Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 10 Books of 2014

Hello Lovelies!
As I sit here sipping my tea and nibbling my toast watching the fog burn off, I find myself a bit shocked that today is the last day of 2014. The year seemed to fly by and what a crazy one it was.
Seeing as this is the end of the year, I thought I would share my top ten books of 2014. While some of these books may not have earned the top rating, these are the books that stuck with me.

10-9-8 Swift River Valley Series by Carla Neggars—Hidden treasure, treasure hunters, mysteries, pirate lore, billionaires, swashbucklers, and sweet romances. This series has it all.
#7—Hot and Bothered by Kate Meader—This novel definitely left me hot and bothered.

#6—AllFor You by Jessica Scott—A very poignant, true-to-life romance that will bring you to tears.

#5—WickedTemptation: A Nemesis, Unlimted Novel by Zoe Archer—Loved it. Marco Black most definitely wins the best hero of 2014 award.  
#4—TheUnwanted Wife by Natasha Anders—The characters still are roaming through my head.
#3—TheCollector by Nora Roberts—I’m so glad that I gave Nora Roberts a second chance. This book was so hard to put down.

#2—NightDiver by Elizabeth Lowell—This book thoroughly delighted me with a combination of romance, mystery, and pirate loot. I do love a good pirate-based novel.

# 1—Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley—A brilliant modern gothic novel that fed my Tudor obsession.
What was your favorite read of 2014?

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Historical Romance Reading Challenge Hosted By Herding Cats and Burning Soup Master Post
Host: Anna @ Herding Cats & Burning Soup
What Counts: All historical romances over 80 pages. Anything prior to 1920. Fusion reads (i.e. historical paranormal)
1--6 books
2--12 books
3--24 books
4--48 books
5--100+ books
Level I’m choosing: Level 4 (48 books) although I’m hoping I’ll be able to reach level 5
Reason for doing this challenge: I’ve been wanting to get back into reading more historical romances, so here’s my chance.

Books Read:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Audiobook Review: I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas by Molly Harper

Experience the vampire world for the holidays through the eyes of Gigi Scanlon in this e-novella prequel to The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire from beloved paranormal romance author Molly Harper!
College co-ed Gigi is headed home to Half-Moon Hollow for her first Christmas since her sister, Iris, was turned into a vampire by her beloved undead husband, Cal. Iris is working overtime to make this holiday as normal and special as possible. After all, it’s taken her months of working with Jane Jameson and the Hollow’s vampires to convince herself that she won’t bite her baby sister on sight.
Gigi has her own worries. She’s falling out of love with her high school sweetheart, Ben, and has no idea how to tell him. She’s got a secret job interview with terrifying teen Council official, Ophelia Lambert. And there’s a handsome but cagey vampire following her around town and then disappearing before Gigi can confirm that he’s not, in fact, a figment of her fertile imagination. Holidays with family are complicated. Christmas with an undead family can be downright dangerous.

This is the first time Gigi Scanlon has been home since her sister Iris decided to become a vampire. While Gigi isn’t worried Iris will have her for lunch, Iris is freaking out about it and calls on her friends to share Christmas with her so they can keep an eye on her.
Although Gigi has problems of her own to deal with. She realizes she’s fallen out of love with Ben, her high school sweetheart, and she has no clue how to tell him. She’s got a secret interview with the head of the Vampire Council for a super-secret job that Iris won’t be pleased about. And to make matters more interesting, she has sexy vampire stalker leaving her gifts.
Yay!!!! Another amazing Half-Moon Hollow read from the amazing Molly Harper. Boo!!! Way too bloody short. However, this is a novella prequel to The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire. So, Yay!!! more Molly Harper goodness to come in 2015!!!
We first met Gigi in The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires (if you haven’t read it, go forth and read, you will thank me later), so it’s nice to see Gigi all grown up. Her sister is struggling with becoming a vampire, she doesn’t want to ruin Christmas by making Gigi the starter course and she wants to have a normal Christmas like their parents had, so she’s kind of on Christmas overload with crazy antics only the Half-Moon crew can pull off.
Gigi is at a fork in the road. She’s grown apart from her high school boyfriend, she has an interview with a job her sister won’t approve of, and she’s intrigued by the sexy vampire who has been following her around town. There’s a lot going on in Gigi’s life at the moment.
While this was super short—it felt like it was over before it began—it left me wanting, needing, craving The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire.
Overall, it was a cute little novella that brought together the crazy Half-Moon Hollow characters whilst setting up what I’m sure is going to be another fabulous read from Molly Harper.
I listened to this on audiobook and Amanda Ronconi truly brings the Half-Moon crew to life!


Book Details
Title: I'm Dreaming of an Undead Christmas
Half-Moon Hollow Book 2.5
Author: Molly Harper 
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Publisher: Audible Studio
Format: Audiobook 
Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins 
How I Read It: Free Download
Rating: 4 Crowns

Friday, December 19, 2014

Interview with Scarlet Wilson

Hi Scarlet, welcome to Simply Angela.  I have chocolate tiffin and tea. Help yourself and let’s chat.
1. Could as you tell us something about yourself, so that we can get to know you a bit better…
I live in Scotland, am a mum of two and have just finished writing my 20th book.  I’m also a huge sci-fi fan and love Star Trek and Star Wars!
2.Congrats on finishing your 20th book! Your Christmas romance novella, Christmas with the Laird, is out now—congrats! What inspired Christmas with the Laird?
Christmas with the Laird was inspired by the thought of an old Downton Abbey style home covered in snow and slightly abandoned.  Two people more or less stranded there due to clause in their contract made it very interesting.  Christmas is my favourite time of year – I definitely love writing Christmas stories.
3. Could you introduce readers to Juliette Connolly and Andrew Campbell?
Juliette has had a bad year, her confidence is at an all-time low and she was about to have a meal-for-one-tray Christmas Dinner all alone at Christmas.
Andrew is a secret Laird but he has lots of reasons for ignoring his family home these past years.  He’s reached the stage in his life where it’s time to put the past behind him.
4.*Love secret Lairds, so intriguing* If you were casting Juliette and Andrew, who would you choose?
Andrew is Scottish but my dream pick would be Josh Holloway the actor who played Sawyer in Lost and starred In Intelligence.  Do you think he could master a Scottish accent?
Juliette is English but I want Debra Messing.  I could even forego Juliette’s blonde hair for Debra’s red hair!
*I’m drooling just thinking of Josh Holloway complete with a Scottish accent playing Andrew.*  
5. Food plays such a big part in Christmas with the Laird. Do you have any favorite Christmas recipes or cooking disasters you’d like to share?
My favourite recipe is the Chocolate Tiffin in the book.  I’m pretty rubbish at everything else.  I’m a huge fan of skinny caramel latte’s, lentil soup, raspberry cheesecake and banana and pecan loaf.  I quite like Brussels sprouts with bacon too!
My auntie once went on holiday with her friend to Italy and ordered Strawberries and cream.  The glasses had been in the sun, the cream and strawberries in the cold fridge and the combination made the glasses explode all over them.  Exploding strawberries and cream are hard to beat (and apparently hard to get off summer clothes!)
* Sprouts and bacon is one of my favorites as well! And I’ve been known to blow up a turkey or two, but I’ve yet to experience exploding strawberries and cream.*
6. Do you do anything special to get into the right frame of mind for writing?
I’ve written everywhere.  At work at lunchtime, in my car, in a hotel room, in my bed, at the side of a football pitch and in a Tae Kwon Do lesson.  I work full time and have two kids with activities every night of the week and most weekends.  I don’t have time to get in the right frame of mind – I just have to write!
7.       What can readers expect next?
I’ve just finished a Christmas midwife series book for Mills and Boon next year, and I’m currently writing a Bride novella for Tule Publishing.
Thanks, Scarlet, for stopping by Simply Angela. It’s been lovely chatting with you. And I cannot wait to read your upcoming releases.

Scarlet Wilson wrote her first story aged 8 and has never stopped. Her family have fond memories of ‘Shirley and the Magic Purse’ with its army of mice, all with names beginning with the letter ‘m’. An avid reader Scarlet started with every Enid Blyton book, moved on to the Chalet School and many years later found Harlequin Mills and Boon.
She’s worked in the health service for over 20 years, training as a nurse and a health visitor, and now currently works within public health. For her, finding medical romances was a match made in heaven.  Scarlet now writes for Harlequin/Mills and Boon medical and romance lines, Entangled Publishing and Tule Publishing.  She's also written a YA book under the name Scarlet Owen.
Scarlet lives on the West Coast of Scotland with her fiancé and their two sons.
Connect With Scarlet: Website | Twitter

It's official - for Juliette Connolly Christmas is a bust and she's definitely not in the Christmas spirit. She's been dumped by her boyfriend and replaced by a younger model. Then a clause in her contract means she and a mysterious colleague have to work over Christmas. But there's much more to Andrew Campbell than meets the eye. Especially when it turns out he's the Scottish Laird of the haunted house they're filming in.
And it seems like there's magic in the air in the remote snow-filled seting. The local village contains a cast of Christmas characters and even though the boiler in the drafty house is broken the temperature is definitely rising.
Maybe Andrew and Juliette are about to be sprinkled with a little Christmas fairy dust?

Christmas isn’t Christmas in my house without Brussels Sprouts and Bacon. Please enjoy this tasty recipe and don’t forget to let me know if you try it out.

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

A Simply Angela Recipe


½ pound of bacon cut into inch chunks

 1 pound of fresh Brussels sprouts cleaned and larger ones cut in half

2 tablespoons of butter

Salt and Pepper


1—In a large pan over medium to high heat, cook up bacon until crisp.

2—Add in Brussel sprouts cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sprouts are glossy and tender to a fork.

3-Add butter and salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.
Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.
Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.
Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

Carrie Slayton is tired of being a columnist for the society-page. When her editor challenges her to find and write an article on Finn Dalton, the elusive author of the bestselling book, Alone, Carrie accepts the challenge knowing it’s the only way she’ll be able to write serious news stories.
While the deal is sweet, Carrie has one problem: No one knows where Finn is. After connecting with Finn’s mother, Carrie finds herself headed for the Alaskan wilderness.
Finn Dalton is man who likes his privacy. When he wrote Alone he never realized it would become a best-seller.  Now that it has, everyone is dying to discover his identity.
When he discovers Carrie, he immediately knows she’s a reporter. And while he’s determined to not to tell her anything she could use in her article, Finn soon realizes that Carrie’s easy to talk to.
Although he’s been content living alone, Carrie has him rethinking his view on women.
I’ve seen a few of Debbie Macomber’s movies on Hallmark, although Starry Night is the first book that I’ve read by her and I have to say, I really enjoyed it.
I liked that Carrie was focused on what she wanted and determined to get it, but once she realized the price it would cost her, she decided it wasn’t as important as she once thought.
Finn Dalton was by far the most interesting hero that I’ve read this year. He’s a man’s man, can live off the land, survive in Antarctica, type of man. He also has mommy issues, which causes him not to trust women. Even more interesting, he gifts the oddest gifts (an antique toaster and an oosik, which happens to be…wait for it…a walrus penis bone. Yep. You’ve read that right…a walrus penis bone! It’s the gift that’s on every woman’s Christmas list.)
I loved the way Finn and Carrie interacted in the beginning of the book. She was invading his space, he was pushing back, and she gave just as well as got. The dialogue was amazing, although I could have done without Carrie starting off everything with “Oh Finn”.  
The flow of the book was great. Before I realized it, I had half the book read. Although I will say, I thought the book was longer than it actually was. The page length of the book is 349 pages, but the length of Starry Night is only 231 pages. The rest of the book is filled with excerpts, interviews, and such. So I was a little disappointed with that.
While the book is indeed a Christmas romance, it’s not overly Christmassy and would make a perfect winter read.
Overall, Starry Night was a sweet little novel where the hero had to overcome his past. The romance was a little rushed, but I think it had to do with how short this was.

Double Cover Alert

Starry Night is also released with this cover. While I loved the cover I purchased, I feel the cabin and the lake set against the snowy landscape represent the book better.

Book Details
Title: Starry Night
Author: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-52890-2
Release Date: October 2014
Format I read: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4 Cups

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Christmas to Remember stories by Jill Shalvis, Kristen Ashley, Hope Ramsay, Molly Cannon, and Marilyn Pappano

Curl up with this heartwarming Christmas collection!

Jill Shalvis, Dream a Little Dream: Melissa has kept every man at a safe distance-especially firefighter Ian, a sexy friend with sexy benefits. But Ian secretly longs for more. Luckily, 'tis the season for giving love a chance . . .

Kristen Ashley, Every Year: Holidays don't come easy for Shy and his brother, Landon. But with the magic of Christmas, along with a little help from Tabby and her family, the Cage brothers are about to get the gift of a lifetime . . .

Hope Ramsay, Silent Night: Down on her luck and evicted from her apartment, single mother Maryanne hopes to start over in Last Chance. When the snow begins to fall, it looks like her baby might literally spend Christmas Eve in a manger. And Maryanne might celebrate the holiday with a handsome stranger.

Molly Cannon, Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas: Lincoln is a bachelor who's set in his ways-until a professional organizer dressed up as Mrs. Claus changes his life, one tip at a time. . .

Marilyn Pappano, A Family for Christmas: War widow Ilena doesn't mind spending Christmas alone. But when a new doctor blows into town with the winter wind, will she get her secret Christmas wish?

Dream A Little Dream by Jill Shalvis Rating: 5 Cups
When Ian and Melissa’s friends-with-benefits deal ends because she’s afraid of her feelings toward him, Ian is left wanting more. Although when her apartment catches fire and Ian rescues her, he’s afraid it’s too late to act on his feelings when she slips into a coma. When Ian tells Melissa the dream he had of the life they could have had together, the dream becomes Melissa’s dream. When she wakes up, she intent on making it come true, sexy elf costume included.
If ever a short Christmas story left me with the warm and fuzzies it’s Dream A Little Dream.
Melissa is afraid to allow herself to feel the feelings she is feeling for Ian, so rather than act on them, she shut him out of her life. Although the dream she had while in a coma made her realize it’s what she wants in her life. I liked that Melissa wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted once she finally realized she wanted Ian. She was bound and determined to make it happen.
Ian is in love with Melissa. A blind person could see it. So when he’s doesn’t reach her in time, he’s devastated and due to his sister dying after hitting her head during a skiing accident, he’s not going to leave Melissa’s bedside until she’s awake. He also hasn’t celebrated Christmas with his family since his sister’s death. Ian’s fear of losing Melissa brought this novel to life.
While this is only 49 pages, the story is complete and the pacing is brilliant.
Overall: It’s a lovely little heartwarming romance combined with a touch of comedy guaranteed to make you fall in love with Melissa and Ian.
Every Year by Kristen Ashley Rating: 3.5 Cups
Having not read Kristen Ashely’s work before, I was a little lost but managed to catch up fairly quickly.
Shy and his brother Landon haven’t had the best of lives after the death of their parents, so when they spend Christmas with Tabby (Shy’s girlfriend) and her family they see what a real family Christmas is like and gain the gift of belonging.
Every Year was one heck of a hot holiday romance. It was so hot it could melt the snow on the ground. Why haven’t I read Kristen Ashley before? I must remedy this and soon. {I know what I’m doing with those Amazon gift cards I received as gifts!}
Shy and Landon seem like troubled men and I do love me some troubled heroes (again, why haven’t I read Kristen Ashley?). When they spend Christmas with Tabby and her family, they finally feel that they are part of a family.
While I was a little lost on some aspects and was a little annoyed with the fact that Tabby’s stepmother’s nickname is Ty-Ty (I’m a bit anti nicknames that sounds like baby talk) Every Year intrigued me and now I must read more.
Silent Night by Hope Ramsay, Rating: 2.5 Cups
Let me start by saying that while I loved this short story, it was way too short. I felt like it ended right when I was just getting to know the characters. And characters as complex as Maryanne and Daniel really deserved a full-length book of their own.
Daniel is spending Christmas alone at his father’s farmhouse in Last Chance. It’s the first Christmas he’s spent there since his father’s death and he’s struggling with being alone.
Maryanne is a single mother who is homeless. She’s returning to the only place she ever thought of as home in hopes of that her cousin will take her in. Although when her car breaks down, she has no choice but to bundle her little boy up and walk the distance to what she believes is her grandparents’ home.
Finding no one home, she has no choice but to seek shelter in the barn where Daniel, the owner of the house, discovers her and her son.
Daniel is broken man. He’s suffered terrible loss and he understands what Maryanne is going through. Although Maryanne, having been through the foster system, doesn’t trust ‘do-gooders’ so when she discovers that Daniel is a lawyer, she’s not sure if she can trust him either.
WAY. TOO. SHORT. I loved the concept of Silent Night, but it felt as though it barely scratched the surface of these complex characters. And although the they seemed to be forming a relationship, a very fast relationship seeing as this story takes place during one night, it felt more like a Happy For Now ending rather than a HEA ending.
Overall, great concept, not long enough to properly develop it.
Molly Cannon, Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas: Lincoln is a bachelor who's set in his ways-until a professional organizer dressed up as Mrs. Claus changes his life, one tip at a time. . .
Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas by Molly Cannon Rating: 4.5 Cups
Lincoln never expected to open his door three days after Thanksgiving to find a woman dressed up like Santa’s elf. Dinah, the professional organizer Lincoln’s mother hired never expected to be working for a Grinch. Although as the two grow closer, they start to realize things are always what they seem.
This was a really cute Christmas romance. It was light and fluffy like a festive little marshmallow. I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved the way that Lincoln and Dinah interacted. Neither was afraid push the other to their limits.
Overall, you just can’t go wrong with a Molly Cannon romance.
A Family for Christmas by Marilyn Pappano, Rating: 4 Cups
Marilyn Pappano is a new to me author and I was pleasantly pleased with how much I enjoyed her writing.
Dr. Jared Connors moved to Tallgrass and accepted the open position to more or less stick it to his parents. Although Tallgrass doesn’t feel like home and it’s not the place he’s used to, Ilena, ambassador elf for the Prairie Elf Fundation and her infant son make start making the holiday’s brighter for Jared.
I liked A Family for Christmas. Jared wants to be away from his family but he’s also homesick. Ilena’s husband died in the war and she’s a bit hesitant but she knows it the right time to move on.
It was a really sweet little romance and I look forward to reading more from this author.


Book Details
Title: A Christmas To Remeber
Authors: Jill Shalvis, Kristen Ashley, Hope Ramsay, Molly Cannon, and Marilyn Pappano
Publisher: Forever
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2993-3
Format: Mass Market Paperback
How I Read It: Mass Market Paperback from Publisher
Rating: Each story is rated individually