It’s that time of year again–the time when we light fires, shiver so hard out bones rattle when we go outside, gather with our families, and YES, take a few days off from the daily grind of work or school or both.
Do you know what that leaves time for? READING!
Now, I’ve had TWO new releases over the past couple of weeks, so OBVIOUSLY you should pick those up! The first one, Mistletoe & Mr. Right, is a sweet, slightly cheesy novella (that means it’s short!) that would be at home on the Hallmark channel. Its the perfect way to ease into the Christmas season that doesn’t involve getting trampled at the mall on Friday!
The second one is Living the Dream, which is the conclusion to my Whitman University series and features bad boy Sebastian Blair meeting his match in good girl Audra Stuart. The cast from previous books make some pretty awesome cameos along the way, too!
If you haven’t read the series, the first four books are bundled and are on sale for just $3.99 right now.
If you’ve already read those or (gasp!) they don’t sound good to you, here are a few OTHER titles you may have missed this year that I’d like to bring to your attention – because they’re amazing!!
Winterspell, by Claire Legrand
New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.
Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.
Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.
Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.
We Are Not Good People, by Jeff Somers
The ethics in a world of blood are gray—and an underground strata of blood magicians has been engineering disasters for centuries in order to acquire enough fuel for their spells. They are not good people.
Some practitioners, however, use the Words and a swipe of the blade to cast simpler spells, such as Charms and Cantrips to gas up $1 bills so they appear to be $20s. Lem Vonnegan and his sidekick Mags fall into this level of mage, hustlers and con men all. Lem tries to be ethical by using only his own blood, by not using Bleeders or “volunteers.” But it makes life hard. Soon they might have to get honest work.
When the pair encounters a girl who’s been kidnapped and marked up with magic runes for a ritual spell, it’s clear they’re in over their heads. Turning to Lem’s estranged master for help, they are told that not only is the girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage, Mika Renar, has earth-shattering plans for her—and Lem just got in the way. With the fate of the world on the line, and Lem both spooked and intrigued by the mysterious girl, the other nominates him to become the huckleberry who’ll take down Renar. But even if he, Mags, and the simpletons who follow him prevail, they’re dealing with the kind of power that doesn’t understand defeat, or mercy.
One Wish Away, by Kelley Lynn
Be careful what you wish for…
Lyra has always been ahead of the curve. Top of her class in school, a budding astronomer, and with a best friend like Darren she barely has time to miss the mother who abandoned her family years ago. She’s too busy planning to follow in her father’s footsteps, and to become the youngest astronomer at Space Exploration and Discovery.
When a star goes missing Lyra is determined to get to the bottom of it only to discover her braniac dad is the mastermind of a top-secret government experiment. They promise to build a perfect world, one galaxy at a time, but with every tweak of the present, a bit more of the future starts to crumble.
Lyra has to go undercover to reveal the truth and let humanity decide if the consequences are worth more than wishing on a star.
Sweet Unrest, by Lisa Maxwell
Lucy Aimes has always been practical. But try as she might, she can’t come up with a logical explanation for the recurring dreams that have always haunted her. Dark dreams. Dreams of a long-ago place filled with people she shouldn’t know…but does.
When her family moves to a New Orleans plantation, Lucy’s dreams become more intense, and her search for answers draws her reluctantly into the old city’s world of Voodoo and mysticism. There, Lucy finds Alex, a mysterious boy who behaves as if they’ve known each other forever. Lucy knows Alex is hiding something, and her rational side doesn’t want to be drawn to him. But she is.
As she tries to uncover Alex’s secrets, a killer strikes close to home, and Lucy finds herself ensnared in a century-old vendetta. With the lives of everyone she loves in danger, Lucy will have to unravel the mystery of her dreams before it all comes to a deadly finish.
The Witch of Little Italy, by Suzanne Palmieri
In Suzanne Palmieri’s charming debut, The Witch of Little Italy, you will be bewitched by the Amore women. When young Eleanor Amore finds herself pregnant, she returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx, called by “The Sight” they share now growing strong within her. She has only been back once before when she was ten years old during a wonder-filled summer of sun-drenched beaches, laughter and cartwheels. But everyone remembers that summer except her. Eleanor can’t remember anything from before she left the house on her last day there. With her past now coming back to her in flashes, she becomes obsessed with recapturing those memories. Aided by her childhood sweetheart, she learns the secrets still haunting her magical family, secrets buried so deep they no longer know how they began. And, in the process, unlocks a mystery over fifty years old—The Day the Amores Died—and reveals, once and for all, a truth that will either heal or shatter the Amore clan.
The Wicked We Have Done, by Sarah Harian
Evalyn Ibarra never expected to be an accused killer and experimental prison test subject. A year ago, she was a normal college student. Now she’s been sentenced to a month in the compass room—an advanced prison obstacle course designed by the government to execute justice.
If she survives, the world will know she’s innocent.
Locked up with nine notorious and potentially psychotic criminals, Evalyn must fight the prison and dismantle her past to stay alive. But the system prized for accuracy appears to be killing at random.
She doesn’t plan on making friends.
She doesn’t plan on falling in love, either.
First World Problems, by Leigh Ann Kopans
Sofia Cole has always been able to get anything she wants through begging, flirting, and shameless manipulation of everyone around her.
Sofia doesn’t think that Dad sending her on a gap service year to Guyana to address how “spoiled” she is will change any of that.
Sofia just might be proven wrong.
Hook’s Revenge, by Heidi Schulz
Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn’s hopes of following in her father’s fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink.
So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn’t hesitate-here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she’d bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland’s most fearsome beast isn’t enough to deal with, she’s tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited.
The crocodile’s clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz’s debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?
In a Fix, by Linda Grimes
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck.
This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable… that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.
Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended.
Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.
Goodness and Light, by Patty Blount
Thirteen years ago, two teens met on the ramp to Ground Zero, on a cold and snowy day, strangers bonding in a moment of grief. The boy pressed a crystal snowflake ornament into the girl’s hand and disappeared into the crowd, unaware that his simple act of kindness saved her from the guilt that threatened to consume her.
Since losing her mom, Elena Larsen hasn’t set foot in New York City — until now. Agreeing to help her sister prepare for her baby’s birth seems like a good way to spend Christmas and Elena vows not to let the monstrous guilt that weighs on her heart ruin everything. But those plans go awry when she meets Lucas Adair, a man whose own grief and guilt just might rival her own.
When Elena discovers Lucas is the boy who gave her that crystal snowflake all those years ago, she can’t accept it as the sign Lucas believes it to be. For her, it means only one thing — even beyond the grave, her mother can never forgive Elena for breaking her heart.
For Lucas, New York is hallowed ground that he can never leave. He spends his days working in the Financial District and his evenings volunteering and it’s almost enough to help him forget what he did. Lucas knows better than to make plans with a woman who will soon be leaving, yet can’t help himself. There’s something about Elena that pulls him in. He doesn’t put much faith in signs but even he starts to believe Elena is his absolution. Now, he only has to convince her.
BONUS: Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte (my yearly winter re-read)