Some free gifts to tide you over ’til Christmas

Hosted by Reading Adventures and The Written World
Hosted by Marg from Reading Adventures and Kailana from The Written World

This is Book Thingo’s contribution to the 2008 Blog Advent Tour, hosted by Marg from Reading Adventures and Kailana from The Written World.

You may think this post is late for the Advent Tour, but I’ve looked it up and it’s still Saturday in some parts of the world, so phew! I just scraped through.

In the tradition of Advent calendars, I thought I’d offer up some surprise goodies for everyone. Since this is a book blog, I’ve come up with a list of free stories for you to sample.

(If you know me at all, you’ll realise that the reason this post is late is because I was compelled to read each story first to, uh, make sure that, erm, they’re of a sufficiently high quality. My motives were entirely selfless. Ahem.)

Anyway, you guys are in for a treat because these freebies are fantabulous. I’ve included a link to each author’s website so you can check out more of their work if you’re interested.

Romantic stories

Ember by Bettie Sharpe
Ember by Bettie Sharpe

I have to start by recommending Ember by Bettie Sharpe. It’s a retelling of Cinderella, but edgy and twisted and dark and slightly evil (and I mean that in a good way). If you still think of romance books as bodice rippers, or you’re sick of pasty virgin heroines, this is the romance book for you. Ember first appeared at The Serial, a regular blog event run by author Dionne Galace. The Serial showcases serial novels from various authors. The current story, The Italian Gourmet-Baby-Food Baron’s Ironically Pregnant Virgin Mistress, is as hilarious as the title suggests.

Lady Kate’s Scoundrel by Anna Campbell is a short romance story set in 1825. This is traditional romance, with a feisty heroine and a rakish alpha hero. Campbell is an Aussie author who set romance blogs abuzz with her first novel, Claiming the Courtesan.

If contemporary stories are more your thing, 71 Downtown by Jenna Bayley-Burke is a sweet short story set in a bus. If you’ve ever had crushy thoughts on someone while enduring public transportation, you should give this one a try.

Dunvegas 2007 is an anthology of erotic paranormal short stories set in Dunvegas, a Las Vegas casino for paranormal folk. My favourites are Touch Not The Ungloved Cat by Carolan Ivey and I Dream of Desi by Jenna Leigh–I found these two a little more romantic than some of the others. Some of the stories in this anthology are very graphic, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Speaking of erotic, 101 Degrees Fahrenheit by Eva Gale is an erotic romance about a married couple trying to put the spark back into their marriage. Roaring fire is more like it. I don’t normally go for this kind of romantic setup in conventional contemporary novels, but for some reason I love it in my erotica.

Nick of Time by L. K. Campbell is a gentler kind of romance, though no less enjoyable. Plus, any author quirky enough to place a scene in McDonalds gets a tick from me.

Going Away is more of a prelude than an actual romance written by Ann Somerville. The characters in this short story reminded me a little of Jules and Robin from Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series.

And if that’s not enough for you, you can scour through the list of Thrifty Thursday offerings at Long and Short Reviews. Every Thursday, the review site publishes a free short story by different authors.


Moving away from romance, the Telegraph is publishing Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith as a serial novel. It’s also available as a podcast.

For more mystery, try Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye by M. C. Beaton.

If science fiction is more your thing, you might like to try John Scalzi’s Agent to the Stars (Scalzi also has a list of freely available work you can sample) or try one (or all) of Cory Doctorow’s free novels.


And because recipes seem to be a popular feature of the Blog Advent Tour, here’s a collection of recipes from cookbooks published by Penguin.

I hope you guys enjoy these free stories to tide you over until Christmas. Here’s to finding new books under the tree!

The Blog Advent Tour is hosted by Marg from Reading Adventures and Kailana from The Written World. You can find the full list of participants here. Below is a list of the remaining blogs on the calendar.

21 December
Rhinoa from Rhinoa’s Ramblings
Melissa from Remember to Breathe
The Bluestocking Guide
Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies

22 December
Think Pink Dana
My Friend Amy
Nicole from Linus’s Blanket

23 December
Jane from Janezlifeandtimes
Memory from Stella Matutina
Debbie from Friday Friends Book Blog
Book Scoops

24 December
Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings
Kailana’s Written World
Sherry at Semicolon


  1. Marg says:

    You were right! It was still Saturday somewhere! Thanks so much for this post! We all love free things, especially at an expensive time like Christmas

  2. RT says:

    Hi Kat – Great website!

    reading it has inspired me to pick up a romance novel…..what would you suggest to a romance virgin…

    okay i lie : i am not a total romance virgin…i have read the following:
    – nearly all virgina andrews books (by the original author) in highschool…and if you ask me now i will deny that i even know who she is

    – 4 years back – i picked up a book by nora roberts, about some girl that works in the circus that meets a boy on a motorbike who is all dark, handsome, mysterious and smokes ciggerettes.

    – Nicolas Sparks – message in a bottle….really didn’t like it, was cringe worthy…esp. the sappy cliche ending

    so if abstinence for a couple of years can make you a virgin again…i am now a full fledged romance virign.

    sorry for the long post!

  3. Kat says:

    RT, what are your favourite books? That will give me a better idea of what you like.

    But off the top of my head, I’d recommend Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh (paranormal romance), The Duke and I by Julia Quinn (Regency romance), or Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (contemporary). Let me know if any of these sound interesting to you–you can borrow them from me. But honestly, there are heaps of good romances out there, so it’s just a matter of finding one that suits your taste.

    Do you know, I’ve never read a single Virginia Andrews book. I think I was reading Mills & Boon while that whole craze was happening. :-D

  4. Kat says:

    Marg, I was madly checking my world clock to make sure I didn’t miss the cutoff for the world! Haha.

    Kailana, I love free stories, so it was no problem at all to put this together.

    Krissi, I’d love to know if any story in particular grabs you.

    Jenna, I used to have a crush on a guy who caught my train, so I loved the premise of the story. I grinned the whole time I was reading it.

  5. RT says:

    my fav. books… honestly iam a sucker for a page turner, with a twist at the end and i read a lot of popular stuff (think: harry potter, those dan brown books, devil wears prada, khaled housseni)

    but i think my all time fav. is catcher in the rye….i know – it breaks from my traditional genera.

    VC doesn’t age well – so if you read it now it would be a watered down, wanna be adult romance novel.

    p.s guilty admission – i still love Enid Blyton – i have a whole new reason to start reading her again! yay! even though i don’t think its meant for boys.

    i hope that helps :) and i will start with any book you suggest…its that or reading 3 cups of tea…and i can’t get past the fisrt few pages

  6. Kat says:

    OK, got it. Will bring a few books along when we meet up. :-D And I loved Enid Blyton, too. I was always trying to start up secret clubs when I was in primary school.

  7. Carolan Ivey says:

    Thank you for your nice comments about “Touch Not The Cat”! I had lots of fun writing it. It’s more graphic than anything I’ve written before, but for me the romance has to be at least as strong as the spicy stuff. :)

    We’re working on another Dunvegas anthology for release in 2009. :)

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