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Genre and To Be Read Pile Challenges

 Easy in January but we’ll see later in the year!

Genre Challenge: Update end of January

 

January

 

Contemporary/literary merit You Before Me
February

 

Romance/chick lit
March

 

mysteries
April

 

Fantasy
May

 

Historical Fiction
June

 

Minority Studies/LGBT
July

 

Science-Fiction/Dystopian
August

 

Poetry/Plays
September

 

September: Travel
October

 

Horror/Thriller
November

 

Manga/Graphic Novels
December

 

Humour

 

TBR pile Challenge

Challenge is to read 10 books

  1. You Before Me
  2. Vampires are Forever

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Hot, Steamy and 21


HappilyEverAlphaBlitzBanner

Happily Ever Alpha: A Paranormal Romance Boxed Setboxed_set_cover  Publication date: January 26th 2016
Genres: Paranormal Romance

Synopsis:
When Once Upon A Time Isn’t Enough
 Happily Ever Alpha – From Twenty-Two NY Times, USA Today, and Amazon Bestselling Authors
What’s Inside:
 *TWENTY-ONE FULL-LENGTH NOVELS AND NOVELLAS! NO CLIFFHANGERS!*
HAPPILY EVER ALPHA
 Fourteen HOT paranormal alpha-male romances and six additional kick-ass paranormal romance tales bundled together in one of the steamiest collections to date!
With twenty-one novels and novellas and over one million seductive words of fiction, this paranormal romance boxed set will leave you Happily Ever Alpha.
These hot heroes and tough as nails heroines will steal your heart and make your beg for more.
How about a little Heat to keep you warm this Winter?
Our first tagline was so hot, Amazon wouldn’t let us publish it here, but you can find that same heat burning inside the pages of this set. Treat yourself to a varied collection of hot, steamy, and passionate paranormal tales. This satisfying collection has something to excite all readers.
With sexy shifters, hot vampires, wickedly cool witches, and so much more, this boxed set will has titles that will either warm you up or set you on fire—Take your pick!
For a limited time, you can enjoy books from today’s NY Times, USA Today, and Amazon Bestselling authors!
When purchased separately, these books cost over $50! But they are yours today for less than $1.
Every selection in this rare, limited edition paranormal romance boxed set are full-length novels and novellas!
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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27416258-happily-ever-alpha?ac=1
Purchase: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017C2Y37Y/ref=x_gr_w_visstd_sin_t1_control_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_visstd_sin_t1_control_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/happily-ever-alpha-rebecca-hamilton/1122868749?ean=2940152689716

 excerpts:

The Witches of Dark Root (Excerpt)
Prologue: Magic Man
Miss Sasha’s Magick Shoppe, Dark Root, Oregon -  February, 2005
     The shop was cold and dimly lit, musty and confining.
     A spider web had attached itself to the archway that separated the main room from the back and I ducked each time I passed beneath it, not bothering to sweep it down. Shelves lined every wall of Mother’s Magick shop, displaying the hundreds of candles, masks, figurines, and baubles that made Miss Sasha’s the most popular attraction in all of Dark Root.
     While the oddities fascinated tourists, I hardly noticed them anymore as I went about my work.  I hardly noticed anything anymore, except the clock that ticked down the minutes until I was released from my daily servitude.
     “Excuse me,” said a woman who had been meandering near the book section for the last hour. “Where is your restroom?”
     I responded by opening the front door.
     She looked like she was going to protest but decided against it. My apathy for the shop was notorious. She would probably lodge a complaint with my mother instead.
     “You need to order more peppermint,” my sister Eve said, emerging from the back room and sucking on a piece of candy.   “We’ve been out for almost a week.”
     “You order it,” I responded.
     If she was going to eat the supplies, she could order them as well.
     Eve launched into a series of reasons why I should perform the task––I was practically a boy and therefore, better at math, I had no social life and thus had far more time for work, etc. 

I was about to tell her that it wouldn’t bother me if we ran out of everything, that the whole place could implode for all I cared, when a crystal figurine on a low shelf caught my eye. It was an owl, an ugly thing with eyes that bulged and a beak that hooked. I wasn’t sure who had ordered it but I was certain it would never find a buyer.
     “Bet I beat you out of this town,” I said, tapping its beak.
     A losing bet, I realized. It had wings. I didn’t even have a car.
     I checked the clock again––five minutes ‘til closing time––and glanced around the shop. It wasn’t as clean as my mother would have wanted, but then again my mother wasn’t here.
     “I say we call it done,” I said, tossing my apron on the counter.
     “Maggie, come take a look.”
     Eve stood by the window. Her fingers twitched as she pointed to a man I had never seen before, seated by the window in Delilah’s Deli across the street.
     “Who is he?” she asked. “I don’t recognize him.”
     I moved to get a better view, nudging her out of the way. “Well, he isn’t from around here.”
     Eve clucked her tongue. Of course, he wasn’t from around here. His sophisticated clothing identified him as a city person, not a man who spent much time slinking around a small town in Central Oregon.
     “He’s handsome,” she said and I silently agreed. Though it was getting dark I could still make out his thick mane of wavy brown hair and the strong line of his jaw. He was leaning forward, talking to a gaunt young man who hung on his every word.
     “We have to find out what he’s doing here,” Eve said. “It’s just not natural.” Though the town festered with tourists during the fall months when we held the Haunted Dark Root Festival, it was rare to see anyone arrive after November and before May.
     “Probably just passing through on his way to Salem or Portland. Blew out a tire or had to use the bathroom.”
     “You have no imagination.”
     Eve chattered on about how he was probably a famous Hollywood producer. She couldn’t allow anyone a normal life; she always reached for the dramatic.
     But she was right. There was something special about the stranger. He had an energy that popped and sparkled.
     As if he knew he was being watched, he turned in our direction. Eve ducked but I held my position, staring back. His eyes were as grey and stormy as the Oregon coastline. He knew things...secrets and mysteries.
     I felt jolted awake after a long sleep.
     “We should bring him over.” Eve’s dark eyes flashed as she pushed a step-stool across the floor to gather oils and vials from the top shelf. Next, she collected an assortment of herbs from bins beneath the counter. “...Candles. I need purple candles.”
     Like a fly to a spider, I thought as I watched her. She was driven when she had a mission, not the same dreamy girl who stared out the window all day talking about the life she was missing out on while she ignored customers.
     “We could just walk across the street and talk to him,” I said, moving away from the window.
     “Just because you’re too good for magic, doesn’t mean some of us don’t respect the craft.”
     “I never said I was against magic.”
     “Just practicing it. We can’t all be Wilders, you know?” Eve placed her stack onto the counter and arranged the objects into neat piles.
     I felt my face redden. Wilder was a slang word, used to describe a witch who had no control over her magic. The light above us flickered.
     Besides,” Eve grinned, as if she had said nothing wrong. “This is far more fun. Now, where’s the book?” She scanned the room for our mother’s spell book.
     I shrugged. If she wanted to lure a man here against his will that was her business, but I wasn’t going to help.
     “Here it is!” She held up a small, leather-bound journal in her hands. It was a rare book, Mother claimed, filled with spells and incantations that would have been lost to time were they not carefully preserved on these pages. As a result, only Mother’s direct descendants could remove the book from her store without suffering a terrible curse.
     What the curse was, nobody knew, but Miss Sasha’s magick was formidable, and no one in Dark Root wanted to risk it.
Eve went to work creating a concoction of vanilla, rose petals and thyme, hardly glancing at the open book beside her. She had probably committed her man-luring spell to heart.
     “Wouldn’t it be exciting if we fell in love and he took me away from this horrible town? Now that Merry is gone, there’s nothing to keep me here.”
     I felt a dagger in my heart at the mention of our older sister’s name. Merry had left three years ago to marry some guy she barely knew and nothing had been the same since.
     “You really think you’re going to get out of here before me?” I asked.
     “Someone’s got to take care of Mom. Besides,” Eve looked at the clock on the far wall then back to me, “I have to get out of here. I’m going to be a famous actress one day. A psychic told me.”
     I snorted, peeking out the window again. The curtains to Delilah’s Deli were shut now, indicating that the cafe was closed. 

I glanced up and down the street, hoping to see a sign of him or his car, but the street was empty. “Even if your spell does work and you get him to wander over here, what makes you think he’s going to fall in love with you?”
     “The travel spell is only part of it,” she said. “One sip of my special tea and he’ll treat me like the goddess I am.” Eve retreated into the back room, returning with a white porcelain cup and matching teapot. “You might not have dreams, Maggie, but I do. God forbid that three years from now when I’m your age, I’m still working as a sales girl in this dump.” She dropped her apron on the floor and kicked it under the counter.
     Without warning the door opened, startling us both.
     The stranger entered, removing his grey felt hat. He looked around the shop, taking it in. I glanced at Eve, wondering how her travel spell could have worked so quickly.
     She shrugged in response.
     “Well, hello there,” she said, regaining her composure “Our shop is closed but we were just making tea. You are welcome to join us.” She slinked towards the man, offering him the teacup.
     The stranger blinked uncertainly, declining the tea with a wave of his hand. He strode past my sister and stood before me.
     “Actually,” he said, staring at me with mystical eyes. “Maggie Maddock, I’m here for you.”
Creature of Habit, (Excerpt)
"I know you have a secret."
My still heart plummeted to my ancient stomach, igniting a feeling of absolute dread and horror.  These were the words of my deepest fears. Miles had warned me—this is what Olivia was trying to tell me. I’d gotten too close. My mouth became dry and I had to force myself to breathe in order to appear normal.
I steadied my voice. "A secret?"
The sound of her metal spoon, tracing the edge of her cup, was the only noise in the room until she said, "The signs were all there. I mean, they’re stereotypical but stereotypes are for a reason, right?"
“I’m, uh, not following.”
“Well, you’re freakishly neat and tidy. Your closet alone should have sent up a red flag.”
Okay. This was true. I had an extreme case of obsessive compulsive disorder, but that was hardly an identifiable trait of being a vampire. It was more of a personal quirk exaggerated by the vampirism. I braced myself for more.
“Obviously your body is like…killer.” Her heart beat like a hummingbird's wings and I could almost feel the heat of nervousness rolling off her body. Only this silly woman would be embarrassed as she destroyed my life. Abruptly she said, "I mean, killer. I know a lot of men who would die for your physique."
She thought I looked amazing. A smug grin crept across my face before I shook it off, wondering for the millionth time what thoughts were running though her head. I was aware women found me attractive, as it was one of the lures that made humans such susceptible prey. To hear Amelia say those words brought about a rush of feelings I wasn't used to, but was it really important to say right now?
"Your skin is flawless, unblemished. And your hair…it’s a work of art."
“My hair?”
I hated my hair. Loathed it. It was the one thing that drove me absolutely insane post transition, but that alone was nothing definitive. I mean, look at Miles. He was bald. Forever.
She stepped closer and peered at my neck and chest. “You man-scape, right?”
I shook my head silently, afraid to speak. I had no idea what this 'man-scaping' thing was but I knew I didn't have it.
"Huh," she considered and turned back to the counter, her long hair swaying a bit as she took a sip of her tea. "You probably have more clothes than Kanye West."
The uneasy knot in my stomach quickly morphed into one of confusion. Kanye West? Who?
She continued, rambling now. "Sometimes you speak like you've never been around a woman, and you never have company, and the only time you did it was a man. Who, coincidentally, was also unbelievably gorgeous."
What? I literally was unable to follow her train of thought. What man was she talking about? I searched my memory and came up with the only male visitor we'd had.
Elijah.
She stilled, palms flat on the counter. When she spoke it was low and with conviction. "Like I said, I know what you’re hiding, Grant.”
Here it comes. Images of what would come flashed in my mind. Would she run screaming? Would I have to kill her? In over a hundred years I'd never had a moment of exposure like this.
“I want you to know that I support you—no matter what.”
I waited for a beat. I waited for the earth to stop. For the fear to sink in her eyes.
“Uh, what?”

Giveaways:

You may email me through the contact form on this page to enter a "Surprise Gift" prize from one of the authors.
You get to choose whether you want an ebook, or a signed physical book. Please specify author and prize in your email.
This prize is Open Internationally. 
Latest Date to ask for a gift is February 22nd, 2016. The winner's  prize will be sent out after February 26th.
Also available: $50 Amazon Gift Card  a Rafflecopter giveaway

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You Before Me?

A book from my To Be Read pile but also a Contemporary /Book of Literary Merit for the January Genre Challenge.

A twofer!
I am awarding this book not just 5 stars but also 5 tears as I dripped through the final chapters.tearsmust-readPAGETURNERwellwritten
This book was very sensitively written when came to the issues that surround many quadriplegics and terms of health both physical and mental and how difficult life can be for them.
We hear about the minor ailments that turn into major issues – even life threatening – within hours and how in reality they cannot go many places without a health professional accompanying them and thus how frustrating it can be to try and even go out for a day.
The chapters were written in different voices – although not describing the same incidents – and thus the arguments and story of his life was shown from different perspectives.
However, I was disappointed that the ending was so sad. I am not going to explain why as this would be too much of a spoiler, but ...
I understood a great many of the frustrations of such a life, as though not I am not permanently confined to a wheelchair, I do have to use one most years after yet another operation – I am probably well into the 20s what with procedures as a day patient and fully anaesthetised operations, and do use an electric scooter to go longer distances. My problems are skeleton related mostly but I do also have systemic issues and suffer from chronic fatigue and live off a large diet of multi-coloured pills!
I thought I might use this review to also mention some of my personal heroes – people who have taken on physical problems and not just survived but have triumphed – and no – not Stephen Hawking. He had an unfair advantage of a brilliant mind to begin with.
So here goes.
  1. Nicholas James "Nick" Vujicic; born 4 December 1982 is an Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker born with Phocomelia, a rare disorder characterised by the absence of all four limbs.
  2. As a child, he struggled mentally and emotionally as well as physically, but eventually came to terms with his disability. He presents motivational speeches worldwide which focus on life with a disability and finding hope and meaning in life.
  3. The disabled riders in the Olympics – we went to several of the Olympic horse trials for the disabled and were so impressed.
  4. The riders were absolutely brilliant even when they had to be strapped onto the horses.at the Olympics!
  5. See Natasha Baker who claimed Britain’s first equestrian gold medal of the Games. Natasha has no use of her legs and thus controls her horse through voice and seat movements.
  6. All disabled athletes!
I also thought I would share some of my more favourite quotes about disability as I have always tried not to permit my issues with my ability to run or climb or... not affect what I do. 
I too have travelled the world and been to many places on my own as well as with a ‘carer’. 
I just adapt my life according to my capabilities that day, even that moment in time, and do what I can. My brain is still functioning well I hope you would agree and that to me would be the most problematical thing – if I lost the ability to think.
In some ways I have been fortunate, in that I trained for a career (in mid life) where I could function well even in a wheelchair and had colleagues who were almost blind or deaf doing the same work as me. 
And I can work from home a lot of the time as the computer has freed me up to do this. So my world is not limited.
So here are the quotes:
The thing about living with any disability is that you adapt; you do what works for you.
Stella Young
 I think that everyone has something about themselves that they feel is their weakness... their 'disability.' And I'm certain we all have one, because I think of a disability as being anything which undermines our belief and confidence in our own abilities.
Aimee Mullins
The world worries about disability more than disabled people do.
Warwick Davis
 We fill our lives with all sorts of things that make it easier for us to get along in the world: wheelchairs, crutches, grabber sticks, hearing aids, canes, guide dogs, modified vehicles, ramps, as well as other kinds of services and supports. 
Disability does not necessarily mean dependence on other people.
Stella Young
 Ah yes, I have many of these….just not the dog yet!

And finally, everyone should read the Saturday Times Magazine articles in the magazine section by Melanie Reid called 'Spinal Column'. Melanie broke her back and neck riding and is now an incurable tetraplegic. She tells it as it is but with humour.

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Cinderella goes to the Moon

Lunar Chronicles – A Series of 4 + 1

by

Marissa Meyer.

Do you sometimes get urges to read whole series? Even when there are 6 or 7 books in the series? And some are 800 pages long? But you really must just find out what happens to the characters as the story progresses?
In my view a true reader of sagas always wants to get to the finale... but never the end, and thus we are very lucky when we find out that yes, a new book will be published in...(usually 2 year’s time but heh, who’s counting?)
Well even if you don’t read these series all in one sitting – or over a week or so, I do. And thus began my Xmas reading.
I get these emails from book reviewing websites – I get Buzzfeed and BlogLoving and they lead me to sites where people review books etc and at the end of the year, we seemed to be getting a lot of lists – the best of and so on. And one list I was led to was the best of fantasy books come out last year.
Now I  don’t necessarily read the ‘best of books’ as indicated by other reviewers as I don’t often purchase books for myself as a rule as I get the NetGalley feed, and are offered books by authors,  and am on several publishers/blog-tour listings (including being in the Brash Priority Circle) and thus get offered more books than I could ever read and review on a regular basis. But at this time of year I was interested to see what other people were reading, and of course, what they thought of the books. And who reviewed the same books as me, and whether or not they agreed.
So I read the list and many didn’t appeal, but one book stood out because it was based on traditional fairy-stories but updated to a fantasy time in the future, where we had a colony, long established on the moon, and had improved our surgery levels to supply people missing limbs etc with artificial limbs that came with batteries and power and pockets for stashing tools and... now this really appealed to me as I have 2 artificial knees and I have always wanted to have batteries/motor power installed in them so that they could carry me along without my effort.wellwrittenbookpileADDICTIVEmust-readoutofthisworld
But this was actually the fourth in the ‘real’ series – there is another which is a side story which also came out last year. So having scouted around the fourth book, I decided I needed to read the first, the second, and the third! And then the fourth properly. So Amazon got my money again (see the reviews to come on the St Mary’s Chronicles – there were yet more these books but they were cheaper per book).
Anyway. Here we have a set of books based on fairytales, reworked as fantasy – science fiction. So what’s not to love?
We have cyborgs, space ships, computers hackers (white and black hat), lunar colonies, mind control, DNA manipulation, wolves, a deadly disease, wars and more fights, miraculous rescues, androids with a sense of humour and sarcasm – have I missed anything? Ah yes, the equivalent of a Wicked Witch. Possibly more, but it’s all there in these books. Richly imagined in a new world that makes sense and is consistent across the books – but do make sure you start with Cinders – number 1 – or you might find yourself lost as the stories are complex and the villain is often changing coat!
I definitely agree that is one of the best fantasy/science fiction series to come out recently. One of the best in the genre altogether. Not quite a classic like Arthur C. Clark’s stories but great fun to read and you really do get hooked and what to know what happens next.
Davis says that great stories have 5 parts – the introduction where you discover what the story is about and the main characters – the action – the classic crisis where everything falls to bits but – the part where it is resolved and you can take a breath that we are getting there – and finally the lessons we can learn to pass on.
If you look at the original stories such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and so on, you can see these 5 sections very clearly. Here parts 2, 3, and 4 happen in not just one book but all of them combining as the characters don’t go away when their story is finished but help tell the next story and the next and the next. So Cinders appears in all books and indeed, her story is the link and hook that brings in Scarlet, Cress and Winter to complete  Cinder’s story.
5 stars for all these 4 books. I still have to read the Wicked Witch’s own story – Fairest – but will get to this later in the year.
cress winter scarlet

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The World is Collapsing

State of Destruction
Summer Lane
(Collapse #7)
Publication date: January 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

The destruction of California is at hand.
Cassidy Hart and Chris Young have survived a dangerous mission into the heart of Sky City, a secret Omega base hidden deep in the mountains, but their vengeance has come with a price. The dark, ominous cloud of nuclear war threatens to destroy everything they love, and they are forced to make one final stand against Omega’s western invasion force.
San Francisco.
 Cassidy and her friends retreat to Alcatraz Island, regrouping with their lethal strike team, the Angels of Death. Their mission: infiltrate the most important Omega base on the west coast, and assassinate everyone they find there, including a new and dangerous enemy, the ruthless Omega leader Veronica Klaus.
The clock is ticking.
 Ashes rain from the sky. Cassidy Hart must make a choice.
 What is more important? Victory, love or revenge?
Omega is the enemy’s name.
 Survival of the fittest is their game.
Cassidy Hart will not stop until she has saved California…but will she be too late?
Book #7 of the Bestselling Collapse Series by Summer Lane
Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble
SNEAK PEEK:
The dark, dank smell of the cave seeps into my bones and chills my soul. Dim, flickering firelight crawls up the walls, throwing a shadow across my face. I hug my blanket tightly around my shoulders, shivering. It is painfully silent.
There are people everywhere—about thirty of us—but there is no talking. No whispering, no laughing. We are too tired to talk. Too cold. Small fires have been lit here in the cave, but it is hardly enough to remedy the cloying chill of the winter storm.
It is all sharp angles and rocky slopes in here. There is no soft surface, no privacy. Most people are asleep right now. It has become the only way to make the time pass quicker. Waiting, as we are, for the storms to end. For this harsh winter to be over.
But it is not getting better.
It is getting worse.
I cough and shudder. We have been trapped here for weeks. I feel as if the walls are falling down around me, devouring me. I close my eyes tightly, brushing my calloused fingers over the familiar, worn grip of my rifle.
Soon, this will all be over.
Soon, we will all be dead.


Interview with Summer Lane
Topic:
 Where Collapse is Headed: And What Happens After!
This is your seventh installment in the Collapse Series! When is the series ending?
The Collapse Series will end at the tenth installment, but that does not mean that the characters are going away forever. The Collapse Series does exactly what it’s name suggests: it follows the collapse of society and civilization. After I’m done with that, I can move to what happens after.
When is Book 8 releasing?
Summer 2016. The next book will take Cassidy somewhere she has never been before – far away, to a place full of surprises. I can’t say too much, because I don’t want to spoil State of Destruction! Let’s just say it will be pretty cold where she’s going.
Any other books?
I announced that I’m working on releasing another series this year, The Bravo Saga. This series follows the adventures of the fierce and loyal Bravo, the German Shepherd companion of Elle Costas in the Zero Trilogy. He’s one of the most popular characters – if not THE most popular – that I have ever created for readers, so I’m excited to share his story next.
How do you write so many books a year?
Hmm. I’m not really sure. I’ve been so incredibly busy for three years – I haven’t stopped to think or breathe. It’s definitely a positive thing, but I will probably start to roll back to 2-3 book releases a year after the Collapse Series has finished. Just so I can have a little downtime between books. It’s important to rest your brain when you’ve been creating non-stop for such a long period of time.

Author Bio:

Summer Lane is the #1 Bestselling Author of The Collapse Series and the compelling tie-in novella books of The Zero Trilogy, as well as the upcoming Bravo Saga (releasing Spring 2016).
She is also the author of Collapse: The Illustrated Guide, a #1 bestselling graphic companion to her phenomenal original series.
She is the owner of WB Publishing and Writing Belle, an online magazine. Summer is also an accomplished journalist and creative writing teacher.
Summer lives in the Central Valley of California, where she spends her days writing, teaching, and writing some more. When she is not writing, she enjoys leisurely visits with friends at coffee shops, movie dates, reading and spending the day at the beach or mountains.

Website / Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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