A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Places in Time (Time Is Eternity) by Cardeno C. and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

places-in-time-audiobookThis audiobook was very short but managed to pack a lot of the back story of the many years that best friends Ethan Baker and Jude Harrison have spent together by using a twist on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Ethan is a famous, award-winning actor, considered to be the “Sexiest Man Alive” and Jude is an extremely talented, but equally introverted, musician who prefers to stay well out of the limelight as he supports his friend’s career.

What Ethan learns late one night, as he’s on his way to Jude’s house, is the extent of just how much support Jude has given him over the years. It also finally dawns on him just how much Jude loves him and how much he loves Jude.

I enjoyed the way the author intertwined their lives together, allowing enough leeway for Ethan to be clueless while we readers were seeing what was really happening.  I also enjoyed the Dickens-like twist to the story.  And the narration of John Solo added to my enjoyment as he gave each of the characters a distinct voice. 

What I didn’t enjoy as much was the quick jump to anal sex by someone who didn’t realize he was in love with a man until a few hours before.  It just didn’t feel right. In fact, this is one of those stories that would have benefited from a fade to black sex scene.  And for someone who normally enjoys this writer’s way with words in the bedroom, that’s saying a lot.  She does hot and sizzling very well, but in this case, it didn’t click for me. 

However, if you are looking for a pleasant way to spend your day, by all means pick this one up. 

Cover art is eye catching and warm.

Sales Links

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio, Length: 1 hr and 41 mins
Published June 27th 2016 by The Romance Authors, LLC (first published May 31st 2012)
ASINB01HIJ0F78
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesTime Is Eternity

Review: Wake Me Up Inside (Mates #1) by Cardeno C

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Rating: 4 stars

Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno CZev Hassick has always been attracted to Jonah Marvel from his first memory of the man. They were children and Jonah was a toddler playing in his backyard.   It was Zev’s first shifter change and his travels brought him near the Marvel home.  But it was toddler  Jonah that brought him closer and the child too sensed the connection, coming over to play with the wolf pup.  From then on, they were inseparable as time and again, Zev worked to attend the same schools as Jonah, pursuing a relationship with the human that was frowned upon in the shifter world.

Then Jonah goes away to college to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor, putting a strain not only on their relationship but on Zev as a shifter in need of his mate.  As the son of the Alpha, Zev was expected to find a female shifter and mate, not only to produced progeny but to remain healthy.  But Zev has never been attracted to anyone but Jonah and it wasn’t until high school that he realized that it wasn’t just a deep friendship he had with Jonah but a mate bond.  But Jonah’s humanity and college goals stopped Zev from claiming him, also from even telling Jonah that he was a shifter.

Now Jonah is about to graduate from college and its time for all the secrets to come out.  But Jonah isn’t well.  He feels like he is losing his mind.  And his father’s behavior is unsettling.  Not all the secrets belong to Zev.  Will Zev and Jonah’s relationship be able to withstand the tumultuous events on the horizon or will the secrets of the past tear them apart?

Wake Me Up Inside is the first book in the Mate series from Cardeno C and I can’t wait for more.  Cardeno C has a straightforward narrative that delivers the story in a manner that makes it easy for the reader to follow the timeline of Jonah and Zev’s relationship as it grows from childhood to adult.  There are just enough flashbacks to explain their history without it overwhelming the story. I  found the  flashback to Jonah and Zev as toddlers especially endearing.  Take a good long look at that marvelous cover and it gives you an accurate picture of a scene in the book.  Boy and wolf pup and Jonah and Zev, always together no matter the form Zev is in.  How does that idea not draw you in?

It is the characterizations that make or break a story for me and in Zev and Jonah we get two characters to connect with immediately.  Zev is wonderful as a shifter with huge expectations placed on his shoulder by his father and pack at an early age,  The author lets us watch as Zev shoulders these responsibilities with ingenuity and grace as he ages.  He accepts his role as future Alpha and then makes it his own.  Zev is just a lovely creation and he was easy to relate to. So was his mate, Jonah who had plenty of problems of his own.  His father was full of secrets and extremely overprotective.  But his ease at accepting his sexuality and his own depths of compassion and responsibility made him a perfect match for Zev and the reader.

I liked the concept of the shifter society as one held back by its own traditions and isolation.  I just wished it had been explored a little more throughly.  We get bits and pieces of shifter law and lore but establishing a firmer back story for the Pack governing structure would have helped at the end of the story when all sorts of leaders and governing agents appear at of  nowhere.  The same lack of back story popped up again towards the end when an unexpected pair bonding becomes an essential part of Zen and Jonah’s story.  It is not much of a spoiler to tell you one is a vampire and until that is revealed I had no idea that vampires were part of this universe.  I wish that had been folded into the story earlier on so its appearance would have been less startling and made more sense.

My few quibbles aside, this is a terrific addition to the current wolf shifter fiction available.  I hope that each new story will give us more information about the Mate universe Cardeno C is creating.  I anticipate that Zev and Jonah will make a reappearance and a certain couple gets their story told.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  This was a Best Cover of 2012.  Just look at the pictures, the composition and its relation to the story within….all perfection.  I never tire of looking at it.

March Came Roaring In Like a Lion and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Remember last March in Maryland?  The sun was shining over plants newly emerged from the ground,  our temperatures hovered in the high 70’s after experiencing absolutely no winter at all.  Birds were nesting, the butterflies were flying, and thoughts of picnics and outdoor barbecue dinners molded our grocery lists.  Even now I can bask in the memories….

Now switch to present day and the snow flurries I saw swirling around in clear defiance that it was March.  It was cold and dark clouds made sure the sun never made an appearance.  I stopped to look at the pansies with their smiling faces at Good Earth and thought “not in a million years am I hanging around outside to plant you so bugger off”,  channeling some Brits I know.  Those of you in the middle of huge snowstorms or still in recovery from the same are probably wanting to smack me over such piddling weather.  Me too.  I do realize it could be so much worse but this dang climate change has upped our expectations for March beyond all reasonability, hence the whining.

On the other hand, it does give me time to spend with plant catalogs, and go to a whine oops wine and cooking demonstration like I did  yesterday.  Had the weather been gorgeous, I would have been outside and missed a Mahi Mahi cooked in a buirre blanc sauce to die for, a lovely Coq au vin and a porc du rose, just a lovely 3 hours spent with nice people, great wines and food and a very funny Chef Read.  So highs and lows, cold and hot, one friend moves away and I get the chance to meet others. Life, the weather and changing climate keeps springing changes upon us whether (ha!) we are ready or not, usually mostly not.   Hmmmm,..rambling here again.

So where were we? Ah yes, the week ahead.  Hopefully that will see the Caps win, the Nats all heathly and happy in Florida, honestly don’t care what’s going on with the “Skins, and new recipes to try out.  I will be finishing up the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries series this week and it will be sad to say goodbye to Jonty and Orlando.  Look for a post full of Q & A with Charlie Cochrane to post the day following.  She was wonderful in answering all the questions that kept popping into my brain as I finished All Lessons Learned.  We have a mixed bag of new and familiar authors here, something for everyone I believe.  So here is the way it is scheduled so far:

Monday, March 4:                     Spot Me by Andrew Grey

Tuesday, March 5:                     Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno C

Wed., March 6:                           Velocity by Amelia C. Gormley

Thursday, March 7:                    Lessons for Survivors by Charlie Cochrane

Friday, March 8:                         A Cambridge Fellows Q & A with Charlie Cochrane

Saturday, March 9:                     His Best Man by Treva Harte

So there it is, a really good week ahead.  Now if just those blasted snow clouds would go away I might just think about planting some pansies….

Dreamspinner Advent Story Roundup – Part II and List of Story Recommendations

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This post will finish up our Dreamspinner Advent Story Roundup started on Saturday, January 4, 2013.Aunt Dee Dee's Holiday Check

A Charming Idea by Alex Mar

Rating: 4.5 stars

DSP: Having fallen on hard times, London-based wizard Evan keeps his charms shop open on Christmas Eve. When he finally gets home, he finds his neighbor, Kian, languishing with a wound that hasn’t healed properly. He takes Kian in and they share the Christmas roast from their neighbor, Mrs. Halfpenny—neither suspecting the magic in the marinade that will make their holiday especially merry.

Alex Mar has written a real charmer of a story in A Charming Idea.  I loved everything about this tale, from the characters to the enchanting descriptions of Evan’s Charm shop to the pixies in his apartment.  I so wished I was able to actually appear in his shop and be able to see for myself the tiny reindeer prancing and peering about the other charms on the old wooden shelves or see the snow butterflies lighting up the firefly glasses.  Even the angel on top of his Christmas tree snored lightly in her sleep and fluttered her wings while dreaming. Entrancing doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The characters themselves were as magical and magnetic as their surroundings.  Evan with his wild mop of red hair and Kian, the mysterious neighbor with his  black cloak and quiet,somewhat menacing demeanor filled me with delight and anticipation.  I couldn’t wait to see how Alex Mar was going to bring them together and Mar didn’t disappoint me.  In fact, my only quibble with this story is that it is far too short.  I wanted to know more about Kian with the phoenix tattooed on the side of his face marking him as a Wizard Guard.  And I wanted to know more about those Wizard Guards who patrol the area.  And Evan’s father whose stags would have been sent to bring Evan home for Christmas if he hadn’t needed to keep his shop open.  There are so many delicious details here that cry out for a larger narrative that I almost couldn’t believe it when the story ended.  Alex Mar, if you are listening, please revisit this wonderful universe you created and give us the story it is meant to have.  Really, if you love fantasy, you will absolutely adore this story.

Aunt Dee Dee’s Holiday Check by Joel Skelton

Rating: 4.25 stars

DSP: After his Aunt Dee Dee sends him a windfall, Ethan decides to bail on the family holiday drama and go on a college skiing trip instead. Then a reservation snafu lands him in the same room as Henry, another student on the trip, and Ethan stumbles onto a bonus present of another kind: one that could last through Christmas and beyond.

Joel Skelton, where you been?  I loved this story and both Ethan and Henry grabbed me from the start.  At 65 pages, it is a longer story than most but Skelton uses that length to slowly build up Ethan and Henry’s backstories as well as give us a slower climb into a relationship.  Skelton’s characters are marvels, more than just sketches, we get fully fleshed out human beings on every level of the story, not just the main characters. I especially loved Ethan’s Aunt Dee Dee of the title.  She is a lesbian who the family disowned and now she is trying to reconnect with them. Aunt Dee Dee, along with her partner Agnes, sent Ethan the check that changes his life.

This is how she describes herself and Agnes:  ”

“We’re day traders by profession, lunatics by disposition, and we like to drink.” Agnes spelled it out. “And smoke,” Auntie D added with a snort.”

How do you know love these two and want to seriously party with them?  The whole story continues in that vein.  It’s funny, heartwarming and is never overly saccharine. Nor does it fall into the trap of instant love for Henry and Ethan, just a lovely romantic weekend with the future of more  waiting them.  Perfect.  This is the reason I loved getting the Dreamspinner Advent stories.  New authors to look up and the possibility of new stories to discover.  If I hadn’t gotten the entire package, I would have missed out on this author  and many others.

The Christmas Snoop by Jean Wolfe

Rating: 3.25 stars

DSP:  After going on a present hunt while his boyfriend, Matt, is in the office, James finds several things he didn’t expect, including photos of Matt in a Christmas jumper, an old teddy bear, and several letters to Santa Claus—one of which states that Matt doesn’t need anything for Christmas because he has James. It seems Matt has been a very good boy this year….

This is one very cute story about a snooping boyfriend, looking around for his presents and finding much more than his expected.  It was sweet, nicely written and a lovely present to find on my computer that December morning.  The characterizations were well developed and the short story  about two men who love each other was completely angst free.  While I don’t feel any need to reread this story, I certainly enjoyed the time I spent with Matt and James.

Rudolph by Sam C. Leonhard

Rating: 3 stars

DSP: Crotchety and cranky Rudy—aka Santa—is in a foul mood every Christmas season. He talks to lots of children and even more parents but not with guys looking for dates. Only when his best helper makes him a very special gift does he meet someone to his liking. Kind of. Because that someone is made of flour and spices—and to impress him, Rudy seriously has to work on his seduction skills.

This is a story that you are either going to dislike it or love it, depending upon how you feel about your Christmas figures.  This will not surprise anyone who has been following my reviews of the holiday stories, but I am coming down on the side of not liking Rudolph.  Here is Santa (son of Santa) who is cranky, hates Christmas and all the trappings, rude to children, with the patience of a pouting child.  It is not spoiling things to tell you that someone decides to gift this curmudgeonly Santa with his own cookie man for Christmas to teach him a thing or two.

Really, someone has to create a man for Santa? Sigh.  The only reason this story has three stars is because despite my dislike for the subject matter, the story is very well written, the characters crystalline in form, and the ending open and full of possibilities.   Some people will adore this story.  So I will recommend it and let you make up your own mind.

This is the second time I have gotten the entire month of Advent stories from Dreamspinner Press and have exactly the same reaction as I did the first time around, that you end up with a mix grab bag of stories.  Most are wonderful, some very nice, some forgettable and a few that resembled lumps of coal.

So I am sure you are wondering, is it worth the price to buy them all or should you wait and purchase them one at a time?  Well, after some thought, I think that it is worth the price, even with the uneven quality in the stories.  I did love getting a new story every morning, that was fun.  And I found some new authors I might not have discovered any other way.  I shudder to think that I might have missed out on Cardeno C’s Eight Days or Kim Fielding’s A Great Miracle Happened There.  The Colors of Pastor Saul by SA Garcia made me think and The Ghost of Mistletoe Lock by Amy Rae Durreson  brought back memories of Christmas ghosts past.  Amy Lane’s Turkey in the Snow can make me laugh just thinking about the scene that produced the title and Andrew Grey’s Snowbound to Nowhere was full of holiday delight and wonder.  And then there was Alex Mar and Joel Skelton too.

So many gifts were received this Evergreen Advent month that I heartily recommend you try it next season.  But don’t wait until then to read these stories, pick them up now and capture the glow of Christmas past!

Here is the list of the stories I loved in no particular order:

Eight Days by Cardeno C

Turkey in the Snow by Amy Lane

Snowbound to Nowhere by Andrew Grey

A Great Miracle Happened There by Kim Fielding

Aunt Dee Dee’s Holiday Check by Joel Skelton

A Charming Idea by Alex Mar

The Ghost of Mistletoe Lock by Amy Rae Durreson

Traditions from the Heart by Bru Baker

The Colors of Pastor Saul by S.A. Garcia

Wish List by J.J. Cassidy

Lessons Learned, Wishes Earned by Cassandra Gold

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Book Wishes for 2013 – Authors, are you Listening?

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Book Wishes for 2013:

While everyone has been busy making New Year’s resolutions, I have been thinking about what I would wish for 2013 in books.  Turns out I have quite a few wishes, some  I would like to share in hopes they reach an author’s ear or more…..

❋I wish that 2013 brings a new book from JL Langley, this one to feature Sterling and Rhys, her wolf shifters…boy have we been waiting for their story.

❋I wish that 2013 brings another book in the Knitting series from Amy Lane *cough Jeremy cough*

❋I wish that 2013 brings Roan, Dylan, Holden, and the rest back with a fervor because Andrea Speed is killing me with anticipation over what the virus is going to do to Roan next.

❋I wish that Josh Lanyon is relaxed and happy from his sabbatical and ready to unleash some new books on his adoring fans.

❋I wish that I finally have time to start and finish JP Barnaby‘s Lost Boy series.

❋I wish that when authors are describing human eyes, the term “orb” doesn’t even come to mind as a word choice.  Really, people, you are making me mental with this one.  No more “his adoring blue orbs”.  Do you hear how dumb that sounds?  Magical orbs, alien orbs, fine.  Human orbs, no. Emphatically, unwaveringly, absolutely no.  See my Vocabulary Gone Bad series.

❋Ditto man tits.

❋I wish to that Abigail Roux doesn’t hurt Ty and Zane too badly in her next Cut & Run series, but that probably won’t happen.

❋I wish to see fewer instances of “instalove”, more measured steps towards a romantic relationship.

❋I wish that 2013 brings new stories about the Roughstock gang (BA Tortuga) and see Sam further along in his recovery.

❋I wish that Mary Calmes gives us another story in her werepanther universe and Domin Thorne and Yuri, really love those two.

❋I wish that I start taking my time reading books I have been waiting for instead of rushing through them (and then having to start over).  Patience, I need more patience.

❋I wish that when authors put their characters through hell (rape, savage attacks etc), there is no instant recovery without any effects from the abuse.  If you are going to go there, then at least make what happens to these people realistic all the way through.  No brutal multiple rapes and then joyful snowmobiling through the countryside. This makes me crazy too.

❋I wish that Andrew Grey is as prolific as he was in 2012.  I need more  Range stories and Taste of Love series.

❋I wish that 2013 let’s me finish and write the rest of the reviews for Charlie Cochrane‘s outstanding Cambridge Fellows series, really I have no good excuse for this one, time just got away from me.

❋I wish that RJ Scott continues to write in her Sanctuary series, love those boys and TJ Klune brings back more bad poetry from the Kid as well as the Kid himself.

❋I wish to see less rushed endings and more complete backstories.

❋My wish for Sarah Black is for the Pacific Northwest to be as big a muse as the American southwest has been in the past.

❋I wish for more great m/m science fiction.

❋I wish for more in the Wick universe from Megan Derr.

❋I wish for anything new from Laura Baumbach.

❋I wish to see Tucker Springs explode with stories from many of my favorite authors (Marie Sexton, Heidi Cullinan and LA Witt).

❋I wish for more of the Bellingham Mysteries from Nicole Kimberling and Bellski stories from Astrid Amara.

❋I wish that 2013 let’s me discover more new authors I can’t live without.  Thank you, 2012 for RC Cooper, Amelia C. Gormley, Rodney Ross, Shira Anthony, Poppy Denison, Marguerite Labbe, Joel Skelton, Katey Hawthorne, Piper J. Vaughn, Cardeno C, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane to name the ones that jump into my fogged brain this morning.

❋I wish to thank those authors whose stories I have been reading for sometimes for the continued enjoyment and hours of escape you have given me and so many other readers…..Ariel Tachna, Ethan Day, Anne Tenino, James Buchanan, SJ Frost, Josephine Myles, Willa Okati, Carole Cummings, Isabelle Rowan, Kate Steele, Lynn Lorenz, and so many others (again fogged brain from late night and Redskins game).

❋And a final wish for 2013 is for people to remember and rediscover the wonderful Home series by William Neale, an author who will truly be missed.

So that’s it, all my pathetic brain can spew out today.  I am sure there is much more trying to battle their way forward but they will have to wait.  A shout out to all the couples in Maryland that starting getting married at 12:01am this morning. Congratulations and a Happy New Year.  I will be leaving you all with a picture of Kirby in his New Year’s finest, please note the black leis, a nice touch don’t you think to go with his tiara?

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Scattered Thoughts Best Book Covers of 2012

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Once again its time to talk book covers and book cover design.  I have talked previously about my favorite covers from childhood and how the mere sight of a great cover in the window of a bookstore would draw me in like the scent of cheese to a mouse.  If the cover is the magnet the publisher and author uses to attract readers, there are certain principles of design that used to be taken into consideration to make that cover the one that grabs peoples attention, that yells look at me, that makes them want to know what that book is about.

For printed books, the designer has to look at several things such as book size, typographic palette (how blocks of text are located on a cover), book covers, book spines and fonts. With respect to eBooks, spines aren’t relevant, nor is book size, at least how it is normally used in the publisher world. It’s not the actual physical size that matters here with eBooks but that readers are often looking at a smaller graphic when choosing eBooks.  So now smaller has to make an even greater impact.  All the other design elements remain the same.  Book covers, whether for print or electronic books, must be compelling enough to make the reader to choose that book, to persuade the customer that what is inside is fascinating, marvelous stuff.

Another rule is that the book cover should match the book it is being designed for. Whether the design is simple or rich in detail, elegant or street tough, uses a cover model or an illustration, there should be no disconnect between the subject matter inside and out.  I can’t tell you how many times I thought nice cover but what does it have to do with the subject of the book? And it if is a book series, then all the covers should be similar enough to brand each book a part of a series, one glance tells you who the author is and what series you are reading (ex. Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series with a singular object on the cover). A great book cover makes you anticipate, endows you with a need to discover.

On every review I write I also mention the covers and the cover artists.  There are always some cover artists who continue to turn out one enticing cover after another, there are some artists you  can identify just by looking at the style of the design or paintings on the cover (Paul Richmond, Posh Gosh). And then this year saw a new artist or two whose cover reached out with it’s compelling designs and emotional overtones.  This  year also saw a trend towards retro illustrations and design which I loved and others whose richness in color and detail left me gasping in delight.  It was hard to narrow the covers down as there were so many worthy of mention, so I did break it down into a few categories.

So here they are, Scattered Thoughts Best Covers of 2012(with apologies in advance for the formatting problems):

Historical Novels:

On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch by Shelter Somerset/Artist Anne Cain

The Mystery of Ruby Lode by Scotty Cade / Artist Reese Dante

The Celestial by Barry Brennessel/ Artist Winterheart Designs

On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch2

The Mystery of Ruby Lode 2

The Celestial 2

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Contemporary Novels:

Acrobat by Mary Calmes/ Artist Anne Cain

Mine by Mary Calmes/Artist Anne Cain

Mourning Heaven by Amy Lane/Artist Paul Richmond

Sidecar by Amy Lane/Artist Shoshana Appavu

Time Gone By by Jan Suzukawa/Artist Anne Cain

Turkey in the Snow by Amy Lane/Artist Catt Ford

Wake Me Up Inside by Cardeno C/Artist Reese Dante

Acrobat2

Mine 2

Mourning Heaven 2

 Sidecar2

Wake me up inside  2

Turkey in the Snow cover

Time Gone By cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy/Supernatural Novels:

The Ronin and The Fox by Cornelia Grey/Artist Nathie

A Token of Time by Ethan Day/Artist Winterheart Design

roninandthefox_2

A Token of Time 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Novels:

Burn by TJ Klune/Artist Catt Ford

Josh of the Damned, Triple Feature by Andrea Speed/Artist LC Chase

Riot Boy by Katey Hawthorne/Artist P.L. Nunn

Burn2

Riotboy2

Josh of the Damned TripleFeature2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Series:

Infected Series by Andrea Speed/ Artist Anne Cain

Knitting series by Amy Lane/Artist Catt Ford

Leopard’s Spots series by Bailey Bradford/Artist Posh Gosh

Lost Gods by Megan Derr/Artist London Burdon

Gilbert 2

Stone Rose 2

Infected Lesser Evils 2

How to Raise An Honest Rabbit cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were so many others I wished to include and I know you have your favorites too.  Write and let me know who you feel should have been on that list (King Perry, Fallout to name a few that came close).  Check out the individual reviews to see the covers in greater detail and read about the books they so beautifully covered!

Play It Again Charlie cover

Holiday Stories, Dreamspinner Advent Stories – Sneak Peek at Next Week in Reviews

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As I  have said many times before, I love holiday stories, it doesn’t matter whose holiday, Jewish, Christian, Pagan, I just love them.  Love what they  stand for, the angst, the family traditions, unrealistic hopes and dreams for that perfect holiday dinners, the high drama and love in all its permutations that seems to come out at the holidays, and of course, holiday miracles both little and huge.

So here are some holiday stories and ratings for the first week in December, I adored each and every one of them.  There is really something for everyone, check them out.

Holiday Stories:                   Eight Days by Cardeno C – review here

                                                  Turkey in the Snow by Amy Lane – Rating 4.75 stars to be reviewed with Andrew Grey’s story next week

                                                  Snowbound in Nowhere by Andrew Grey – Rating 4.5 stars – reviewed next week

                                                 Lessons Learned, Wishes Earned by Cassandra Gold – Rating  4.5 stars – reviewed next week

                                                 New York Christmas by RJ Scott –   Rating 4.5 stars (loved this too!) to be reviewed on the 10th

The Christmas Throwaway by RJ Scott – Rating 5 stars, review coming up next week.  This story came out last year but it is so darned great that I The Christmas Throwawaywill be reviewing it this year in hopes that people will pick it up. Had me sniffling but good.  It is now available at RJ Scott’s website, Love Land Books.

And of course, there will be other book reviews posted as well, including Amelia C. Gormley’s Acceleration, 2nd book in her trilogy.  It is not to be missed.  So next week it’s double the books, double the fun!  No stress, really I’m fine. *grabs the nearest bottle of Cabernet*  Woohoo, tis the season to be jolly!!!! OK, no singing I promised the dogs (and the neighbors) never again, all those sirens and lights, never a good thing.  The whole list for next week will be up on Sunday along with the first of the Winter cocktail recipes.  See you on Sunday.

ps thanks, StealthMountain, peek not peak.  Typing and Nyquil is never a good mix.

Review of Eight Days by Cardeno C

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Rating: 5 stars

Eight Days (Evergreen)Maccabe Fried and Josh Segal have virtually grownup together, curtesy of their parents who are the closest of friends.  They have spent their vacations together, celebrated the Jewish holidays together and even attended the same schools.  And through the ages, one thing never changed, they were always the best of friends even though they had nothing in common.  Maccabe was obsessed over baseball, sure in his knowledge of himself that one day he would play in the major leagues and become one of the best players ever.  Josh, on the other hand, had absolutely no interest in sports.  Josh loved his legos, and books, and the snow globes that Maccabe bought him every year for Hanukkah.  But somewhere as both boys aged into their teenage years, things changed.  Maccabe started noticing Josh in a way he usually noticed girls to his total amazement.  And Josh? Well, it turned out that Josh had always had a crush on Maccabe.

A revelation turns into a stolen kiss which morphs into a hidden love affair that lasts several years.  Hidden because Maccabe is still obsessed over having a career in baseball, and everything else comes second, including Josh.  As Maccabe climbs from college baseball and into the minor league, things remain the same, not even their parents know they are a couple. And Josh decides he is tired of hiding their relationship. One night Josh explodes, yelling at Maccabe that either Maccabe tells everyone that he is gay and they are a couple or it is over.  Maccabe hesitates, Josh is devastated and runs away before Maccabe can stop him.

But Fate is not through with either of them, and it is the season of Miracles.  And it all starts one night at Hannukkah.

Eight Days is that most wondrous of holiday stories that combines laughter and angst in equal measure and the final product is a story I will return to year after year.  While not Jewish, I have always enjoyed the few Jewish stories of Hannukkuh that appeared at this time of year, usually the Bellski series from Astrid Amara.  But Cardeno C has given us a classic tale of two families and their sons, Josh and Maccabe, and the traditions that bind us together.  I will let you know right off the bat, that my daughter knew a Maccabe all through elementary and middle school.  Baseball obsessed, he devoted all his time to the sport and went on to play minor league ball and I can see him in Maccabe so clearly.  Cardeno  C understands adolescence and teenagers.  The author grasps that what can come across as self absorbed is sometimes just a focus so strong that it can obliterate everything else on the outskirts, even people who love you.  When you are that young and that centered on one thing, you can come across as a bit dense, and self centered just as Maccabe does, but that is the beauty of his character.  He is absolutely realistic in every way.  I felt I knew him intimately because he was a realistic kid.   The same with Josh.  Young, more orientated inward towards puzzles,school and chess. Just take a quick mental trip back to a class of yours and you will find that a “Josh” pops into your head almost immediately.  C Cardeno gets every facet of their lives perfectly, right down to their very distinct voices she creates for each of them. Perfect characterizations in perfectly realized situations, how I adore this story.

And how I loved the adult Maccabe, so self assured that he almost comes across as arrogant, Maccabe has matured into the man he was meant to be and the one Josh needs so badly.  Sigh.  And finally we get the ending they both deserve and the one we have been waiting for.  I love Eight Days and am putting on my Advent list of stories I reread every holiday season.

Available at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and All Romance.