‘Tis the Season…

…to be sick, apparently. I even had a book review post outlined and ready to post, but the plague descended on our house like an unwanted fruitcake (that’s probably redundant), and I’ve only just started feeling back to 100% in the last few days.

I’ll do my best to get back on schedule. At least I’ve got that review lined up! Right now I’m reading Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi. So far it’s an excellent read, but it’s also really emotionally heavy, especially on the heels of the last book I read, which was a light and airy teen romance. Not my usual style, I know, but I’m really glad I read it. That’s the book featured in my upcoming review, which will hopefully go live tonight, so you’ll hear more about it later.

In the meantime, we have managed to decorate the house for Christmas. Despite feeling like a pile of garbage, I was still able to get the tree up.

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This year, some friends gave us some great decorations, including an artificial tree. I put that one upstairs since I have room for two trees now (you have no idea how happy this makes me; I’m a huge nerd for Christmas).

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And we actually got to decorate the porch! Ugh, this is the best Christmas ever, already. I love Christmas. Yes, I know I still have pumpkins out. But they’re so cute! Maybe I’ll put little bows on them. And no, I don’t leave my poinsettia outside. It was only there for the picture.

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At any rate, regular content should resume soon, now that I don’t feel the heavy cloud of death and head colds hovering over me.

Happy Fangs-giving!

ClawsandFangs ImageNew Release from Molly Harper, writing as Jacey Conrad and Gia Corona: From Russia With Fangs! The companion novel to the best selling From Russia with Claws, this time we hear sister Irina’s story.

Synopsis: Between her family’s drunken antics and vicious verbal attacks from her so-called friends, Irina Sudenko Volkov is having the worst night ever. And that’s before she’s widowed.

Volatile, cheating, no-good Sergei’s death-by-assassin unleashes chaos in the werewolf criminal underground. Irina’s panicked Papa assigns Beta wolf Viktor Zhukovsky to Irina’s security detail until her husband’s killer is found. As Irina’s world crumbles around her, the perfect princess mask falls away and Viktor meets the sharp, passionate woman underneath. Their initial chemistry gives way to a deeper attraction when Irina begins to see the decency underneath Viktor’s gruff, tattooed exterior, despite his insistence that it doesn’t exist.

Their tendency to find themselves semi-nude and in enclosed spaces is a source of amusement to her sister, Galina, but each of them knows of the deadly consequences if their relationship is brought to light. Things get even more complicated when Papa Sudenko begins to match-make Irina and Andrey Lupesco, who also happens to be in a secret relationship with Galina. Family dinners are awkward. With danger closing in on all sides, Irina has to find her claws and learn to howl.

In the much-anticipated sequel to From Russia with Claws, readers get a new perspective of the lusty exploits of the untameable Sudenko family. Gia Corona and Jacey Conrad craft a delightful tale of the anything-but-average human Irina and the libidinous lycanthropes in her life.

Buy it on Amazon! http://amzn.to/216ghmu
And here’s Book One: http://amzn.to/1PQ5Hea
Buy it on Barnes and Noble! http://bit.ly/1NFMIhH
Add it to your TBR: http://bit.ly/GRFANGS

And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

About The Authors:

Jacey Conrad is a sushi-loving, pop culture nerd living in the South with her high school sweetheart.  She delights in horribly made mutant shark movies and watching Sean Bean die in his various cinematic incarnations.  To keep up with Jacey on twitter, go to twitter.com/JaceyConrad

Gia Corona loves boots, boys, and bourbon, not necessarily in that order. When she’s not actively stalking Michael Fassbender and his abdominals, she’s watching questionable television or reading comics. You can find her at twitter.com/Gia_writes

Top Romantic Movies, According to Jacey Conrad and Gia Corona

Gia and Jacey have very different ideas of what constitutes a good romantic movie, mostly because of Jacey’s tendency to see romance where there is none and ship ALL OF THE THINGS. So they sat down to list their top five “watch when you’re feeling sappy and need romance in your life” movies. 

Sliding Doors – I’m assuming this is a romance, there’s a romance in it anyway. I adore this movie because of the one liners and because John Hannah is utterly, ridiculously cute in it. Also because of the line, “I’m a woman! We don’t tell you what we want! But we reserve the right to get pissed off if we don’t get it. It’s what makes us so fascinating. And not a little bit scary.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Beauty and the Beast (Disney) – Seriously, you have to ask? He gives her a LIBRARY. Every book nerd girl had their ovaries explode when the Beast did that. Don’t lie, you know it’s true.

The Quiet Man – Oh Maureen O’Hara. The vibe of this movie is just so perfect. It’s Ireland (which has a special place in my heart because I went there on my honeymoon) and the townspeople are terrifically zany. And the romance between O’Hara and John Wayne is lovely. Also that brawl at the end is epic.

Sense and Sensibility – Alan. Rickman. As Colonel Brandon. Dear God, that man. When he’s staggering across the hills with Kate Winslet in his arms and his absolutely wrecked reading of “Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad”—SWOON! It just cemented my love of Alan Rickman that not even Love Actually could turn aside.

Pride and Prejudice (2005) I will always love the Gold Standard Colin Firth version, but if you don’t have eight hours to devote to watching a move, this is an excellent second choice. The music is absolutely gorgeous. I like the “earthier” interpretation that actually allows for the fact that people were living without running water or paved roads, so occasionally got dirt on their cheeks and clothes. Matthew MacFayden is not as polished as Firth as Mr. Darcy, but he has an aggressive, grumbly charm that I find very approachable and sexy. And he and Keira Knightley have chemistry to spare. I love that you get a little glimpse into their post-married life and the movie ends on a very sweet note. (PS, I’m actually shocked as hell that we both had a Jane Austen movie on our lists.)

Forgetting Sarah Marshall Maybe not the most TRADITIONAL choice in romance movies, but SO real in its depiction of a break-up and what happens when a relationship runs out of steam. To the point where it’s kind of uncomfortable. It was really refreshing to see a director/actor let a character be almost unlikeable in his wallowing and attempts to move on with his life (or not.) And when Peter (Jason Siegel) risks getting the crap beat out of him to take down the topless photo, without expecting any sort of “my hero” reward, you know that he’s grown as a person and a potential partner.

The Princess Bride No list would be complete without it. It is an action movie. It’s an adventure. It’s a magical story. But all of those elements are rooted in the belief that true love is worth fighting for, no matter what form it takes. And reading Cary Elwes’ memoir about making the film, AS YOU WISH, makes me want to watch it over and over to see the things that I missed.

Moonstruck “SNAP OUT OF IT!” Being married to someone whose personality is very different from my own, I always love seeing how Loretta’s pragmatic, sensible soul clashes but ultimately melds and merges with Ronnie’s intense but misguided passion. He helps shake off her grumpy old widow persona and her enjoy life’s pleasures. She helps him become less of a drama queen and connect with real life. They change each other for the better and the people around them are better for it.

Ever After It’s nice to see a fairy tale rooted in the tiniest bit of plausible reality. Danielle is spunky and smart, making the best of the hand she’s given. Henry is a prince not-yet-charming, but he’s willing to learn with guidance from the people around him. Yes, magical mice and glass shoes are wonderful, but seeing Leonardo DaVinci stepping in as fairy godmother was a unique take I really enjoyed, plus the costumes are gorgeous. Angela Huston is delicious as the evil Baroness. And the happily ever after features a self-rescuing princess, which is something I loved sharing with my daughter.

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Buy From Russia With Fangs on Amazon! http://amzn.to/216ghmu
And here’s From Russia With Claws: http://amzn.to/1PQ5Hea
Buy it from Barnes and Noble! http://bit.ly/1NFMIhH
Add it to your TBR: http://bit.ly/GRFANGS

This past week, you may have noticed the absence of Tuesday Reviews Day. It will be back; I haven’t fully committed myself to weekly vs. biweekly, so for right now that may remain a feature that simply occurs somewhat randomly.

I’ve still been reading regularly, and I did recently finish a great book I can’t wait to tell you about. I’ve got a few in the TBR queue and one in the box that I’m working my way through, but it’s a pretty emotionally heavy selection, so I may take awhile to get through it.

But mostly, I’ve been sloughing my way through NaNoWriMo. I don’t know if any of you have signed up, but if you have, scope out my page and add me! (My username should come as no surprise.) I can use some encouragement, to be quite honest. I write at a very weird pace, which is to say I tend to write when I feel motivated. Of course, that’s a very bad plan; motivation is fleeting, like most emotions are, and waiting for it is sometimes as productive as waiting for Godot.

I won’t “win” NaNo this year, I know that already, but honestly I’m already really proud of myself. I’ve written about 4,000 words (please stop rolling your eyes) and that’s actually a personal best for me. I’ve never written a single creative piece of that length before. It’s intimidating. I’m a short story, flash fiction, free-verse poetry type of gal, and novels just don’t come easily to me. But I’ve had this great idea knocking around in my head for quite awhile, and with the help of my amazing sister and frequent visits to Chuck Wendig’s blog, I think I’ve made some great progress toward a novel. I have an actual outline (miracle of miracles!) and a real conflict and an actual idea of the ending and how I want to get there. I know things will change between now and completion, and that’s okay. I’ve already changed a lot, to be honest. But I’m feeling really great about this.

So, are you doing NaNoWriMo? Tell me about your story! Are you pursuing some other creative passion? Are you doing something else that scares you?

…………..why not?

Tuesday Reviews Day: The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow

This week features one of the two books from the third Book Riot YA subscription box. I haven’t yet started reading the second book from that selection, mainly because after two horror novels back to back, I need a break.

The Devil and Winnie Flynn looked interesting from the start, and the neat temp tattoos that came in the box just piqued my interest that much more. The cover gives credit to a brother-sister duo; Micol wrote the novel while her brother David created the illustrations.

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Author Micol Ostow (L) and illustrator David Ostow (R)

I was pretty stoked to read it, especially with the cover blurb boasting that it will haunt me long after I finish reading (sweet!).

But first, the spoiler-free summary.

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Tuesday Reviews Day: Book Riot YA 03

Oh look at that, it’s a double-header!

This week I was thrilled to get BYA03 in the mail, Book Riot’s third Young Adult Quarterly box. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since BYA02, when I looked ahead on the calendar and realized the next box would arrive just in time for Halloween. I had pretty high hopes for it, and the folks over at Book Riot crushed it, yet again.

Book Riot's Young Adult box #03, October 2015

Book Riot’s Young Adult box #03, October 2015

This month, we’ve got two new books, both by women! Sweet. This subscription has already done wonders for my No-SCWM reading list. I’m still working my way up to truly scary reads, so let’s start with what I’m reading now: The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol Ostow, illustrated by her brother David. So far it’s leaning a little toward the lower end of the YA reading level, but I’m not finding it a problem. It just means I can get through it faster, which is excellent. You also get two cute little temp tattoos based on illustrations from the novel.

The second book this month is Daughters Unto DevilsAmy Lukavics’ debut novel. Based on the subscriber letter in the box, this one is super spooky. The letter describes it as “Little House on the Prairie meets Children of the Corn.” Oh, good. Gonna need to read this one  in broad daylight on an ultra sunny day, preferably surrounded by hundreds of people. Like, at the mall. Or a café. Yeah.

The super-cute “Sky” package you see in the middle is as handy as it is adorable; it’s basically book-safe post-its, so you can mark your favorite pages without leaving any messes or rips when you change your mind. Plus, add bunches of them and they make a cute little cloudscape on your pages! How sweet. They have tons of designs, and apparently each subscriber got something a little different. Neat! Check out all the patterns—and buy some!—at the designer’s page.

And finally, hidden under the packing strips was a cute little word art poster! Designed by Katy Dwyer, this fun print says “Fight Evil, Read Books” with some spooky decorations surrounding the text. I seriously can’t wait to find a frame to toss this in so I can hang it in my office.

Basically, Book Riot hit another one out of the park, and, while I’ve seen the original Book Riot box for this month and like what’s in it, I’m really glad I decided to stick with the YA box instead. What are you waiting for? Go sign up!

Tuesday Reviews Day: The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

This time last year, I started reading spooky books. I honestly don’t remember reading anything scary before then. But within a span of a few months, I made plans to go to a book reading/signing with several authors—including Cherie Priest, whose book Maplecroft had just come out—and then found a horror omnibus for $3 that I couldn’t resist.

And so I became a horror reader.

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