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Bah. Humbug. Mrs. Scrooge is a DNF

20346097One month. Four weeks. Thirty one day. That is how long it is before “Our Heroine” opens her own private chef/catering company. In. Princeton. OK. Got the setup?

Four weeks until OH opens her business in one of the toniest towns in the United States. And yet, she fights her daughter tooth-and-claw against going to the Princeton Small Business Meeting. Because, really, who goes to small business meetings when it is a Whole. Four. Weeks. Before you open your business!? A meeting where the best potential to get her business off the ground with a roaring start lies thick upon the ground.

Uh, HELLO! Your 10-year-old daughter is WAY brighter than you are. She even set you up with a client – A. Client. – Who plans to pay you quite a bit more for your wares than you thought possible. All you have to do? Show up, look professional, and talk to the client. Easy enough, one would think. Well, if you have any sort of intelligence, business savvy, or plain old common horse sense.

So. What does the intrepid OH do? Instead of dressing nicely, fitting for a budding entrepreneur in Princeton – oh, maybe nice slacks and a sweater? A nice pair of earrings and, Hey! Here’s a thought! Maybe brush your hair? – You throw a pout, throw on a grungy, flour-sprinkled sweater and cords, toss your hair up, and walk out the door without a smidgen of makeup, or the aforementioned earrings, no matter how your (incredibly intelligent, and with a crud ton more business savvy than you will apparently ever have – no matter how many school books you read or tests you take) tries to, very reasonably, encourage you to do so, and show up looking like a street urchin come in from the rain. Or, in her case, you get taken for 1) the maid, there to make coffee and clean up crumbs, and 2) the hat check girl. Both of which, of course, occurred.

Well. DUH!

I simply put the book down and walked away at that point. A dumb-arse like her doesn’t deserve to be successful. Pouty, sulky, miserably un-businesslike, totally lacking in marketing savvy (no matter the aforementioned business education studies), hard-headed to the point where I expected her to suddenly start throwing her arms around, stomping her feet and screaming “I don’t WANNA!!!” like a two-year-old? Ugh. Spare me. I wanted to slap her – then find a good home for her kid.

Oh, and the “luuuvvv” interest? Camel smoker. Yep. “Hey! I know! I will fall for the Walking Cancer Factory! Cool! I can bury him before my brilliant daughter is in college – after he eats up all our savings in chemo and radiation, that is.”

Bah. Humbug.

DNF. And now I have to go find another Christmas book to get the bad taste out of my mouth!

And WHAT is with that cover, anyway? The woman’s daughter is TEN, not ten months!

Volunteer Firefighters Have The Heart . . . #romanticmystery #volunteerfirefighters

“Every quirky girl doesn’t have to be the best-friend character. It’s a very limiting and self-fulfilling prophecy. People only write things that will get green-lit, so they write to those stereotypes.” – Felicia Day

But Then . . .

“Stereotypes lose their power when the world is found to be more complex than the stereotype would suggest. When we learn that individuals do not fit the group stereotype, then it begins to fall apart.” – Ed Koch

The author of “A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas” has tried very hard to stereotype herself and her work, to fit  into a very narrow, very self-limiting pigeonhole.

Pigeonhole: Verb (used with object) to assign to a definite place or to definite places in some orderly system:
to pigeonhole new ideas.

Trey Duvall is a rancher, proud as can be of his Wildcat Ranch. He’s also the top volunteer firefighter of Wildcat Bluff, the town that pulls out all the stops for its Christmas festivities. Misty Reynolds pulls into town just in time to help Trey put out a suspicious fire, leading him to dub her his “Christmas angel”. Unfortunately, Misty’s past has left her with terrible memories of fire, and of Christmas time. As the two are unwittingly thrown together again and again, can Trey win Misty’s trust — and her heart Misty’s trust — and her heart? Texas volunteer fire departments as part of Assistance to Firefighters ...

Sigh. I hate when this happens. You see, like other books I have reviewed, and suggested a wider audience consider, this book doesn’t fall into the “Only Read If You Like Mushy Romance” category. The characters shouldn’t be typecast as “Hunky Hero” and “Insipid Pseudo-Heroine” with a “Hero Rides in on His White Horse and Saves the Day” insipid sort of blurb such as this book is stuck with. It needs something more along the line of pointing out that the town of Wildcat Bluff is filled with quirky, unusual characters who care deeply for their town, their people, and their history. An important part of that sense of community is their volunteer fire department and all it does to keep their community safe.

“There are bad things happening in Wildcat Bluff just before their Christmas in the Country celebration. Arson fires are spreading in the tinder-dry countryside, exasperated by the ongoing drought, and cut fences and grass fires are threatening Trey Duvall’s historic cattle ranch. When Misty Reynolds rolls up to a grass fire Trey is putting out in his pasture and he runs out in front of her to try and stop her for help, he has no idea that she is actually there as a troubleshooter for Texas Timber, the company that has had a Christmas tree farm burned already, and had others threatened. Finding the arsonist means that Misty has to stay undercover and spend time questioning, and suspecting, everyone in town. And when she learns that Trey has a bone to pick with Texas Timber, he moves straight to the ‘suspect’ column.”

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Volunteer firefighter saving the life of a kitten with a pet oxygen kit. Please as your volunteer fire department if you can help with a benefit for Pet Oxygen Kits to help save pets caught in fires! Thank you!!!!!!
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Because the Pet’s Life They Save May Be Your Own™ Click the logo to visit the “Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative” to make a difference! Thank you!!!!

OK, I am not known for my stellar ability to write blurbs, I give you that. But mine gives a better feel for what is going on. Misty isn’t a blond bimbo, Trey isn’t a hulking Alpha male bent on getting into every woman’s pants he can hold down long enough, and the people of the town are as important to the character list as the two main characters. There are important messages in the book about community, about overcoming horrors in your childhood that carry over into adulthood, and about the ways in which power and greed can destroy everything a community tries to build. The people of Wildcat Bluff are kind, they help one another, and the volunteers literally risk their life every time they go out on a call. The community has pulled together to form a strictly volunteer department, put on bake sales to buy equipment, and are proud of who they are and what they do. That deserves a lot more credit than it gets – either with the cover, or with the blurb.

 

Memorial Service for West, Texas (my old hometown) volunteer firefighters killed while fighting the April 17, 2013 fertilizer plant explosion. The memorial service honored those first responders and two civilians who tried to fight the fire and were posthumously named volunteer first responders.

If you like books that highlight a sense of community, that include a mystery, suspense, a few thrills – and yes, a good romantic storyline – overlook the blurb and the cover and give this one a try.

You will note I didn’t post the cover of the book in my review – any of the photos on this page give more respect to the book than the totally lame cover does. I am disappointed that the publisher tried so hard to minimize, pigeonhole and lower the impact of the book. I hate seeing that happen to books with such promise, that many will simply skip over based on poor art and a poor blurb.

It is still available for request on Netgalley.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please take a moment to “Like” my review on GoodReads. Thank you!

“A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas” is in preorder status until publication on October 6, 2015.

 

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In case you haven’t noticed – this has a “Save the Kitty!” aspect – and I couldn’t resist adding a couple more “Firefighter Saves!!!!” Photos. Firefighters RULE!!!

I was SOO SCARED!!! And Then! And Then! This FIREMAN showed up!!!!!

Thank you, Mr. Fireman!!! Kisses!!!!

About The Author

Kim Redford draws her inspiration from a Texas lifestyle of cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, rodeos and small towns to create her bestselling novels. When she’s not writing steamy romances, she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider. She divides her time between Texas and Oklahoma. A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas is first in her Smokin’ Hot Cowboys series with Blazing Hot Cowboy coming soon.

I don’t know about the “bestselling novels” thing. Her site is nonexistent, and goodreads shows only this book, set to publish October 6, so maybe she is writing under a pseudonym? If this is indeed her first book, I hope she will widen her audience by moving away from sticking herself into a single cubbyhole with her publication, marketing and cover strategy. The whole “steamy romance” thing is self-limiting when she can write good stories that encompass a wide ranging storyline such as this book exemplifies.

Pets For Christmas – Can Be A Very Bad Idea

It is the holiday season,  and the following scene provided by an article on petfinder.com is something to think about seriously. Entitled “Pets as Presents: A Good Idea?” the article starts with the following paragraphs:

You’ve seen it in the movies – sweet little Suzy toddles down on Christmas morning to find her new puppy sitting patiently under the tree with a big red bow around his neck. Suzy squeals, runs to hug the puppy, who gives her a big lick on the cheek, and the two live happily ever after.

While it would be great if such holiday surprises always worked out so well, that’s often not the case. More frequently, 3-year-old Suzy, who is too young to know what caring for a pet really means, cries the first time Puppy bites her on the hand while the two are playing. Mom and Dad then pile him up in the car and drop him off at the local animal shelter along with the three to five million other dogs and cats returned to shelters each year.

This also brings up another issue which is just as sad, if not sadder. Puppy Mills.  Despite the intense suffering of these dogs, puppy mills are operating all over the U.S. You can read more about puppy mills at the ASPCA website. These dogs lead horrific lives – my own Peanut had his back feet chewed of, his body was a mass of flea-caused open sores. He was a success story – he lived for ten years before I lost him to congestive heart failure.

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This is much like Scooter’s face when he lunged at me… scary, isn’t it? It was MUCH too fast for me to escape his teeth. Photo courtesy of animal.kukuchew.com

As you know if you read the original post I rescued Scooter from the shelter, snatching him from the doors of the gas chamber. But sometimes puppy mill puppies, which I have no doubt he is (research is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?), can’t be saved. Bad breeding, bad food, mistreatment as a puppy, all leave scars. And sometimes, genetic issues which cannot be cured.

Scooter, I now know, suffers from Idiopathic Aggression, also know by various other names such as “Rage Syndrome”, “Paradoxical Rage Reaction”, or more popularly, “Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome”.  There is no cure.  It is believed to be a genetic condition, (though “idiopathic” means they don’t really know for certain exactly what causes it; possibly multiple reasons). It is more common in purebred male dogs, usually showing up between one and three years-of-age. He literally “checks out” and when he comes back from his fugue state he has no idea what he just did. While I,  of course,  am bleeding all over the place and grabbing for peroxide, betadine and  bandages. And lots and lots of pain meds and antibiotics. One of my fingers is wrapped up in a soft cast (punctured and cracked bone but not broken) and my foot and the rest of my hand is bandaged. Ouch. We are trying to  come to an “understanding” where he lives here, gets his Bil Jac and his allergy meds and a warm, safe place to live, veterinary care and toys to amuse himself with. We will see if it works. If not, I will have to make the hard decisions.

So, please please put a lot of though into your decision before you do the “Puppy for Christmas” thing. And please, if you would, if you note the possibility of a puppy mill in your area, call the police. You could be saving hundreds of dogs from absolute misery.  Thank You!

Review: I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas by Molly Harper

I first met Molly Harper no more than a week ago when I picked up a copy of How to Flirt With A Naked Werewolf. Published in 2011 it finally hit the top of my reading list. I will be writing that review, but for right now, let’s talk about I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas.

The book is set in the world of Half Moon Hollow, another series by Ms. Harper I now have on my reading list. And it. Is. FUNNY! Gigi’s sister, Iris, has taken care of her since the death of their parents when Gigi was twelve. The thing is, Iris is now a vampire, and of course, vampires don’t eat. Or cook. But she is still determined that this first Christmas after her ‘turn’ Gigi will have the kind of holiday Iris remembers from when their mother was still alive. (Even though mum always had the equivalent of a nervous breakdown every Christmas from trying to meet all of her own goals!)

So, vampires are cooking, cleaning, and decorating like mad, along with a werewolf and several humans, all friends and family of one of the funniest vampire groups I have ever read! Burned caramel, burning ovens, and a pan burning, boiling sweet potato magma burning a nuclear bomb pattern on the brand new kitchen floor – wow. Lots of burning going around when vampires have a tendency to burst into flames!

There is a lot of love in this novel, and a whole boatload of Christmas spirit! Oh, and some killer recipes as well – like bacon covered turkey breast! I hope you add it to your Christmas reading list.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. Enjoy!

A Father for Christmas (A Holiday Romance) by Rachelle Ayala

Not all Christmas Love Stories have to be about billionaires finding supermodels. . . or cowgirls or …..

 

A Father for Christmas (A Holiday Romance) by Rachelle AyalaBook Description

September 23, 2014
Single mother Kelly Kennedy can’t afford lavish gifts for her four-year-old daughter, Bree. Homeless veteran Tyler Manning doesn’t believe he deserves a Merry Christmas.When Bree asks Santa for a father and picks Tyler, both Tyler and Kelly vow to keep Bree from being hurt while fighting their feelings for each other.Tyler struggles with frightening flashbacks that scare Kelly. Meanwhile, Kelly’s criminal past threatens her chance for happiness. Tyler and Kelly must believe in the power of love to give Bree her best Christmas ever.

It’s 99c – a great little Christmas smile!

About the Author

Rachelle AyalaRachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope.Rachelle is the founder of an online writing group, Romance in a Month, an active member of the California Writer’s Club, Fremont Chapter, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has won awards in multicultural and historical romance.Visit her blog at http://www.rachelleayala.com or contact her at http://rachelleayala.me/author-bio/contact/

Would Love To Walk Into My Bedroom To These Beauties!

 

This is just one of dozens of incredible bedding prints available through a company called  Fashion Clothing & Dresses for Women & Kids at Ericdress

A friend on Facebook pointed the company out to me and I simply can’t get over how GORGEOUS the bedding sets are!!!

And they are on sale for the next two days!!!!! up to 85% off!!!!

Nice way to save your holiday green!

My problem? I can’t decide which I like the best! Everything from amazing florals to animals that literally jump off the bed towards you.

Below are some more samples. I am not getting credit or anything else for posting this – it just blows me away!

All photos are property of http://www.ericdress.com – all rights reserved.

Special White Tiger 100% Cotton Animal Printing Bedding Sets  Animal Print BeddingButterfly Reappearance Romantic Roses 3D Bedding Sets3D Blue Wolf Design100% Cotton Bedding Sets Animal Print BeddingThe Butterfly Lovers100% Cotton 3D Bedding Sets  Animal Print BeddingDavid's Deer 100% Cotton 3D Animal Print Bedding Sets  Animal Print BeddingCharming Horse 3D 4PC Cotton Bedding Sets Animal Print Bedding

Kiss Of Christmas Magic! 20 Paranormal Christmas Stories Only .99!!!!

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Using the wolfie side for one set of mittens – the other side is another pattern. So much fun to knit!
Entralac socks!

I just realized that I have been doing very little blogging lately. Blame it on time spent making socks and mittens for various people. I love doing colourwork, where you use several different yarns at the same time – have to concentrate! But this morning I sat down and started Kiss of Christmas Magic: 20 Pranormal Holiday Tales of Werewolves, Shifters, Vampires, Elves, Witches, Dragons, Fey, Ghosts and More – (Whew! What a mouthful!) Let’s just call it Kiss and go from there!

Loving paranormal and Christmas stories, well, what a fun read this will be!!

23487307And remember – it is only .99 right now – for 20!! Stories!!!

Can’t beat that with a Holly Branch!! Ho Ho Ho!!!!

The first story, which I read this morning, is Caribou’s Gift by Eve Langlais. Eve is, of course, one of my favorite light and breezy paranormal romance writers, so it was a pleasure to return to Kodiak Point, Alaska to meet yet another fun and funny couple. This time we meet Kyle, the utterly vain Caribou who has no intention of pulling Santa’s sleigh in the Christmas Parade – until an utterly sweet and adorable little Cougar girl, Gigi, steals his heart – and her utterly lovely, sweet and adorable mom, Crystal, makes him realize that, man card aside, he will do anything to make Gigi smile. And Crystal agree to be his. Cute and cuddly, all the way around! I will keep reading this collection through the holiday when I get a moment, and I recommend you get yours as well!

Review: The Santa Society By Kristine McCord

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I did it. I read my first Santa book before Thanksgiving. Well, seeing as how I have been known to watch The Santa Claus in the summer if I am feeling particularly down, I suppose it isn’t that surprising. And I have to say, as a huge fan of the whole Santa thing, this was a great start to my Christmas Santa Book Season!

 

 “It is my duty to carry the Gift to the world, whatever the price.”

Erin Sinclair lives in the lap of depression, even if she does live in a town called ‘Christmasville.’ She left her home at eighteen, as many teenagers do, a victim of teenage angst and the guilt of her father’s death when she was ten. It wasn’t her fault that he was driving to pick her up from school in a snowstorm when he died in a car crash. But children never understand that they aren’t to blame when horrific things happen, do they?

Now, her mother is gone as well, and Erin missed the last decade she could have spent with her, living in New York and working as a court stenographer while her mother stayed in Christmasville.

I turned 30 years old the day I killed my mother.

Alone, depressed, drenched in guilt for allowing her mother to die from breast cancer at home as she wished instead of forcing her into treatment, and feeling as if her life has faded away in front of her eyes, Erin is irritated when the cowboy propped up in front of the coffee shop early one morning walks away from her, apparently leaving his overgrown ‘maybe mastiff(?)’ tied to a tree in front of the shop. Klaus is huge, looks like a cross between a mastiff and a chocolate lab and watches her sadly from the coffee shop window. Well, she can’t just leave him out in the cold, right? Claiming the dog isn’t his, at least the cowboy leaves her his business card with the number for his real estate office. She is more than ready to get on with her life, whatever it will be, just as soon as she sells her mother’s house and all the memories it contains.

Cue high, tittering elven laughter… (screech! Sound of tires coming to a sudden halt…)

Make that cowboy laughter! Well, what do you expect when Santa lives in the mountains of Idaho?! (Insert big grin here)

The Santa Society is a wonderful Christmas story, full to the brim with hope, faith and love. But it is different than the ‘so sweet it makes your teeth rot on contact’ stories you may have read before. Similar to It’s A Wonderful Life there is human evil here – pride, vanity, hatred, and a Society developed to protect the meaning of Christmas – which may just be the downfall of everything Christmas stands for.

Erin’s mother’s last wish was that she not lose her faith in Christmas, in love, or in the reason for the season. And Reason McCloud may just help her find those things again.

He’s the Reason for the Season.

Reason, or Santa Claus to those in the know, stands for everything that is good, right and truthful in humanity. But will the corruption of those around him destroy Santa, Erin, and the true meaning of Christmas?

This book is a total and complete joy to read, filled with hope and joy, but also suspense and terror, making it more than just another Santa story – in a Very Good Way!

Review: The Heart Of Christmas By Brenda Novak

21942804Sometimes, you really, really want to like a book. A book called The Heart of Christmas seemed so up my alley for this time of year. The holiday season is when I go for the ‘candy’ – the sweet, emotional holiday romances, especially if there is some suspense/action mixed in. As such, I had high hopes for this book when I received it from Netgalley. Sigh.

OK, some of you are going to completely disagree with this review, and that is perfectly fine. I write my reviews based on my own feelings about a book, not what others think, and apparently a lot of people enjoy them as well, so that makes it more fun, right? Be that as it may, I don’t know if I was more disappointed or irritated by the main character in this book. Both? Probably. So, here goes. Eve wakes up the morning after her birthday to find a man in her bed. Thirty-five, to her, is the end of her life apparently, she will never do or be anyone now that she has hit the big 3-5 and her friends are married off and most expecting kids. So, the guy she falls into bed with, Brent, (or maybe it is another name, he seems to have several) is very upfront that it’s a one-night-stand. And that is what she wanted as well, right? I mean, living in a small town in the mountains you don’t go sleeping with every guy that comes through your B&B if you want to keep your reputation. But, they do the nasty and he intends for them to go their separate ways, everything was upfront from the get-go, and everything should be cool. Right? Right? Well, not so much.

Had she crossed the line? Was she acting like a stalker?

Uh. Duh. You immediately start hounding your ONS with personal questions, go through his things, try to break into his computer . . . the list goes on and on. I pretty much wanted to bean her over the head with a baseball bat. Needy, whiny stalker? Check. Of course, he is coming back around for the under the covers exercise, so that is most definitely HIS fault. He contributes by coming back for more, so it isn’t all on her. He has good reason for doing what he does as far as not telling her anything – and besides, it’s not meant to be long-term, and he is never anything but upfront about that. He is a very dangerous man, with very dangerous enemies, and he doesn’t hide that from her. Then there is the trite ‘maybe baby’ routine that just, well, hum… And after one night he gives her a crud-ton of money, just in case? Wow. Uh, hmm again….. You bop a woman, she shows up the next day saying she might be preggers and you just fork over the cash? Wow. Do that a few times a year and you never have to work at all. Just sayin’.

I suppose when it comes down to it, you may not find her as absolutely and unutterably irritating as I did. Realistically, if you strip out the needy stalker traits I could see myself giving this book a lot better review than I am giving it. The situation Rex (his real name) is in is heartbreaking, and I have a lot of sympathy for him and for his friends who are in the same leaky boat with him. There is suspense and action, and of course the two make that whole Christmas thing happen in the end, which is the whole point of a Christmas romance, right? Part of me can sort of feel for her. She is in this tiny town, surrounded by a tight group of friends who have all married one another, and she is the odd-bird-out. Be that as it may, read it for yourself. Love Eve or hate her, I wasn’t really able to get over not liking her personally, but the book itself is well written and the ‘not-the-personal-relationship’ portions were really good. Maybe you will understand her neediness a lot better than I do. I can be incredibly compassionate, but I also don’t have a lot of patience with women (or men!) who agree to one thing, then . . .

I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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