelling at each other
"If Abraham's son had been like you, Sam Forester, it wouldn't have been a sacrifice!"
"If Christ'd had you along, he wouldn't have needed a cross to become a martyr."

Sam after Lollie accidentally stabs him with a knife 
"Any bastard stupid enough to give Lollie LaRue a knife deserves to get stabbed." 

Teasers: spiky raw chicken, Medusa the scene stealing bird, tarantula thread roll, trained fighting roosters

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas - Break for the holidays

Well just like many of you, next week will be really busy for me. 

I just want to thank you very much for stopping by this past year, reading my reviews, entering contests and sharing your wonderful feedback with me. 

I look forward to next year and hope that it is a healthy and happy one for both you and I. 

I will be reviewing my reads from 2012 and create my annual "Best Of" list shortly. For now though, I will be away from blogging for just this week so I can be with my family and friends over the holidays. I wish for you all to have a wonderful week and if you are out travelling, be safe. 

Cheers to you, Michelle Kelly.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan

Lydia Charingford and Doctor Jonas Grantham's book

A Kiss for Midwinter (Brother's Sinister book 1.5)

By Courtney Milan

Book Blurb:Miss Lydia Charingford is always cheerful, and never more so than at Christmas time. But no matter how hard she smiles, she can't forget the youthful mistake that could have ruined her reputation. Even though the worst of her indiscretion was kept secret, one other person knows the truth of those dark days: the sarcastic Doctor Jonas Grantham. She wants nothing to do with him...or the butterflies that take flight in her stomach every time he looks her way.
Jonas Grantham has a secret, too: He's been in love with Lydia for more than a year. This winter, he's determined to conquer her dislike and win her for his own. It all starts with a wager and a kiss...

I was pleased to accept a copy from the author for a honest review

I always find myself feeling smarter after I read a Courtney Milan book. I think it is because it's very evident with how much research she pours into her story. I trust that if she is writing about a doctor's recipe from 1857, that in fact it was something that a doctor of the time would prescribe. 

Lydia and Jonas were secondary characters from the first book, The Duchess War. I would recommend reading that story first so that you have a firm understanding of Lydia's history. A Kiss for Midwinter is a novella but the read didn't feel short. 

I thought it was very interesting how Lydia and Jonas first met. Jonas recalls the conflicting situation relating to their first meeting instead of actually being acquainted with her. Lydia however, would never forget him; that time in her life forever etched in her mind.

The depth of deception that Lydia experienced early on in her life served as a heavy reminder in her sub-conscience to not believe that there were no ulterior motives when Jonas showed interest in her. She lets her guard down for a short while but painful memories flood back and she doesn't trust herself enough to move forward. I really felt for her and the internal battle she struggles with. 

Jonas is a perfect hero for me because he is so plain and simple with his conversations. He is factual and nonchalant in discussing human sexuality and yet Lydia strikes him in such a manner that he blurts out nonsense to her. It was humourous to hear him blurt out that he thinks that she is the eleventh prettiest woman in town. Jonas is the first to admit that there are defects with his character. 

A Kiss for Midwinter is a wonderful novella on how a woman can work through some painful memories and trust herself to take the happiness and love she deserves. Jonas is the perfect man to prove to Lydia that she does in fact deserve it. 

Teasers: eleventh prettiest woman, historical hoarder, sentimental set of leather-bound encyclopedias, French letters

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mackenzie Family Christmas by Jennifer Ashley

The entire Mackenzie Family

Mackenzie Family Christmas (Highland Pleasures book 4.5)

By Jennifer Ashley

Book Blurb:The Mackenzies gather for a clan Christmas and New Year's in Scotland. In the chaos of preparations for the celebration--the first of Hart and Eleanor's married life--one of Ian's Ming bowls gets broken, and the family scrambles to save the day. Daniel busily runs a betting ring for everything from the time Eleanor's baby will arrive to whether Mac's former-pugilist valet can win a boxing match to who will be the first of the many guests to be caught under the mistletoe. Ian begins a new obsession, and Beth fears the loss of one of his precious bowls has made him withdraw once more into his private world. 

If you are a fan of Jennifer Ashley's Mackenzie family, then Mackenzie Family Christmas will be the best $1 you spend this holiday season. 

Seriously, I loved Mackenzie Family Christmas. I can't believe what a treat Jennifer Ashley wrote for her fans! There was so much content in this story. Each of the Mackenzie brothers had something going on here. Mackenzie Family Christmas was chalk full of updates and completely satisfied my Mackenzie craving. 

Each of the brother's and their wives had a moment in the spotlight and all of the stories interconnected with Christmas and family being the staple. I want to read it again. 

I know that Mackenzie Family Christmas is meant as a novella but it just seemed longer. I am a horrible judge of ebook sizes (325KB) but I did get the impression that it was longer than most novellas.

Teasers: Broken Ming bowl, lost baby, new baby, domino train 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

Mia and Nick's novella

Under the Mistletoe (Lucky Harbor book 6.5)

by Jill Shalvis

There's no place like home for the holidays. And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer. But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright. Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet. But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.
Nick grew up without a family of his own so he's overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season. Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he's ever had to do. If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia's love for a lifetime.

As much as I love to take a trip to Lucky Harbor, Under the Mistletoe was a little bit flat for me. Under the Mistletoe takes place about 5 years after Chloe and Sawyer's book, At Last. Under the Mistletoe could be read as a stand alone novella but you'd be missing all of the character's backgrounds in relation to Mia. 

I'm not really a fan of novellas or anthologies because they are too short for me. I was especially annoyed that Under the Mistletoe finished when my Kindle was only at 65%. I really find that misleading while reading and gauging how far I am into the book and how much longer is left. 65% is way to short. I feel cheated. 

Both Nick and Mia were adopted children and both had very different experiences with their upbringing. Their backgrounds played heavily on how they each approached their relationship. 

Something that bugged me was how Mia surprised Nick with an airline ticket back to Lucky Harbor as a present and then sprung it on him the very night before they'd have to leave. I kind of thought that was inconsiderate really. She was hurt that he wasn't eager to go. She must have had an inkling on what his reaction was going to be because it just felt wrong to give him such a present (and what it represented) at her doorstep the very night before. 

I was completely okay that Jill Shalvis didn't have Mia paired off with Carlos, her teen boyfriend from previous books. I am glad that Carlos made an appearance in the story and everything was okay between them. 

Any moment with Ford, Mia's biological father, is a good moment. I adore his personality and how he interacts with Mia and her biological mom, Tara. I will admit to wishing there was a bit more of Ford in Under the Mistletoe but I understand it was not his story to tell. 

I was glad that Nick flew to Lucky Harbor to find Mia. I wish there was more written about Chloe and Sawyer's wedding as that was another reason I purchased Under the Mistletoe. There are only some very minor scenes at the end. I guess overall I would have just liked it longer. 

Teasers: meddling mom, hose them off, sexy houseboat cruise

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

Lt Colonel Victor Bramwell, The Earl of Rycliff "Bram" and Susanna Finch's book

A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove #1)

by Tessa Dare 

Book Blurb: Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are... nowhere to be found. Or are they?
Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.
Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn't belong here. So far as he can tell, there's nothing in this place but spinsters... and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It's a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram's makeshift army. 
Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle... but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

A Night to Surrender has some really great moments and then there were times where the story was really dragging for me. A Night to Surrender was missing a climax and a solid conflict for me. Other than that, the characters and the idea of Spindle Cove was great. 

Bram came across as a man starved for affection. He used a lot of flowery words and phrases that were a bit over the top for me. Susanna on the other hand definitely gave off the vibe as if it would not have mattered to her either way if a man came in to sweep her off her feet or if she lived in Spindle Cover forever unmarried. I kind of liked that. She was a very self sufficient woman.  

I loved the idea of a safe haven for women who didn't fit into society. A place where they could build confidences or escape medieval doctors with their quack cures. The ladies never had to worry about prying eyes of gossipy ton. The town was primarily made up of women and with out a doubt, they had a pretty good thing going on. 

When Bram and his two comrades visit Spindle Cover, the order and perfectly planned schedules of the women get ruffled. Bram enters the scene with a boom (literally) and the men bring chaos. I really liked the secondary character Colin, Lord Payne a lot. He helped fill in some comic relief and was the noted scene stealer of the book. I will definitely carry on in the series as it is his book next, A Week To Be Wicked

Bram was trying to leave Spindle Cove just as hard as he was trying to stay. The conflict of his constant threat of departing back to the military didn't really come across as all that believable. He fell in love too fast with Susanna and I just didn't feel it was a strong enough reason to keep them separated. He wasn't really torn about the decision to leave or stay.

Awesome quote from Susanna:
"I'll say this. I claim sole possession of my body, my heart, and my soul. And tonight, I choose to share them all with you."

Great premise for a story and the couple was sweet. I just wasn't as captivated as I normally am with historical romances. 

Teasers: sheep-bomber, withered appendage, Rutting Bull, "Dinner" the adorable lamb