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Friday, December 14, 2018

Selah's Manga Mania: Reindeer Boy by Cassandra Jean

by Cassandra Jean
December 20, 2016
Quincy has the same dream every year on Christmas Eve - of finding a little boy holding a special gift for her under the tree - and every Christmas morning, she's awoken to find a gift wrapped in tinfoil with her name on it... 

When school resumes after the winter break, Quincy's class discovers they have an unusual new transfer student named Cupid. Ridiculously cute and friendly, the new boy has everyone both enamored and confused. Those antlers can't be real...can they?? With Cupid having seemingly set his sights on Quincy, it seems she'll be having a memorable year indeed!

I never expected to find reoccurring themes of this sort, but who am I to turn down fate? Plus, hi, built-in Christmas review!
I just never thought that part reindeer humans finding lurv was like a thing. Who knew?

Anywho, today we’re taking a look at Reindeer Boy.

Quincy has a dream that reoccurs every Christmas Eve – a little boy under her tree holding a gift for her. Every Christmas morning, she finds that gift wrapped in tinfoil waiting for her. After winter break one year, Quincy’s school has a new transfer student named Cupid…who has antlers. He’s popular, as are his kinda-siblings, though they stress they’re not all related. They also have antlers. Also, what are those bumps on Quincy’s head and why is Cupid aiming his affection at her?
So pretty much Twilight with no angst and antlers. I’m sorry, that’s what it is. And honestly? I don’t hate it. It’s…odd, I will give it that. At some points, the stakes seem almost a little too low for me, and I think this could actually have been a multi-volume title and done just as a well. But yeah, I read it and survived and actually like it just fine.

The Good: The cast is diverse, which right off the bat I think is awesome. Everyone seems fairly likable, and it avoids a lot of the token tropey drama that a lot of relationship manga has (like the friend backstabbing the heroine, dudes trying to date her out from under the hero, etc). Quincy has a lot of agency and a lot of the plot is her dealing with her own feelings and being drawn into this strange world. The world building is also fairly interesting. The take on Santa is new-ish, and the reindeer kids as delivery people through pocket universes works. In some ways, I think this could have been explored more, especially how things would work on actual Christmas. The art is lovely and easy on the eyes. It emphasizes the story well and I like how much thought went into the character designs.

The Bad: I just wish there was some more time taken and more development here. I don’t need a will they won’t they, but I would’ve liked a bit more than the brief explanation on the button ending about why Quincy was being reindeerized. She also just kinda seems to go with it as she succumbs to her feelings for Cupid, which seems like a lot of missed opportunities. Likewise, her affection for another dude is kind of pushed to the side as other reindeer kids show up and monopolize his time. It works, and it’s nice to not see some sort of love triangle, but it’s all just a little too easy. Cupid and his crew are fun, but it’s like every girl fantasy ever of normal chick gets sucked into this group of benign weird people who show her a new world and just adore her. I wish there would have been some more challenges thrown up, like her dad finding out, or maybe her feelings being harder to sort through. And it seems weird to me that just no one tries to bully or be mean to these kids who all have antlers. They just go their merry way (pun intended), and it’s all good. There are hints of unrest in different plot elements, but nothing ever actually gets in the way of things. It’s a natural plot progression, and while it’s really fun in a cuddly warm way, I would’ve liked just a little more.

The ick: Nothing. This is as sugary and cute as you’d want a Christmas title to be.
In some ways, I think this may be a stronger story than Sweet Reign (seriously, WHY is this a genre thing??). But…I kinda miss Sweet Reign’s over the top weirdness. I do think if this had more volumes it would be easier to compare the two, and in that regard, Sweet Reign was able to do a lot more, build up a lot more lore, and just show a more progressive growth in the relationship of the characters. For a one-volume title, though, Reindeer Boy does come out as more normal (if you can say that about the reindeer people high school romance genre). It’s definitely more calm and relaxed, which I appreciate. It’s also just beautiful to look at, so for that alone, it’s worth putting on your Christmas list.

3.75 antler-having sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Book Review: A Magic Redemption (A Demon’s Witch Series Book Five) by Tena Stetler

A Magic Redemption (A Demon’s Witch Series Book Five) 
by Tena Stetler
December 5, 2018
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
ISBN: 978-1-5092-2343-5
Number of pages: 322
Word Count: 80,585
Cover Artist: Kristian Norris
Even with magic, finding your place in the world proves more difficult than imagined especially when someone is out for revenge.

Synn, a demon, carries extraordinary magic and power, but there is more within her than she dreams. Kidnapped as a child, her captors murdered her family and forced her into training as a warrior assassin.

When an assignment goes horribly wrong, she finds herself at the mercy of the friends and family of her intended target. Offering valuable information in exchange for protection, she gains her freedom, but it is not without its challenges.

Gavin Shaughnessy is the publican at his family’s Irish pub. He is certain Synn is meant to be his and isn’t bothered by her past. He must find a way to convince her their future together is stronger than the dark memories that haunt her dreams.

When her past comes calling for revenge, will their love survive the raging inferno she brings down upon them? Or will the searing path of destruction destroy all they hold dear.

Book 5 in this PNR series is certainly geared for those who have invested and known all the back history. I sadly did not. Sometimes you can read a book at any point in the series and not skip a beat, I felt a bit lost and often.

With a lot of characters coming to and from the pages, it felt like there was a big meet-up that I was invited to at the last minute. And I hate being a last minute date choice! I would have loved to just sit down, plug in and get on with the show. That didn't end up happening.

I will admit that toward the middle.....I skimmed to the end. Just did not connect here. Hopefully, fans of the series will love this one and please read other reviews before you decide.

Getting 2.5 Sheep


Time seemed to go on forever as she slowed and walked backward for a while, her footsteps in the sand filling with water as she traveled along the shoreline as if nature erased her intrusion. She turned around and continued her trek. Unaware of how long or how far she'd walked, the sudden outline of a figure, cloaked in the fog, jogging toward her caused panic to set in. Her heart pounded rapidly in her chest, she swallowed hard, adrenalin pumping through her veins as flight or fight response kicked in. Digging her good foot into the sand she prepared to attempt a sprint…to where. Where the hell am I? A quick glance around, she spied a light from a familiar building far off on the bluffs as the figure burst from the fog. A tall, wide-shouldered male with long muscular legs came closer. She froze.

Once lithe, strong and agile in her former life, a boss’s retaliation had taken a toll on her body. Now tired her gait was uneven and unsteady, even a slow sprint would likely end with her face planted in the sand.

About the Author:
Authors’ Secret’s Blog
My Say What Blog

Amazon-The Wild Rose Press

Tena Stetler is a paranormal romance and cozy mystery author with an over-active imagination. She wrote her first vampire romance as a tween, to the chagrin of her mother and the delight of her friends. 

With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, Tena sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures telling her their tales. Colorado is her home; shared with her husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-year-old box turtle. 

Any evening, you can find her curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn. Her books tell tales of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them.

Tour giveaway
$15.00 amazon gift card. 

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Book Review: Death Knell (The Foundling Series Book 3) by Hailey Edwards

Death Knell (The Foundling Series Book 3)
by Hailey Edwards
December 4th, 2018
320 pages

Book Three in the bestselling fantasy series The Foundling, perfect for fans of Shannon Mayer, Jenn Stark and the Sookie Stackhouse novels

War burned her. Famine nearly killed her. Now Death is at her heels.

After her two worlds clashed apocalyptically, Luce Boudreau needed some time out. But Destiny had other ideas. When bodies begin washing ashore down the Mississippi River, Luce discovers they are part of a gruesome, lethal message. Her final sister, Death, is trying to break through.

Every sign is clear: the end is coming, but earth will be destroyed - quite literally - over Luce's dead body, even if that means she'll be battling her own nature. And her coterie will stand with her, though Cole keeps standing one step too goddamn far away. Her mysterious new partner, Adam Wu, on the other hand, seems determined to keep her close at all times. And the more Luce learns about the new world she's part of, the deeper the secrets go. Who - if anyone - can she really trust?

As the final pieces of an ancient war come together, Luce's chance to fight back comes sooner than she expected. Death can come at her . . . she's eager to return the favour.

Famine is locked up, Sariah is under Luce’s coterie control and bodies are washing up on shore down the Mississippi River with what appears to be a message for Luce. Wondering if Death has already broken through, what they can do to stop War and in turn stop the earth from being destroyed, Luce is not sure who she can trust in the coming battles.

This series by Edwards is original and unique unlike anything I have read for a long time. She is a master at creating a universe in which to submerge yourself in and not feel like it’s something you’ve already read. Luce is a strong character whose goal is to protect not only the people she loves but all of humanity which is something that is needed today. Wu is the mystery card, just when you think you have him all figured out, BAM he does something that is a total surprise. Cole is the protector you’ve always dreamed over including the dreams that are hot and steamy.

Review: Bone Driven (The Foundling Series Book 2) 

Getting 5 sheep

Denise B

About the Author:
Hailey Edwards writes about questionable applications of otherwise perfectly good magic, the transformative power of love, the family you choose for yourself, and blowing stuff up. Not necessarily all at once. That could get messy. She lives in Alabama with her husband, their daughter, and a herd of dachshunds.

Excerpt: Black Dog: A Christmas Story (Knights of Black Swan Book Thirteen) by Victoria Danann + giveaway

Black Dog: A Christmas Story (Knights of Black Swan Book Thirteen)
by Victoria Danann
December 22, 2018
Genre: paranormal fantasy
Publisher: 7th House,
Imprint of Andromeda LLC
Number of pages: 201
Word Count: 43k
Cover Artist: Victoria Danann
Old dogs tell no tales.

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Victoria Danann, brings a moving triumph-over-darkness story to the world of Black Swan.

The Hawking family is at home at the Northern Ireland farm and wolf-dog kennel for Yuletide when Blackie goes missing. Instead of a joyous celebration of family and friends, Ram's mate and elflings are beside themselves with fear and worry. As Song and Litha bring their respective paranormal abilities to aid in the search, the story takes a turn into the dark world of dogfighting and the abduction of adult male dogs matching the profile of fighters.

Black Swan rarely gets involved in the mundane affairs of the world because it's not their purpose, mission, or directive. But when Simon's office is drowned in messages from retired knights insisting that Blackie is unofficially one of them and that an exception must be made, he relents and orders available personnel to assist B Team with a rundown.

Blackie climbed the hill to his favorite spot. He didn’t trot or run, as he’d been known to do in his younger days. He ambled, telling himself that he could trot or run if he was so inclined. He just didn’t feel like it that minute.

The hill above the Laiken kennel and farm had the very best view of the surroundings. When he was there he could imagine himself to be protector of all he surveyed; his people, the land, the wolf dogs.

There’d been a light snow the day before, but the morning’s bright sun had melted a small clearing that formed a patch of bright green grass. Bright sun was unusual in northern Ireland at that time of year, but dogs don’t analyze changes in weather or atmospheric conditions. They simply accept what is and adapt as best they can. When the sun shines warm on old bones, they accept it.

After turning in a circle three times around the patch of green, Blackie sunk down into a sphinx pose and indulged himself in a satisfied sigh.

It’s impossible to know what dogs do or do not remember. Perhaps he had crystal clear memories of his adoption by The Order of the Black Swan and recalled every detail of every adversity and adventure. Perhaps there was a vague recollection of his history. Who can say?

He sat on the hill overseeing his farm. Perhaps old dogs do what old people do. They divide their reveries between recollection and remorse. Because even the best of us, human or dog, could have done things better. If there was an exception to that, it would be Blackie. Because he had never failed to give his whole heart and effort to any given task in any given moment. Surely dogs as smart as Blackie are like humans, recalling this corner of a moment or that fragment of a song at odd and inexplicable times.

To Helm, Blackie was as constant as was the idea of his father, Sir Rammel Aelshelm Hawking, Black Swan Knight Emeritus and Prince of Ireland, and his mother, Lady Elora Laiken, Black Swan Knight Emeritus, former Princess of Britannia, Stagsnare Dimension.

Perhaps his earliest memory was a black muzzle shoved between the bars of his baby bed resting on the sheet-covered mattress, intelligent brown eyes full of light and staring at him intently like he was the most precious thing in the universe. At fourteen he’d never confronted the prospect of surviving Blackie. He’d never considered it and simply couldn’t imagine the world without the big black dog.

About the Author:
#1 Amazon Paranormal Romance Bestseller
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.
Knights of Black Swan - BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
Solomon's Sieve - BEST VAMPIRE NOVEL (2014)
In addition to the brave and beautiful vampire hunting knights, Victoria writes other paranormal romances that often touch on scifi/fantasy along with contemporary bikers for those who love it when the bad boys are soooooo good.


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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Movie Review: The Christmas Chronicles (2018) on Netflix

The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
November 22, 2018
Director: Clay Kaytis
Writers: Matt Lieberman (screenplay by), David Guggenheim (story by)
Stars: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis
TV-PG | 1h 44min
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Family
The story of sister and brother, Kate and Teddy Pierce, whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about.

Well, Kurt Russel will forever be my gold standard for Santa Claus. He rocked this role! Wearing that fur-lined red leather coat and sporting that sexy beard...RAWR! But don't get too excited, The Christmas Chronicles is a family holiday movie.

I was impressed with the quality of the movie. Everything from the script to the acting to the CGI reindeer that looked magically awesome and I want one!

The Christmas Chronicles has all the parts of an endearing holiday movie. Lots of comedy and some sappy heart-warming moments and the every useful plot device (and a Disney main-stay) of a dead parent. 

This is definitely worth a watch no matter your age and will get you a little teary-eyed and full of warm and fuzzies, not just the kind from seeing Kurt Russel play a sexy silver-haired Santa ;) And if you're a kid from the 80s you'll be able to guess who cameos as Mrs. Claus.

5 "Ho, ho, ho" Sheep