A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor

Book Review

 


A Christmas Blizzard: A NovelBook Genre: Fiction, Holiday, Humor

Book Series: N/A

Released: 10/25/11 by Penguin Books 

Pages: 181 Price: $14.00 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon A Christmas Blizzard: A Novel

Source: I borrowed this book from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

The inimitable Garrison Keillor spins “a Christmas tale that makes Dickens seem unimaginative by comparison” (Charlotte Creative Loafing) Snow is falling all across the Midwest as James Sparrow, a country- bumpkin-turned-energy-drink-tycoon, and his wife awaken in their sky- rise apartment overlooking Chicago. Even down with the stomach bug, Mrs. Sparrow yearns to see The Nutcracker while James yearns only to escape-the faux-cheer, the bitter cold, the whole Christmas season. An urgent phone call from his hometown of Looseleaf, North Dakota, sends James into the midst of his lunatic relatives and a historic blizzard. As he hunkers weather the storm, the electricity goes out and James is visited by a parade of figures who deliver him an epiphany worthy of the season, just in time to receive Mrs. Sparrow’s wonderful Christmas gift. Garrison Keillor’s holiday farce is the perfect gift for the millions of fans who tune into A Prairie Home Companion every week.

My Review:

It took me a week to get through this 181-page story that should be enough to tell you what I thought of it.  This was a book that was selected for a book talk at the library where I work so please know that I did not select this title on my own.  If I had I would have DNF it after 20 pages and you would not have this review.  But I did read it and feel that has earned me the right to criticize it.

This story sucked.  Majorly.  It started off coherent and then took a nose dive into strangeville about half-way through.  The characters were all over the place and I struggled to find one that I even liked.  Lots of stereotypes that were meant to be funny but did not come off that way to me, more offensive in my opinion.  There is actually supposed to be a lot of humor in this story but I don’t think that I laughed once. There was also too much talking about politics for a Christmas story for me.  The ending fit the book in that it came totally out of left field and did not make sense.  The book is just trying too hard to be a Christmas miracle and come off as weird or stupid.

The only redeeming quality that this book held for me is that it was short but somehow I still ended up wasting a week on it.  I’m not a fan of Christmas.  I’m not a fan of folksy humor.  This is simply not a book for me and I don’t think I will be picking up anything else by this author.

My Rating: 1 Star

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Relentless by D.B. Reynolds

Book Review

 


Relentless (Vampires in America, #11.5)Book Genre: Romance, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Novella

Book Series: Vampires in America 11.5

Released: 10/30/17 by ImaJinn Books

Pages: 107 Price: $2.99 E-book

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon  Relentless: A Cyn and Raphael Novella (Vampires in America 11.5)

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

TREACHERY . . . Something the powerful Vampire Lord Raphael has seen far too much of lately.

RAGE . . . An emotion that, left unchecked, can burn like the fires of hell.

REVENGE . . . A dish that philosophers claim is best served cold.

It’s been months since the powerful French vampire Mathilde used Raphael’s arrogance against him and nearly succeeded in taking his life. His fury has grown stronger with every day since, fed by new bloody incursions onto North American soil by the Europeans, while vampire politicking has forced him to wait. But no longer. Someone has attacked his home, killing vampires, threatening Cyn. They’ve taken it one step too far, and Raphael’s tired of waiting. His enemies are about to discover that revenge can taste damn good when it’s hot, too.

D. B. Reynolds is the RT and EPIC Award-Winning author of the Vampires in America series of paranormal romance, and an Emmy-nominated television sound editor. She lives in a flammable canyon near Los Angeles, and when she’s not writing her own books, she can usually be found reading someone else’s. Visit her blog at www.dbreynolds.com for details on all of her books and more.

My Review:

If you’ve been following this series then you won’t want to miss this novella in the Vampires in America series.  This story gives us some Raphael and Cyn time and sets up the upcoming war in Europe and introduces us to the hero of the next full-length book.

At 100 pages it is a quick read but we get tons of action and plenty of steam.  I must confess that I struggled with this book and might be done with the series.  I love the action.  I love the chemistry between the characters.  But I am not a fan of all the weapons, however, especially after what happened in Vegas recently.    Guns have been a part of this series from the beginning.  I knew that and uncomfortably accepted them as part of the story.  Not sure I can do that anymore.   Simply put they bothered me much like excessive cursing might bother another.  I don’t want them a part of my world and that might mean giving up the series.  I’ve not made up my mind yet.

The first part of the book was great though and I was able to skim much of the violence near the end.  The writing is still top-notch and the characters complex and had great interactions with one another.  This is a family and I’ll miss them if I need to give them up.

My Rating: 3 Stars

Night’s Darkest Embrace by Jeaniene Frost

Book Review

 


Night's Darkest EmbraceBook Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Audio

Book Series: N/A

Released: 11/13/2012 by Pocket

Pages:100  Price: $1.99 E-Book

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Enter the dark realm of Nocturna in Jeaniene Frost’s redhot tale, where blisteringly sexy Raphael dominates the demons of a lawless dimension and tries to help a beautiful young woman avenge her cousin’s disappearance. Originally appeared in the Haunted By Your Touch anthology.

My Review:

This was a good listen for an afternoon spent removing tar paper from a hardwood floor.  Entertaining, short, and kept one’s mind occupied while doing a tedious task.  My only complaint is that this isn’t a series!  I thought this world was quite interesting and full of potential.  Maybe Ms. Frost will decide to revisit this demon dimension in the future, finger’s crossed.

While being short there was adequate world building and I didn’t feel lost. The story is fairly typical for paranormal romance there is a sexy alpha hero and an instant romance connection between him and the heroine who has to be rescued from the bad guy.  You know what to expect but that isn’t always a bad thing.  Sometimes you are just in the mood for a certain type of book and Ms. Frost constantly delivers an exciting steamy read.

Not a lot more to say being it was so short.  I enjoyed it and if you ever need to kill three hours then this would be a great audiobook to pick for you!

My Rating: Three Stars

Talen by Rebecca Zanetti

Book Review

 


Talen: A Dark Protectors NovellaBook Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy

Book Series: Dark Protectors #7.8

Released: 6/6/17 from Lyrical Press

Pages: 95 Price: $2.99 E-Book

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon  Talen (Dark Protectors)

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

She’ll love him forever . . . but he can’t make her obey . . .

The war is over. Danger has passed. Cara Kayrs is healed after decades of illness and ready for a break.

Too bad her brooding, alpha vampire husband can’t seem to change gears. In their twenty-five years together Talen Kayrs has learned to sense every shiver of her body, to ignite her desire with a word or a look. She would think he could learn she’s not some fragile damsel in distress.

But Talen is on edge, watching their backs, treating her like she’s made of glass. Like there’s something following them, a deadly threat that somehow none of their intelligence has uncovered. It’s enough to drive a woman crazy, and Talen has plenty of those tendencies already.

But what’s even more maddening is that he seems to be right . . .

My Review:

This was a fun visit to a finished series I enjoyed.  In this book we revisit the couple from the book that started it all and get a chance to see how their H.E.A has been after the war has ended.  As in real life just because peace has been declared sometimes it takes a while for everyone to get used to the idea.

As with the other books in the series if you have a problem with dominant alpha-males that push the envelope between a healthy and abusive relationship this might not be the series for you.  If you can overlook all that then this is one sexy read for an afternoon of relaxing.  There was plenty of action to go along with the sex as well as a pretty great plot that worked out in a clever way.  I had to smile and shake my head at how things turned out for this novella. If the men in this world would only turn things over to the females then there might not have been a war to begin with…

Anyway,  I am going to keep an eye out for future novellas in this world because I enjoyed this brief visit to this world. If you’ve read the series than this is a must add to your to-read list as it will be sure to make you nostalgic for the series.

My Rating: 4 Stars

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

Book Review

 


After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the FallBook Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Novella, Time Travel

Book Series: N/A

Released: 4/1/2012 by Tachyon Publications

Pages: 189  Price:$14.95 paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon  After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

Source: I borrowed this book from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

The year is 2035. After ecological disasters nearly destroyed the Earth, 26 survivors—the last of humanity—are trapped by an alien race in a sterile enclosure known as the Shell.

Fifteen-year-old Pete is one of the Six—children who were born deformed or sterile and raised in the Shell. As, one by one, the survivors grow sick and die, Pete and the Six struggle to put aside their anger at the alien Tesslies in order to find the means to rebuild the earth together. Their only hope lies within brief time-portals into the recent past, where they bring back children to replenish their disappearing gene pool.

Meanwhile, in 2013, brilliant mathematician Julie Kahn works with the FBI to solve a series of inexplicable kidnappings. Suddenly her predictive algorithms begin to reveal more than just criminal activity. As she begins to realize her role in the impending catastrophe, simultaneously affecting the Earth and the Shell, Julie closes in on the truth. She and Pete are converging in time upon the future of humanity—a future which might never unfold.

Weaving three consecutive time lines to unravel both the mystery of the Earth’s destruction and the key to its salvation, this taut post-apocalyptic thriller offers a topical plot with a satisfying twist.

My Review:

Such an interesting little book.  I recommended this to my library when I noticed we needed a fresh influx of science fiction and am so glad I did.  Upon closer inspection of my Goodreads account, I see that this is the second book I’ve read by this author.  Much of what I thought about her writing of the other story holds true for this one.  This is a smart thought-provoking science fiction story that captures your attention and keeps you turning the page.

The story unfolds in a way I don’t think I’ve encountered before.  We jump back and forth in time around a critical event in human history.  Obviously, something awful has happened to the human race and all that survive are locked inside this shell as someone or something is caring for them in an effort to save the human race from extinction.  As the story progresses we see that the survivors can jump back in time to get supplies and what is essentially new breeding stock.

Of course, it isn’t until the end where we learn what really happen to earth and humanity but the story did leave me with some questions unanswered.  The story was a race to figure out what happen and what will happen to the last timeline and the future of all of the human race.  The characters, while interesting, if not annoying from time to time, were not what kept me in this story.  The mystery and need to know why and how held me to the end.  Having finished it I’m glad I read it.  Not a terribly big surprise as to how it played out but I can see why it is an award-winning story.

My Rating: 4 Stars

ARC Phantom Kiss by Chloe Neill

Book Review

 


Phantom Kiss (Chicagoland Vampires, #12.5)Book Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction

Book Series: Chicagoland Vampires #12.5

Released: 1/17/17 by Berkley

Pages: 83 Price: $1.99 Ebook

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Buy the Book: Amazon Phantom Kiss (Chicagoland Vampires)

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley for an honest review.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Vampires generally aren’t afraid of things that go bump in the night, but Merit and Ethan are extra jumpy after a recent attack by a dark sorcerer. So when they learn that someone is messing with graves in Chicago’s cemeteries, stealing skulls and snatching souls, they fear that their powerful foe might be back for even more magical vengeance.

But after a specter begins haunting Cadogan House—and targeting vampires—they realize that their being taunted by an altogether different sort of monster. A ghoulish villain straight out of the Windy City’s urban legends is on the prowl—and he won’t stop until he’s killed again…

My Review:

I like many fans of Chloe Neill are both sad and excited about the upcoming release that will close this long run series.  Soon it will be time to say goodbye to Merit and Ethan and let them move on to their H.E.A. They deserve the peace and quiet but I sure will miss reading about their adventures.

I didn’t realize Ms. Neill was working on a novella between the last release and the last release so this was a pleasant surprise and a fun read.  We start out with some wedding drama and I loved that first scene where Merit kicked ass, kinda…  You will see what I mean when you read it and for the awesome price of $1.99 (according to the book info page over at Net Galley) I hope you do go out and pick this one up.

I’m actually surprised that this book is coming out in January as the plot seems more fitting to Halloween.  A good old fashion ghost story seems like a better fit for that time of year.

We have the return of many of the series familiar faces as well as a fairly recent addition in the last book.  Bottom line this was a great read, a quick read and those of you who have stayed current with the series will not want to miss this novella.  It will deliver everything you love about the series.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Brighter Than the Sun by Darynda Jones

Book Review

 

Brighter Than the Sun (Charley Davidson #8.5) Book Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal

Book Series: Book #8.5 in the Charley Davidson series

Released: 10/6/15 by St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 112  Price: $3.99 e-book

Links: Author’s Site, Goodreads

Source: I own an e-copy of this book.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

All his life, Reyes Alexander Farrow has suffered the torments of the damned. Only one thing has given him hope: the woman who radiates a light that no mortals can see; a light that only the departed can see…

Told from his point of view, BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN chronicles the first time Reyes ever encountered Charley, and how their relationship has been the one thing that can either save him or doom him. 

My Review:

This was an interesting quick read before diving into book nine in this series.  I missed the release date somehow and ended up buying it along with the latest book’s release.  This novella takes us back to the beginning.  The very beginning in fact.  We get to see Reyes horrific life through his own eyes and witness the connection he shares with Charley.  Now we all knew Reyes had been through some pretty awful experienced, but this book doesn’t hold any punches as we see how truly terrible life was for Reyes.  Even though it would probably do nothing but piss him off you can’t help but pity him over it all.

Ms. Jones also goes into more depth some of the events from Charley’s past as well and we get to see them from a whole new angle as well.  Charley has had a pretty hard time of it too.  This story ends right about the ending of book number one, but it was nice to have the refresher of how they came together. My only complaint is that again it was so short.  I would so love to spend more time in Reyes head.

If you are a fan of the series then I wouldn’t miss this little delve into the dark side as we learn more of how Reyes thinks and ticks.

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Assassin and the Empire by Sarah J Maas

The Assassin and the Empire (Throne of Glass, #0.5)

Click on cover to visit book’s Goodread page

 

Book #0.5 in the Throne of Glass series : Publish 7/20/12

I borrowed this book electronically from my library for the #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge, saving me $1.99.

Author’s Site

Book Synopsis:

Celaena Sardothien is the assassin with everything: a place to call her own, the love of handsome Sam, and, best of all, freedom. Yet, she won’t be truly free until she is far away from her old master, Arobynn Hamel; Celaena must take one last daring assignment that will liberate her forever. But having it all, means you have a lot to lose . . .

This fourth fantastic e-novella gives readers an inside look at the characters who appear in the full-length novel Throne of Glass. Don’t miss out!

My Review:

Well that wasn’t as awful as I thought it was going to be.  I did cry, but managed to turn that into anger towards Arobynn pretty damn quick.  Oh Celaena,  why do you not see these things coming, and why do you continue to put your trust in that bastard Arobynn.  I so hope several people are dead, after being tortured for several hours, by the end of this series. Three people so have their reckoning day coming, big time.

Celaena’s best trait is her honesty and integrity, ironic as it may be for a highly trained assassin. The problem with these characteristics is quite often the people who possess them tend to act as if the rest of the world is that way too.  They end up being easily fooled, played and taken advantage of.  Part of me wants her to keep these honorable traits, but she needs to wise up and start seeing people as they truly are if she is ever going to find justice and peace.

Oh Sam.  We barely got a chance to know you, but I will miss you.  You were what Celaena needed and I fear she might never get over your end. Part of me just hopes she pines for you and goes on to kill everyone involved in your demise.  Perhaps that is because I don’t know who I rather her end up with, but then again maybe the YA world needs a strong female lead that doesn’t need a man to live H.E.A.

Still so many question, but I might take a break before continuing on to book two. I’ve been neglecting some other library books that I need to return soon.

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Assassin and the Underworld by Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin and the Underworld (Throne of Glass, #0.4)

Click on cover to visit book’s page on Goodreads

Book #0.4 in the Throne of Glass series : Publish 5/1/12

I borrowed this book electronically from my library for the #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge, saving me $1.99.

Author’s Site

Book Synopsis:

When the King of the Assassins gives Celaena Sardothien a special assignment that will help fight slavery in the kingdom, she jumps at the chance to strike a blow against an evil practice. The misson is a dark and deadly affair which takes Celaena from the rooftops of the city to the bottom of the sewer–and she doesn’t like what she finds there.

My Review:

Okay I need to stop.  I don’t want to know what happens in the next novella.  I really don’t.  Can’t I just stop here and pretend that it all isn’t going to go to crap in the next tale.  Can’t we just let Sam and Celaena live happily ever after, together and free.  Cause I know that is so not going to happen and I am going to end up a bawling emotionally drained wreck of a person not fit to read another book for a week.  Perhaps I will just pause this story for a bit and let them live in happiness for a while, or until I am ready to witness how her life turned so wrong and set things up for the first book.

This novella, while a struggle to get into at time, was interesting.  We got to know Sam quite a bit in this story and see what life is life for the assassins under the King of the Assassin’s thumb.  We also learn just what kind of manipulative bastard he really is.  Of course. I guess that comes with the job description.  We also get to see just how gullible Celaena was at the time.  I mean common,  she didn’t learn anything from having her ass kicked by him once.  Second time is a bit of shame on her.  Still I really do think she and Sam are going to end up paying an even bigger price in the next story.  I so hope at the end of this whole series we find both king’s heads mounted on pikes out front of the Glass Palace.

A good read though, and I really recommend it to fans of the series.  There is so much valuable insight and back story to be learned in these novellas that they are worth the time to read.  Oy.  Now to start the last one, I have a feeling it is going to be a real heartbreaker.

 

My Rating: 3 Stars

The Assassin and the Desert by Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin and the Desert (Throne of Glass, #0.3)Book #0.3 in the Throne of Glass series : Publish 3/30/12

I borrowed this book electronically from my library for the #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge, saving me $1.99.

Author’s Site

Book Synopsis:

The Silent Assassins of the Red Desert aren’t much for conversation, and Celaena Sardothien wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s not there to chatter, she’s there to hone her craft as the world’s most feared killer for hire. When the quiet is shattered by forces who want to destroy the Silent Assassins, Celaena must find a way to stop them, or she’ll be lucky to leave the desert alive.

My Review:

When I started these novellas, I thought gosh do I really want to read them.  Then the second one got a little better, and now the third one has me totally convinced this was the right way to go.  We are becoming even more familiar with Celaena’s true nature, even as she continues to grow and come into herself.  She isn’t perfect, she definitely has her flaws: arrogance, vanity, and a short temper being her three worst.  But, she continues to prove to me that even though she may be an assassin by trade she is not lacking in honor or compassion.  This is truly an epic world that we’ve stumbled on and I can’t wait to see where Ms. Maas takes us.

This short story picks up just after Celaena reaches the Silent Assassin’s lair.  We get to watch her interact with people and learn some much-needed patience, that her master hasn’t been able to teach her.  For being so short this is quite to complex story and almost felt like a full length book, plot wise.  I believe Maas planted some seeds for future events as well as we learn where some of Celaena’s scars originate.  Even though Sam was absent in this story too, there still felt like there was development in that relationship front.  I liked our time in the desert and kind of hope we get to come back to visit these walls among the dunes again.

My Rating: 4 Stars