March 27, 2015

Shadow Spell. Nora Roberts

Book Cover
Shadow Spell
Nora Roberts
Published: Piatkus
Date: 2014
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 319
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Own book
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With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…

A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.

Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle.

Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves…

My thoughts banner
Shadow Spell is the second in a trilogy - the Cousins O'Dwyer.  It is set in the west of Ireland very near Castle Ashford.  It's full of magic, family, love and danger.

This second book is mostly the story of Connor and Meara, and how they find their way towards each other.  They have always been good friends, but now something more is opening up between them. It's wonderful and beautiful, however it also opens up Meara to danger, as Cabhan - the evil sorcerer they wage war against, turns his evil darkness towards her.

Meara believes she is not worthy of love, she holds the shame of her father leaving their family and going off, as her own.  Cabhan preys on this and suggests all kinds of things to her that make her doubt even more.  Can she welcome love and all that Connor is beginning to offer her, or will she be sucked under?

As in the first book, it is the circle of three that is powerful - Iona, Connor and Branna, and the three encircling them, Blake, Finn nad and Meara.  Of course there are the loyal, magical horse, hound and hawk as well.  To say nothing of a little cutie, Bugs who I hope we'll meet a little more of in the final book.

I also liked the linking of Connor back to the original three, especially with Eamon.  It was a nice touch. 

The dialogue is fun, if you live or have lived around Irish people for any length of time you'll recognise it as exactly how they talk.  The setting around Castle Ashford has me wanting to visit. There is plenty of action and suspense and weaving of spells.  The greatest spell for me was the warmth of friendship and love between these people and for their animals. 

Do they finally beat Cabhan? Well there is another book in the trilogy, and if they had, what would that be about now?  If you enjoy the inimitable Nora Roberts writing, then you will find this trilogy to your taste.
4 stars
March 2015 Take Control of Your TBR Pile

March 26, 2015

Before the Storm Diane Chamberlian

Before the Storm
Diane Chamberlain
Published: Mira Au
Date: 2008
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 470
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Own book
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Fifteen-year-old Andy Lockwood is special. Others notice the way he blurts out anything that comes into his mind, how he cannot foresee consequences, and that he's more child than teenager. But his mother sees a boy with a heart as open and wide as the ocean.

Laurel Lockwood lost her son once through neglect. She's spent the rest of her life determined to make up for her mistakes, and she's succeeded in becoming a committed -- if overprotective -- parent.

Still, she loosens her grip just enough to let Andy attend a local church social -- a decision she regrets when the church is consumed by fire.

But Andy survives... and remarkably, saves other children from the flames. Laurel watches as her son becomes the darling of their community, basking in the postive attention he's always craved.But when the suspicion of arson is cast upon Andy, Laurel will risk everything to prove his innocence. Except she could never have known just how many secrets would surface in her desperate bid to clear his name…
My thoughts banner
Before the Storm is the first of  two in a  series by Diane Chamberlain.  It was a little like the couple of other books I have read by this author.  Surprises along the way that some of the characters know, but not all of them.  Lies, deceit and infidelity wend there way through the story.

Laurel after the birth of her first child Maggie, sank into depression and then into alcoholism.  While in that state she fell pregnant and so Andy is born with Fetal Alcohol Apectrum Disorder (FASD). Later when she has recovered and regained the care of Andy she devotes herself to his upbringing and care. It was very interesting to see how Andy is and the challenges inherent in raising him.  He takes many things literally and needs help with ordering his life.  He is a loveable character, although it is heart breaking to see how he is belittled by peers.

Maggie is a little older, supposedly the one who can be relied on, a successful student and responsible sister.  She misses her Dad, who died when she was eight, and with whom she bonded early in life, during those years when Laurel was unavailable to her.   How has that all affected her?  Well let's just say Laurel is in for a few surprises.

Marcus is the brother of Jamie - Lauren's husband and Maggie's and Andy's father.  Growing up in their family of origin, Jamie was the favoured son, Marcus the black sheep.  But are people really all black or all white?  They might be treated as such but in actuality it is rarely so. So what secrets do these brothers hold?

As well involved in the story is Sara, sort of a back seat character, not very much present in the story, yet at certain times a key player.  Sara and Lauren are close friends, well supposedly, maybe they are, maybe not.  I think I will hold that question until I read the book that follows this one to make my mind up.

This is a story of mistakes and wrong turnings, however it does hold the promise of new paths and possibilities.  I'll be looking forward to reading on, to find out what takes place for these characters a little along the road.
3.5 stars

March 25, 2015

The Arrangement. Mary Balogh

book cover
The Arrangement
Mary Balogh
Published: Piatkus
Date: 2013
Format: Kindle
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Own book
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Blinded by a cannon blast on the Napoleonic battlefields, Vincent Hunt, Lord Darleigh, needs to escape the well-meaning meddling - and matchmaking - of his family. But anonymity proves impossible, and soon another marital trap is sprung. Luckily, he is saved by a stranger with a captivating voice... And when Miss Sophia Fry's intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian's home, Vincent can see a solution to both their problems: marriage.

At first, quiet, unassuming Sophia rejects Vincent's proposal, fearing her attraction to this handsome yet heartbreakingly vulnerable man. But when he convinces her that he needs a wife of his own choosing as much as she needs protection from destitution, she agrees. Could an arrangement born of desperation lead them both to a love destined to be?

My thoughts banner
The Arrangement is #2 in the Survivors' Club series by Mary Balogh.  I have now enjoyed the first two books in this series and it will certainly be a series that I read through all of the books.

Sophia has had a rather unfortunate life up until the time she meets up with Vincent.  Her parents are dead and she has endured some tough treatment at the hands of relations who have treated her worse than a servant.  Eventually when she comes to the rescue of Vincent as her cousin is trying to compromise him, she is turned out at midnight by said relations.  

Once Vincent proposes to her and the marriage is set, all that follows is a story of Sophia coming into her own person.  She proves herself to be loveable,  thoughtful and considerate.  While she and Vincent have an arrangement that at the end of a year they can perhaps go their separate ways, and Sophia can have the little cottage she always dreamed of, it is obvious it's never going to happen.

Vincent, blinded in battle, finds himself dependent on his mother and sisters and he dislikes it very much.  With marriage to Sophia he sees the promise of his becoming independent from them all.  In general he manages blindness very well, especially with the help of his friend from childhood - Martin's help.  However at times he finds himself overcome with panic.  He appreciates Sophia in a way she has never experienced before, and is very angry with how she has been treated by her relatives.

I loved this gentle story, and the experience of seeing the differing points of view of both the main characters.  I loved how they supported each other, and were open and honest in their communication.  The book needed no crisis where both characters were pushed apart, rather it was a rising culmination to two people finding happiness in themselves and with each other.
4 stars

March 24, 2015

Month in Review Meme

This week I am taking part in Bloggiesta week.  There are a number of mini-challenges that we can participate in.  The one I felt drawn to was the Making Memes challenge by Joy over at Joy's Book Blog.  Not that I had that in mind when I began the week.

The one I am proposing to start up is the Month in Review meme.   Many bloggers already look back over the month and share whatever they choose - for example number of books read, number of reviews, books bought etc etc.  This was my February Looking Back post. A meme would bring all these posts together and give us the opportunity to connect and comment.

So what do you think?  Do you already do some kind of looking back over the previous month post?
Would you be interested in linking your post up to this meme?  Questions? Thoughts?


March 23, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sheila at Book Journey runs It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Well this week we have had a taste of autumn here.  I have gone from wearing tank tops to long sleeved tees all in a week!  

I went to a St Patrick's Day fair and won a $250 voucher for plants from a nursery for our coastal area - sand and more sand basically!!  However I am planted up, so passed it over to two of my nieces so they can plant up their coastal gardens.

This coming week I will participate in Bloggiesta, I always like to see what I can learn. It also might see me complete a few tasks I have had on my list for awhile.

What I read last week:

What I am reading at present:

I am still listening to The Martian by Andy Weir

Just started reading Insecure by Ainslie Paton

Up next:

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this from the publisher, Hachette NZ when they called out for a few more reviewers.  My spiel line was: "It's on my to be read list." They were either desperate, or I was lucky. Anyway its a book that has been translated from the French, and will finish my translations challenge I'm doing! And who can resist a book with bookshop in the title!

Posts from the last week:

Angel Mine              Sherryl Woods 
The Settling Earth    Rebecca Burns
Outback Blaze          Rachael Johns
Written in Red          Anne Bishop 


March 22, 2015

Written in Red. Anne Bishop

Book Cover

Written in Red
Anne Bishop
Published: Penguin Audio
Date: 2013
Format: Audiobook
Length: 18hrs and 32min
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Own book
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As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut - a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg's Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard - a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she's keeping a secret, and second, she doesn't smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she's wanted by the government, he'll have to decide if she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.
My thoughts banner
Written in Red is #1 in The Others series.  I have seen this book reviewed a number of times, and in the end I tentatively decided to get involved and listen to the audiobook.  It is quite lengthy and I finished it in three days.  Unheard of for me, I just became swept away by the story, left my usual reading aside and every opportunity I had - I listened.

Meg got the job working as the human liaison person at the The Others compound.  In essence it was a postal job, accepting deliveries from the humans and then sorting and delivering them around to the various Others.  When she takes up the job, it is in disarray but with a little help she soon has it working smoothly.  She is a kind, thoughtful person and has soon gathered a number of friends about her, normally individuals who would be very scary to humans, but Meg has a knack with her thoughtful, innocent ways.

When she arrives she is somewhat nervous and unsure, as she has escaped from a place where they have used her for her gift of prophecy, and treated her like a chattel.  She is valuable to her 'owners' and they will go to great lengths to find and bring her back.

However Simon, the other wolves, crows, vampires and many others soon see Meg as one of them. They protect her and go into battle for her.  Meg also forms a wonderful relationship with a young wolf cub - Sam.  Damaged by seeing his mother killed, Sam has not developed and hides away in a cage in his Uncle Simon's apartment.  

Alexandra Harris narrated the story very well and it was easy to listen to her as with the words she weaved her own magic.  I am now really peeved because the next two in this series are not released in audio to my part of the world. I am devastated.  Sure I can read them on kindle or paperback, but I loved this audio version and I don't want to turn to them.  I hate when publishers don't bother with world rights. 
5 stars

March 21, 2015

#Fitreaders Check In March 21st

FitReaders button
#FitReaders is hosted by The Geeky Blogger and That's What I'm Talking About.

I had a good week, walking 6 of the 7 days.  I have dropped my goal to 46200 a week and went to 121%, so happy with that, my knee likes a little less stress on it, so nursing it along!  I should probably see someone about it, but steering clear at the moment!

We had a taste of Autumn this week and some horrible winds, so the weather honeymoon is over methinks!

I am about half way through listening to The Martian by Andy Weir, might get it finished in the next week.  

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