Monday, November 20, 2017

Gretl's Gift Guide

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are less than week away. Have you started shopping yet? My daughter has a November birthday so I wind up doing a lot of Christmas shopping at the same time. A few of my finds are in this post, actually. There may be a Gift Guide Part Two in the works, so share your finds or your wish lists in the comments.

For Potterheads

First of all, does your Potterhead have every available edition of the books? I don't have the illustrated ones yet (in case you want to get me some books.) I also got really good deals on the UK editions from Book Outlet, though I didn't find them all at the same time. If they've already got all of those, here are some other HP-inspired items I'd be happy to find under my tree.

 $55 at Storybook Cosmetics
They also have palettes inspired by Mean Girls and Willy Wonka, as well as the famous Magic Wand brush set

$13.49 on Etsy
Happy Piranha had a chocolate frog candle that I was coveting but it's not on their website anymore. I'm not sure if that means it's discontinued or just sold out. But this one from FaerieTales Candles should fill the void. I love the way they decorate the tops of the candles. They almost look like cupcakes. There's also a 4oz version in a tin for about $8. These ship from New Zealand so if you're not in that part of the world you have to order by 11/24.

Marauder's Map Umbrella from BioWorld
$12.95 on Amazon
I have a thing for umbrellas. I have no idea why. But I love this marauder's map print. It's actually the reverse of most of the ones I've seen with its black background and tan writing.

$39.95 on Barnes & Noble
Hogwarts is such a perfect setting for a murder mystery. (I guess Chamber of Secrets kind of IS a murder mystery, now that I think about it.)

For Me

Or for other folks on your holiday list. (Really, you aren't getting me anything?)

$34.50 a month 
I came late to Gilmore Girls. I just binged the whole series on Netflix last year, but now I watch it a few times a week and it's one of my happy places. The box has things like mugs, t-shirts and magnets from Stars Hollow businesses. I'm so jealous when I see the unboxings on Instagram! You can also add a bag of coffee with a clever Gilmore-inspired name like the snickerdoodle flavor called "Oi with the Snickerpoodles, already!" to your box each month or subscribe to the Stars Hollow Coffee Club
 for $7.98 per 8 oz. bag.

Flick the Wick monthly box
$35 on Etsy
(Photo of the October box by Flick the Wick rep @myfriendsarefiction.)
December is sold out but you can get me the January box. I'm cool with that.
This box includes 4 small candles, 1 large candle and 5 bookish items.
It's like a book box with candles instead of a book. The price and the items included are similar. Great choice if you don't want to add to your bookish friend's TBR pile or aren't sure what books they already have.
Evie Seo on Zazzle
You might have seen Evie's designs on Instagram or Society 6 but she also has some on Zazzle now. They include home items like serving trays, mugs, and coasters. Also shoes! Tons of her Alice in Wonderland designs are there, but also some ADSOM, ACOTAR. I've had good luck ordering mugs from Zazzle in the past. And watch for discount codes - last year they had 75% off mugs one weekend.

Things you can go to an actual store for

I know some people like instant gratification and no shipping charges. These photos are from my own holiday shopping.

12 Days of socks from Target
These come in men's, women's and kids' sizes.
Choose from Star Wars, DC comics (pictured) or Christmas designs. There's also a Harry Potter one but they were out of stock in the warehouse two days after they released.

Unicorn Makeup from Ulta and Bath and Body Works
This is one of the things I've already gotten for my daughter and I hope that she thinks is as awesome as I do. If you have a tween or teen (or an Instagram account) you probably know that unicorn and mermaid makeup is big right now. I was pretty excited when I found these unicorn brushes at BBW. They also come in gold with pink bristles. Also pictured Unicorn Snot body glitter - I got purple but it also came in pink from BBW- and the Too Faced Unicorn Survival Kit from Ulta. She's also getting the Pur My Little Pony eye shadow palette but it seems to be sold out now.

Small Business Saturday
I had great success shopping in my historic downtown neighborhood on Small Business Saturday last year. Most stores had specials and free samples that day. If you're buying for friends that live out of town, you can be pretty sure they won't already have anything you find there. And you're sending them a little piece of your home town. I always love gifts like that.

What's on your shopping list this holiday season?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Nostalgic Book Boyfriends

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Bloggers, booktubers and bookstagrammers post on a common topic every (you guessed it) Wednesday. You can find the lists by searching #T5W or Top 5 Wednesday. And you can join the group on Goodreads if you want to participate.  

This Week's Topic is:
 Nostalgic Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends

This is an odd topic for me because I didn't read for fun much as a teen and calling books I read at 30 "nostalgic" makes me feel really old. So I'm thinking about the way things used to be in some of my favorite series. Here are some of my favorite book boyfriends that didn't wind up with the heroine. Possible spoilers ahead.

5. Quinn in Definitely Dead and All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
I loved Sookie with Quinn! It probably helped that the series was also at its best around that time. I didn't love things ended for him in the series though.

4. Richard in Circus of the Damned by Laurel K Hamilton
I'm including him not so much out of nostalgia for Richard himself, but for the early days of the series when Anita Blake was with him. The later books just have a completely different feel.

3. Vlad in Destined For an Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Maybe I'm pushing it a little bit by calling Vlad a book boyfriend in the Night Huntress series since he was pretty much friend zoned the whole time. I just liked Vlad so much better before he had his own series. I thought that version of him was such a great potential book boyfriend.

2. Eric Northman in Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
Amnesia Eric is super swoony!

1. Jonah in Drink Deep by Chloe Neill
I've been Team Jonah pretty much ever since I read this book. But he was doomed to be Merit's rebound guy. I hope that Neill gives him his own HEA some day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blog Tour: Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson Excerpt and Giveaway

I'm currently reading Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson and I love the way the high tech world manages to feel both futuristic and kind of Western. Here's a little more about Perfect Gravity, including a chance to win the first book in the series. And watch for my review later this week.


Perfect Gravity
(Wanted and Wired #2)
Vivien Jackson
Release: November 7, 2017
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound
Second in a snarky, sexy sci-fi romance series with the perfect balance of humor, heart, and heat. 

Kellen Hockley usually keeps quiet about his past, but once upon a time he loved a girl named Angela. He hasn't seen her in a decade, but now he has to break the news to her that his team of rogue treasure hunters accidentally killed her husband. He's had better days...

It's not the news that's delivered to Angela Neko that breaks her apart—it's the rumbly, Texas drawl delivering it. She can't believe she's hearing Kellen's voice again. But there's no time for distractions. When Angela's own life is threatened, yielding up all of her lies and secrets, she and Kellen must figure out how to reverse the geopolitical firestorm she lit to save the world, to save Kellen's cat...and just maybe to save each other.


He took her down to the skywalk, second-guessing himself the whole dadblamed time. Nothing was tidy about having Angela here in the Pentarc. Angela who now knew Chloe existed and could definitely do something about that if she chose to. Angela whose mech-clone assistant scared the crud out of her, probably for a very good reason, which he was going to get to the bottom of sooner rather than later.
Angela who he wanted very much to take back to her room, as she’d suggested. He happened to know that unit contained a giant bed and locks to keep the whole rest of the world out.
It wasn’t like showing her his global mechanized critter network was going to unhook any of those complications. Was more likely to knot them up further. But he had said he’d help her get the information she wanted. Well, this was his best way of fulfilling that swear.
She chatted as she walked. About the scenery, about the on-again, off-again drought that plagued this area, about some of her buddies from school who she insisted had also been his. They hadn’t. Nobody in the entire hoity, posh academy had welcomed the hick kid from Texas who didn’t even know what a quinoa was. Nobody but her.
He knew she nattered on because it brought her comfort, probably because there were other things on her mind, and he knew he ought to halt her ramble, make her welcome, settle her. But damn, he’d missed her voice. Not the public voice but the one she’d saved for him, laden with expletives drifting downward from contralto.
The concrete subfloor on the transition from the skywalk to the North tower got a little rough from time to time. Nobody had ever finished out this tower, and it was skeletal in most places, dusted with sand and weather-roughed. The view was downright gothic when you approached it like this, in the middle of the air with nothing but twilit desert all around.
When Angela stubbed her slipper on a patch of uneven floor, Kellen caught her elbow without even thinking. “Watch your step here.”
She paused, looked up at him. An expression fluttered over her face, but he couldn’t lock it down. Fear? Exhaustion? “Where exactly are you taking me?”
“Right here. North Tower.” Actually not far at all. His furry feline general liked this floor best, with its combination of not a lot of people and that permaglass skywalk. She was something of a sun worshipper.
Angela’s fine eyes narrowed. “For what purpose?”
“To show you where I get all my information and why the firewall doesn’t matter.”
She searched his face for a long time, then looked away and shook her head. “I’m sorry. It’s so hard to trust. I just saw all those empty rooms, most with no windows and long drop-offs into nothing…”
Oh. Well, that stung. She thought he was bringing her here, to an abandoned, witness-free area, to do her harm. Jesus. That was not him. Not even a little bit. How come she didn’t know him better than that?
His first reaction was anger, raising spikes, tightened belly, ready to tussle. Defensive reaction. Visceral. He took two deep breaths, forced himself to continue to the second reaction. Which was a deep soul-pulling wish she would trust him, completely and inherently, as maybe one time she had. Now she did not. That was the naked fact.
When his logic brain kicked in, he admitted anybody who survived an assassination attempt had better be cautious to the point of paranoia. What did she really know about him? That he associated with outlaws and murderers. That he still nursed a grudge.
And lord, what he was about to show her wasn’t going to make him look any better. If anything, it would bolster her image of him as a loose cannon, dangerous and walking the teetery edge of bioethics.
“Listen, princess,” he said, sliding his hand up from her elbow, along satin skin, “you don’t have any specific call to trust me. It’s been a long time since we…well, since you knew my mind. And lord knows we’ve both changed plenty. You probably look at me and don’t even know who I am, what I’ve become. I can’t ease your worry on that score, but I can promise you one thing: I will never hurt you. And if folk around me ever try, I will end them.”
Her mouth opened, but she didn’t speak.

Enter to win a copy of Wanted and Wired, the first book in Vivien Jackson’s Wanted and Wired series!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

VIVIEN JACKSON is still waiting for her Hogwarts letter. In the meantime, she writes, mostly fantastical or futuristic or kissing-related stories. When she isn’t writing, she’s performing a sacred duty nurturing the next generation of Whovian Browncoat Sindarin Jedi gamers, and their little dogs too. With her similarly geeky partner, she lives in Austin, Texas, and watches a lot of football.

Find Vivien Online:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Subscription Box Review: October Whimsify Box

This is my second unboxing for October. Scroll down to Monday's post for the October Owlcrate. I'm trying to decide if they should be all one post, though I would probably have fewer photos then, or if all the unboxings should be Instagram only. If anyone has a opinion, tell me in the comments.

The October Whimsify Theme was

Have I mentioned that Whimsify has a candle in every box? This month's is by Liber deStella. It's inspired by Neville Longbottom (yay!) and has a masculine scent with an overlay of roses. I wonder if that's what he smells like after hugging his grandma?

White tea bath salts from The Soap Librarian are inspired by Jane Eyre. I'm not a bath person but these smell really good and I love how they actually look like tea.

Art print featuring Wylan from Six of Crows designed by Tara Spruit. So, confession: I DNFed Six of Crows (but I do think Wylan looks pretty.) That means you'll probably be seeing a SoC themed giveaway in 2018 when I've collected enough merchandise.

Strange the Dreamer notebook inspired by Lazlo Strange. I love this design by Dorothy Reads. And I'll definitely use this one since I take notes when reading review books.

This box has had such great bookmarks so far! I love the Stranger Things bookmark by Studio Adorkable. So cute! I've only seen the first episode but season two is getting so much buzz that I may have to pick it up again soon. 

I almost missed the button in the bottom of my box. It's from Gogoghost and represents the Losers' Club from It. It's a little manhole cover!


This month's book is Nyxia by Scott Reintgren. This one's been on my radar for a while and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Whimsify is also doing a photo challenge this month, which is one of my favorite things about subscription boxes. You can see those pics over on my personal Instagram. (Link in the sidebar.)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Problematic Characters

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Bloggers, booktubers and bookstagrammers post on a common topic every (you guessed it) Wednesday. You can find the lists by searching #T5W or Top 5 Wednesday. And you can join the group on Goodreads if you want to participate.  

This Week's Topic is:
Problematic Faves -
Characters you don't want to love, but you can't help liking

Given recent events in the news, I'll bet a lot of us have been thinking about separating art from the artist and where to draw the line between forgivable behavior and deal breakers lately. Fictional characters are probably easier to forgive, in part because we get to see inside their heads and know if they have truly changed.

Here are some characters that behaved badly but have been forgiven by other characters and many of their readers. Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

5. Griffin in The Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet
Griffin needs Cat to fulfill a prophesy and keep control of his kingdom but rather than explain all that and ask for her help, he kidnaps her and ties her to his side with a magical rope. And then (well, a book later) she marries him. Cat understands pretty early on that Griffin is just trying to save his people, but she makes him suffer for transgressions, at least for a little while.

4. Trent Kalamack in The Hollows by Kim Harrison
Rachel Morgan turns herself into a ferret to break into Trent's office. When he catches her, he keeps her in a cage like a pet. And then (about 12 books later) she marries him. I've re-read the series a few times and I always have moments of "I can't believe we like him now!" during the early books.

3. Ian in The Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
Ian kidnaps Cat, tries to kill her, and sexually harasses pretty much everyone. Thankfully, Cat is smart enough to marry Bones. Ian goes from charming villain to reluctant ally and soon, to leading man with his own series debuting next year.

2. The Dragon in Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Dragon takes seventeen year old girls as tribute every ten years for keeping the area around his tower safe. If that's not enough, he's a right bastard to Agnieszka from the get go and tries to make her conform to his idea of what a woman should be. I still love his curmudgeonly ass though.

1. Valek in the Study series by Maria V. Snyder
We first meet our beloved Ixian spymaster and assassin when he is giving Yelena the choice to become the Commander's food taster or to be put to death for her crimes. He then immediately poisons her because his training is apparently only for those who survive. He's kind of a bastard but you know I was rooting for him and Yelena to get together.

Who are your favorite problematic characters?


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Review: The Red Lily by Juliette Cross

The Red Lily
(Vampire Blood #2)
Juliette Cross
Release: June 19, 2017
Goodreads Amazon
When Red falls for the Big Bad Vampire...

The Black Lily resistance needs a larger army if they are to defeat the vampire monarchy. In order to do so, former lieutenant and traitor to the vampire Crown, Nikolai must seek help from the red-hooded temptress he needs to avoid at all costs. The secret he carries could prove dangerous for her if she gets too close...even though keeping her close—very close—is the only thing on his mind.

Sienna will do anything for the Black Lily, and when Nikolai asks for her assistance to gain the trust of the commonwealth, it's the last thing she wants to do. The thought of leaving her woods and her wolves behind is terrifying...not to mention the danger being with Nikolai poses.

What could make fairy tale retellings even better? Vampires, of course! I really enjoyed the first book in this series and I will admit that I wasn't sure that Little Red Riding Hood was going to be better than Cinderella. I'm glad I was proven wrong! I loved this book even more than I did The Black Lily!

I was interested in Nikolai from the moment he appeared to help Marius in the first book but I became intrigued by his love interest, Sienna, even more. It's kind of hard not to be when a beautiful red-headed woman appears on the page riding a giant wolf. I'm so glad that their story ended up being the second book in this series. Nikolai was delightfully charismatic, a bit broody, and very tenderhearted while still being lethal. Sienna was equal parts fierce and innocent. I loved learning more about them and their back stories. And their chemistry was fantastic! I'm totally on board for their romance! I ship them hard.

I loved seeing the world and the cast expand to deal with the sanguine furorem epidemic. I'm especially excited for the next book which will be about a certain Duke of the North. :) But, as much as I loved the new characters and the worldbuilding, it took a long time for anything to happen in regards to both the rebellion and Sienna and Nikolai finally succumbing to their attraction for one another. I would have preferred more story and less mooning. But I will say that when the story hit its stride, it exploded out of the gate. Plot twist after plot twist happened and things didn't slow down until it was over. And OMG! what an ending! I will admit that I didn't see that coming and there were tears on my part.

Like in the first book, Juliette Cross had some very unique interpretations of the lore normally surrounding fairy tales and vampires that genuinely has me excited for future books in the series. I'm absolutely fascinated by what seems to be the set up for a Sleeping Beauty retelling and maybe a Beauty and the Beast one in the future! Next on the fairy tale docket is Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and I can't wait to see what the author does with it!

  4 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books in this series:
The Black Lily by Juliette Cross 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Subscription Box Review: October Owlcrate

I'm thinking of moving these unboxing posts, and maybe some other bookish product reviews, to Instagram only. What do you guys think? Do you like seeing unboxings on the blog or should we stick to book reviews? For now, though, you can find them in both places. Check out our Instagram for more pics of the items in the box.

The October Owlcrate Theme was
Find Me in the Forest

Owlcrate did an excellent job assembling the box again this month. I love how everything has a delicate, botanical feel. Here's what was in the box:

THERE'S A MUG IN THE BOX! The Forbidden Forest mug was designed by Cara Kozic and inspired by Harry Potter. There's so much detail on this mug but it's hard see in a photo. It's got the flying car and Aragog, Hagrid's house and Buckbeak, a unicorn and a centaur. I kind of wish they had chosen just one of those pairs to make a strong graphic statement, but the intricate art fits with the rest of the theme.

Sherwood Forest tea from Riddle's Tea Shoppe inspired by Robin Hood. It says it tastes like blueberry pie, but I wouldn't know because I can't find my tea ball. *facepalm* I love that there's tea to go in the mug though.

Woodland Coaster by artist Kristin Askland. It says, "All good things are wild and free" and has a sleeping fox on it. This also goes perfectly with a mug and tea. This box makes my gift-basket-building heart so happy!

Cabeswater candle from In the Wick of Time inspired by The Raven Cycle books. (I really need to read these. They're some of Rose Red's faves.) The candle smells like moss and mint. I think it has an herbal feel which fits nicely with the theme.

Where the Wild Things Are magnetic bookmarks by Craftedvan. These are so cute! But I left them out of the close up photo. *facepalm again*

Princess Mononoke art print by artist Audra Auclair. I love how well the print coordinates with the rest of box. I'm going to have a start a gallery wall for art prints soon.


The book is Wild Beauty by Anne-Marie McLemore. It has an exclusive cover (the original is here and the Owlcrate version at the top) and comes with a signed bookplate, letter from the author, and a seed packet. I thought the seeds were an original addition. I haven't read the book yet, but I've heard the prose is really unique and lovely.

Last month Owlcrate also started including a booklet in the box. This one has a Q&A with the author and one with the candle maker, plus a puzzle and the prompts for the photo challenge. Having those early is my favorite part since I can't put the items in the box away until I finish all the photos. Fairyloot has been doing this for a while and I like the idea.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Genre Benders

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Bloggers, booktubers and bookstagrammers post on a common topic every (you guessed it) Wednesday. You can find the lists by searching #T5W or Top 5 Wednesday. And you can join the group on Goodreads if you want to participate.  

This Week's Topic is:
Genre Benders

We're big fans of books that blend multiple genres so we couldn't possibly choose just five. Instead, here are our five favorite categories of genre benders (ironic, we know) and some examples of each.

5. UF/Romance Hybrids
Probably the type of genre bender we read the most, these series are marketed as romance but technically only qualify if you consider the series as a whole. There's no HEA at the end of each book.

The Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews
The Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
The Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh
Anything by Keri Arthur

4. Adult Books With Teen Protagonists
These books are not YA because they contain Adult Content. If you enjoy YA but are an actual grown up, they might be for you.

The Shadow series by Lila Bowen
The Devil's West series by Laura Ann Gilman
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

3. Novels About Comics
These books have comic artists as protagonists and use their work to tell part of the story. Part novel, part graphic novel, I think we might start seeing this mashup more often.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Eliza and Her Monsters by Zappia

2. Historical Paranormals
One of our favorite genres is historical fiction with a little bit of something else thrown in. Alternate histories, historical paranormal romances, magical Victorian Englands... we love them all!

The Jackaby Series by William Ritter
The Roaring Twenties Series by Jenn Bennett
The Breath of Earth Series by Beth Cato
The Stranje House Series by Kathleen Baldwin
A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede

1. But Really, What Genre Is It?
We seriously can't even tell you which genre to classify these books under.

The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone
Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

What are your favorite genre bending books?


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