Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes About Love


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

For today’s Love Freebie theme, I’ve decided to share ten bookish quotes about love.

Some of them are about romantic love, but others are about the many other types of love that exist: platonic, familial, universal, practical, and more.

I believe this holiday can be used to celebrate all of them if you wish.

 

 

1. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

 

2. “Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.”
Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember

 

3. “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
Mahatma Gandhi 

 

4. “Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

 

5. “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

 

6. “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
Maya Angelou

 

7. “How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” – Pooh”
A.A. Milne

 

8. “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

 

9. “Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze. ”
Elinor Glyn

 

10. “There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”
Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Thank you for visiting our post today.

 

Embracing Amelia by Elaine Violette


Embracing Amelia by Elaine Violette
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Romance, Holiday
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

Lady Amelia Pierce has a forbidden dream: riding in equestrian competitions. When she loses a family ring in the stable, her brother finds her foraging for it in the hay with Lucas Grey, a duke’s bastard son. Amelia’s outraged father sends her to London to salvage her reputation and find a suitable match.

Despite his ignoble birth and rakish reputation, Lucas is much admired for his management of Winston Equestrian Stables. He and Amelia are fascinated by each other. But the missing emerald ring and a viscount’s greed lead to disaster and imprisonment for Lucas. Will scandal and secrets keep him from Amelia forever?

The blurb on this one intrigued me, but it wasn’t until I started reading that I realized how much I was going to enjoy this one! Embracing Amelia by Elaine Violette is a lovely British regency tale that had all the swoon of a regency read, with some added twists that made this one fun and unique! Amelia isn’t your typical heroine, sure she is excited to fulfill her role in planning for the upcoming winter holiday parties, but she also has a secret. She aspires to compete at the horse jumping arena she’s so fond of!

Lucas has a reputation, one he’s quite proud of. At least, in part, but is there more to this broody bachelor than a notorious reputation that follows his every step? When he ends up in the middle of yet another scandal, and this one quite by accident he finds his life and the Lady Pierce’s suddenly become both intriguingly complicated.

Will Amelia be able to salvage her reputation and earn her father’s forgiveness in time to finish the holiday planning? And how will she ever explain the away the fact the Lucan Grey seems to find a way into her already messy life at every turn?

There’s so much I enjoyed about this one, the delightful twists and swoony romance were spot-on! This is a sweet romance that was overall clean. As for language, there were a few minor curse words and a instance or two with innuendos, mostly about past events. There is also one place where Amelia has to run away from an unwelcome advance from another character, but it is vague and dealt with quickly. This is a quick read, and once I started I couldn’t stop reading! I was pulled into their story immediately, and am so glad I got to read their story!

I loved meeting Amelia and Lucas, but also really liked her banter with her Aunt Libby, and meeting Georgette as well! The characters were wonderful and fit so well into this wintery tale! Amelia’s love for horses and Lucas’s devotion to Mr. Winston gave the story a deeper tone that also played beautifully into their story. Such a good read, I definitely recommend this one!

Candy Magic by M. C. Roth


Candy Magic by M. C. Roth
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Holiday, LGBTQ, Paranormal
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Sweeter than candy—hotter than magic.

Crean is trying to leave it all behind—the closet, his overbearing family and, of course, his magic. In a world where vampires and shifters are hidden among humans, Crean is the odd one out. Born as a human to a family of shifters, he’s been hiding his orientation and his magic for his entire life.

In search of a new start, he sets out on a journey to a different province. The only condition is he has to live with his brother and his three roommates.

Living with a vampire, a werewolf and a faerie is bound to be a disaster, and Crean does his best to avoid the strangers. But everything he’s been told about others is wrong, and his life is about to change forever.

What would you do in order to be free? To stop having to hide all that you are? For Crean, that means leaving home and moving in with his younger brother, Rian, and his roommates. What starts out as a risky and possibly disastrous situation turns into more than any of them could have ever imagined.

Crean is a fun character. I enjoyed watching him grow into his sexuality and really own it. His interactions with his brother are fun and very realistic. He also has very different relationships with the other roommates, too, which I appreciated.

Rian’s roommates were a crazy bunch. A vampire, a wolf shifter, and a faery. Even more amusing is that Rian’s a panther shifter himself, so a dog, a cat, a biter, and a fae all in the same house. This diversity of paranormals makes for an enjoyable bit of banter throughout the story, as well as different experiences for Crean as he bonds with each man. It’s hard to choose a favorite, too, because each had a fun or quirky personality trait that endeared them to me.

One small thing that bothered me with the story is that Crean’s magic wasn’t really addressed. He hid it from everyone, but even his lovers don’t know about it. While reading, I assumed that the reason why Nate could feed off him and be sated for a long period of time was due to the magic. The same goes for what transpired with Tristan as well. But it’s a small thing and didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the story overall.

Candy Magic is a super steamy, funny, and magical romance. Mixing an awkward, inexperienced ‘human’ in with a house full of more experienced paranormal beings is indeed a recipe for disaster, but it can also be a recipe for love, passion, and joy. I’d love to know more about their lives after this story ends, I just couldn’t get enough of Crean and his boys.

Steel Tree by Sarena Ulibarri


Steel Tree by Sarena Ulibarri
Publisher: Android Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Holiday
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The voyage from Earth to Petipa isn’t cheap, but those who can’t afford it can pay off the trip by working the farms of Eta, the fertile moon that feeds humanity’s new colony. Klara Silber’s parents paid their debt, but left her behind, in charge of the orchards and the android nutcrackers. She’s sure if she follows their example, she’ll earn her invitation to ascend the space elevator and join Petipa Colony in no time. Only, the android nutcrackers have been malfunctioning all season, and some of the other farmers have suddenly gone missing.

They were told Eta didn’t have any native animal life, but the annual winter party is abuzz with rumors of large creatures lurking in the shadows. When one of the party guests inexplicably transforms into a giant rat and goes on the attack, Klara is sure the night can’t get any stranger. That is, until a fairy-like creature who communicates through dance appears, and a whole hidden history unspools about how the humans conquered these alien lands. To prevent the nuts that caused the giant rat mutation from being sent to Petipa, Klara needs to get two very different communities to work in harmony, even if it means she may never earn her way to the colony.

Christmas makes everything a little more magical.

The world building was perfect. I loved seeing how the characters related to each other, especially if they weren’t from the same social class, clan, or species. There was exactly enough information included about the complexities of both human and fairy societies to keep my interest levels high while also leaving room for a sequel if the author ever decides to write one. In the meantime, I had a good time comparing the many different personalities in this piece and wondering what they might do next given how rapidly relations between certain groups shifted from one day to the next.

I’d never actually seen The Nutcracker, so I looked it up quickly before I started reading this retelling of it. If you’re in the same boat, I recommend doing the same thing. The plot can work perfectly well for readers who don’t know the source material, but there are multiple scenes that will have a little something extra in them for readers who already know about the Sugar Plum Fairy, dancing lifelike dolls, and other iconic moments from that play. There’s something special about tales that pull such things off successfully, so kudos to the author for making this appeal to multiple audiences simultaneously.

One of the things I liked most about this novella was how relatable the main antagonist was. Did I agree with the methods he used to chase his goals? Of course not! I did understand why he was upset, though, and could see why he was so frustrated by certain choices Klara had made. It isn’t easy to write such a well-rounded bad guy, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Based on how much I’ve enjoyed Ms. Ulibarri’s work in my first few experiences with her, I will be keeping an eye out for what she comes up with next.

Steel Tree was a heartwarming Christmas tale.

Hound for the Holidays by Kim Levin and John O’Neill


Hound for the Holidays by Kim Levin and John O’Neill
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Photography, Non-Fiction, Holiday
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

“This holiday season, let’s remember the things that really matter.” So begins Kim Levin and John O’Neill’s Hound for the Holidays a warm reminder from man (and woman’s) best friend to hold loved ones dear at this special time of the year.

The holidays (like dogs) are all about sharing, unconditional love, and enjoying the moment, but sometimes, with the hubbub of shopping, open houses, family gatherings, and parties, it’s easy to lose that holiday spirit.

So who better to put the “happy” back in holidays than a cast of dogs celebrating the season? Whether they are two pooches window-shopping, an urbane Jack Russell on a trip to the big city, or a German Shepherd catching snowflakes on his tongue, the dogs in these charming photos all deliver the message “Enjoy!”

Pet portrait artist Kim Levin’s striking and expressive photos pair perfectly with John O’Neill’s warm and upbeat words to make a great holiday treat.

A cute book for the holiday season.

I picked up this book because it was cute and had dogs. I mean, how can you go wrong? The photos are great and make the season bright. The little captions fit the photos perfectly, too. This is a short book, but worth the read. This is a great book as a gift or to share with family over the holidays.

If you want something warm and fuzzy this holiday season, then this is a must read for you!

Dawg-Napped! by Anne Kane


Dawg-Napped! by Anne Kane
(Holiday Howlz 1)
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Holiday, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When one of Santa’s elves stops at the Prairie Dawg Saloon on his vintage motorcycle, Cyndi can’t resist taking a closer look at the classic bike. Then Bruce comes back outside unexpectedly and Cyndi panics, shifting to hide in one of the saddlebags. She doesn’t realize the bike is a matchmaking reindeer in disguise. Comet knows all about the sexy little critters of Dawg Town, and he’s decided the cute little prairie dawg is just what Bruce needs to cuddle up with him in his North Pole cottage.

Even the busiest weeks building up to Christmas should still leave room for a little fun, right? All work and no play will leave any elf feeling dull.

The dialogue was witty and delightful. I enjoyed the way the characters reacted to each other’s quips and thought of new ways to keep their conversations going and the heat building up between Bruce and Cyndi. They all had great senses of humor that worked nicely both together and with this lighthearted and sexy storyline.

Yes, this was a short story, but I still would have liked to see more world building in it. There were plenty of questions I had about how the North Pole worked that weren’t answered. For example, Santa’s opinion of the extra-curricular activities of his elves could have been explored better, and she also could have shown how the reindeer learned how to talk and what they thought of what certain elves get up to on their downtime! While I don’t know when the author is planning to write any sequels, there is a lot of room for expanding the audience’s understanding of such things if she does.

Cyndi and Bruce had fabulous chemistry. Sometimes two people – or, in this case, a person and an elf – click immediately, and that’s exactly what the plot needed to work. Everything happened so quickly that these two had to immediately be interested in each other, and they most definitely were. Bravo for pulling that off so successfully.

Dawg-Napped! was a playfully erotic Christmas tale.

A Barista for Christmas by J. Hali Steele


A Barista for Christmas by J. Hali Steele
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Erotic Romance, Holiday, LGBTQ, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

With a lot of hard work, Aspen Ferris’ dream of owning his own coffee shop has finally come true. Unfortunately, renovations are almost complete on a nearby mall that will house a chain coffee establishment. Not only that, Christmas is a few weeks away! When the electricity goes out at the mall, the construction company’s owner visits Asp’s store. Insulting the pushy brute gets Aspen thoroughly told off and… kissed! A kiss he can’t forget.

Dandridge St. Clare speeds to his worksite to handle an electric outage and misses his morning coffee. Locating a place to grab his caffeine fix, he’s offended by the barista at Your Coffee Cup. Anxious and upset, Dan pulls the man over the counter and can’t resist kissing the handsome jackass. On top of that, he enjoys the best cup of coffee ever. More unsettling still, he can’t erase the taste or feel of the man’s mouth. Dandridge returns for more of both.

The holidays are approaching and neither man expects much. Both get more than they bargained for.

Anything is possible at Christmas time.

Most of the LGBTQ stories I read are set in cities, so I was intrigued by the small town setting here. It didn’t take very long at all for the characters to explain what it was like for them to live in such a rural area while being part of a minority group. I liked the fact that this was included as it added another layer of tension and intrigue to the plot without distracting the audience from the main storyline.

As much as I thought Eric and Aspen were well-suited for each other, I was never quite convinced that they were ready for something much more than a fling due to the emotional baggage both of them carried from previous relationships that ended on sour notes and other difficult life experiences. Honestly, I wanted to send them both to counselling for a few months and then have them try again. It would have been helpful to see more examples of how these characters were overcoming their fears and facing their pasts in order to have a better future together.

The plot twists in this novella made me smile. For example, who knew that an argument with a stranger could be stopped in its tracks with a kiss? That was such an interesting way to start things off that I was eager to keep reading and see how else the author was planning to surprise their audience. I’ll leave it up to other readers to find out what happened next, but it was certainly worth the read.

A Barista for Christmas was a wild ride.

One Christmas Morning by Rachel Greenlaw


One Christmas Morning by Rachel Greenlaw
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Holiday, Fiction, Paranormal, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Eva has spent the past three years burying herself in her work, trying to forget the heartbreaking events of the Christmas that ripped her world apart. This year, the last thing she wants is to attend her friend’s weekend-long Christmas party. But at her husband James’ insistence, here they are.

When Eva—overwhelmed by bittersweet memories—tries to sneak back to London in the middle of the night, she is visited by the ghost of her beloved grandmother. Gran tells Eva that if she doesn’t face her fears head-on and stop shutting out her loved ones, she risks losing them all forever.

When Eva wakes on Christmas morning, she finds herself living not her own life, but that of her hardworking assistant, Diana, whose overflowing inbox isn’t the only secret she’s been keeping. The next day, she wakes on Christmas morning again, this time in the body of her best friend’s little sister. As Eva lives the same day again and again through the perspectives of her friends, she is offered a glimpse into the lives of those she has been pushing away. With each Christmas Day comes a new lesson—and an insight into the secrets and struggles her loved ones have been hiding. To move forward, Eva must let go of the past. But is it too late to fix her future?

The protagonist, Eva, makes quite an impression with her shop. The setting is mostly on the wild moors of Cornwall. Eva is has a strong personality and pushes people around in her life for the sake of her obsession. She takes her friends and family for granted. She also has something painful in her past and a marriage on the rocks.

Eva and her husband James are invited to a Christmas party at the home of her friends, Hallie and Kian. When midnight hits, her grandmother’s ghost comes to see Eva with advice that is hard for Eva to hear. Eva will have to learn a lesson the hard way: When she wakes up on Christmas day, she literally is not herself but is in the body of her assistant Diana. What could she learn from this? Well, she wakes up again the next day, and it is Christmas again. This time, she occupies someone else’s body.

This is quite a clever story and has depth. A main theme is relationships, but there is more. As Eva sees other points of view, it affects her in interesting ways. Surprising things come to light in this delightful tale for the season. It is a good read, with suspense, fun while being meaningful, and is written well.

*All I Want for Christmas is You by Erika Kelly


*All I Want for Christmas is You by Erika Kelly
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Holiday, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Her children are grown, her ex betrayed her in the worst way, and it’s her first Christmas alone. What better way to spend it than with the hottest man she’s ever seen? She deserves a little fun after losing everything she’s worked so hard for.

Margot Rhodes is glad to wake up in her hotel room to an empty bed. Her one and only hookup was phenomenal, but she doesn’t need to say goodbye to a man she’ll never see again. Except when she comes downstairs…she finds him in the lobby.

A snowstorm shut down the airport, and now she’s stuck with him for three days.

She needs to rebuild her life–not fall for some guy who lives two thousand miles away–so she does her best to avoid him, but the infuriating man keeps teaming up with her in the holiday events the hotel owner’s arranged to keep her guests happy.

And then, when it’s time to go their separate ways, he makes an offer she can’t refuse. It requires a move to his hometown…but what does she have to lose? She’s starting from the bottom which means the only way forward is up.

She’s got a second chance at life…is she willing to risk it all for a dirty-talking stranger?

All I Want For Christmas Is You is a delightful story filled with Christmas cheer and good feeling. I immediately connected with the two main characters, Beau and Margot and I enjoyed reading their story. In fact, I couldn’t stop reading their story until I was sure they would get the happy ending they both deserve. They have an immediate connection with each other, and their chemistry is intense.

Sadly, Beau and Margot’s first marriages were not happy because they were married to selfish people and after divorcing, they never expected to fall in love. Beau and Margot aren’t looking for a relationship but love unexpectedly finds them. They have both been hurt by their former spouses and have a hard time trusting each again. Their story shows the ins and outs of a new romance and how hard it is to take a leap in faith and trust another person after being hurt. I admired both of them. They are wonderful parents to their adult children, have a great relationship with all of them and have so much love to give. Beau and Margot deserve to be happy after all they have gone through.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful and heartwarming Christmas story. Beau makes all of Margot’s dreams come true and Margot shows Beau how wonderful love can be.

Erika Kelly is one of my favorite authors and this story left me with a good feeling and put me in the Christmas spirit.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set in Stores


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

The holiday shopping season is well underway.

As we inch closer to December, stores become busier every single day with shoppers looking for gifts, decorations, seasonal food and beverages, and other items they need to make the holidays memorable.

My thoughts are with the sales associates, clerks, receivers, delivery drivers, merchandisers, and other workers who make all of this possible.

After all, there aren’t any elves out there (so far as we know 😉 ) who are  baking bread, decorating sugar cookies, delivering trucks filled with holiday items, unpacking boxes, displaying merchandise, mopping floors, dusting shelves,  running cash registers, and training new employees among countless other tasks.

People do all of that and so much more. If you’re one of them, I’m cheering you on and hoping every customer you have is a friendly one.

In recognition of all of the hard work happening behind the scenes right now, let’s talk about books that are set in stores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Pawsitively Poisonous (Witch of Edgehill, #1) by Melissa Erin Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Paddington Bear and the Christmas Surprise by Michael Bond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The Mist by Stephen King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. The Department Store Ghost by Bill Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Mallory’s Christmas Wish (The Baby-Sitters Club, #92) by Ann M. Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Secrets of the Shopping Mall by Richard Peck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.  Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen (A Year-Round Christmas Mystery #1) by Vicki Delany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1o. Shaun of the Dead by Chris Ryall