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Title: Festive in Death

Author: J.D. Robb

Genre: Mystery

Opening line: "… Men, Sima thought, can’t live with them, can’t beat them to death with a nine iron …"

Blurb: Personal trainer Trey Ziegler was in peak physical condition; if you didn’t count the kitchen knife in his well-toned chest. Lieutenant Eve Dallas soon discovers a line-up of women who’d been loved and left by the narcissistic gym rat. While Dallas sorts through the list of Ziegler’s enemies, she’s also dealing with her Christmas shopping list – plus the guest list for her and her billionaire husband’s upcoming holiday bash. Feeling less than festive, Dallas tries to put aside her distaste for the victim and solve the mystery of his death. There are just a few investigating days left before Christmas, and as New Year’s 2061 approaches, this homicide cop is resolved to stop a cold-blooded killer.

My Thoughts: FESTIVE IN DEATH is the 39th book in the mystery/romantic suspense ‘Death’ series which I never seem to tire of. I have found each of the books to be well-written with believable characters and darker edgy heart in mouth type murder investigations with enough humour to prevent you sucking your thumb in the corner. FESTIVE IN DEATH is set in Christmas 2060 – Christmas is not a season Lieutenant Eve Dallas of New York’s Homicide department is at one with, and to add insult to injury Eve’s partner, Dee Peabody, loves the season; very hard to carry out a serious investigation with Peabody strutting along in a pink leather coat! A well written story with clever dialogue and a good balance between Eve’s personal life and the murder case investigation. The investigation component starts when the murder victim’s ex-girlfriend sneaks into his flat to put itching powder in his socks. To her horror she discovers the body, with her is Eve’s hairdresser friend Trina who quickly calls Eve onto the case. So a couple of days before Christmas Eve has a murder investigation, a list of interesting suspects each with a strong reason to bump the victim off and a huge Christmas party to prepare for in the family home. Eve is smart, brave and a great friend and wife, although she does have problem with understanding the niceties of being part of the human race, getting dressed up and attending parties are one of the niceties of life she doesn’t get. Her husband Roarke is a successful businessman, Irish, very rich, smart and brave and understands her aversion to parties. And while these two love each other and there are love scenes –they are more swoon than raunchy and don’t detract from the investigation at all. Well maybe a little – but in a nice way. While the previous books have been mostly about the investigation with a little bit private life to break the tension, FESTIVE IN DEATH has part of the tension being the private life, as Eve forced into preparing for the Christmas party and being turned into a socialite for the night to cope with hundreds of guests, gifts to buy, decoration to be hung and food and wine to be organised. Mind you the bulk of those tasks fall to the Roarke and their live-in butler Summerset, all Eve has to do is turn up. For her turning up is the stressful part. Dealing with thugs, drug addicts and murderers is a piece of cake compared to parties. In the end the Christmas party happens – the murderer is found after some twists and turns and peace is temporarily restored.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

Title: 12 Daves of Christmas

Author: Juliet Madison

Genre: Romance

Opening line: "… Only 27 Days until Christmas…"

My Thoughts: 12 DAVES OF CHRISTMAS is a fun Christmas romance story with a touch of magical paranormal. When your grandmother dies you don’t expect to see her again this side of the Pearly Gates. Abby is a tad surprised when her Grandmother, Charlotte, appears in her flat and asks Abby to help to find her first love, Dave Smith, who hasn’t died yet. Charlotte always presumed that Dave Smith had died in the war as he didn’t make their pre-arranged rendezvous, but it would appear that he didn’t die and Charlotte needs closure. Abby agrees to help locate him if she can – and a quick search of the phone book comes up with 12 Dave Smiths in the surrounding area. They decide to do a 12 day road trip to find the right Dave – a Dave a day. Abby is a published Romance writer with writers block and a deadline looming she is hoping that the break will give her the mental push she needs to finish her book on time.

The storyline worked for me as it was fun without being cutesy as Abby knocked on the door of 12 perfect strangers with the name Dave – each of the Daves were totally different – pub dweller, mad cook, batting for the other team and way too young to name a few of the characters she encountered. After each Dave has been met – Charlotte has Abby write a quick character piece on each Dave – which she does to the words and tune “The 12 days of Christmas.” Eventually the right Dave is found – which being a romance I expected and would have been sorely let down if there was no Happy Ever After.

I loved this perfect quote from Grandma explaining why she liked reading romances:

“…I liked how every book had a happy ending. No matter what challenges were thrown at the characters, somehow things would always work out. Some might say that would make a boring and predictable story, but they couldn’t be more wrong.’ ‘I agree with that.’ I nodded. ‘It’s all about the journey, isn’t it? In books, and in life. We all know we’re going to die one day, but that doesn’t make life boring and predictable just because we know the ending.’…”

I love Juliet Madison’s work; all her books have kept me engrossed with poignant moments, laugh out loud situations and lots of quirky characters. She makes it feel as though it really could happen; that it is totally possible that your dead granny can ask for help finding a first love, doesn’t everyone’s?

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

Subject: 12 Days at Silver Bells House by Jennie Jones

Title: 12 Days at Silver Bells House

Author: Jennie Jones

Genre: Romance

Opening line: "… Katherine Angelica Singleton tapped her fingers on the steering wheel of her hire car and threw all thoughts of murder onto the New South Wales Monaro Highway behind her…"

My Thoughts: I first visited Swallow Falls last year when I read ‘The House on Burra Burra Lane’ and fell in love with the place and the people. Then Sam and Ethan were the focus – brought together by a very large pig. 12 DAYS AT SILVER BELLS HOUSE takes place a year later and Sam and Ethan have gone off on a belated honeymoon and arranged for Kate to stay at Silver Bells House to get away from her high pressure fashion business and come to a decision about her company’s future. Kate is tired, it is a few days before Christmas and she has flown into Canberra from New York and got straight into the rental car to make her way to Swallow Falls – cue in pooping parrots – yes a flock of the feathered squawking monsters fly over Kate’s rental car and all poop on the windscreen causing Kate to suddenly be driving blind – she ends up crashing through a wooden gate and bogged in a muddy paddock. A few minutes later the hunky Jamie Knight appears beside her car and carries both Kate and her box of Chardonnay over the mud to safety. It seems that author Jennie Jones likes using country critters to bring her couples together, first the pig and now the parrots, because Jamie is the other half of this romantic Christmas story. When Kate tells him the address of her holiday rental he is a tad surprised as he has brought the place and it is certainly not a holiday rental anymore. Ever the gentleman though he offers to let her stay with him so she can have her rest. Over the next twelve days Kate is slowly absorbed into the little community and its Christmas celebrations, but eventually she has to make a decision about her future.

12 DAYS AT SILVER BELLS HOUSE is a great little story which just oozes with personality. Lots of characters from the first book are here – but is certainly a stand-alone story and you don’t need to have read ‘The House on Burra Burra Lane’ to enjoy this one. There is lots of emotion, lots of sage advice and witty dialogue that kept me flipping the pages. Oh and there is Chardonnay and ice-cream too!!! It certainly filled the spot until the release of ‘The House at the Bottom of the Hill’ in January.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Escape Publishing and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

The Aussie Author Challenge is back for its 6th year: http://bookloverbookreviews.com/reading-challenges/aussie-author-challenge-2015

Challenge Period: 1 January 2015 – 31 December 2015

Challenge level: KANGAROO (there are two other levels below this)

– Read and review 12 titles written by Australian Authors of which at least 4 of those authors are female, at least 4 of those authors are male, and at least 4 of those authors are new to you;

– At least 6 fiction and at least 2 non-fiction, and at least 2 titles first published in 2014 or 2015.

My proposed list so far (subject to change at my whim):

1. The Bellamy Bird by Clare Havens (Female, Fiction and New)

2. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman (Female, Fiction, 2014)

3. Our Kind of Love by Victoria Purman (Female, Fiction, 2014)

4. The Rosie Effect by Graham Simsion (Male, Fiction)

5. Half moon Bay by Helene Young (Female, Fiction)

6. Reserved for Non-fiction

7. Reserved for Non-fiction

8. Reserved for male author

9. Reserved for male author

10. Reserved for male author

11.

12.

If you want to join in please click through to Booklover Book Reviews to learn more details and sign up

Attention Bingo lovers the Full House Reading Challenge – 2015 is another challenge being run by Kathryn on her ‘Book Date’ blog:

http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/2014/11/full-house-reading-challenge-2015.html

The Challenge: Complete the card below.

· You can do it in any order you wish – but the aim is to have a Full House (i.e. read 25 books) by the end of 2015.

· You are allowed “one free exchange”, if there is something on the square you really dislike you may change it to something of your choice. Once you have played this free choice that is it. Mention the exchange in the final summary post.

Here is the “Bingo” card:

This is a new challenge I am trying for this year – and being able to cross use books from other challenges makes it much easier. I will update the list below as I go.

1. Library book:

2. A top book of 2015 for me:

3. I heard about this book online:

4. Set in Southern hemisphere:

5. Published in 2015:

6. Novella:

7. Setting that you now want to visit:

8. Award winning:

9. First in a Series:

10. A Keeper:

11. Author that is not Australian:

12. Book by an Author I really like:

13. Free Choice:

14. Published 2000-2013:

15. Outstanding hero or heroine:

16. Won or Borrowed:

17. Set in Northern hemisphere:

18. Debut novel by author:

19. Published pre-2000:

20. Author new to me:

21. 2nd book or more in a series:

22. Been on your TBR pile forever:

23. Published in 2014:

24. Type of book I rarely, or never, read

25. I love the cover of:

My Challenge commitments are coming thick and fast at the moment – but it is the time of the year to sort through the hundreds on offer in the blogging world and select those that appeal the most!

This is the 6th year that the Official TBR Pile Challenge has been run and was started because http://roofbeamreader.com/ had major issues buying books but never reading them and for year after year the books would sit on her shelf, untouched, and the newer ones seemed to get read first. She realized she was missing out on a lot of great books because she had let them sit there gathering dust instead of reading them as she bought them. DON’T WE ALL!!!!!!!

SO the Goal of the Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge?: To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile (within 12 months).

Some of the specifics:

· Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list for AT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2014 or later (any book published in the year 2013 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile – I WILL be checking publication dates). Caveat: Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile.

· Leave comments on this post as you go along, to update us on your status. Come back here if/when you complete this challenge and leave a comment indicating that you CONQUERED YOUR 2015 TBR LIST! Every person who successfully reads his/her 12 books and/or alternates (and who provides a working link to their list, which has links to the review locations) will be entered to win a $50 gift card from Amazon.com or The Book Depository!

· Crossovers from other challenges are totally acceptable, as long as you have never read the book before and it was published before 2014!

*Note – You can read the books on your list in any order; they do not need to be read in the order you have them listed. As you complete a book – review it, and go back to your original list and turn that title into a link to the review – that will keep the comments section here from getting ridiculously cluttered.

If you want to join in the fun as well click here to sign up and get more details

My list of 12 TBRs:

1. Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister (2011)

2. An Unexpected Blessing by Unoma Nwankwor (2013)

3. Choral Society by Prue Leith (2009)

4. A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke (2008)

5. Popeye never told you by Rodney Hall (2010)

6. Three Moons over Sedona by Sherry Hartzler (2009)

7. A Scottish Ferry Tale by Nancy Volkers (2010)

8. The Diva Takes the Cake by Krista Davis (2009)

9. Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole (2013)

10. Much Ado about Magic by Shanna Swendson (2012)

11. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (2012)

12. A Truth for a Truth by Emilie Richards (2010)

Plus two alternatives:

1. Touch not the cat by Mary Stewart (1976)

2. The Hive by Gill Hornby (2013)

  

Here is another reading challenge I am doing in 2015 is the 2015 Women’s Fiction Reading Challenge being run by Kathryn on her ‘Book Date’ blog:

http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/2014/12/2015-womens-fiction-reading-challenge.html

This challenge is for those who enjoy reading women’s fiction. This definition from Women Fiction Writers (no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels) is the best one around for me:

“…Lordy, lordy! Is it fiction for women or fiction written by women? Is it feminist fiction? Is it any book with a female protagonist? Is women’s fiction simply an dumping genre for writing that isn’t romance but isn’t quite literary? Is it anything that just wouldn’t appeal to most men? Does it have to be about a family or does that make it a family drama and is that different? Must the protag be over thirty but under sixty? Figuring this out has exhausted me and I write women’s fiction. Can you imagine how hard it is for folks who don’t write it to understand exactly what we’re doing? To me, women’s fiction is a book about a woman or women. Ok, that’s the not the hard part. The hard part is that the protagonist’s journey is about self-discovery, self-preservation, self-acceptance or self-improvement. And this journey is taken in the company of others who affect the main character, influence her, but do not save her. In women’s fiction, the main character saves herself. Are there romantic undertones in some women’s fiction? Absolutely. Is it the driving force of the novel? No. Is it what makes the main character tick? No. Could there be some paranormal elements in some women’s fiction? Sure. Is it the driving force of the novel? No. Is it what makes the main character tick? No…Women’s fiction isn’t the same as chick-lit (and I love chick-lit). To me, chick lit is always light in tone and nature and voice — and that’s not always true of women’s fiction…The driving force of women’s fiction is the motivation of the main character to get herself from point A to point B to point C, learning and changing and growing and making mistakes along the way. What makes a women’s fiction main character tick is the methods by which she learns and changes and grows and makes mistakes. Women’s fiction tackles extraordinary real life issues and emotions…A journey to find a man or a new pair of Christian Louboutins are both worthy journeys indeed but for the sake of this blog, and my sanity, women’s fiction is commercial and/or literary work that focuses on a women’s journey of self. Whether or not she wears high heels…”

So what is the challenge?

Is very simple – using the above description read some Women’s Fiction books that fit.

Levels

•Motivated 1- 5

•Savvy 6 – 10

Classy 11- 20

•Go-getter 20 -30

•Fearless 30+

I am going to commit to Classy (read between 11 and 20) – then see how much year is left and maybe review the situation upwards.

I have 4 that fit the challenge on my TBR pile that I will read – the rest I will post as I do it (Title in Italics – haven’t read)

My List

1. Choral Society by Prue Leith

2. Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

3. Happiness Key by Emilie Richards

4. The Hive by Gill Hornby

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