Green Frog Umbrella

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Look Back at 2013

     I've decided to do a look back at 2013.  A lot has happened in 2013 as far as reading and reviewing books goes... for me at least.  I've read too many books in 2013 to show them all.  According to Goodreads, I read 229 books!  So here are some firsts and favorites as I look back on 2013:

  • I discovered NetGalley
  • Started this blog, a Facebook Page and a Twitter account
  • Learned how to blog and all about social media
  • Found Feature & Follow Friday
  • Met lots of book bloggers and made some friends
  • Compared BookLikes to Goodreads
     As odd as it may seem to some of you these genres are new to me.  I have read primarily fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal romance for years.  So here's a few firsts in genres for me:  
  • Time Travel Romance
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Christmas Books
New Favorite Series:
  • Lux
  • Guardians of Eternity
  • The Infernal Devices
  • Fantasyland
  • Iron Druid
  • Shifters Unbound
  • Virgin River
New Favorite Authors:
  • Jennifer Sage
  • Rosanna Leo
  • Kristen Ashley
  • Mina Khan
  • Bobbi Romans
  • Peggy L. Henderson
  • Dana Marie Bell
  • Patrick Rothfuss
Favorite Books of 2013!
This was really difficult to pick and I'm sure later I'll think of some that missed the list.  Some that were on favorite series I didn't add to favorite books because I loved all the books such as Dana Marie Bell.  So, last but not least in this look back... my favorites! (In no particular order)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday #7

I have been so busy that I haven't posted to this blog in two weeks!  I thought a good way to start back would be with Feature & Follow Friday.  So happy #FF everyone, it's good to be back!!

This is a weekly meme hosted by: Alison Can Read and Parajunkee that is aimed to help bloggers grow their audience and make new friends. They feature two bloggers every week and have a question for everyone to answer...

This week's question:
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! What books did Santa stuff your stocking with this holiday season? Do a holiday book haul for us!  Pictures!!!

Sweet Tea, Fried Chicken & Lazy Dogs is about life in North Carolina it's sort of an auto-biography of the authors stories that he posted in a newspaper.  Each story is only 2 pages so I've already read a few.  It seems pretty cute.  

Normally I go through non-fiction phases where I find books about things that interest me and research like a mad woman.  The China Study is that type of book.  I've only skimmed it but it seems to be a fairly scary tell all about why our diets effect our health.  Hopefully I'll get in a researchy mood and can read some of that one soon.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Unlikely Angel ★★★☆☆

Author: Genie Gabriel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Goddessfish Promotions
210 pages

A child psychiatrist running from violence and a former bodyguard grieving the wife he couldn't save form an unlikely alliance to rescue her kidnapped children. In a crumbling mine tunnel on Christmas Eve, their lives depend on a mutt rescued from the streets, a determined mother and an Unlikely Angel.


Two weeks before Christmas, Mitch decided he had waited long enough.
“Come on, mutt.” Mitch grabbed his coat and a pair of work gloves. “Let’s go find the twins.”

Gabe bounded to his feet and bumped the doorknob with his nose. He sniffed and marked around the yard while Mitch pulled the Ferrari out of the garage. As soon as the dog jumped into the car, Mitch drove to a lot selling Christmas trees. He selected one that would fit nicely in Julia’s small apartment and strapped it to the top of the car.

The mutt hung his head out the window, riding in silent watchfulness until the apartment building was in sight. “Woof!”

“You have to be quiet or we’ll get caught smuggling you in.” Under cover of the falling twilight and a bushy evergreen tree, Mitch and the dog walked quickly toward Julia’s apartment.

As soon as Julia opened the door, the dog pushed inside and sniffed out the twins, quickly falling back into their game of hide and seek. Within seconds, the twins’ giggles let Julia know the dog had found the children.

“I brought a tree.” Mitch stood the evergreen upright.

“I see that.” Julia bit her lip as she walked around the tree. “Nice choice. Bushy all around.”

“I had three picky sisters who trained me in the fine art of Christmas tree selection.”

Julia smiled. “They trained you well.”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Love for the Holidays ★★★★☆ or embed code:

Authors: Noelle Adams; Rachel Curtis; Samantha Chase; Zoe York
Genre: Contemporary Romance
583 pages

From fake relationships to secret affairs to best friends falling in love, everything changes at Christmas.

This holiday bundle includes five stories, from steamy to sweet, including two new, exclusive stories from New York Times bestselling authors.

HOLIDAY HEAT by Noelle Adams – After being hit with heartbreaking tragedy, Carrie has thrown herself into a hot, secret relationship with Matt. With Christmas approaching, she realizes she might want even more from her sexy, damaged artist, but the boundaries around their relationship make anything deeper than sex impossible. A new, steamy romance.

MISTLETOE BETWEEN FRIENDS by Samantha Chase – Lily and Cam have been friends all their lives, and their relationship has never been romantic. But when they pretend to be dating so they can spend the holiday with their families in peace, they realize their fake romance might actually be real. A new, sweet romance.

THE CHRISTMAS COTTAGE by Samantha Chase - Spending the night trapped by a blizzard in a romantic Christmas cottage with the man she’s loved for years has Lacey wondering if fairy tales really do come true. A sweet romance.

EIGHT CHRISTMAS EVES by Rachel Curtis - One Christmas Eve, Cyrus Owen, the over-indulged teenage son of a wealthy businessman, finds ten-year-old Helen on the side of the road. Eleven years later, he is desperately in love with her. This is how it happens... A mostly sweet romance.

WHAT ONCE WAS PERFECT by Zoe York – For Laney, the worst part of returning to her hometown for Christmas is confronting Kyle, the man who broke her heart twelve years ago. When they rediscover their perfect chemistry, Kyle has to convince Laney to let him back into her heart. A steamy romance.

First, let me say that this anthology exceeded my expectations by far. These aren't short stories... they are more like short books or novellas. Normally with anthologies I can read each story in one sitting, but with Love for the Holidays that wasn't the case. It took me 3 days to read all 5 stories! Now that's an anthology for ya! If you are looking for some holiday stories to read I would highly suggest Love for the Holidays. Especially since it's only 2.99!  (Beginning on December 11, Love for the Holidays will be on sale for just $.99!)

Holiday Heat:
It's a great title because this story is hot!  It's a really touching story about two people that meet after tragedy has destroyed them emotionally.  I loved both Carrie and Matt.  After meeting at a group therapy session they decide to have a steamy affair.  Neither thinks it will go any further than cheap hotel rooms until it does.

Mistletoe Between Friends:
I also loved Lily and Cameron.  They have been best friends their whole lives and have decided to keep their mothers from introducing them to a lineup of terrible dates to pretend that they are dating instead.  But they have to make it look real.  Which means kissing under the mistletoe and much more.  The only problem is once they realize that they feel more than friendship they are afraid to ruin the friendship by saying so to each other.  The ending really had me laughing!

The Christmas Cottage:
Ugh another story with my name.  Reading this drove me nuts, not sure how people with really popular names can stand it.  Lacey has to go to the cottage to get everything perfect for her bridezilla best friend.  Ean has decided to go to the cottage to get away from work for a bit.  They weren't expecting each other and end up snowed in.  I loved the parts with just Lacey and Ean but whenever the story involved the upcoming wedding I just got annoyed.  It was a good story altogether though.

Eight Christmas Eves:
This was a very unique story spanning 12 years time.  Each chapter was another Christmas Eve in the lives of Helen and Cyrus, starting with the day that they meet.  When I started this story I really didn't know where it was going.  But by the end I was ready to bop Cyrus on the head with something.  I haven't read anything like this and so I am giving it 5 stars because it is so different and kept me up reading.

What Once was Perfect:
The story was cute and I liked Laney and Kyle but it wasn't anything great.  They were practically engaged in college when he broke it off.  They meet back up 12 years later during Christmastime and the sparks are still there.  But they live 5 hours apart and don't know how they can make it work.  There's a lot of insecurities on both sides because of the way things ended.

Buy links:
Beginning on December 11, Love for the Holidays will be on sale for just $.99!



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Monday, December 9, 2013

A Cowboy for Christmas ★★★★☆

Author: Lori Wilde
Genre: Contemporary Romance
384 pages

It's Christmastime in Jubilee, Texas, but Lissette Moncrief is having a hard time celebrating . . .

Especially after she accidentally smashes her car into Rafferty Jones's pick-up truck. Yes, he's a whole lot of handsome—from the tips of his boots to the top of his Stetson. But he's no Christmas present. Lissy's not about to let herself get whisked away by his charming ways and words . . . only to watch him drive away in the end.

But what Lissy doesn't know is Rafferty's in town just to meet her—and to give her a share in a windfall that doesn't rightly belong to him. At first, he just wants to do his good deed and get out. But one look at this green-eyed beauty has him deciding to turn this into a Christmas to remember . . . making promises he's determined to keep—whether she believes in them or not.

Starry Night ★★★★★

Author: Debbie Macomber
Genre: Contemporary Romance
256 pages

’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas ★★★★★

Author: Molly Harper
Genre: Paranormal
3hrs 43mins

It's Christmas in Half-Moon Hollow and newly turned vampire Iris Scanlon-Calix wants to make Gigi's first visit home from college as normal and special as possible. It's taken months for Iris to work up the nerve to spend time around her baby sister after her vampire transition, so she enlists help from Jane Jameson and Company to keep her blood-thirst under control and assure Gigi's safety.

Gigi, on the other hand, has problems of her own, including the demise of her relationship with high school sweetheart, Ben, and a looming job interview with Ophelia Lambert, the scariest potential employer in the Hollow. And then there's the small matter of the handsome, frustrating vampire who keeps appearing in Gigi's peripheral vision, then disappearing before she can talk to him.

Can the Scanlon sisters negotiate romantic problems, vampire politics, and Christmas cookie disasters and enjoy a relatively normal holiday?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday #6

Welcome to Feature and Follow Friday! This is a weekly meme hosted by: Alison Can Read and Parajunkee that is aimed to help bloggers grow their audience and make new friends. They feature two bloggers every week and have a question for everyone to answer...

This weeks question:
Bookselling Time: Go to your biggest bookcases. Go to the second shelf from the top and pick out the sixth book from the left. Hardsell that book to us - even if you haven’t read it or if you hated it. 

As you can see the 6th book on my 2nd shelf is Terry Goodkind's Faith of the Fallen from the Sword of Truth series.  This is one of my favorite book series of all time.  My favorite character is Zed which I actually think is absent from this book.  In this book Richard builds the beautiful statues that are shown on the cover of the book.  Despite the fact that this is one of my favorite books in the series I am hard-pressed to remember any actual details about the book.  I guess I'm not very good at selling books I haven't read in many years.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas on 4th Street ★★★★☆

Author: Susan Mallery
Genre: Contemporary Romance
329 pages

There's nowhere better to spend the holidays than with New York Timesbestselling author Susan Mallery in the town of Fool's Gold, where love is always waiting to be unwrapped... Noelle Perkins just got a second chance at life, and she intends to make the most of every minute. That's why she ditched a frustrating legal career to open her own store in Fool's Gold, California. The Christmas Attic celebrates everything that's magical about her favorite season. Business is booming, and as a bonus, gorgeous army doctor Gabriel Boylan has offered to help out during the holiday rush.

Gabriel's memories of Christmas past contain more sour grapes than sugar plums, thanks to a drill sergeant father who ran his home like a boot camp. Spending the holidays with his family while he recuperates from injury sounds as appetizing as last year's eggnog. Still, there are some enjoyable distractions in town, including sunny, sexy Noelle...and the red-hot mistletoe kisses they can't stop sharing.

Gabriel didn't think he was made for happily-ever-afters. But when fate hands you a love as sweet and surprising as this, only a fool could refuse....

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Christmas to Remember ★★★☆☆

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: NetGalley- Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
136 pages

Curl up with this heartwarming Christmas collection!

Jill Shalvis, Dream a Little Dream: Melissa has kept every man at a safe distance-especially firefighter Ian, a sexy friend with sexy benefits. But Ian secretly longs for more. Luckily, 'tis the season for giving love a chance . . .

Kristen Ashley, Every Year: Holidays don't come easy for Shy and his brother, Landon. But with the magic of Christmas, along with a little help from Tabby and her family, the Cage brothers are about to get the gift of a lifetime . . .

Hope Ramsay, Silent Night: Down on her luck and evicted from her apartment, single mother Maryanne hopes to start over in Last Chance. When the snow begins to fall, it looks like her baby might literally spend Christmas Eve in a manger. And Maryanne might celebrate the holiday with a handsome stranger.

Molly Cannon, Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas: Lincoln is a bachelor who's set in his ways-until a professional organizer dressed up as Mrs. Claus changes his life, one tip at a time. . .

Marilyn Pappano, A Family for Christmas: War widow Ilena doesn't mind spending Christmas alone. But when a new doctor blows into town with the winter wind, will she get her secret Christmas wish?

Plus: Excerpts from upcoming novels!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Kissing Under the Mistletoe ★★★★☆

Author: Bella Andre
Genre: Contemporary Romance
400 pages

For Mary Sullivan Christmas is, and always has been, about family. And this year is no different. As she awaits the arrival of her eight children and their partners at the cottage in Lake Tahoe, she hangs the ornaments that they made for her over the years. Each decoration brings with it a tide of memories, all of which she holds dear to her heart. But when she comes across the oldest ornament, the one her beloved husband, Jack, gave her on their very first Christmas together, Mary is immediately swept back to the first days of their whirlwind romance, to the love that would be the foundation on which they built the family she is so proud to call her own.

Join the Sullivans this Christmas for a story that explores the wonder of the holidays, the meaning of family and a love that transcends time.

December is for Christmasy books!

I got the idea last month to read all Christmas themed books from December 1st leading up to Christmas.  I've gotten a few from Netgalley, some from the library and a few from book tours.  I even have one that I won off of Goodreads.  I'm really looking forward to using this to get into the Christmas spirit and explore some new authors!

Since I live in Florida it's a little harder to get into Christmas.  I usually spend the month before Christmas listening to Christmas music, watching holiday movies and baking cookies.  I thought I would start a new tradition this year and add reading Christmasy books to that.

Here's a list of the books that I plan to read so far:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sempre ★★★★☆ | #COYER Book Review

Author: J.M. Darhower
Genre: Contemporary Romance; Young Adult
Source: NetGalley- Gallery Books
530 pages

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco had vastly different childhoods. Haven, a second-generation slave, grew up isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege, never having to answer for anything he did.

Both now seventeen, a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide, making them question everything they ever believed. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think.

     So much happened in this book I'm not sure where to start.  This book encompasses so much.  It's not just about human trafficking.  It's not just about the mob.  It's definitely not just any young adult romance.  I feel silly saying it but I had a hard time starting this book.  I was expecting something set in South America and that there would be a lot of violence in the book.  There was some violence but the story of Haven and Carmine make up for it in spades.  There were so many twists, turns and surprises in this book it blew my mind.  I found myself getting anxious thinking my gosh what can happen next?  By the end I was so totally engrossed with the book that I read for 4 hours straight to finish it.

     Haven was born a slave.  I thought since reading the synopsis that since she was a slave this book was set in another country because we aren't supposed to have slavery anymore in America.  The book starts out in California where haven has lived for her 17 years.  Just as there are all kinds of other illegal activities after reading this book I can believe that there are still slaves.  That thought is very upsetting.  Haven has spent her entire life secluded from the outside word.  Her views on things are sometimes very funny in their simplicity.  Haven gets taken from the house in California and her mother at the beginning of the book and is taken to a new house in North Carolina to live with the DeMarco's.  She has to adjust to a whole different life and her journey was interesting to read.

     There are 2 DeMarco sons.  Dominick and Carmine.  Dominick is your regular high school student.  Carmine is just a mess, there's no nicer way to put it.  He's seen some terrible things in his 17 years and in addition to that is considered a mafia prince.  He drinks and does drugs a lot.  He gets into fights with everyone.  But he can't understand why Haven doesn't like him.  The changes in Carmine once he decides to be nice to Haven and try to get her to like him are great.  The relationship between Haven and Carmine is one of the best I've read in a book considered Young Adult.

     Why do I say the book is "considered" Young Adult?  Well, it might be categorized as that since they are technically both 17 and then 18 in the book but there is drinking, drugs, sex and violence in this book.  I would say that it should be considered New Adult despite their ages.  The topics that this book covers are something that I'm not sure that many teenagers would be able to understand or enjoy.

     When the book finished I thought to myself huh I think there could be a second book... and there will be.  Apparently Sempre is book one of the Forever series.  Book two is called Sempre Redemption and I'm sure it will be even more action packed than the first book.  Its publication date on Goodreads is December 23rd.

Picking a few favorite quotes has been difficult with this book.  I highlighted a lot!

Favorite Quotes:

"Colpo di fulmine.  The thunderbolt, as Italians call it.  When love strikes someone like lightning, so powerful and intense it can't be denied.  It's beautiful and messy, cracking a chest open and spilling their soul out for the world to see.  It turns a person inside out, and there's no going back from it.  Once the thunderbolt hits, your life is irrevocably changed."

"The girl who had never been able to call her life her own taught a boy who had the world at his fingertips exactly what it meant to live."

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