Christmas 2018: Mooseletoe by Tiffinie Helmer

Mooseletoe
by: Tiffinie Helmer

Mooseletoe

Alaska’s matchmaking moose, Bullwinkle, has his sights set on a most unlikely pair. Holly Noelle Snow loves Christmas so much she could be one of Santa’s elves, and Reese Sutton might as well be Scrooge. But there is no way BW will allow these two to ruin his perfect track record. Even if he has to bind them together with Christmas lights. – Goodreads

It is always a struggle to find holiday books and Mooseletoe fits a lot into the movie selections that I have made this holiday season. Its contemporary romance set during Christmas in Alaska in a town with a Christmas-y name and a story revolving a lady with a Christmas-y name. We soon learn why but it couldn’t be more in your face. Suffice to say, there are quite a few holiday elements and that works. The matchmaking moose also works. I realized that this moose is part of other books by Tiffinie Helmer which I haven’t read before or even heard of and responsible for other couple pairings that are in this town. I have nothing against it. Its a decent idea plus I like moose and how it should be used more in winter settings.

My main issue with Mooseletoe is very much the fact that it hits a lot of aspects I find wrong with these contemporary romance books. One of them is the dialogue. Its a tad cringey at times and the ways certain descriptions are written were equally odd. There is this thing about writing contemporary romance that really needs to be read out loud before finalizing because it never feels like I am reading a real couple (or maybe I just don’t talk like that).

Then we have this sped up romance that sometimes works but in this case, it also falls into this frustrating situation and the love at first sight but not embracing it thing and these meaningless arguments. Its a bit too much for me. There are some intimate scenes and it was okay written and I am rather indifferent to it. However, my main issue is the personality characteristics of the main couple, Holly and Reese where it feels very contradicting in parts in what happens before and after.

To be fair, Mooseletoe did bring in a family element. That part was a nice twist and surprise to the story. I enjoyed having those bits because even if you move alone to Alaska, real life is more than romance (no matter how much of a romantic I can be). On that same note, the moral of ths story behind this pairing is a positive message about having courage to push through the bad and see the good to be happier sort of thing. And to not let the bad define you. All very good messages just its not in a very fun read for myself. Overall, a few good ideas, but the writing style is not for me.

***On a side note, I am starting to think contemporary romance is something I need to stay away from for a while. Its the contemporary genre that really gets me very irritated.***

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Archie, Vol. 5 by Mark Waid

Check out the reviews for the previous volumes below:

Archie Vol.1
Archie Vol.2
Archie Vol.3
Archie Vol.4

Archie, Vol. 5
by: Mark Waid & Audrey Mok (Illustrator)

Archie Vol.5

The fallout from OVER THE EDGE is here! One life has been destroyed, another family has been torn apart–and only the kids of Riverdale High can save their town from imploding! – Goodreads

Volume 4 ended with quite the bomb as we realize that Betty has lost the feeling in her legs after the accident. A honest tragic turn in events and a particularly darker moment because Betty is one of the nice girl next door characters and while enduring losing her best friend and having that whole breakup situation, she has lost even more now.

Volume 5 takes a dramatic turn of events. Its not so much comedic in this one even if it tries to inject some moments with the Classic Archie screw-ups and Jughead intervening with Betty’s parents at one point with his clever ways. However, at some point it felt like it was meant to go in this direction and that change of pace continuing from the previous volume really helped continue making this even more thrilling because we can see Betty’s strength and also see Betty and Archie face their feelings between them and have to make some choices. In that sense, all the characters are developing and growing with this one big event that happened. Its a heartbreaking experience but also one that sees her parents putting in extra effort to protect her. It also throws everyone’s life off balance but also appreciate the good that we the readers don’t see especially when the characters take up all the work that Betty is involved in Riverdale.

I’ve always been a fan of Betty because she is a beautiful girl next door that kind of never really follows the norm of how girls are and its especially true with this revamped version. As much as I loved the original Archie Comics, I only read a few volumes in the ton that has been released so its hard to be fully aware of how she was. This modernized Archie Comics makes Betty in a character that I love even more so this volume really hit me a hard especially as she struggles to be positive through this situation. Its nice to see the shift in tone as well in these versions which gives a good focus on each of these characters and giving them their own spotlight. I gave this one full points for being brave enough to take these daring paths into darker and more serious territory while giving the characters a lot of room to develop as they go through their different situations as well as bringing forward some of the more supporting characters and giving them their own story highlight as well. I loved this volume a lot!

Goodreads: 5/5

Archie, Vol 4 by Mark Waid & Pete Woods (illustration)

You can see the reviews for previous volumes:

Archie Vol. 1
Archie, Vol. 2
Archie, Vol. 3

Archie, Vol. 4
by: Mark Waid & Pete Woods (illustration)

Archie Vol.4

The fourth volume of the Archie series features the headline-making comic event ‘Over The Edge,’ where the lives of Archie and his friends are forever changed. – Goodreads

The foreword of this volume starts about this book having a pivotal moment that happens. With that said, it seems to be something to look forward. At this point, its already done a lot right. Every volume has crafted these characters that we love but modernized them and given it the graphic novel treatment. The art has been fantastic and each issue also brings out a different story for each of the characters.

Volume 4 is a pretty solid volume. We go through Veronica coming back from boarding school and having to find back her rhythm with Archie in their relationship while still having resistance from her father. Betty tries to move on and starts to have a bond with Dilton. At the same time, Archie and Reggie’s feud gets worse. Archie and Jughead both are really quirky characters and still inject humor but there is a more than usual switch of tone here as we barrel to the ending which gives us a rather heartbreaking moment. The way the story sets up about how each character finds out about the situation is a really clever move. Its gives this life to Riverdale. There is a real change in pace also because there is essentially more drama going on as well. At the same time, the different issues here have focus on a wider range of characters and not just the four main ones like for Dilton for example. Its a nice way to change the angle every once in a while.

Up to this point and building from the first three volumes, it was time to give the story a real push in a new direction for its characters. Something really life-changing and I appreciated every bit of it. It captures a lot of those spontaneous decisions a teenager (or honestly possibly anyone) can make that end up having unexpected consequences outside of your own realm of control. That sets up the stage for some growing up for everyone in Volume 5 and I am looking forward to see how it moves from this ending.

I have Volume 5 so I’ll be jumping into that right away!
Have you read any of the Archie Comics?

Book Blitz: Without Hesitation by Talia Jager (Excerpt & Giveaway)

WithoutHesitation.jpg

Free book alert!!! To celebrate the newly released Painted Skies (Beyond Earth: Book Two) by Talia Jager, the first book in this series is available for free download! Read all about Without Hesitation, download your free copy, and enter the amazing giveaway below!

WithoutHesitation_1877x3000-AmazonWithout Hesitation (Beyond Earth Book #1)

Publication Date: June 16th, 2017

Genre: LGBT/ Sci-Fi/ Adventure

Synopsis:

Without Hesitation is set a thousand years in the future. Earth has become a wasteland. Humans traveled into space to colonize other suitable planets. Labels and stereotypes are a thing of the past and gender and sexual identity are as fluid as love as humans strive to survive. Here we meet Everleigh, the commander of her ship named Nirvana. She is under the control of an evil madman, Caspar, who keeps her family captive. He sends her to Valinor to abduct the Empress Akacia. When she arrives, she is taken back by Akacia’s beauty and when the Empress fights back, Everleigh realizes she has met her match.

**This book is an LGBTQ story with a female/ female relationship.**

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Excerpt

Saturn GFX.jpg

“Oh, bugger!” she muttered from her dressing room.

“What?”

“I’m stuck.” She giggled. “I’m going to find the sales lady to help.”

“No! I’ll help. Open your door.”

A few seconds passed before I heard the lock click. She opened the door and I walked in and locked it behind me.

“Zipper’s stuck.” She moved her hair so I could see.

I struggled with the zipper for a minute before working it loose. I pulled it down exposing the intricate tattoos down her back. “Wow…”

Pink flamed her cheeks. “Phases of our moon, Oro.”

I trailed my fingers down her back and she shuddered. It took everything in me not to lean in and kiss her. Our eyes met in the mirror. Her blue eyes were wide with curiosity and bright with anticipation. She tilted her head to the side just enough to expose the long line of her neck and that made my heart speed out of control. I closed the small space between us and let my lips touch her skin. Her breath hitched. She was so warm, so soft, and so perfect.

My lips trailed soft kisses up to her ear, she trembled and let out a low moan. I circled her waist with one arm to steady her. My heart felt like it was going to jump out of my body. Every inch of my skin warmed.

Akacia turned so that we were face to face and her hand came up to cup my cheek. I rested my hands on her waist. Her gaze darted from my eyes to my lips. She muttered something about hesitation and then her soft, supple lips were on mine.

It was my turn to be surprised. Nobody had ever been so bold, but I was only startled for a beat before I seized her lips and deepened the kiss.

When Akacia pulled away the tiniest of moans escaped my mouth. A smile played on her lips that I swear tasted like honey. She tangled her hands in my hair at the back of my neck.

There was a knock on the door. “Do you need help?”

Akacia giggled and I answered, “No. Just another minute.”

-Without Horizons

About the Author

Author Pic.jpg

Talia is no stranger to labels and judgment. She has slowly been developing her voice for those who need help speaking up. She believes that someday labels will be a thing of the past, that sexuality will be fluid, love will be love, and mental illness will be handled with love and care.

Talia is an author with fifteen books published including: Damaged: Natalie’s Story, Teagan’s Story: Her Battle With Epilepsy, If I Die Young, Secret Bloodline, Lost and Found, The Gifted Teens Series, The Between Worlds Series and The Beyond Earth Series. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking red rocks or sitting on the beach with a Kindle in her hands and her toes in the ocean.

Talia Jager | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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For your chance to win either a $25 Amazon Gift Card or a digital copy of Painted Skies (Beyond Earth Book #2), click the link below!

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Blog Tour: Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun

Fountain Dead Blog Tour

Fountain Dead
By: Theresa Braun

Fountain Dead

Expected Publication: November 20th, 2018
Genre: Mature YA Horror/Paranormal
Publisher: Unnerving Press

Synopsis

Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past.

Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house’s dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.

Available on Amazon

Review

Fountain Dead is two stories intertwined together. The first is set in the 1800s and the second is set in the 1980s. Both of which have a different genre for each of the story. The one set in the past being the origin and foundation story that takes a gruesome horrific turn of events while the one set in the current state of things is more of paranormal haunted house sort of story with teens as the main character.

The biggest challenge of stories structured like this is its flow between the two stories especially when they are a different genres and feature a different set of characters. However, the trick is in the details and Fountain Dead manages to incorporate the connections as it transitions from one to the next in a rather clever way. With that said, the pacing of the novel works because it keeps us intrigued through this swap to constantly keep wanting to know what happens next with each mystery that happens in the present and how it links to the past. While the story does have a lot of horror elements to it, its definitely falls more in a paranormal fantasy sort of a story. The horror descriptions work well but somehow didn’t seem to be as creepy as needed which works for say the YA audience or in general a younger teen audience perhaps. On the other hand, the story set in 1800s doesn’t quite have the horror turn in events until much later when it gets slightly more psychological and twisted. Particularly in the last few chapters, the description there is incredibly vivid as its draws out some of the more horrific details and those fit to the genre really well. For the most part, I’d call this one more of a thriller.

Overall, Fountain Dead works well as a well-paced thriller. While some of the horror elements don’t quite land as much as some of the later moments when the story takes a turn of events, there are some engaging characters in both the past and present storyline. In terms of both the main characters of the two timelines, Emma in the 1800s story and Mark in the 1980s story both have a lot of depth and character development which makes the story even more intriguing to read. The clever connection between the two stories also show a lot of thought and detail in planning out the story. For the most part, the 1980s story does carry a more consistent paranormal element than the 1800s one. My only criticism is the imbalance of the two stories but at the same time, it never felt like it didn’t work. My biggest gripe might be that I didn’t find it quite as scary as it should be. Although, Fountain Dead does also comes with a well-written setting like the Victorian house which always makes it come to life because of these paranormal events. Pretty much, Fountain Dead might fall short a little but it has enough other well thought out elements that makes up for those small shortcomings.

Goodreads rating: 4/5

About the Author

Theresa Braun

Hmmm. What’s this? Looks like Ms. Braun left her computer on and her Goodreads bio open.

This should be fun.

What can we say about Theresa? I mean other than the fact that she’s weirdly obsessed with smiley faces :-). Like, seriously obsessed >:-*. It’s kinda scary :-O.

I think she thinks she’s from Renaissance England or Venice or something. I never could figure out which one it was. (She’s really bad at doing accents.)

She likes romance novels and crime TV, which are pretty much the same thing when you think about it. Ha! Am I right?

She has a hell of a singing voice. Seriously. It’s, like, seventh circle of hell bad.

She likes editing. A lot. Just wait till she get’s a load a this.

Cats. Shoes. Chips and salsa. In that order.

Yeah, that last part didn’t make sense to me either.

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The Rafflecopter giveaway is a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

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Eternal Hunger (The Enchanted Bloodline #3) by Denise K. Rago

To see the reviews for the first two books of the series, you can find it below.

Book #1 Immortal Obsession
Book #2 Blood Tears

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

Eternal Hunger
by: Denise K. Rago

eternal hunger

And the romance continues with Book Three in The Enchanted Bloodline Series….. Nothing will stop Amanda Perretti from protecting her son. She hides away with him, protected by her lover, the vampire Michel Baptiste, as they both await the return of vampire Christian Du Maure, once Amanda’s lover and Michel’s best friend, now a fugitive somewhere in Europe. Convinced Christian is being held prisoner and in desperate need of her help, Amanda works to hatch a scheme that will get her and Michel to France to find Christian, and still keep her beloved son safe. But they are not the only ones who seek Christian. There are some among the vampire order who believe that his rightful place is as the king of the vampires, with a strong queen beside him, and who will use any means necessary to entrap him into a heritage he has fought against for centuries. Though Michel and Christian both carry secrets that could destroy both their friendship and their relationship with Amanda, they are only the first of many who harbor knowledge that could either see the vampire order rise to power once more in the mortal world, or destroy it completely … – Goodreads

Its been over three years since I read the last book (and 4 years since the previous book in the series was released). If you look at the reviews (or you were around then), you know that I liked and even loved this series a lot, both for the classy writing style and the beautiful romance and the dilemmas that these characters got caught up into. Its a great vampire story. I still remember a little from it but to be honest, my biggest worry about starting this one had to be how continuous it would be and whether the fragmented memory I had of it would affect my immersion to the story. Its always a challenge when it takes years for a sequel to come out. Luckily, the novel gives us a good bit of transition and description to make the crossover easier and there was a lot of little bits that pieces what happened before together so that what happened in the previous novels came back fairly easily. If not everything, the crucial parts were recounted just enough to make it easy to catch on to the foundation of what to know.

One of the aspects that I’ve always loved these books is Denise K. Rago’s writing style. Its elegant and classy and uses the power of refined vocabulary to create these relationships and mystery behind both the scenario and the characters. It has these very fluid and vivid descriptions that seem just enough. Its refreshing to read a vampire love story and use he characteristics of rather refined characters to create a history behind them that has so many layers. Especially since the vampires themselves, especially with the many new characters introduced to create a multilayer sort of story and each of these characters, because of their past, all reflect in the way they speak. The detail behind each of the characters is something to truly applaud.

At the third book, Eternal Hunger still manages to change the scene from the first two books. It still feels standalone in the sense that there is an effort to still recall events that happened in the past to make it easier. At the same time, the characters create shifts. There are twists and turns to the story and most of our main characters eventually reach their own change. While the story keeps a good pace, the only downfall is sometimes the change in the timeline creates this jump which makes it feel like it rushes through some plot lines, however, at the same time, I’m not sure if elaborating or emphasizing more would have been good either. As there are still enough twists and turns to make it quite the pageturner. For a third (and I would think final) book of the series, this definitely is quite an incredible feat.

Goodreads Score: 5/5 (if there was half points, it would be 4.5)

Blog Tour: The Harbinger by Candace Wondrak (Review & Giveaway)

Blog Tour

The Harbinger (Book #1)
by: Candace Wondrak

The Harbinger

Genre: Reverse Harem/Fantasy
Expected Publication Date: November 5, 2018

Synopsis

The rules of the Second, a list by Faith Blackwell.

One: technology doesn’t work. The Second doesn’t need electricity when it has magic. Two: don’t trust anyone. The Second’s races—the Elven, the Malus, the Ulen and the Dracon—are way too pretty to trust. Three: when someone tells you you’re the new Harbinger, believe them. Bad things happen if you don’t.

Back in the sixties, the last Harbinger permanently opened the gateways between Earth and the Second. Humanity grew accordingly. Faith is in her fifth year at the Academy, with her sight set on joining the Division, the branch of government that enforces what most law enforcement can’t, like smuggling goods between worlds. Following her mother’s footsteps has always been the plan.

Of course, she doesn’t want to follow them to a T. Her mother had awful luck with men, as did her grandma. Faith wouldn’t mind finding out what’s so special about a man that it has her quirky grandma swearing at them constantly. A field trip to the Second is just what she needs.

Being the first female Harbinger in the Second’s history and having to face down the realm’s most dangerous Dracon, also known as the ridiculously-named Dread King? Not what she needs.

Faith isn’t a hero. That sort of responsibility is not what she wants. The perks that come with it—like a sexy but infuriating Elf, a flirty Malus, and a quiet and pensive Ulen—well, maybe for them she’ll make an exception to her grandma’s no-man rule.

Maybe she’ll have them all.

The Harbinger is the first in a slow-burn, reverse harem fantasy series. Expect eventual hot and steamy scenes, coupled with the Chosen One trope, and a heroine who will reluctantly try to save a world that isn’t hers.

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Review

The Harbinger takes on a fairly familiar setting in a fantasy novel. There are familiar elements that was noticed from something like The Mortal Instruments and other similar stories however, that isn’t saying that there isn’t something unique here. The Harbinger has its own set of story with its own heroine and back story. Being the first book, there is a lot of setup for both bringing in the characters and setting the stage for everything we need to know. As slow-burn as it claims to be, there is still a decent amount of fantasy to create a good bit of intrigue especially with all the different fantasy races to discover and a good contrast of characters that were introduced. It sets up a lot of potential for the following books, while still being a competent first book.

My main deal here is that the dialogue here sometimes didn’t really work as well for me. I’m fairly selective about fantasy and writing style so its something I’m a little more nitpicky about. Most of the writing style is pretty good, but its mostly the actual dialogue. However, I did like how the chapters would, albeit in third person, still change the angle of which character’s point of view we are reading from. Aside from that, putting the romance aside, which I’m not sure that I’m completely on board with, my favorite parts are the mysterious bits that are written exceptionally well when we start getting introduced to the Dread King. We’re keeping this spoiler free so nothing more than that.

Overall, The Harbinger is a really good fantasy book with a lot of creativity and its first book sets up a lot of intrigue especially in bringing in this new world and their clans while giving the characters, especially the heroine’s quest and her depth to make me look forward to what else this series has to offer.

Goodreads score: 4/5

About the Author

Candace Wondrak

Hey guys! I’m a writer, an office worker, a wife, a mother to two dogs and two cats, and half of a strange pair of young adults who flip the houses they’re living in with the goal of having no mortgage (so that I can eventually focus on my writing career!). Needless to say, I’m busy.

Still, I somehow find time to write, to read, and to enjoy life. Wish there were more hours in the day, really!

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Giveaway details: $10 Amazon E-gift card and a digital copy of book two, The Fellowship

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