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review 2017-12-17 14:15
ARC Review: Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, Jeffe Kennedy
Amid the Winter Snow: A Holiday Anthology - Grace Draven,Jeffe Kennedy,Thea Harrison,Elizabeth Hunter
Amid the Winter Snow

Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, Jeffe Kennedy
Paranormal Romance - Science Fiction - Anthologies
Brightlynx Publishing
December 12th 2017
eBook
454
ARC Review Copy

 

As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night...

 

THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven
The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

 

THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison
In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

 

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

 

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy
As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…

 

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Overall Rating of Amid the Winter Snow: 4 Stars

 

Amid the Winter Snow features four novellas that where charming, delightful, and engaging to read. Thea Harrison is the only author in this anthology I’m familiar with, so the other three were new to me. I was drawn into the stories and taken for a whirlwind ride of heartache, conflict, healing, and love. Each novella is distinct, special, and focuses around a winter holiday. Out of all the novellas featured the only one I didn’t care for was The Snows of Windroven by Jeffe Kennedy.

 

Below you will find my individual reviews for each novella in this anthology.

 

The Darkest Midnight by Grace Draven – 5 Stars

 

I very much loved The Darkest Midnight. I couldn’t put the story down and devoured from begging to end.

 

When we first meet Jahna she is only fifteen and being tormented by a group of girls. The Delyalda celebration is never a fun time for her; because of this. As the years move on we see her learn swordsman ship along side her brother as well as becoming an accomplished scholar by writing down all the stories she is told. At the begging we also meet Radimar he is seven years older then Jahna and to be her brothers sword master teacher for four years. We see how their relationship develops over the years. How the romance blossoms between them. It’s sad and sweet.

 

I liked how the author made the time move on and how the characters change and grow throughout years. It was also very sweet how Radimar helped coax Jahna to be more confident and have courage.

 

The Darkest Midnight was a remarkable, sweet, and captivating read.

 

*****

 

The Chosen by Thea Harrison – 4 Stars

 

I very much enjoy the Elder Race series and this novella was no exception.

 

Lily can see things and she’s been having dreams about two men battling. Now that Wulf has arrived on her doorstep she must choose sides. One will lead to happiness, while the other will lead to despair.

 

Wolf is a bad and good man wrapped up in one. He’s formidable and honorable too. Lily is the Chosen and leader of her people. I liked Lily and Wolf. Both knew the hardship of being leaders for their people and living with chooses that may not always turn out. Their chemistry together was wonderful, these two complemented each other, and their romance was enchanting.

 

The Chosen is a magical story full of confrontation and desire.

 

*****

 

The Storm by Elizabeth Hunter – 4.5 Stars

 

I was a bit unsure going into The Storm, but the more I read the more interesting the novella became and now I’m curious about reading the series this one takes place in the Iron Chronicles.

 

Renata & Maxim from what I got are side characters in the series or so it seams to me. Since I haven’t read the series I’m not positive. A lot happens; before these two meet and after they meet as well. Their courtship spans over 18-years.

 

The author showcase Renata and Maxim throughout the years. We get some of their backstory as well as little parts of information on what happens in the Iron Chronicles series too. I cried in a few parts throughout this novella. It’s hard to move on when your lose is so big, but Maxim never gives up on Renata and their love is captivating.

 

The Storm gives us loss, heartache, healing, love, and learning to let go and move on. It keeps up with the series it’s part of, but also stands very much on it’s own.

 

*****

 

The Snows of Windroven by Jeffe Kennedy – 2.5 Stars

 

This one was my least favorite. Why? Well we’re coming into the middle of this couples relationship or whatever it is between them. The backstory is lacking and from what I’ve discovered this novella is part of The Twelve Kingdoms series. Ami has her own story, The Tears of the Rose.

 

Ami is Queen and also an Avatar for a Goddess. She’s also got two young children from a previous marriage, not sure on how that relationship was, but we know her husband is dead. Ash is a low born, a half-blooded something, and was thrown in prison as a child for who knows what. Their relationship is push and pull. He knows deep down that he will have to let her go, even though he loves her and she loves him, but he keeps pulling away. It’s so back and forth. Also their is mention of a waking dragon at Castle Windroven, but that storyline/plot isn’t completed.

 

It feels like the reader is missing a lot if they haven’t read at least Ami’s book. The Snows of Windroven doesn’t feel like it can stand on it’s own. It needs the series to put things fully into view.

 

Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!

 

 

Challenge(s): New To Me (Authors) | Pick Your Genre (PNR) | New Releases (2017)

 

 

 

 

I was born and raised in Northern Indiana. I’m an outdoor sun loving reader living near San Fransisco. I’m a mother, wife, dog owner, animal, and book lover. I’m the owner, reviewer, and mind behind Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. My favorite animals are horses & dogs. As for reading I love all things paranormal & urban fantasy. My favorite shifters are dragons!

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Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2017/12/arc-review-amid-the-winter-snow-by-grace-draven-thea-harrison-elizabeth-hunter-jeffe-kennedy
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review 2017-12-16 08:02
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries - Various Authors,Martin Edwards

On the whole, it's pretty much a safe bet that just about any anthology collection is bound to be hit or miss: some stories will hit all the marks, while others will be, at best, 'meh'.

 

Silent Nights is one of the rare ones where even the weaker stories are better than average. I reviewed the first 4 here, but here are my thoughts concerning the remaining stories.

 

Stuffing by Edgar Wallace - ★★★  There was a definite The Blue Carbuncle vibe to this story.  It was short, and amusing, and was amongst the stories in this book with the most Christmas spirit.  It was short and told in third person so even though I really enjoyed it, it was hard to rate it higher.

 

The Unknown Murderer by H.C. Bailey - ★★★1/2  This one was just plain weird, but oddly satisfying.  Twisted story / mystery, but the ending was unsatisfactory.  I wanted more information.

 

The Absconding Treasurer by J. Jefferson Farjeon - ★★★  I'm not sure I'm destined to be a Farjeon fan.  This is the second story I've read by him and I'm left feeling short changed.  I liked the writing, but the mystery was really non-existent.  The investigator doesn't share his thoughts with the reader - or the clues - so you're with him for almost the entire story, and then suddenly he goes for a walk, finds a body and voila! knows the solution to the entire mystery.  The writing saves this from a 2 star story though.

 

The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L. Sayers - ★★★★  I'm a fan of Whimsey, so even though Sayers pulls something of a Farjeon in this short story, I find I didn't mind quite as much.  Even though I don't think the reader gets enough information to solve the mystery, we do at least get all the elements, making it easy to see where Whimsey is going.  And the crime's concealment was freaking ingenious.

 

The Case is Altered by Marjory Allingham - ★★★  The fact that I had to look this one up again because I remembered nothing about it probably says more than I can for the story.  It's not bad, nor badly written, it just wasn't memorable.

 

Waxworks by Ethel Lina White - ★★★★★  I was sure I was going to dislike this one when I read the author intro, where Edwards highlights the author's focus on writing suspense stories.  But oh man this one was so good!  Even though I knew how it was going to turn out - really, everything about the first part of the story made the ending inevitable - I had no idea how that ending was going to happen.  I was expecting something far less subtle than I got, and that subtlety, and the twisty bit, was what made the story so good.

 

Cambric Tea by Marjorie Bowen - ★★★  This story started out promising to be another 5 star, but in a gothic vain, but lost steam at the very end, with a disappointingly weak ending that felt the result of the author writing herself into a corner and then copping out.

 

The Chinese Apple by Joseph Shearing - ★★★  Oddly enough, as this is written by the same author as Cambric Tea under a pseudonym, this story's problem was the exact opposite of Cambric Tea's:  weak build up and a solid ending.   What is supposed to be the plot twist was obvious to me from the start; but the ending was so satisfying it scored extra points from me.

 

A Problem in White by Nicholas Blake - ★★★★1/2  An Encyclopaedia Brown type of mystery!  I had a very hard time at the start figuring out the characters - the author gave them all nicknames, then two pages in gave them their proper names, confusing me to no end.  But Blake gives the reader all the clues and then doesn't give the solution - it's at the back of the book, allowing readers to try to guess whodunnit without being influenced.  (I haven't had a guess yet, because I need to re-read it again now that I have a better idea of who is who.)

 

The Name on the Window by Edmund Crispin - ★★★★  I really enjoyed the writing in this one an awful lot, which made the abrupt ending to the 'locked room' mystery easier to put up with.  I'll definitely be reading more Crispin.

 

Beef for Christmas by Leo Bruce - ★★★★1/2  I've read Bruce's other series involving the Professor and I like him as a main character better, but Beef's a very clever man and the writing was top notch.  The reader doesn't get all the facts, but the story compensates; this one felt far more complete than a lot of short stories often do.

 

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text 2017-12-15 07:05
Cover Reveal - Shots On Goal Series Boxed Set

Hockey player in blue uniform on ice rink in spotlight

 

Check out the cover for SHOTS ON GOAL by Kristen Hope Mazzola! PREORDER this complete boxed set with exclusive bonus content for only $2.99! Price goes up on release day!

 

AMAZON → http://amzn.to/2BQa1XT

 

 

24740213_1953344628320687_880146097_o

 

The Shots on Goal Series is made up of steamy, heart melting, standalone romances focusing on the New York Otters hockey team!! From the captain of the team, to his all-star boxing campion little brother, to NYPD officers - this series has it all, with tons of characters that will warm your heart and keep you turning those pages... So, grab your e-reader and yell "Ollie is my homeboy" while falling in love with this amazing group of friends, teammates, and family as they take you on one hell of a wild ride!

 

The compilation includes:

 

 

Hat Trick

Cross Checked

Low Blow

Playoff Beard

Off Duty

 

Including never before released, exclusive chapters!

 

Hockey player in blue uniform on ice rink in spotlight

 

 

 

About the Author:

 

I am just an average twenty-something following my dreams. I have a full time “day job” and by night I am an author. I guess you could say that writing is like my super power (I always wanted one of those). I am the lover of wine, sushi, football and the ocean; that is when I am not wrapped up in the literary world. Please feel free to contact me to chat about my writing, books you think I’d like or just to shoot the, well you know. A portion of all my royalties are donated to The Marcie Mazzola Foundation.

 

Author Links:

 

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1fQ2eZI

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2eUz8P8

Twitter: http://bit.ly/1gZdki8

Website: http://bit.ly/1dBeHku

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/184qzve

 

 

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review 2017-12-13 18:45
The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror by William Meikle
The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror - William Meikle

 

Picture the scene: Victorian London. A smoky club. A group of literary icons. The price to join this group? A story of the supernatural. The scene is now set.

 

Imagine the tales these writers of old would share. Stoker, Dickens, Wells, James, and Stevenson, among others. What price would you pay to sit at that table? Unfortunately, the opportunity to sit there in person is gone, but thanks to William Meikle, you CAN now be privy to these stories and anything else these authors have to say. The entrance fee for you? Quite reasonable!

 

The standout tales for me were:

 

WEE DAVIE MAKES A FRIEND (in the style of) Robert Louis Stevenson. This was the first story and my favorite of the collection. Young Davie is an unwell boy and is often bedridden. The gift of a new toy changes his life.

 

ONCE A JACKASS (in the style of) Mark Twain. A Mississippi steamship captain makes a terrible mistake and unfortunately, all of the passengers and crew pay the price.

 

THE SCRIMSHAW SET (in the style of Henry James) I adored this tale of a haunted (?) chess set. This was my second favorite tale in this collection and I've just read that the author is planning to write more about this set in the future. I can't wait!

 

TO THE MOON AND BEYOND (in the style of Jules Verne) A super cool story about a man, his rocket and a trip to the moon. What was found there and what did he bring back with him? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

BORN OF ETHER (in the style of Helena Blavatsky) A man embarks upon a supernatural journey to freedom.

 

I was not familiar with a few of the authors here, Helena Blavatsky included, but I think the author did a stellar job of emulating their writing styles. These tales were entertaining, well written and I loved the framework within which they were presented.

 

For these reasons, I highly recommend this gem of a collection!

 

You can get your copy here, (your price of admission, rather than a story):

The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror

 

*Thanks to Crystal Lake Publishing and the author for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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review 2017-12-12 22:58
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 5 - Advent: Golden Age Christmas Vignettes
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries - Various Authors,Martin Edwards

 

Book themes for Advent: Read a book with a wreath or with pines or fir trees on the cover.

 

Silent Nights is the first of (at this point) two Christmas mystery short story anthologies in the British Library's "Crime Classics" series, edited by Martin Edwards. The anthology combines stories by well-known and -remembered authors (e.g., Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Wallace, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Margery Allingham) with stories by authors who, even if they may have been household names in their own time -- and many were members of the illustrious Detection Club -- have since been rolled over by the wheels of time; not always deservedly so.

 

The standout story in the collection is doubtlessly Arthur Conan Doyle's The Blue Carbuncle (one of my all-time favorite Sherlock Holmes adventures that shows both ACD and his protagonists Holmes and Watson at their absolute best), but I enjoyed almost all of the stories -- in varying degrees, and not all of them were apt to make me want to go on reading an entire novel by the same author, but several did; and thus, I am glad that I have extended my "Detection Club / Golden Age crime fiction quest" to the likes of J. Jefferson Farjeon, Ethel Lina White, Edmud Crispin, Leo Bruce, and Nicholas Blake (better known as Cecil Day-Lewis, poet laureate and father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis).

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