Because you can't judge a book by its cover

Yearly Archives: 2013

wrapped booksI hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas and received lots of new books to read. Sadly, I don’t receive books as gifts any more. Is that a gasp I hear from you?! Well, I used to receive books, mostly from my mother who has since passed away but now I get the same statement from everyone “I don’t know what you have already read so I got you a gift card to buy books.” Don’t get me wrong, I adore receiving gift cards so I can make my ridiculous to-be-read pile on my Kindle even larger. There is something so delicious about being able to log on and buy two or three books at a time without feeling guilty (okay, so I don’t really feel guilty I just worry the hubby is going to get annoyed and give that “you are ridiculous Jessica and have a serious problem that I will put up with for the rest of our marriage” look). Looking at the pretty new unread books on the Kindle just makes me warm and fuzzy all over but, this is a big but, it is not the same as receiving a book as a gift. Receiving a book as a gift is a multi-layer experience for me, first, there is knowing it is a wrapped book in my hands, a book that I have no idea what it is, all wrapped in shiny paper, tempting me to figure out what it is. Second, there is receiving a book from someone else, knowing that either they loved it and care enough about me to share that love with me or it is a book they think I will enjoy. I think sharing a book is a very personal event, it is almost like sharing your baby because what if they don’t like it? What if they criticize your baby? I realize that it can be tough to share and even harder to share ebooks (although ebook providers have made this easy but it can be intimidating to the non-techie). While I love receiving print books either as a gift or in the mail I do prefer reading ebooks, especially now that I have a little one, it is SOOO much easier to balance my kindle in my hand while rocking him or feeding him (I don’t know how all you mommies did it before ebooks). I know that sounds like a problem, here I am complaining about not receiving print books and yet I am going off about preferring to read ebooks, it is a problem but I have decided I am okay with this dichotomy in my life.

As a result of my loving receiving books I have become the “book” aunt to my nieces and nephews, they know that any gift they receive from me will be a book I loved when I was their age. I LOVE discussing books with them, what did they love, what did they hate, what impacted them, children are so great about telling you exactly what they think about the book in such a free way that I am never offended if they don’t like the book I gave them. This year was fun for me because I got to pick out books for my new little guy. I realize that four months old is a little young for some books but I knew he was going to receive toys and clothes from the grandparents so I decided that most of the gifts from the hubby and me were going to be books. It was great! I loved mentally debating with myself over the merits of the Llama Llama series verses The Brown Bear finally I decided to go with some of my favorite books from when I was a child (and my siblings favorite, not a single title remains at my parents’ house, all of them mysteriously walking out the door after one of us had come to visit). The author and illustrator of these great books is Bill Peet, an animator at Disney for numerous years, his illustrations are engaging but it is his use of words and imagination that I love. He didn’t dumb books down for children but instead used all the fabulous words available to him to create fabulous stories, exciting adventures and heartwarming messages. I can’t wait to start sharing them with my little guy (and I may have read all of them before wrapping them, deliciously savoring each one like a long lost friend). I hope your Christmas was filled with lovely books and fabulous words.

The Whingdingdilly by Bill Peet

dragon tattooRuby Salazaar’s entire world has just changed and she doesn’t know who to trust. In Dragon Awakened by Jaime Rush, Ruby has just witnessed the murder of her uncle, the man who raised her, and the only clue she has is the name he whispered as he was dying…Cyntag.   Ruby vows to find this Cyntag and make him pay for the murder of  the man who raised her. But things aren’t what they appear and Ruby finds herself working with the mysterious Cyntag to track down the people who are after her.

Cyntag Valeron knew that some day Ruby would show up at his door, he just wished it had been as a teenager like he argued with her uncle about. Now Ruby is an adult and completely unaware of who she is and how to control her growing powers. As a dragon shifter, Ruby should have been taught as a teenager to shift and if that isn’t trouble enough, Cyn finds himself attracted to the determined Ruby. When things start to heat up between the two of them, Cyn struggles to keep Ruby at an arm’s length distance because once she finds out who he really is and what he has done she won’t have anything to do with him. 

Dragon Awakened is a great continuation of the Hidden series. Jaime Rush’s paranormal world is very different from other paranormal novels I have read, with an interesting history of how shifters, sorcerers, and fallen angels came to be, her world is well developed and intriguing. From the first line to the last, Rush kept me interested, guessing and enjoying the adventure of Cyn and Ruby. As Ruby’s world is torn apart and turned upside down I really liked her determination and willingness to shift her thinking to adjust to her new reality. I am always a fan of the heroine unwilling to sit on the sidelines while the hero rushes in to save the day and Ruby is that type of woman.  Cyn was the sympathetic hero with just enough alpha male to be delicious and not annoying. One of my absolute favorite things is the fact that the shifters have a tattoo of their inner beast on their body that moves and interacts (in a small way) with the other characters. The first two novellas in The Hidden are in the same world as Dragon Awakened but aren’t connected to the story line so you don’t need to have read them first. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

The Hidden Series Reading Order:

Dragon Mine (novella)

Dragon Rising (novella) you can read my review here

Dragon Awakened

Magic Possessed  (January 28, 2014)

Angel Seduced (February 14, 2014)

dragon awakenedRating: Star 4copy

Content: favicon5 NB

Title: Dragon Awakened

Author: Jaime Rush

Format: Paperback, eBook

Page Nos.: 368


Publisher: Hachette Book Group

Release Date: December 17, 2013

Available for purchase: Amazon

Reviewer: Jessica


**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.

Novel Reaction is excited to welcome author Lynn Marie Hulsman.

LynnMarieHarperImpulse novelist Lynn Marie Hulsman’s varied employment background includes stints as a copywriter for a direct marketing agency specializing in casino advertising (Free buffets! Loose slots!), ushering at Manhattan Theatre Club where she ran smack into Steve Martins’ chest, irritated Jeremy Irons’s agent, and saw John Slattery naked over 50 times, editing materials for major pharmaceutical companies (Ask her anything about the prostate: She knows.), creatively ideating to re-brand major household products for huge corporations, and passing out cheese cube samples (a decided low point). As a performer she’s been seen onstage at Caroline’s, Stand Up New York, and headlining with her sketch group Hits Like a Girl at The Big Stinkin’ Comedy Festival in Austin,TX. She can’t tell you what she’s ghost written (obv!) but she’s co-written two books on cookery, and is sole author of the forthcoming cookbook The Kentucky Bourbon Dessert Cookbook. She does not believe in white chocolate.

Twitter: @LynnMarieSays



christmas presentsChristmas memories to me are the very opposite of calm and peaceful. Our household’s holiday seasons were not strings of relaxed evenings sipping cocoa in front of the fire, or singing Silent Night as we gathered ‘round the tree to string popcorn. I’m the youngest child of five, and on top of that, the only girl. Our basic horde was comprised of seven people, and usually a dog. Add the grandparents, and all the relatives from my surprisingly long-lived family, plus assorted friends, and our yuletides were a mixture of chaos and din.

With that volume of traffic in and out of our house, it was virtually impossible to be prepared. In a fighting effort, my practical and frugal mother resourcefully kept a stash of  “extra” presents for the times of us kids reported on the last day before school holidays that we had a previously undiscussed student teacher or when our family got the last-minute “B-list” call for a neighborhood open house, and a hostess gift was required. These presents were wrapped, and stashed to the side of the piles under the tree in their own area. Still, with the sheer number of wrapped packages, tags fell off and taped-up gifts sometimes went unidentified.

When we were very young, that mountain of gifts was torn into all revelations were made in just this side of fifteen minutes. Later, in an effort at teaching “gratitude” and “appreciation,” our custom morphed into a one-at-a-time, around-the-circle unveiling of our cans of salted mixed nuts, our battery-operated calculators, and our Calvin Klein jeans. If this sounds like fun, I’ve mislead you. The arduous event stretched out over the space of the better part of an afternoon, going deep into the evening. Each offering had to be held aloft and clapped for. Bathroom breaks were needed. Celebrants required hydration. In an attempt to keep blood sugar levels up, people poked into their stockings, nibbling their way through mounds of Hershey’s kisses, Andes mints, and when there was nothing else left, candy canes off the tree.

opened presentNear the end of one such marathon, when he’d surely thought we’d have retired to the dinner table given the start time reported by my brother, Tod’s friend Phillip showed up. At the time, they were teenagers, and no doubt itching to get the car keys and bolt from the house. Not wanting Phillip to feel outside the circle, my mother quickly scrambled to re-label some of the emergency gifts, and to grab some belonging to my brothers, opting for the smaller ones to avoid giving away something expensive like the electronic game Simon, or a newly popularized pair of Nike sneakers.

A chair was pulled up, and Phillip was given a pile of gifts, and the grim duty of taking his turn opening each, and holding it up to be applauded. As if this test of stamina during a marathon of present-opening weren’t bad enough, Phillip was given the a present no self-conscious teen wanted to open, much less lord over a waiting circle of people belonging to another family: A three-pack of Hanes tighty-whiteys. From what I remember, he blanched and mumbled, confused by our strange culture. He was a stranger in a strange land, and at that moment, I imagine he was wishing for home. After a beat, someone yelled out, “Underwear!” and we applauded as we would have for a Whitmans’ Sampler or a pair of Dearfoam slippers.

To this day, we’re not really sure why my mother wrapped up a package of underwear from Target in the first place. If I could ask her, I would. But I do know that every year since, SOMEONE has gotten a multi-pack of unmentionables.


Coming from a large family myself with numerous cousins and neighbor kids in and out all the time, my mother always had the stash of presents for those moments when one of her children (not me of course *cough, cough*), would need a last minute gift for a birthday party, teacher gift or unexpected Christmas gift. Thanks Lynn for coming and sharing with us.

Lynn has a Christmas novel that came out this month from HarperImpulse Christmas at Thornton Hall. Check it out!

image004Need a fun, festive treat to warm you up on cold winter nights? Don’t miss this terrific debut from a witty new voice in romantic comedy!

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!

So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the impossibly grand ancestral pile.


The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.


But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?


As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!


CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.


There is something about the holidays that always makes me eagerly read Christmas anthologies (I think it has something to do with all the Zebra Regency Christmas Kittens anthologies I devoured as a teenager). Not only are they fun quick reads, they are a great way to find new authors without feeling like you are wasting too much time on a novel you may not like. I looked forward to A Christmas to Remember because it contained A Lucky Harbor story by Jill Shalvis and a Last Chance story by Hope Ramsay, both authors I have reviewed and enjoyed in the past.

Dream a Little Dream by Jill Shalvis, Melissa has always kept everyone at a distance excerpt her friend with benefits Ian. Ian has decided he wants something more, and it is the season of miracles…

Every Year by Kristen Ashley, the Cage brothers have never really celebrated Christmas, but this year they are about to get to experience a true Christmas celebration with Tabby and her family.

Silent Night by Hope Ramsay, single mother Maryanne hopes to start over in a town called Last Chance. But nothing goes as planned, can Maryanne find the Christmas miracle she is searching for?

Have Yourself A Messy Little Christmas by Molly Cannon, Lincoln is a messy confirmed bachelor whose mother hires him a professional organizer who shows up dressed as Mrs. Clause, changing his life forever.

A Family for Christmas by Marilyn Pappano, War widow and single mother doesn’t mind spending Christmas alone but when a new doctor shows up in town, will she need to rethink her plans, for the better?!

A contemporary anthology, A Christmas to Remember is a fun quick read that is perfect to get anyone in the mood for Christmas. I particularly liked Silent Night by Hope Ramsay. Maryanne has only one good memory and it is of a Christmas spent when she was six at her grandfather’s farm. Maryanne hopes that she can bring that same joy into the life of her son by starting over in Last Chance but things don’t go as planned when her car breaks down several miles outside of Last Chance. Hope Ramsay’s characters are always charmingly flawed and her writing has a warmth that is a perfect fit for a Christmas story.

Be aware that there is some use of the “F” word in one of the stories.

a christmas to rememberRating: Star 4copy

Content:favicon5 NB

Title: A Christmas To Remember

Author: Hope Ramsay, Molly Cannon, Marilyn Pappano, Kristen Ashley and Jill Shalvis

Format: eBook

Page Nos.: 224


Publisher: Forever Yours

Release Date: December 3, 2013

Available for purchase: Amazon

Reviewer: Jessica


**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.


Why Ratings?
It is true you can't judge a book by its cover, you also can't judge a book's graphic content by its cover. NovelReaction's goal is to provide readers with a graphic content so they can make an informed decision regarding the books they want to read. (Also, to have a great place for people to discuss books.) So sit back, pull up a beverage, and read on!
Graphic Ratings*

1 = kissing
2 = kissing, some fondling
3 = descriptive stripping but no sex
4 = sex scene but not descriptive in details
5 = full descriptive sex scene

*I am rating a specific book by an author, not the author's style. If I am aware an author writes a specific way, I will let you know.

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