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A fortunate blizzard by L.C. Chase

A Fortunate BlizzardA Fortunate Blizzard by L.C. Chase
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Trevor and Marcus meet by chance because of a blizzard that keeps them from going where they want to go. I had hoped this was a cabin romance as I am a sucker for that sort of stuff, but actually the cabin aspect was not really there as being snowed in at a hotel for one night with a lot of other people doesn’t qualify. Nevertheless this was a super sweet story with a tinge of tragedy, but, as could be expected, the tragedy didn’t take place after all.

Insta-love doesn’t even begin to cover the relationship that Trevor and Marcus develop in more or less one night. Somehow it didn’t come over as contrived or forced, so I was all for it. Marcus’ evolution, however, from dedicated workaholic to devoted friend and lover (after a couple of days no less) was more than astounding and I didn’t find it believable. He offered to donate a kidney so readily that it was downright creepy.

The first few days of this blooming relationship took a large part of the book, the second part felt shortened. How all Marcus’ co-workers rallied for Trevor was amazing, given that Marcus never gave a damn about any of them previously. Finding a donor was just too pat for my taste apart from the questionable setup of that charity. You organize an event like that for one donor alone? What about all the other people that are on death’s door because they don’t find a donor? As the whole topic of the story was helping Trevor to a new life, I would have found it more than appropriate to at least mention that the charity event resulted in a few more possibly happy endings for some other people.

Speaking of the happy ending, this was rushed as well. A donor is found and the next thing we read is a sort of epilogue quite some time later and that is that. This was all too easy and flawless for me. A little less love at the beginning and a bit more content at the end would have made that story more substantial for me.

That being said, for a sweet and light Christmas romance, this is a good story to consider.

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I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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From afar by Ava March

From AfarFrom Afar by Ava March
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was thoroughly disappointed with this.

The opening scene turned me off. I knew there was some m/f and voyeurism involved, but the picture of Raphael sitting in a tree wanking away was something I could have done without. Where did this obsession with Aleric come from? He has never even talked to the guy; just from seeing him, he got so obsessed with him? I find that rather unhealthy, it makes me uncomfortable with the character.

Then, within a few pages, Aleric was turned and was perfectly ok with his new lifestyle. It seems due to some chemical reaction which was triggered by the turning (no other explanation was given) he all of a sudden was just as needy with Raphael as the other vampire was with him. It’s not that they had spent ANY time together that did not involve frantic sex. Is that supposed to be romance? Not in my book. In fact this is not even porn, because even porn needs some sort of normality in order for the sex to stand out (I am paraphrasing Umberto Eco here).

The story possibilities were all wasted. Katerina (of course, a Russian vampire queen) and her clan sounded quite interesting – apart from the obession with sex again -, but those characters fizzled out and were not followed up at all. Btw, anyone else found the names Katerina and Aleric reminiscent of the Vampire Diaries?

Because there was no emotional bond to speak of (at least I didn’t see any) between Aleric and Raphael, I found myself skimming the sex scenes, i.e. large parts of the book. Finally a conflict was in the offing, i.e. Aleric’s understandable anger and distress over the stalkerish behavior of Raphael, but even that ended with sex almost immediately. Instead of running away from that weirdo who observed him in secret for years, Aleric forgives Raphael within minutes.This couple did not get me involved or attracted me in any way.

Abrupt does not even begin to describe the ending. We go from sex to a half baked plan to leave and that’s it. I had 17% to go with the story and thought there was something more substantial still coming up, and then – wham – the end within a paragraph. The remaining 17% of the book were excerpts and ads for other books, which annoyed me a lot.

I am not saying that this story couldn’t have been good on a mere 85 pages, but given the fact that most of those pages were about sex, it just didn’t work. No explanations, no development, a lacklustre “romance” at best, this wasn’t satisfying. At all.

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Pleasures of Somerville Park by Ava March

Pleasures of Somerville Park (Somerville Park, #1.5)Pleasures of Somerville Park by Ava March
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a short and free sequel to Object of his desire, which I really liked. Is is only around fifteen pages and is a short glimpse into Henry and Arsen’s life eight months after they got together. Mostly from Arsen’s POV and pretty sweet.

Why some people complain about it being too short or not providing enough characterization is beyond me. This is a FREE read, for Christ’s sake! And only meant as a follow-up to the other book. If you have not read that one, don’t read this one.

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Hidden scars by Amanda K. Byrne

Hidden Scars (Hidden Scars, #1)Hidden Scars by Amanda K. Byrne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The story sounded interesting and I really cannot put my finger on why I wasn’t gripped by it.

The heroine is a good character, careful who she gets involved with, not too trusting, but still down to earth and reasonable. The hero on the other side stays quite faceless. Him being quiet or unobtrusive had nothing to do with it – I love the quiet type – but apart from the fact that he observed, remembered and cared we know not much about him as a person. It’s hard to describe, he is a lovely guy, responsible, everything you could ask for. He had a dubious past as a peripheral member of some gang and quite a lot to deal with at present, and nevertheless, he felt not very fleshed out.

The story moves ultra slow, which was a good change from the usual and I liked how it developped. There was enough tension with the protagonists’ and past and subsequently emotional issues, so I am not complaining about that either. The writing was good, and I really wanted to like this book more than I did.

Somehow the couple and the development of their relationship didn’t come to life for me. I am sorry, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Hearts and Minds by Marie Treanor

Hearts and Minds (The Gifted, #2)Hearts and Minds by Marie Treanor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is no secret that I really like Marie Treanor’s heroes. They are just perfect in every way.

At the beginning of Hearts and Minds I was quite taken with Nikolai (no surprise here, who wouldn’t be), but was slightly shocked that in the course of the book his general set up reminded me of someone else. Not so much his personality per se, his looks or behaviour, but rather how he was presented. Being a “gifted” very powerful healer? Being considered super dangerous? Being feared by a lot of his own people? The heroine being the light of his dark world? Doesn’t this ring a bell? This is Gregori from Dark Magic all over!

Thank God these are the only aspects that are similar; if Nikolai had been the same condescending know-it-all as Gregori with his annoying “my petite” habit (a habit he shares with all his Carpathian brothers) I would have tossed the book into a corner. But no, Nikolai is just right. Badass enough, hot enough, lovely enough – a perfect mix. Not surprisingly, Jen, the heroine, was equally satisfying. Marie Treanor’s heroines never seem to have the oh so popular stupid tendencies to misunderstand and draw idiotic conclusions out of nowhere.
The storyline was quite good, with lots of political dissidents, mean dictators, dubious oppostion leaders, bombs, narrow escapes with screeching tyres, the whole works. Throw in a few uncanny gifts, parapsychological researchers and a pissed off/helpless guardian and you get a super entertaining book.

Sadly, again, I have to comment on the cover art. Wow, the hair on that guy has to be one of the worst Photoshop jobs ever. Not good!

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The only one by Magan Vernon – DNF

The Only One (Only, #3)The Only One by Magan Vernon
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I started reading this because it is in the “Unconditional” anthology, but couldn’t finish it. The heroine – and I am sorry to say that, because it sounds heartless and without compassion – was a whiner of the first order and selfish to the extreme.

Apart from the fact that the cancer topic was dealt with in a disappointingly superficial way, the whole story had no character development whatsoever. It mainly consisted of Melanie going on ad infinitum about how “broken” she was and of Melanie trying to give John an out, because she kept insisting he only pitied her. It was obvious he was not interested in an out, but what does she care. If John HAD indeed left, it would have been the prime example of a self fulfilling prophecy.

After a little more than half I couldn’t stand that miserable situation anymore and left it behind.

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Surviving Raine by Shay Savage

Surviving Raine (Surviving Raine, #1)Surviving Raine by Shay Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I ever become shipwrecked or get stranded on a lonely island I want to be there with Bastian Stark. His survival skills are above and beyond everybody else’s! It seems fighting in a modern day munera sine missione does have its benefits.

I suppose he is the typical beloved anti hero who behaves like a complete jerk alot, but makes up for this by being caring AND hot once he decides to let go of his mean tendencies. Thanks to the 100% male POV we know what’s going on inside of him and understand why he is doing what he’s doing. I can’t say I am totally convinced that this is what’s going on in a man’s mind but I didn’t care for reality anyway.

I found the perspective very refreshing and a relief from the usual female point of view. I am quite familiar with a female point of view already and – to be frank – in romance novels I find it tedious, boring, repetitive and downright annoying most of the time. In Raine’s case I don’t think she would have annoyed me – no, she is a very sweet, forgiving, reasonable and down to earth person, but her trains of thoughts would not have been nearly as interesting to read as Bastian’s, I am sure (sorry).

I must admit, even though I am a sucker for sob stories, I found Bastian was laying it on a bit thick. Wasn’t he a little too needy? The “I’ll die if you ever leave” refrain was a bit over the top for me. Yeah, say it once if you must, but don’t go on non stop.

I read a few reviews of the Evan Arden series. It seems that there is another guy who “will die if she ever leaves” and then, when she does leave, hooks up soon after with a hoooker who can “heal” him. Not saying that this is a bad thing, people do leave sometimes and life goes on, but doesn’t this throw a cloud of suspicion over that lover’s oath? Sometimes a little less is more.

That being said Shay Savage pushed all the right buttons for me and I loved the story. I wouldn’t classify this as the typical romance with the usual frequent love scenes. Don’t get mislead by the heavy use of “fucking” and “cock”! There were some sex scenes, but the adventure of being thrown out on a life raft and land on a lonely island took a large part of the story. A good mix, a great couple, no idiotic misunderstandings and a somewhat happy ending – absolutely recommendable.

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Falling from the sky by Sarina Bowen

Falling from the Sky (Gravity, #2)Falling from the Sky by Sarina Bowen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In this second story of the Gravity Series the hero did have a problem, for real. A good change from the regular romance novels, but as I found out, it doesn’t make a difference to me in whether I like the book or not. Odd, right? I always complain about the contrived problems, so you would think I appreciate it when a real one comes along, but no.

Somehow it felt to me that Hank, even though he found himself in a wheelchair after a snowboarding accident, even though he saw himself as useless (especially to women) after being the alpha man, went on just as before (minus the snowboarding, but even that got better at the end). His supposed loneliness was rather self induced – if you discard his posh girlfriend leaving him, but good riddance anyway. He had money galore and could put it to good use. A complete makeover of his house to suit the disabled? Check. A Porsche with all the hand controls? Check. Contrary to what they say in the story I do think that there are only VERY few disabled people owning a Porsche with hand controls.

The heroine – smart, pretty, not to say beautiful, but otherwise not very interesting – had it in her head that she was only a distraction for Hank. That a man like him would never look twice at a girl like her, if he wasn’t in a bad situation and had no alternatives. Just because he did not jump her when he saw her for the first time, which was right before the accident, she got that idea that he found her unattractive and stuck with it. But of course, this did not keep her from having sex with him numerous times. She hadn’t left her hometown because she waited for a man to come along, and when he did come along, she wanted to leave as soon as possible, giving up a good career opportunity (which she got thanks to him). Talk about messed up.

If you liked the first book, you might want to give this a go, especially as you will see glimpses of Dane and Willow here and there.

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The education of Caroline by Jane Harvey-Berrick

The Education of Caroline (The Education of..., #2)The Education of Caroline by Jane Harvey-Berrick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh, I don’t know, I expected a lot from this one, but somehow I am disappointed. When I started reading I wasn’t even aware that it was a sequel, so I did not get to read all the falling in love part. At the beginning of the sequel the love is already established, albeit somewhat hidden at first due to hard feelings. There was a separation ten years earlier because of the age difference and Caroline and Sebastian haven’t heard from each other since. Much to his chagrin.

The older woman – younger man angle I liked, why should it always be the other way around? Unfortunately – even though there were tons of declarations of love and feelings galore, I just wasn’t feeling it, I’m sorry. It might have to do with the fact that Sebastian leered and smirked quite a bit. I cannot stand guys that do that! There were too many love scenes (who knew I would ever say that), some of them – at least for my taste – even inappropriate. Picture this! A small makeshift room in a makeshift barracks in Afghanistan. You can barely stand upright or stretch out. You are dirty and sweaty. The disclosure of your relationship can cost both of you your careers. An attack can happen anytime and you have to run for your lives. And you can’t help having sex!? Give me a break! I am not buying it.

And afterwards? The problems after returning home were just too superficially dealt with. These were big issues and all of a sudden they were gone? And then as a cherry on top, the inheritance! All too much, this. I don’t know, I couldn’t get into this book.

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Crossing by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Crossing (Open Door Love Story, #1)Crossing by Stacey Wallace Benefiel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story was definitely different from what I expected, it had a GLBT feel to it.

The heroine Dani did get on my nerves in the beginning with her constant whining about her plain looks and her non-deserving nature. I don’t have much time for people who always think the worst because “they don’t deserve better”. Where is your self-esteem? If you don’t respect yourself, not many other people will.

Anyway, she got a bit better later on in the book, and I forgave her anyway, as she was extremely funny. And for once I read a scene with imminent sex where the girl actually followed through with her original plan and kept wanting to talk about stuff! Have you ever heard of that in a romance novel before? Normally it’s like “no, we need to talk….oh well, we can still talk AFTERWARDS” – but THAT never happens because either they are both so knackered from the hot sex or the guy gets up and leaves, because of, you know, his issues.

So Dani was sort of good. Liam was better. I suspected what his secret was early on – which was a first for me, usually I am oblivious to these things – and found it quite unusual for this kind of romance story. And for some reason I missed a bit more insight into it. This is a topic not many people talk about, let alone experience it first hand, so more of what was going on inside Liam would have been good.

Other than that, this is a good romance with likeable characters and an original storyline.

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Coming in from the cold by Sabrina Bowen

Coming in from the Cold (Gravity, #1)Coming in from the Cold by Sarina Bowen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There were quite a few things wrong with the plot, starting with the main driving force, Dane’s secret/problem.I understand that without that secret there is no story, nevertheless I need to say it.

Why could Dane not divulge his secret to Willow and tell her, look, this is how it is, now what do you say? Why did he not get a test earlier? OK, I understand he did not want to know but this makes no sense. It’s not that not knowing made his life any better, not even in his own mind. He suffered from the word go and didn’t enjoy his life AT ALL. Getting a positive test result would have meant his life was misery, getting a negative result would have meant enjoyment. So the worst consequence would have been the status quo.

Willow is a bit clueless, isn’t she? Going on about her money situation when it was clear that Dane was not only loaded, but willing to share with her. Yes, yes, she might not want to be kept and all that, but, after all, this is not only about her.

(view spoiler)

All that being said, I loved the story, I loved the characters. There was chemistry from the start. I usually hate sex scenes when there are no established emotions, but Sabrina Bowen pulled it off beautifully. Because Dane and Willow were extremely likeable and the connection between them was great I let all the other things slide.

Some people complain about him not grovelling enough towards the end. Come on, people! If you accept the somewhat contrived problem then you must cut the poor guy some slack and give it a rest. He went through hell, after all, so don’t make him crawl to boot!

I also liked the fact that the book did not end with the reconciliation but continued a little afterwards to see how the relationship develops a bit.

What can I say? I might like books for all the wrong reasons, but I loved this one.

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Hannah and the Highlander by Sabrina York

Hannah and the Highlander (Untamed Highlanders, #1)Hannah and the Highlander by Sabrina York
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had thought that the highlander theme was dead. You would think that by now every possible angle of the Scots has been throughly explored, but it seems, there is still a demand for them.
Hannah and the Highlander ist the first book in the series and I got it because of the more than enthusiastic reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. It was supposed to be completely different from other books, made people happy and what not. I was intrigued.

To cut it short, the hype is a bit over the top. How Hannah, who is a down to earth and sensible girl could take a speech impediment for a lack of attraction – even though clearly Alexander was attracted to her like there is no tomorrow – is beyond me. I would imagine that even the least observant person would notice the difference between not WANTING to talk and NOT BEING ABLE TO. Again, as so often, the misunderstanding device failed for me.

The “desperate secret, one that could destroy them both” I could not even identify. But that doesn’t matter, as I hate those things anyway.

There was an interesting secondary romantic couple that will get its own book in the series. Hannah’s little sister and Alexander’s overlord, the duke, were quite appealing (once he had changed out of his dandy outfit and into a kilt, that is). As the romance has been almost established already, maybe their book will be more of a mix between a romance and a quest to remove Lachlan’s curse. That would be a change.

The love scenes were quite nice – sorry for the lacklustre word, but as the first love scene was done in the wrong spirit (at least for me. I hate love scenes where there needs to be talking first and there is none, leaving the love scene taking place under the wrong star.). There are other books that pull that off, but this is not one of them. Again, this is just my personal bugbear, other readers thought that they were steamy and perfect.

I am definitely giving the next book a miss. It is about the middle sister and Alexander’s younger brother. He suffers from the second son syndrome and was neither fleshed out nor appealing to me. A kissing contest? Give me a break! I might do him an injustice, but I am not interested. However, the third book I will pick up immediately as Lachlan and Lana sounded like they will make an interesting couple, more interesting than this one here.

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Snowed in by Sarah Title

Snowed InSnowed In by Sarah Title
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

* I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. *

This is the fourth story in the Southern Comfort series, however even without reading the other three it was no problem to get into it. With a title like “Snowed in” I expected this to be a cabin romance, but I wouldn’t consider being snowed in for a day enough to be called that. Anyway, due to the nature of the story there is not much going on outside the romancing part. The romance was rather straightforward, no ramifications, no big obstacles, and not a lot of worrying.

I couldn’t quite feel the chemistry between Maureen and Gavin, even though I can’t complain about the development of their story together. I can’t really put a finger on it, but somehow it was all just a tiny bit too smooth. Then again, it’s a short novella, I can’t expect a too complicated plot.

The writing style was quite humourous and original. A romance starting with the heroine getting dumped while still in bed with her soon to be ex is quite different from the usual.

“Are you dumping me? In bed? While we’re still naked?” “Come on, you would have wanted a last hurrah,” he said, slapping her affectionately on her ass. “Anyway, don’t worry about it, I’ll give you plenty of time to find a new place. Now, hush, the weather’s on.”

Liked it. There were a few scenes with dialogue that was lighthearted and funny – something you don’t find too often in romance. Authors seem to think that falling in love and laughter don’t go together.

I also took an immediate like to Gavin’s neighbour Pippa who is about as unconventional as can be. Sound advice from an old lady who plays doctor with her boyfriend, TMI for everybody, but still, a nice touch.

The other books in the series will be worth checking out, I think.

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Highland Sorcerer by Clover Autrey

Highland Sorcerer (Highland Sorcery, #1)Highland Sorcerer by Clover Autrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK, next time I really must not forget to have a look at the heat index of books. I had automatically assumed there would be at least some love scenes, but no. Towards the end when there were only about 30 pages left and finally H and h were together again after an exciting rescue mission, I figured now would be a good time – and was disappointed. They had such a good connection, and a love scene would have just been the icing on the cake. I’m sure Clover Autrey would have done a brilliant job, too. Then again, how can there be a love scene when Col has been dragged into a time rift, Shaw has been abducted by Aldreth and Edeen is in a sort of coma? At least there is good reason for not having sex there and then.

Anyway, once I got over that, I was quite pleased with this story. It was a free book from All Romance and turned out to be 130 pages on my Sony, not too shabby. The plot was quite good, evil witch trying to take over the world with the help of a powerful sorcerer who would not have any of it. A spunky healer who stops at nothing to help her (future) lover. Perfect! Time travel, magic, Highlands, very nice. Thank God the oh so popular Scottish accent was kept to a minimum.

The story ended with a huge cliffhanger and will be continued with “The Vampire and the Highland Empath” (what a title!), which has a higher heat index. Just saying. However, reading the synopsis of the following titles I am not drawn to them. Shaw’s storyline featuring monsters that ate humankind to extinction (?) doesn’t do it for me, I am afraid.

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Smoke and Mirrors by Marie Treanor

Smoke and Mirrors (The Gifted, #1)Smoke and Mirrors by Marie Treanor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Marie Treanor has a knack for creating heros I am smitten with. Drago from Gothic Dragon was the cream of the crop, but Rodion Kosar comes a close second (I keep thinking of Keyser Soze – somehow name and character remind me of him). The story was a bit too much action for me, but I did even the action parts quite a bit.

There is great chemistry between Rodion and Nell, but I had a few misgivings about the fact that throughout the book he was always going on in his head about there could not be a commitment. In the end there was one without anything having changed. From the start it was clear that either the mission would either fail or be successful, so what kept him from thinking that, if successful, he and Nell could not stay together? He could have easily said “Listen, if we get out of here alive and kicking, it’s a deal. If we fail, we (or I) will be dead anyway.” That was unnecessary tension, because it made no sense to me.

Nevertheless, I loved the couple together, as well as the secondary characters. The second book in this series (and obviously, so far, the last), Hearts and minds, is about Nikolai, which does not surprise me. He plays only a very minor part in the first book, but I can see some great potential here. Nell describes him as a “lecherous Jesus”, which was a misconception on her part, but gave a good visual description. Looking forward to it.

I don’t know who did the cover art for the two books, but I didn’t think it was fitting. The guy on Smoke and Mirrors looks nothing like I picture Rodion, he is way too soft looking. Fiery eyes don’t make him a badass, but I suppose one must be grateful that at least he is blond. And what about the stupid cloak? This is not a 19th century vampire story. Sometimes those cover artists don’t even seem to have read the descriptions. But, of course, that’s only me. If the cover guy floats your boat, even better.

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Big Bang Theory Amigurumi Patterns

Für Häkelfreunde, die auch Amigurumi UND The Big Bang Theory lieben, gibt es nun Amigurumi Anleitungen kostenlos. A[mi]dorable crochet hat die Anleitungen hier auf ihrem Blog gepostet. Es gibt sie für alle Hauptcharaktere, häkelt alle oder nur eure Lieblingsfigur.

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For people who love crochet, amigurumi AND The Big Bang Theory there are some adorable amigurumi patterns for free available. A[mi]dorable crochet offers them on her blog here. Crochet all the TBBT characters for a fun display.

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Crafty Tuesday – Blanket crochet along part 1

Unser Crochetalong wird langsam. Zumindest bei mir, denn Nina mußte erst noch eine Kuscheldecke fertigmachen und hat gerade mit Teil 2 angefangen. Ich habe schon beinahe Teil 2 fertig. Teil 1 seht ihr hier schon mal. Die Farben gefallen mir gut, eine richtige Winterdecke. Übrigens könnt ihr das Projekt auch hier auf Ravelry verfolgen –> Blanket Crochet Along oder bei -> Instagram.

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Our crochet along is coming along nicely At least mine is; Nina had to finish a very cuddly blanket first and is starting with part 2 now. I am almost done with part 2. Here you can see part 1 already. I really like the colors, it’s going to be a nice winter blanket. By the way, you can also follow my project here on Ravelry –> Blanket Crochet Along or on -> Instagram.

Crochetalong Teil 1

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New crochet project–a crochet along blanket

Nachdem ich Nina von Cherish Each Day ein gemeinsames Häkelprojekt vorgeschlagen hatte, kam sie sofort mit einer Idee. Eine hübsche Babydecke, die man natürlich auch größer machen kann. Der sogenannte crochet along wird von schoenstricken.de organisiert und fand schon letztes Jahr statt, aber das heißt ja nicht, daß man nicht nachhäkeln kann.

Zuerst hatte ich geplant, Wolle zu verwenden, die ich schon habe, aber Nina ging unmittelbar nach Projektbeschluss einkaufen – etwas übermotoviert, wenn ihr mich fragt -, und da kann ich nicht nachstehen. Jetzt werde ich wohl auch neues Garn kaufen müssen. Ach, welche Mühsal!

Bei dem Tempo wird Nina wahrscheinlich schon zu zwei Dritteln fertig sein, bevor ich überhaupt angefangen habe.

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After I suggested a project together Nina from Cherish each day has found a super lovely baby blanket (which can be made bigger and thus turned into a regular one). The crochet along which is hosted by schoenstricken.de already took place last year, but this is no reason not to play, is it?

At first I was going to use some yarn that I already have in the house, but then Nina has to go along and buy some for herself on the very day we decided to do this project – talk about over enthusiastic! Anyway, now I am forced to come up with some new yarn as well (oh, the hardship) and will go to the creative market tomorrow to have a look around. Probably, by the time I start crocheting, Nina will already have 2 or 3 parts done, haha. We’ll see!

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Tribune of Rome by Robert Fabbri

Tribune of Rome (Vespasian, #1)Tribune of Rome by Robert Fabbri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For lovers of historical fiction set in ancient Rome this is a must read.
The book covers only a very short period of Vespasian’s life, starting with an omen after his birth and then jumping to him when he is about 16 years old and soon going to Rome to make his career. It describes how he becomes involved in a conspiracy against conspirators, how he then joins the army and the following events.

This is nothing for the faint at heart. If you thought the crucifixions and decimation in "Fortunes’ Favourites" by Colleen McCullough were bad, be prepared for worse. Robert Fabbri doesn’t gloss over anything. His decriptions are vivid and brutal, gruesome and bloody. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Nevertheless, even I – and I am quite a sissy – made it through and loved it. I wasn’t even done with this book yet, when I ordered the next book in the series, so I can continue reading right away.

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My bookish Christmas gifts

Two bookish gifts for me that I am really looking forward to read and watch:

A cabinet of Roman curiosities

A cabinet of Roman curiosities by J.C. McKeown.

This one has been on my wishlist for a long time. In structure it reminds me a bit of Schott’s Miscellany, in that it is just a number of “strange tales and surprising facts”.

 

Night train to Lisbon

 

The movie “Night train to Lisbon” with Jeremy Irons. I just hope they didn’t butcher the wonderful Nachtzug nach Lissabon by Pascal Mercier. Relying on Bille August here.

Will be watching it tonight. 

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The Beast by Alianne Donnelly

The Beast (The Beast, #2)The Beast by Alianne Donnelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great twist on the common Beauty & the Beast. This is sort of an inverted werewolf story, just that it’s not a werewolf but some unspecified beast. On three days a month the nice and friendly beast turns into a human who is a real monster, just without the claws.

Of course, you come to quite like the monster pretty quickly, even though he is a bit mean at first, but that is only defense machanism, isn’t it? Plus, I would be pissed off as well if they chained me to the wall on the few days a month I could actually go out and party like I used to before I got cursed.

From what I read Bastien must have been a right bastard before the curse, but I can’t see much of that here. I suppose 300 years of being cursed beats it out of you.

Anyway, this is a really good and entertaining read. And it is free to boot (available on Smashwords). I recommend it to everybody who likes a beauty and the beast theme, tortured heroes and fairy tales. The only problem I have with it is that is too short. Way too short!

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Button holed by Kylie Logan

Button Holed (Button Box Mystery, #1)Button Holed by Kylie Logan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The mystery was not too bad (even though some solutions were really far-fetched). For example, if you were an actress who was more than eager to marry a prince and who even lied to get to that point, would you postpone your wedding simply because you did not find the right buttons? Not very likely!

The heroine must be the most boring conversation partner ever. To give you an idea here are a few quotes:

“I was a button dealer. Buttons were, are, and will always be the only thing I know how to talk about.”

“I didn’t want to come across as a boring nerd, so I refused to talk about buttons, and that was the only subject I was comfortable talking about.”

“You forget, buttons are my business. I think they are the most interesting things in all the world.”

Give me a break! This is even worse than the cookie cutter series where life and death revolves around cookie cutters – and that is bad enough already.

As far as buttons go, however, this is all you will be getting. Even though the heroine is the country’s top button experts she astonishingly shares very little of her knowledge. She sells them, she organizes them, she picks them up, that’s about it.

Disappointing!

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Book tour: Mr. Monk helps himself by Hy Conrad

Cover Mr. Monk helps himself by Hy Conrad 

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

Various cases keep Monk and Natalie busy and Monk has to make quite an effort to solve a case.

Language I read the book in: English

Did I like it? Yes

For people who: like characters out of the ordinary, like clowns, dislike clowns, are self-help junkies.


My thoughts: 

I am a complete Monk newbie. I had vaguely heard of him before, but have never seen an episode of the TV series or even knew any details about him. So when I had the chance to read Mr Monk helps himself it was a first encounter. The synopsis sounded good, especially as I am, well, not a self help junkie, but I do enjoy reading the occasional self help book.

Now, after finishing this book, I will put Monk on my Lovefilm (the European equivalent of Netflix) queue and wait for the next book in a hopefully long series.

Hy Conrad introduces the reader to Monk in a way that it is not too tedious for Monk fans and at the same time a good introduction for novices. The story is told in the first person by Natalie Teeger, Monk’s assistant, a woman I immediately liked. She is down to earth, sensible and straightforward, has Monk and his idiosyncrasies somewhat under control (if you can call it that), and has non of those typical heroine attitudes that make me instantly dislike most of them.

The story focuses on mainly two cases, which are totally different from each other. The one is an obvious murder case which leads to an even bigger, unsolved case from years ago. The other starts out as no case at all and only Natalie’s determination turns it into one. I liked how they both developed and how they displayed Monk’s many and manifold phobias. Throw a little bit of romance in – even though romance might be too extreme a word here – and the story is sold to me.

As for the solution of the second case I am not 100% sure I was convinced that it would work that way. I don’t want to give away anything, but somehow I found the solution slightly forced, but then again, who knows, maybe it is all a matter of crowd control.

This was a great read that kept me interested from page one. Whether you have known Monk for a long time or have never heard of him before, you will enjoy this.


Movie tip

Monk TV-series


Product info and buy link :

Title Mr. Monk helps himself
Author Hy Conrad
Publisher New American Library
ISBN 9780451240934
I got this book from the publisher for the blog tour
Buy link Buy Mr. Monk helps himself
More info Hy Conrad’s website

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Virtual author book tours

Thank you to Teddy for organizing this blog tour. More information on the book and the tour schedule can be found here.

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The story guy by Mary Ann Rivers

Cover The story guy by Mary Ann Rivers 

Very short synopsis:

Woman answers ad and meets the man of her dreams, just he wants no more than kissing once a week. Why????


inanutshell 

I read it in: English

I liked it:    Yes

This is a lovely novella and a super quick read. I couldn’t put it down as I was too curious to find out what on Earth was going on with Brian. I am a sucker for stories where people meet via ads, email, telephone, anything other than personal encounter, so this was right up my alley.

I did find the explanation in the end a tiny bit far fetched, but this did not lessen my enjoyment of the story. It just flowed.

If you like romance, a man with a secret (nothing bad, I assure you) and a very likeable heroine with no attitude, “The Story Guy” is for you.


Product info and buy link :

Title The story guy
Author Mary Ann Rivers
Publisher Random House
ISBN 9780345548740
I got this book from the publisher via Netgalley
Buy link Buy The story guy as e-book

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.