The Herd Archives

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Eggplant Parmesan!

This week on Tasty Tuesday!

My favorite Christmas dinner:
Eggplant Parmesan over pasta!

The first time I had eggplant parmesan was a year ago when I went to a cooking class up the street and I seriously fell in love with the dish. I've tried it so many places since but never found one quite as delicious. It's done a little different than most recipes and I've had a couple people who have always hated eggplant parmesan tell me they love it. So definitely a keeper recipe! And great for holiday meals if you have a veggie guest attending.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas Anthology

Type: Contemporary Romance, One with slight paranormal
Heat: 3 out of 5
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I LOVE anthologies like A Very Merry Christmas. Lori Foster rarely disappoints and she teamed up with some wonderful storytellers for this one. Bruce and Maynard were complete mysteries for me since I've never read them before but I really loved both of their contributions and will definitely be reading more of theirs in the future. This really was a great anthology. Fun, sweet, sexy with a whole lotta heart and damn good twist in one of them I didn't see coming. If you're looking for something that will make you smile and just bring a little cheer into your day A Very Merry Christmas is the perfect thing.

Do You Hear What I Hear by Lori Foster 
Sergeant Osbourne Decker has been asked to look after pet psychic Marci over the Christmas holiday by his boss because she thinks someone is stalking her. She may be hot but Osbourne is off crazy women. And ones who think they're pet psychics and steal donkey's from nativity scenes are so on that list. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July Hot Read: Make Me, Sir by Cherise Sinclair

Ever read books that get you a little hot and steamy? If you do, join in Hot Reads and share some of your favorite sexy reads and find some new ones!

Hot Reads is a Monthly Meme, hosted by Book Savvy Babe and Alive on the Shelves, where we get to share our hottest read of the month! Your choice can be any book, it doesn’t matter the genre, the length, whether it’s new or old. If you read it during the month, and it raised your temperature, it qualifies to be a HOT READ! Hot Reads takes place the 28th day of the month. So every month, be ready to share your HOT READ pick!

Oh this month's pick was EASY. Hands down this month's Hot Read was Make Me, Sir by Cherise Sinclair. Master Marcus will so have you squirming and the cover's pretty damn good too. I finished this one yesterday and can't wait to pick up the next one. So. Good.

If you haven't read them the series takes place at a private BDSM club in Florida called the Shadowlands and is filled with some seriously delicious and swoon-worthy Doms. Most of the previous Masters showed up in Make Me, Sir which made it even better. If you're interested in reading about BDSM this is one of the best series to start with. Sinclair is an excellent writer and her storylines and characters are all very compelling.

"Across the country, rebellious BDSM submissives are being systematically kidnapped, one from each club. When her friend falls prey to the slavers, FBI victim specialist Gabrielle volunteers to be bait in a club not yet hit: the Shadowlands.

She finds that being a bratty sub comes naturally, especially when she gets to twit the appallingly conservative Master of the trainees. But she soon discovers he's not as stuffy as she'd thought. Or as mean. She'd expected punishment, even humiliation, but she sure never expected to fall in love with a damned lawyer.

Courtesy of a prima donna ex-wife, Marcus loathes disobedient submissives. When the club owner insists he admit an incredibly bratty trainee, he's furious. But as he comes to know Gabrielle and sees the alluring sweetness beneath the sass, he starts to fall for her.

Unfortunately, Marcus isn't the only one who believes the feisty redhead is a prize worth capturing. And in the world of the slaver, such treasure is worth a hefty fee."

What was your favorite HOT READ this month?

Friday, July 27, 2012

18 & Over- Show us the Goods!

18 & Over Book Blogger Follow is a weekly feature that begins on Fridays and runs through the weekend, hosted by Crystal from Reading Between the Wines. This is a Friday blog hop with the objective to find and visit other book blogs that share the same interest as you, namely books geared towards the 18 & over crowd, and make some new friends!

Question of the Week: 
Show us the goods! Share your bookshelves with everyone. Strictly eBooks? That's okay, take a pic of your reader! Give a tour of your shelves and have fun with it :)

A: Oooooh love this weeks activity and getting to see what everyone does with their books :) So, yeah, basically I have a freaking ton of books and they're pretty much all over the house.

Last summer I put this one in the living room. It's my disgustingly huge TBR pile. I'm not an ereader and have an addiction to used bookstores and thrift shops. As you can well see. The dogs/cats did get one of the shelves for their toys :)  

One of the drawers has all of my 
giveaway/duplicate books for the blog. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Industrial Magic (Women of the Otherworld #4) by Kelley Armstrong + giveaway

"In the aftermath of her mother's murder, Paige broke with the elite, ultraconservative American Coven of Witches. Now her goal is to start a new Coven for a new generation. But while Paige pitches her vision to uptight thirty-something witches in business suits, a more urgent matter commands her attention.

Someone is murdering the teenage offspring of the underworld's most influential Cabals—a circle of families that makes the mob look like amateurs. And none is more powerful than the Cortez Cabal, a faction Paige is intimately acquainted with. Lucas Cortez, the rebel son and unwilling heir, is none other than her boyfriend. But love isn't blind, and Paige has her eyes wide open as she is drawn into a hunt for an unnatural-born killer. Pitted against shamans, demons, and goons, it's a battle chilling enough to make a wild young woman grow up in a hurry. If she gets the chance."

Type: Urban Fantasy, Witches
Heat: 1 out of 4
Rating: 3 out of 5

Industrial Magic had so many good things going for it. Armstrong created a richly intriguing world filed with action, danger, and an interesting mystery that will keep you guessing on the who and whys of it all. I loved that this time we got to delve into the oh-so-twisted family life of Lucas and were given a horrifying glimpse into the different Cabals (think sorcerer mob families) as Paige and Lucas help his semi-estranged father investigate attacks against Cabal teenagers. The Cabals were both fascinating and frustrating all at the same time. Filled with men who have terrifying powers, few morals and are more inclined to bicker like teenagers than work together to stop the senseless and brutal attack against their children. It really was an interesting storyline. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Highlander for the Holidays (Pine Creek Highlanders #8) by Janet Chapman

Jessie Pringle moved to the small mountain town of Pine Creek, Maine, to start her life again—and to try to put behind her brutal attack that left both her mind and body scarred. But she never expected to meeet someone like Ian MacKeage. Brawny and quick-witted, the green-eyed giant of a man seems to have stepped right out the Scottish Highlands.

As irresistibly drawn to Ian as he is to her, Jessie finds it more and more difficult to deny her own desires. But how long can she keep Ian content with only kisses?

Then, on on of her long walks through the wilderness, she meets a strang, kindly hermit who sells her a walking stick—one imbued with a magic that may allow Jessie to finally be rid of the pain of her past, and to build a future with Ian...

Type: Contemporary Romance, Light Paranormal, Magic
Heat:2 out of 4
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I love books like Highlander for the Holidays. Easy, no pressure, and just fun to read. Ones that might not blow you away but still leave you smiling and in a better mood than when you started them. And really you can't go wrong with a slew of fiercely protective and sexy Highlanders. Add in a touch of magic, unique characters and the holiday season and it's just a damn good time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Fancy Vanilla Cupcakes!

Tasty Tuesday: Fancy Vanilla Cupcakes!

So, if you've been around the blog for a while you know cupcakes routinely kick my ass. I can cook. I can bake cookies, make pies and killer pastry crust but cupcakes? Cupcakes make me their bitch every damn time. With out fail. These did a nice job of that too (first go I accidentally doubled the butter) but in the end I think I won this round.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Yule Be Mine by Lori Foster + giveaway

Type: Contemporary Romance, One w/ slight Paranormal 
Heat: 2 out of 4
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Turns out Yule Be Mine isn't one of Foster's full length novels but a collection of her short stories. And it's a pretty good collection too. Fun and sexy with lots of humor, sweet declarations and characters finally winning over the ones they love. 

One of the things I love about Foster's short stories is that while things get all hot and heavy right away all the couples have known each other for months, if not years, before the good stuff starts. Makes them so much more believable and to me a lot more enjoyable to read. 

If you love Foster and are looking for something you can quickly pick up and finish in one sitting Yule Be Mine is definitely one to check out. 

He Sees You When You're Sleeping (55pgs)
Heh, okay so kinda a creepy title but a nice short, quick read that's pretty cute. Booker Dean has his sights set on unwrapping his next door neighbor, Frances, for Christmas. She's been secretly lusting after him for months too but doesn't know he's finally broken up with his cheating girlfriend and is free for the taking. I loved the friendship between the two and how feisty Frannie was with him. She wasn't about to do anything with him when she thought he still had a girlfriend and damn if she didn't stop him in his tracks. Love a girl with morals! Just a fun friends to lovers story with a lot of laughs. The secondary characters were great too and provided some highly embarrassing background entertainment.
"If you'll just settle down and listen, I'll explain." Cautiously, he turned her around so she faced him. Then, before she could protest, he looked at her mouth, appeared drawn there and he started kissing her again, light, teasing kisses. "I swear, Frannie, you have the sexiest mouth." 
"In about two seconds, I'm going to unman you with my knee." He released her and stepped back so quickly, she almost smiled. "Now, if you insist, you can explain while you help me move my stuff."

Christmas at Timberwoods by Fern Michaels

It's the most wonderful time of the year and for Heather Andrews, security manager at Timberwoods Mall, undoubtedly the busiest. But this Christmas, Heather has more to contend with than frazzled parents and disgruntled Santas. Angela Steinhart, a young woman who designed the mall's spectacular holiday displays, has had a premonition that tragedy will strike on Christmas Eve. And Angela's visions have a habit of coming true.

Heather would love to dismiss the warning as holiday stress. But the more she gets to know the quiet, lonely Angela, the more she trusts her. In Lex, her boss, Heather finds an ally and the glimmer of something more profound. And as the days count down, it will take all of her wits, hope, and unflagging courage to stop someone from destroying the season in one split second.

Type: Suspense?
Heat: 0 out of 4 absolutely none
Rating: 1.5 out of 5

This was my first time reading Fern Michaels and I was pretty floored by what I found. And unfortunately not in a good way. If Christmas at Timberwoods is typical of her writing I'm honestly amazed that she's a New York Times bestselling author. While there were some aspects to the book that I did enjoy and kept me reading I had two pretty major issues with the book that I just couldn't  seem to get past. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

18 & Over Hop- the security book

18 & Over Book Blogger Follow is a weekly feature that begins on Fridays and runs through the weekend, hosted by Crystal from Reading Between the Wines. This is a Friday blog hop with the objective to find and visit other book blogs that share the same interest as you, namely books geared towards the 18 & over crowd, and make some new friends!

Question of the Week:

Do you have a 'feel good' read or author that you go to whenever you're sick or feeling down?

Oh yeah. I have two authors I go to every time I'm feeling down. 

If I need a good laugh it's always Shelly Laurenston and her Pride series. Her shifters are hysterical and I love that they're not just your typical wolves but felines, bears and wild dogs too. I'm grinning just thinking about them. She's a fantastic writer and never fails to lift my spirits :)

My other comfort read is J.D. Robb and her In Death series. Eve, Roarke and all of the characters are like family at this point. Hell. I like them more than most of my family. 35 books in and I still love the series and getting lost in the mysteries/relationships. There's a real comfort in getting to visit them from time to time. 

What about yall? Who's your security read?

Feature Follow Friday- Christmas in July

Q: Christmas in July! Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs). What two books will you buy?

Ah! Perfect question since we're celebrating Christmas in July all month at Herding Cats & Burning Soup :) 

If I could pick two books right now I'd go for..

Maya Banks' Echoes at Dawn that just came out. 


Charmfall by Chloe Neill. I've wanted to read that one for a while now. 

While you're here we've got a bunch of giveaways going on for Christmas in July and will have a handful more before the months up. They're listed over on the left so feel free to check those out :) 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tasty Delights--Chocolate Pretzel Rods

Tasty Delights and Dazzling Disasters is all about playing in the kitchen and having some fun.

I'll share my delights or my disasters. Yall feel free to join in and create your own posts, share your favorite recipes, what have you. 

My mom sends me these every Christmas from the chocolate shop up the street.
Not sure why it popped into my head but I thought I try making my own. 

Not that freaking easy! But still kinda fun to figure out how to make them.

Monday, July 16, 2012

North of Need (Hearts of the Anemoi #1) by Laura Kaye + giveaway

Desperate to escape agonizing memories of Christmas past, twenty-nine-year-old widow Megan Snow builds a snow family outside the mountain cabin she once shared with her husband, realizing too late that she’s recreated the very thing she’ll never have.

Called to life by Megan’s tears, snow god Owen Winters appears unconscious on her doorstep in the midst of a raging blizzard. As she nurses him to health, Owen finds unexpected solace in her company and unimagined pleasure in the warmth of her body, and vows to win her heart for a chance at humanity.

Megan is drawn to Owen’s mismatched eyes, otherworldly masculinity, and enthusiasm for the littlest things. But this Christmas miracle comes with an expiration—before the snow melts and the temperature rises, Megan must let go of her widow’s grief and learn to trust love again, or she’ll lose Owen forever.

Type: Paranormal Romance, gods of weather
Heat: 3 out of 5
Rating: 5 out of 5

North of Need is the first book in Laura Kaye's Hearts of the Anemoi series and I absolutely adored it. It's a fun, charming read with a very sweet romance. The main characters, Megan and Owen, have been through tremendous losses during their lives and ohmigod will your heart ache for them. This could have easily been a very dark and depressing tale but Kaye added so many light hearted, joyful moments as these two start to heal and really live life that they balanced out the tears and heartache perfectly. There's no violence, grit or real suspense involved but Kaye did manage to get my adrenalin surging a couple times and had me antsy and sitting on the edge of my seat there at the end going nonononoOMG(ha)no!! The writing flows smoothly, the relationship is believable and entertaining plus you get to learn how to make an igloo. Pretty damn kick-ass.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Magical Christmas Cat anthology + giveaway

Type: Paranormal Romance, Shifters/Witches/Demons
Heat: 2-3 out of 5
Rating: 4 out of 5

I've been wanting to read this anthology for ages. And oh, wow, there were some surprises! Each is set during the Christmas season and somehow includes cats as a main part of the storyline. I LOVED how differently each author approached the kitty aspect. Not at all what I was expecting but really nice.

Stroke of Enticement by Nalini Singh
Damn! I can't believe I've waited this long to read Nalini Singh! Not even 10 pages in and I was completely captivated by her easy writing style, believable characters and humor. It's filled with sexy, charming leopard changlings, an undeniable attraction and a lot of heart. There's no real plot other than a fantastic love story and overcoming ones families but it really worked for me. Zack and Annie were wonderful together. I loved all of their interactions. How terribly Zack, damn near twinkling with humor, teased Annie. The fire he sparked in her and how she held her own with him. And just how perfectly they complimented each other. It really felt like these two had known each other for years instead of days/weeks. This one's short and sweet with a fast moving relationship but it never feels rushed or incomplete. Next chance I get I'll be grabbing up the rest of this series. That. Good.
She jumped. "You walk like a cat!"
"I am a cat, sweetheart." He wanted to tease her again, so he let a low growl rumble up from his chest. "See?"
Streaks of vibrant color stained her cheeks once more. But she didn't back down. "Are you planning to move?"
"No." He drew in a deep breath, fighting the urge to nuzzle at her throat. "You smell good. Can I taste you?" It was a half-serious question. "Just a little?"
"Mr. Quinn!" She took a step around him and headed off.
But he'd already caught the tart bite of arousal in her scent. Satisfied, he followed, on his best behavior now. It wouldn't do to scare Annie away. Not when he planned to keep her. 
Christmas Bree by Erin McCarthy
Now, I love Erin McCarthy but man was this one a dud for me. Bree Murphy is a witch and for the last year has been having some very steamy dreams about a mystery man. One day lawyer Ian Carrington shows up on her doorstep with an offer, from one of his clients, to buy her house. Not only is he her mystery man but he's been dreaming of her all along too! I just didn't feel the sparks between Bree and Ian. There were some steamy moments and I did like that they kinda sorta had a connection to one another already but actually feeling the sparks between them and believing the relationship unfortunately never happened.

There's was a bit of drama from Ian's overly determined client wanting to force Bree from her home but it all gets wrapped up nice and tidy in the end. What I think got me most was never really finding out WHY the client was so hell bent and determined to have her home. Loose ends drive me nuts. I really wanted to love this one since I do enjoy McCarthy's writing but in the end it just fell completely flat for me. I think I'll be sticking to McCarthy's full length novels. Those she's a freaking master at!

Sweet Dreams by Linda Winstead Jones
Linda Winstead Jones was the wild card for me. I'd never even heard of her before picking up this anthology but she wasn't bad. Her writing was easy to read, flowed nicely and wrapped up in a fairly satisfying way. It was a little predictable but really not bad at all for a quick read.

The basic plot is that an ancient evil is about to escape captivity and wreck havoc and destruction starting with bakery owner Ruby Kincaid who doesn't believe in any of that woowoo stuff and has no idea what's about to happen to her life. Ruby's a sweet character whose life is a little dull. She's a hard worker and spends most of her time growing her business. Zane Benedict, her neighbor, though. Let me tell you. First thoughts on him were "socially awkward asshole!!" I'm not sure I've met a hero who gave a worse first impression but he managed to completely redeem himself and I kinda like him now. There's drama, action a bit of betrayal and a soul sucking cat that'll make you look at your feline residents a little more closely. Jones did a fantastic job using dreams/visions that'll make the little hairs on the back of your neck rise. I was pretty impressed with her.

Christmas Heat by Lora Leigh
This was my second favorite of the anthology since I know the world and enjoyed getting a taste of it again. It's book 17 in the Breeds series (I'm only at #4) so a lot of things have changed. New characters/matings, political issues, medical discoveries, etc. If you just brush past that and go with it it's a great read. If you're already reading the Breeds series you might want to hold off on this one until you've read all of the earlier ones. There are a couple little spoilerish discoveries talked about in the story.

Haley is the town librarian and Noble a Breeds enforcer (Love that they're both into books/reading). The two have been dancing around each other for months and are finally given a push when Haley's life  is put in jeopardy by a Breeds betrayer and a company out to eliminate her for testifying in court against them. This one's short and quick but I liked the characters together and that they have some history together. There was a lot of heat, sweetness, caring. My gut always clinches reading about the Breeds and how hard their upbringings were. Not understanding a lot of human emotions or things like celebrating Christmas or getting a simple gift. So I loved this one and Noble finding someone that was his, experiencing Christmas and getting his first gift, etc. 

Get Your Copy:   Amazon     Barnes&Noble     BookDepository

Do you have a favorite "Feline" story? Is it a sexy shifter or the ultimate soul sucking evil? A sweet mystery or just one where there's a pet cat in the picture?

There's two choices for today's giveaway!

A brand new copy of Lora Leigh's Guilty Pleasure 
(a menage from her Bound Hearts series)
a slightly used copy of Erin McCarthy's Houston, We Have a Problem 
(stand alone- I really liked this one!)

Just leave a comment and a way to reach you!
The Giveaway is international and open until 7/31

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Heart of Christmas Anthology!

Type: Historical Romance, England
Heat: 2 out of 5 Just a tiny bit of steam
Rating: 3 out of 5

Isn't that just a gorgeous cover? I'm not sure how this one ended up at my house but what a nice surprise. I'd never read any of the authors included and think I've found two new ones I'll be reading a good deal more of in the near future. Balogh and Cornick had me humming Christmas tunes with a smile on my face and very much in the mood for Christmas. Great holiday reads that were fun and sweet. Then there was Milan. [did you so just hear the dum.dum...dum bit there?] I know a lot of people LOVED her contribution but it had me wishing my iced tea was spiked. Two out of three's not bad though. Not bad at all.

A Handful of Gold by Mary Balogh
Facing an arranged marriage, dashing and wealthy Julian decides to celebrate his last weeks of freedom the only way a rake knows how...a Christmas fling with the woman of his choice. In desperate financial straits opera singer Verity quickly agrees to be his Mistress for the week. Little do they know what surprises await them both...

This one was my favorite of the bunch. The scandalous proposition, the characters, the  humor and surprises along the way and the overwhelming Christmas spirit. It was all very nicely done even if bits were almost too sweet. Julian was the perfect mix of bored/hard edges and a good natured sport and Verity was an absolute force of nature with an infectious personality. All Julian wanted was a quiet week away with no Christmas fanfare and lots of time spent in a nice warm bed. And oh how the best laid plans just never go quite as expected. From surprise guests because of a storm to finding out Verity wasn't quite what she seemed. I loved all the twists and turns, how Verity got everyone involved in celebrating the holiday and decorating, the romance that developed between Julian and Verity (and I just love that name). It was just a fun little read.

The Season For Suitors by Nicola Cornick
After some close encounters with rakes in which she was nearly compromised, heiress Clara Davenport realizes that she needs some expert advice. And who better for the job than Sebastian Fleet, the most notorious rake in town? But the tutelage doesn't go quite as planned, as both Sebastian and Clara find it difficult to remain objective when it comes to lessons of the heart!

Ah one of my favorite storylines. I love characters with a bit of history and Clara and Sebastian definitely have that going on. Afterall she did propose to him years earlier! Clara was sassy, determined, innocent and oh so in love with Sebastian despite her attempts to forget the blasted rake who'd turned her down. I really liked Sebastian too. He could be a jerk pushing her away but under it all he's terrified of having someone depend on him and doesn't think he's good enough. He breaks your heart a little with what he's gone though in the past and how it affects him now. Still there was a good bit of humor and I loved the use of secondary characters. Was just a sweet read and a great enemy's to lovers story. 
"Congratulations?" Martin's expression was like boiling milk. "Congratulations? I will not permit my sister to marry such a rogue."
"Martin, darling." Juliana said, putting a gentle hand on her husband's arm, "I completely understand your misgivings but I do think we should consider the matter calmly."
"Calmly!" Martin spun around. "I am not calm!"
"I think we all realize that, dearest," Juliana said. 
This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan
Lavinia Spencer has been saving her hard-earned pennies to provide her family with Christmas dinner. Days before the holiday, her brother is swindled, leaving them owing more than they can ever repay. Until a mysterious benefactor offers to settle the debt. Innocent Lavinia is stunned by what the dashing William White wants in return. Will she exchange a wicked gift for her family's fortune?

Holy crap was this one freaking depressing. Damn.  I'll give Milan points for going outside the norm and doing things a little different with her hero/heroine being in the working class and struggling financially. You really don't see that too often in historical romances. Lavinia and William both have hard lives and they LOVE to focus on all their hardships and struggles. I'm all for a brooding hero/ine but damn they need some other qualities that make them endearing and leave you wanting to root for them. Never got there with these two. There was too much woe is me, I'm not good enough moping about. And despite what the blurb said Lavinia so wasn't stunned by William's demands on her. That girl dropped skirt so damn quick in exchange for a 10 pound debt being canceled it wasn't even funny. Nope. Sorry. Didn't work for me at all. 

Get Your Copy:   Amazon    Barnes&Noble    BookDepository

Have you ever read a novella/book where nearly everyone raved about it and you had the exact opposite reaction? 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Nutella Cookies!

This weeks Tasty Tuesday happens to be a Passionately Pinterest Pin too! Score!

Nutella Cookies.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~the Pin~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
DO NOT ADD SUGAR! These are the best cookies EVER! 1 cup Nutella, 1 whole egg, 1 cup flour - bake for 6-8 min @ 350 degrees. OMG!!!!!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~What Really Happened~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hot for the Holidays anthology

Type: Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 out of 5
Rating: 4 out of 5

Well, damn. First time I've ever wanted to trade places with a candy cane! Love this cover! Hot for the Holidays was chock full of new to me authors. I've read Lora Leigh before but not anything from the Breeds series that her short story was part of. Overall this is a very nice anthology with each story happening during the Christmas season. While I enjoyed Knight's and James' stories the most each of the authors' contributions were enjoyable and kept my interest. I'd pick up books by any of the authors included without a second thought.

Vampire's Ball by Angela Knight

I really enjoyed Knight's Vampire's Ball which is part of her Mageverse series. It doesn't take long to understand the world that she created revolving around King Arthur and his Knights. It can easily be read without reading the rest of the series. It's an interesting twist on the Knights and Ladies of the round table with them actually being turned into Vampires and Majae when they become the immortal protectors of mankind. 

Kat Danilo has just found out about this world and is being tested, by Vampire Ridge, to see if she has the strength to survive becoming a Maja. There was a bit of a mystery to be solved concerning a long ago murder and some difficult issues over loss and guilt touched upon. The chemistry between Ridge and Kat was both sweet and steamy with shared experiences that helped them understand one another. There was a lot happening in very few pages but it worked for me. The only thing that got me a little was how quickly Kat seemed to master her new powers once she had them. The names did have me biting back a grin from time to time with their cheesiness. Ridge Champion, Jimmy Chosen? And the alternate world of Mageverse? Oy. But still a nicely done short story that felt complete and left me interested enough to go pick up the first book in the series.

A Little Night Magic by Allyson James

I LOVED this prequel to James' Stormwalker series. After disappearing 2 years earlier and breaking her heart Jaimson returns to protect Naomi and her daughter from enemies who are out to destroy the ones he loves. This one was full of Changers, skinwalkers, pervy trickster gods, a little mystery and some good action scenes that added up to a great read. Plus I'm just a sucker for couples getting back together after being separated for years and finally getting things right the second time around. I liked Naomi, she's got some sass and spice in her. She practical and doesn't let things knock her down for too long. I loved her reactions to pretty much everything and that she wasn't afraid to let Jaimson know how pissed off she was over his leaving years earlier. Jaimson was a decent guy especially once you knew why he disappeared. He's laid back, in charge, sweet with her daughter who was deaf. Even though it doesn't look like this couple is the focus for the rest of the series I'm still interested to see where it goes from here and getting to see more of Coyote the pervy god. 

Favorite line?

 "Damn all magic-seeking, shamanistic men with gorgeous bodies and long cocks."

Sweet Enchantment by Anya Bast
For the most part I did enjoy Sweet Enchantment but it wasn't my favorite. There were some interesting parts to the Fae world Bast created with them basically imprisoned and forced to live in a certain contained area and unable to leave. I liked that little twist since usually they're portrayed as all powerful and in control. 30 years after badly ending their affair Bella Rhiannon Caliste Mac Lyr and Ronan Achaius Quinn are thrown together again, on the run to save not only his life but suddenly hers as well. Both characters were likable and it was heartbreaking to find out why things had ended so badly between them decades earlier and how much it had hurt both of them.

My big problem with the story and why I didn't like this one as much was the ending. Up until then I was really into the story and the characters. There is a happily ever after of sorts but everything concluded very abruptly. I knew the story was nearly over but when I read the last page it just didn't feel finished. Things were still too up in the air for me and I fully expected at least one more chapter before it was really over so hitting the last page was a shock. I wasn't left with a nice satisfied feeling and sure everything would work out. Not a fan of that. I did like the writing though so will be picking up a full length book of hers to see how she handles endings with one of those. Better, I hope. 

Favorite line? 
"Just remember it's an invitation to get into bed, not into me."
"I value my balls. I know better than to try anything with you right now."

A Christmas Kiss by Lora Leigh
I've read a few of Leigh's books but never one from her Breeds series, even though it's been on my buy list for ages, so I was really looking forward to this story and getting a taste of the series. I did enjoy the story but I think I would have liked it a lot more if I had read the rest of the series first. The terminology, obvious back-story that impacted the couple, and just the Breed world in general were a little hard to get past. Jessica Raines (human) and Hawke Estaban (breed) are destined mates who have been separated for the last year while Jessica was in confinement and her innocence determined after she was forced to betray the Breeds. Still following along? The story is basically the two of them coming back together and deciding if they want to cement the mate bond between them. At the same time protecting Jessica from an outside threat that's trying to eliminate her. Again I really wish I knew all of the back story on the hero and heroine. While I liked them and was glad they found their happily ever after I think I would have been more invested in them if I knew more about their history. It was still a nice little read with some spicy scenes and some very sweet and thoughtful moments. I'll be hunting down book one of the series soon. [NOTE: I've started reading the Breeds series since doing this review and am really enjoying them :) Definitely one you should read in order]

Get Your Copy:   Amazon    Barnes&Noble    BookDepository

Do you like anthologies? Or would you rather read a full length novel? Read any of these ladies? If so, what did you think of them?!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Passionately Pinterest: The Button Christmas Tree Ornament + giveaway

Passionately Pinterest happens every couple of weeks here on Herding Cats & Burning Soup so I can indulge my Pinterest addition...guilt free. Taking one pin at a time and making them actually happen...

Have a Pin suggestion? Let me know! 

Now. This week on Passionately Pinterest....

The Button Christmas Tree!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~THE PIN~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Use varying sizes of green buttons to make 
this cute Christmas tree not-just-christmas"

~~~~~~~~~~ WHAT REALLY HAPPENED ~~~~~~~~~~

The link to my pin was broken but thankfully this one was fairly simple and didn't really need instructions.

The hardest part of this one was finding the damn blasted buttons! Sweet Jesus it took me forever! I ended up at 4 different stores before finding enough sizes. 

If you go out looking...ACMoore and Michaels have next to no buttons. Most of mine came from JoAnns. You'll have better luck at stores that focus on sewing projects not just crafts in general.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Virgin River Christmas (Virgin River #4) by Robyn Carr + giveaway

Last Christmas, Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life and gave her three more years to love him.

Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby’s shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah four years ago then disappeared as soon as their unit arrived Stateside. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River and finds a man as wounded emotionally as Bobby was physically. But she is not easily scared off. As Marcie pushes her way into his rugged and reclusive life, she discovers a sweet but damaged soul beneath a rough exterior.

Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young widow who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

Type: Contemporary Romance, Small Town
Heat: 3 out of 5 Takes a while to heat up
Rating: 5 out of 5

Oh. Damn. This one was just so freaking good! I loved A Virgin River Christmas. Hands down my favorite so far in Robyn Carr's Virgin River series. An amazing hero and heroine with heart wrenching pasts that haunt them, a wonderful setting of Virgin River at Christmas, great use of secondary characters and just a lovely story of finding closure and peace, moving on with life and finding someone who heals your soul.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cocked & Loaded, Shootin' Stars & Blasting Giveaway Hop!

Thanks to the ladies at Queentutt's World of Escapism and Close Encounters with the Night Kind for hosting the Cocked & Loaded, Shootin' Stars & Blasting Giveaway Hop!

No better way to celebrate the country's birthday (and the amazing men & women who keep it safe) than giving out gifties!!

So what's happening at herding cats?! 

Right now we're all about 
"Christmas in July" 
so we're giving away....

a SIGNED copy of 
Once Burned by Jeaniene 'FROST '
[or your choice of a Christmasy tale up to $10!]

And don't forget to jump over to Queentutt's World of Escapism to enter for the grand prize provided by all of the wonderful hop sponsors! {2} Kindle Fires loaded up with all kinds of sponsor books and goodies! How awesome is that?!

There will be some other giveaways going on over here this week so feel free to enter those too :)

Dirty Little Secrets- the tear jerker

Dirty Little Secret is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies over at Under the Covers to get to know other bloggers and our readers more intimately by asking them a question hoping to reveal their dirty little secrets. 

This weeks question:
What books have recently made you cry?

I get a little misty eyed over a lot of the books I read but two really got me choked up recently...
Karen Marie Moning's the Immortal Highlander and Robyn Carr's A Virgin River Christmas. Kinda random and totally different styles but amazing books. They'd have me laughing one second and then completely bawling like a baby the next. The ending of the Immortal Highlander. Pfew. Yeah. Total mess. And Carr's book just about did me in. I had to put it down a couple of times because I so teary eyed I couldn't see the words anymore. The emotional pain and trauma the heroine/hero are dealing with [the death of her husband and his best friend] was just staggering and so well written. Damn. I'm getting all teared up again just thinking about them. Fantastic books/series/authors.


So what's the last one that had you bawling?!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies!

It's Christmas cookie time! 

First up this Tasty Tuesday (a little late)....

Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies!! 

Yum, right?! These are pretty easy to make but there are a good number of steps and they do require a lot of down time between them so make sure you can work on these over a couple hours. 

First step is to mix the butter, part of the powdered sugar and melted unsweet chocolate (if I make these again I'll be using semi-sweet chocolate for this step) until nice and creamy. 

Next add in the flour and mix until it starts to thicken and form a "dough".

Next mix in the chocolate chips by hand. I used regular sized semi-sweet chips since they were on hand but really should have used the mini chips like the recipe calls for. They'll work easier for the rest of the steps and I think make nicer looking cookies in the end.

Form 1 inch balls and space evenly on an ungreased cooking sheet.

Next you flatten the balls with the bottom of a drinking glass that's been floured. 
The easiest way is to put a bit of flour on your fingers and rub the bottom of the glass with them.

If the glass isn't floured enough the cookie will stick and end up doing this. Damn! You can smush them back together though but still. Grr! So keep that glass floured nicely!

Flatten those cookies. 
I pressed mine to about 1/4 of an inch. The recipe called for 1 1/2 inches but these aren't cookies that are going to rise much and that just didn't seem right to me. 

Bake 5-7 minutes. Remove and set 2 minutes before placing on cooling rack. Cool completely before icing. 

Next Up! The ICING:
Mix icing ingredients on a low speed. If you start too fast you're going to get nice and powdered sugared. For a pale green use only ONE drop of food dye. 

You may need to play around with the consistency of the icing. It should be slightly fluid. If it's too thick add a teaspoon of milk at a time. If too thin add a bit more powdered sugar. 

Adding icing to the cookies is a bit messy so place them on some wax paper or it'll get all over the counter. The cookies on the bottom left were with the icing too thin. I added powdered sugar and did the top/right side. 

Each cookie was iced with about 1/2-1 teaspoon of icing. I used a spoon to drop the icing and spread it out slightly. The icing will settle some on it's own and may run off the cookie in places.

Allow to set completely before moving on to the next step. Around 20-30 minutes. 

Next up is piping on some melted chocolate! I made my own little piping bags (I'll teach yall how soon) but you can purchase them at most craft or grocery stores. Smaller is better in this case. After melting chocolate on low heat drizzle over cookies and let sit 30 minutes.

The final product!

I think they turned out kinda pretty in the end. Was so doubting them for a while there. 

These are a shortbread so they're not chewy and are a bit crumbly. I'm not a huge fan of shortbread in general but I think these turned out okay. They smell fantastic though especially the step where the hot chocolate hits the peppermint. Mmmm.

So not my favorite cookies but maybe yours?!

Recipe after the Jump!