Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Christmas Spirit Read-a-thon Info and Reading Challenge Info

Once again kicking off the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge (the 5TH year, I might add!) at The Christmas Spirit, it's the Christmas Spirit Read-a-Thon...and this year it's a week long. Yay!


Read-a-Thon dates: Monday, November 24 at 12:00am CST until Sunday, November 30 at 11:59pm CST (adjust your time zone accordingly)

You do not have to be signed up for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge to participate (but I sure would love for you to join us!)

I am not requiring that you read only Christmas/holiday books during the read-a-thon, but I hope you will pick up at least one holiday tale, even if it's just to read some children's books with your kids or some holiday short stories

To check in on Twitter, we'll use hashtag #CSreadathon

As usual, you do not have to have a blog to participate...feel free to link up and check in from Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, etc.


Challenge will run from Monday, November 24, 2014 through Tuesday, January 6, 2014 (Twelfth Night or Epiphany).

Cross over with other challenges is totally permitted AND encouraged!

These must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and for the first time...a children's Christmas books level!

 --Candy Cane: read 1 book
 --Mistletoe: read 2-4 books
 --Christmas Tree: read 5 or 6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!)
 Additional levels:
 --Fa La La La Films: watch a bunch or a few Christmas movies...it's up to you!
 --Visions of Sugar Plums: read books with your children this season and share what you read

 *the additional levels are optional, you still must complete one of the main reading levels above

Lifetime’s Miniseries “The Red Tent,” Based on the Best-selling Novel by Anita Diamant

Lifetime’s miniseries “The Red Tent,” based on the best-selling novel by Anita Diamant, premieres December 7 and December 8 at 9/8c. “The Red Tent” is a sweeping tale that takes place during the times of the Old Testament, told through the eyes of Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob. Airing over two nights, the all-star cast includes Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Minnie Driver (“Return to Zero,” “About a Boy”), Emmy nominee Morena Baccarin (“Homeland”), Golden Globe nominee Rebecca Ferguson (“The White Queen”), Iain Glen (“Game of Thrones”), Will Tudor (“Game of Thrones”) and Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Debra Winger (“Terms of Endearment”).

The miniseries begins with Dinah’s (Ferguson) happy childhood spent inside the red tent where the women of her tribe gather and share the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood. The film recounts the story of Dinah’s mothers Leah (Driver), Rachel (Baccarin), Zilpah and Bilhah, the four wives of Jacob (Glen). Dinah matures and experiences an intense love that subsequently leads to a devastating loss, and the fate of her family is forever changed. Winger portrays Rebecca, Jacob’s mother while Tudor stars as Joseph, Dinah’s brother.

 “The Red Tent” has sold millions of copies worldwide and has been translated in 28 languages. The novel is a New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today and Entertainment Weekly Top Ten Best Seller.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister series) by Courtney Milan

It's funny how in the last review I said when it comes to books I'm more a HBO than a Lifetime kind of girl, because that is the kind of book that I chose this time. It was like Sex and the City meets the 19th century and I postively loved it.

But first the book description: 

Miss Lydia Charingford is always cheerful, and never more so than at Christmas time. But no matter how hard she smiles, she can't forget the youthful mistake that could have ruined her reputation. Even though the worst of her indiscretion was kept secret, one other person knows the truth of those dark days: the sarcastic Doctor Jonas Grantham. She wants nothing to do with him...or the butterflies that take flight in her stomach every time he looks her way. 

Jonas Grantham has a secret, too: He's been in love with Lydia for more than a year. This winter, he's determined to conquer her dislike and win her for his own. And he has a plan to do it. 

If only his plans didn't so often go awry... 

A Kiss for Midwinter is a historical romance Christmas novella in the Brothers Sinister series.

I chose this book because it was a novella on this Goodreads list of Christmas and winter novellas. In all honesty, I don't particularly like historical romances especially those in the time period of the 19th century because well...they seemed pretty uptight when it comes to all matters regarding sex.

This novella describes Jonas Grantham which may well be the most progressive doctor to have ever fictionally lived in the 19th century. He's also the wittiest and has an amazing dry sarcastic sense of humor. Exactly the kind of man I go for. Maybe that's why I loved the book so much and tweeted that I didn't want it to end. Jonas Grantham is my type.

He's not every one's type though. He is obnoxious, crude, has questionable social skills, is far too forward, and offers advise about the use of prophylactics including the Dutch cup (cervical cap) and French letters (condoms). Yet all of these reasons are both why Lydia hates him and is drawn to him. She has to walk a careful line with him. She wants nothing to do with him but at the same time he knows a secret that could ruin her. 

Because of this she humors him at first and then agrees to a bet that just may get rid of him permanently. It's a 19th century version of Arianna Grande's lyric "I'd have one less problem without you." As the story progresses, she starts to wonder if she really does want to be rid of him.

My favorite love stories are those where the couple starts off hating each other. What's that saying? Hate is passion too. Or something like that. Whatever it is I loved this book and was disappointed when it ended. 

The book also had a surprising subplot. Jonas has to deal with his sick father who is a hoarder. The story explores the complex issue of having to deal with a loved one who suffers from hoarding. Since hoarding is caused by the mental health condition of obsessive-compulsive disorder, this book qualifies for the Mental Illness Advocacy Reading Challenge.

I will be reading more from this author in the future. She made me like historical romance and that's saying something. My rating is an enthusiastic Photobucket

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

Let me begin by saying this is not the kind of book I normally read. There's just something about most Christmas novels that feel like Lifetime movies. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just that I'm more of a HBO kind of girl.

Despite that I did enjoy The Christmas Cat. Here is the book description:

After years abroad, Garrison Brown returns home to Vancouver to build a new life. When his beloved grandmother passes away a few weeks before Christmas, Garrison goes to her house to sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While Garrison hopes to dispense with the task quickly, his grandmother's instructions don't allow for speed. She has left Garrison with some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends--plus a sizeable monetary gift for the new owners. Garrison's job is to match the cats with the right owners without disclosing the surprise gift. Along the way, he may just meet someone who can make him stay. 

Humorous and heartwarming, this latest Christmas story from bestselling author Melody Carlson is the perfect gift for pet lovers and anyone in whose heart Christmas holds a special place.

I suppose I probably enjoyed this book so much because I am a cat lover. I have four of them. I also really liked that the story was told from a guy's point of view. That rarely happens in romance novels.

I also liked that Garrison was not a super rich, perfect kind of guy. He was an "average joe." It was refreshing to read about the kind of guy I might meet at the grocery store instead of one that I would only bump into if I was in the Hamptons. Even though he was returning to his hometown he wasn't walking around thinking he was better than all the small town folk and about how backwards they were. Garrison truly knew and respected his roots.

The one thing I didn't like about this novella is that I wish Garrison had told more stories about his experiences in Africa. It was such an interesting backstory but Carlson didn't do much with it. I also wish she would have gone more into Garrison's adjustment to being back in the United States. He was gone for nine years. Can you imagine being in Africa for nearly a decade and then coming back home? Things would be so different.

It was a little disappointing that I could predict how the story was going to end by page 100 but it is a romance story. Besides the biggest love story in this book is not between Garrison and Cara but involves a small four legged hairy beast. And that was my favorite part of the book. My rating Photobucket

Saturday, 8 November 2014

My Selfie for the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon

A photo posted by Julie Cornewell (@juliecornewell) on

You can find the "Holiday Reading Selfie" Mini-challenge at The Book Nympho

2015 Reading Bites Challenge Info and Sign Up Page

I love anything to do with vampires. One of my favorite sayings is "Forget being a princess. I want to be a vampire!" Well, I haven't been reading as many books about vampires as I would like so I created a vampire themed reading challenge for 2015.

I'm inviting others who love the vampire book genre to join me for this reading challenge. This is a design it yourself challenge. I want you to choose your own reading goals.

The Rules: 
This challenge begins January 1, 2015 and ends Dec 31, 2015.

You may sign up anytime during the year.

I won't be creating different levels. Read as little or as many books as you want.

You may include books of any format including traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks.

Books may be YA, adult, horror, romance, etc. 

You may reread books.

Books may count towards other reading challenges.

Use the hashtag #2015ReadingBites

If you could be so kind, please place the The Reading Bites Challenge banner on your blog to help spread the word.

Please link back to this blog, post about it on Facebook, Tweet about it, and so on to help spread the word. 

Signing Up 
Before signing up, please create a post or page where you will list all the books you have read and then use that link for your Mr. Linky below. 

If you don't have a blog you can still sign up by using a link to your Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and so on.

The Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon Goals (Revised 11/8)

BookShelfery - HoHoHo Readathon

I thought this read-a-thon started yesterday so I'm posting a day late. The Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon is hosted by BookShelfery and Caffienated Book Reviewer. Here is more info:

Read-a-thon Rules
  • For this read-a-thon you must read holiday themed or winter setting reads.
  • Link-up Before or on November 6th post a goals post to your blog. (if you do not have a blog post to another social media site such as Goodreads, Tumblr, Facebook, Google+ etc ) Be sure and link back to Caffeinated Book Reviewer and BookShelfery 
  • Grab the button and share ! 
  • Participate in at least one challenge to be eligible for grand prize 
  • Tweet your progress using #HoHoHoRAT 
  • Twitter Party! Sunday November 9, 2014 at 4pm (EST) chatting and prizes to be had. 
  • Challenge schedule and Grand Prize widget and rules will post on November 6th by 8 am (EST) 
  • Read-a-thon starts on November 6th 12:o1 am (your time zone) and ends on November 11 at 11:59 pm(your time zone) 
  • Challenges will be open from 8 am (EST) on the 6th and remain open until Nov 11th at 11:59 pm (EST) 
  • Grand Prize Raffle will be open until November 13th at 11:59 pm (EST) to allow you to submit entries. 
  • All winners of challenges and grand prize will be notified by November 15th.
The Ho-Ho-Ho Mini Challenges

Bea @ Bea’s Book Nook “Word Scramble Challenge”
Trish@ Between the Lines “Name That Book”
Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts “Holiday Wish Challenge”
April @ My Shelf Confessions “Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon Puzzle”
Melissa & Truffles @ Mochas, Mysteries and Meows  “Christmas Truffles’ Purr-fect Holiday Reading List Challenge”
Ginny @ Gin’s Book Notes “Build a Snowman Challenge”
Jennifer @The Book Nympho “Holiday Reading Selfie”

My Goals for The Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon

Goal #1 Read A Winter's Tale by Mark Heprin. 
Now this book is far from a novella (see the Novella Novermber Challenge) but I have been planning on reading it for a few weeks now. I was worried I would have to put it off even longer so was really happy winter themed books are allowed.

Goal #1 Read as many Christmas and winter books as I can especially novellas

I made it to page 210 of Winter's Tale and thought I was going to lose my mind. It's not an easy read at all. I wasn't enjoying it. I may pick it up again in the new year but I have other books that are more of a priority.

At the top of my list is the recently released novella The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

After watching this movie a long time ago I bought the book. It's sat on my shelf unread. I'm so happy I finally read it. A lot of people describe this book as being "like Twilight only with zombies." This is a mostly accurate description.

Here's the book description: 
R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. 

After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world. 

 Scary, funny, and surprisingly poignant, Warm Bodies is about being alive, being dead, and the blurry line in between.

In general, romance novels describe the power of love as being life changing and making one feel alive. In this story, it literally happens. As someone who loves zombie stories this one is refreshingly different.

R is different than other zombies. He's smarter. He's philosophical. He has a sense of humor. And he has a small grasp on the English language still. He also has met and fallen in love with a human. To say they are star crossed lovers is an understatement. Their love won't just save each other, it might just save all the zombies.

The story implies that what has happened to the world is some sort of punishment. This is best shown by the presence of the Bonies. These are supernatural monsters that are like demons, if demons all shared a mind like a group of skeletal robots. They are determined to preserve a certain order among the zombies that gets disrupted by R falling in love with Julie.

My absolute favorite quote from this book (and now my favorite quote ever from any book) goes as following:

What a massive responsibility, being a moral creature.

This sums up R's internal struggle. He has to fight his zombie nature and figure out how to be a human again. My rating is a solid Photobucket

The Movie
The movie isn't as good as the book. The plot with the Bonies is confusing and the story feels rushed. The movie lacks the philosophical elements of the book but does keep the humor. It also lacks the more supernatural elememts that are in the book and is a more straightforward mmonster movie. Then ending isn't as dramatic as the book.

The Prequel
I had no idea that there was a prequel to Warm Bodies until I was at Amazon.com today. The prequel is called The New Hunger.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Novella November Reading Challenge

Novel Heartbeat and Writer Grrl Reads are hosting a reading challenge that goes right along with NaNoWriMo. They are having the Novella November Reading Challenge. A novella is a long short story (yes I know that's an oxymoron) that is 20,000 words to 50,000 words long (which equals about 80 to 200 pages.)

If you are doing NaNoWriMo like I am, you don't have a lot of time to read. Not to mention reading novellas certainly helps show you how to write them. So this reading challenge is perfect for those of us doing NaNoWriMo.

The Goal
Read as many novellas as you can

The Rules
  • The challenge will run from November 1st at 12:00 am until November 30th at 11:59 pm
  •  You can sign up here or at Writer Grrl Reads To join, just make a sign up post and add it to the linky below 
  • Any short story counts, not just those in a series 
  • Any series novellas read during this month will count for double points in the Prequel & Sequel challenge (2 points each instead of 1) 
  • In order to get double points, you must have made a sign up post for this challenge and added it to the linky Sign ups close November 17th 
  • We will try to host a small giveaway for all participants at the end of the challenge!
50 Incredible Novels Under 200 Pages

Goodreads World's Greatest Novellas

Christmas and Winter Novellas