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Sunday, December 31, 2017

#Book #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for A Very Gothic Christmas by Christine Feehan and Melanie George @AuthorCFeehan #MelanieGeorge @Pocket_Books

PUBLISHER: Pocket Books
PUBLICATION DATE: October 31, 2017 (first published 2001)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 432 pages
GENRE: Fantasy/Paranormal, Holiday/Christmas
ISBN: 9781501160981
From the “magnificent storyteller” (Romantic Times) Christine Feehan and USA Today bestselling author Melanie George comes two wickedly sexy novellas for the holiday season!

In Christine Feehan’s After the Music, Jessica Fitzpatrick is terrified by mysterious threats. Determined to keep her twin wards safe, she flees to the remote island mansion of their reclusive, widowed father. With Christmas approaching, the spark between him and Jessica might light the future, but there are those whose evil machinations may plunge the family into darkness—unless a Christmas miracle occurs.

In Melanie George’s Lady of the Locket, the echoes of history and romance lure Rachel Hudson to Glengarren, the Scottish castle where her parents met many Christmases ago. But it is the portrait of fierce Highlander Duncan MacGregor that sparks a deep desire inside her. On a storm-tossed night, as lightning cracks across the castle’s turrets, Rachel finds herself face-to-face with MacGregor himself, astride a mighty stallion. Now, stepping into Rachel’s time—and her heart—the warrior from the past is pursued by an ancient, evil enemy.
MY REVIEW:

I'm a fan of Christine Feehan's Sisters of the Hearts series. When I saw this one at the library with holiday romances featuring a story by Feehan, I grabbed it! Feehan writes the first novella in the book, After the Music, while Melanie George (a new-to-me author) writes the second novella, Lady of the Locket.

After the Music is about a former rock star, Dillon, who has lived in seclusion for the past seven years after a fire burned down his home on his private island, which killed his wife and six other people. Dillon thought his six year old twins, Tara and Trevor, were still inside the house and he rushed back in to save them. Unbeknownst to him, the twins had already been safely ushered out of the house by the nanny's daughter, Jessica. As a result, Dillon was burned horribly and lived for a year in the hospital undergoing treatment for his burns and skin grafts. Simultaneously, he was also on trial for the murder of his wife who apparently was shot before the fire started. However, he was cleared of the crime. Dillon left his twins in the care of the nanny, Rita, and Jessica.

Now, seven years later, after Rita was killed in an automobile accident, Jessica returns to the island with the twins so that they can spend Christmas with their father. Jessica is hoping for a Christmas miracle and that the family can become united. She and Dillon had always had a close relationship, and the twins look to Jessica as a mother.

I have to say that it was a little strange, with Dillon having feelings of unrequited love over Jessica who was his nanny's daughter, who was just 18 years old at the time. It was almost like a bit of a taboo relationship. However, now that seven years have passed and Jessica is now 25 years old, the relationship works because of the role that she is to the twins. Dillon is touched by her love and protectiveness towards his children, and he envies that and wants to be part of it. Feehan's couples are always very passionate, and Dillon & Jessica are no exception. There is also a bit of a paranormal aspect to the story.

Lady of the Locket is about a 27-year-old woman named Rachel Hudson, whose parents had the type of romantic love that most people dream about. Tragically, they die within six months of each other just shy of their 30th wedding anniversary. Rachel is bereft at the loss of both of her parents, but she is determined to carry out their dying wish. They were planning to celebrate their 30th anniversary at the place where they met, Glengarren Castle in Inverness, Scotland. The castle was once owned by her father's friend, and it is now owned by his son. She intends to release her parents' ashes at the castle on her parents' anniversary. When she arrives at Glengarren, she is awe-struck at the gorgeous Highlander featured in the portrait hung over the stairs. The name at the bottom of the painting indicates that the man is Duncan MacGregor from 1745. The caretaker, Fergus, tries to convince Rachel to rent a room in town and hints that there are strange goings-on at the castle and is concerned that she will be staying there alone. She assures him that she'll be fine. However, one evening during a storm, she is awakened by shouts and the sounds of fighting. She comes face to face with the warrior from the painting, Duncan MacGregor! 

I quite enjoyed this reverse time-travel romance. In other time travel romances that I've read, it's the woman who is thrown back hundreds of years. This time around, it's the man who is brought into the present. Poor Duncan is so confused. He recognizes that he is in his home, yet it is not his home as he knew it because of modern conveniences like electricity and appliances. He thinks that Rachel is a witch and has someone put a spell on him, and he is rather enchanted by her as well. Rachel finds with Duncan the kind of rare love that her parents had, but how can it last when they are from two different worlds?

I read Lady of the Locket in one sitting. I just couldn't put it down! I will definitely read more from this author!

MY RATING:

4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR list if you enjoy holiday romances with a touch of paranormal.

This book qualifies as:

Stacking The Shelves and Sunday Post


This meme is hosted by Tynga over at Team Tynga's Reviews, which she describes as follows:

"Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!"



Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme


Another year is nearly upon us. I love the idea of starting off with a clean slate, and leaving the negative things behind with the old year. It was a tough year for me but, looking back, it wasn't any tougher than the previous five!! My happiest times were those spent with my kids. We did some travelling this summer, and we enjoyed the road trips! Here's to making more happy memories in 2018! Wishing you all a wonderful 2018!


Now with the colder weather, I had to make a trip out to the farm to buy some wildlife feed and black oil sunflowers for my feeders. The poor deer thought that I was neglecting them, because it's been a warm winter so far with little snow. They are MUCH happier now, although the big bucks don't like to share!





No new books for me this week.


Recap: Last Week On The Blog



Sunday: Stacking the Shelves and Sunday Post

Thursday: Keyword Reading Challenge 2017 Wrap-up Post

Friday Audiobook Review: 2 out of 5 stars for Wreck the Halls by Sarah Graves

Friday: Goodreads Fall 2017 Scavenger Challenge - Celebrating the Mayflower Wrap-up Post

Friday Book Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Saturday Audiobook Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Behind the Plaid by Eliza Knight

Saturday: Color Coded Reading Challenge Wrap-up Post

Saturday Audiobook Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett


What books have you added to your shelves this week? If you are also participating in either of these memes, please leave me the link to your blog post in the comments so that I can come and drool over all your goodies!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett #RWilliamBennett @ShadowMountn

NARRATOR: Simon Vance
PUBLISHER: Shadow Mountain
PUBLICATION DATE: May 30, 2013 (first published 2011)
FORMAT: Audiobook
LENGTH: 4 hrs and 13 mins
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Holiday/Christmas
"Marley was dead to begin with...."

These chillingly familiar words begin the classic Christmas tale of remorse and redemption in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Now R. William Bennett rewinds the story and focuses the spotlight on Scrooge’s miserly business partner, Jacob T. Marley, who was allowed to return as a ghost to warn Scrooge away from his ill-fated path. Why was Marley allowed to return? And why hadn't he been given the same chance as Ebenezer Scrooge?

Or had he?

Written with a voice reminiscent of Dickens, Jacob T. Marley is a masterfully crafted story of remorse and redemption, sure to become a Christmas favorite.

MY REVIEW: 

I just love Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and when I saw Audible feature this audiobook about Jacob Marley as one of their Daily Deals, I snatched it up! I'm so glad that I did, because it perfectly complements the Dickens tale we all know so well. The style of the story is as though it was written by Dickens himself, which is the highest compliment that I can give to the author.

I loved learning more about Marley, and about the heroic grandfather who he was named after. This is the missing piece to A Christmas Carol: Marley's motivation in helping Scrooge and how he was able to do that and the result of his actions on his own afterlife. 

Simon Vance is spot-on as narrator, as usual. I loved how he brought this tale to life, and it was perfection! He even brought me to tears, as I was so touched by the story.

MY RATING:

5 stars!! I loved it, and this will be a seasonal favourite and I will likely re-read it. Highly recommended if you enjoy Dickens' A Christmas Carol!

This book qualifies as:

Color Coded Reading Challenge: Wrap-up Post


This is my Wrap-up Post for the Color Coded Reading Challenge hosted by Bev @ My Reader's Block.

9/9 books read
CHALLENGE COMPLETE!

  1. BLUE COVER: A-The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware; B - Shadows Still Remain by Peter de Jonge (O'Hara & Krekorian, Book #1); C - Possess by Gretchen McNeil
  2. BLACK COVER: Cut by Patricia McCormick
  3. RED COVER: (A) When She Woke by Hillary Jordan; (B) Hide from Evil by Jami Alden (Dead Wrong, Book #2)
  4. WHITE IN THE TITLE: White Bones by Graham Masterton (Katie Maguire, Book #1)
  5. BROWN COVER: The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
  6. A BOOK WITH ANY OTHER COLOR IN THE TITLE/ON THE COVER (PURPLE): Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn; B - PINK: Buried in Buttercream by G.A. McKevett (A Savannah Reid Mystery, Book #17)
  7. GREEN COVER: Raging Star by Moira Young (Dust Lands, Book #3)
  8. YELLOW COVER: Slade House by David Mitchell
  9. A BOOK WITH A WORD THAT IMPLIES COLOUR: Behind the Plaid by Eliza Knight (Highland Bound, Book #1)

#Audiobook #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Behind the Plaid by Eliza Knight @ElizaKnight @TantorAudio

SERIES: Highland Bound, Book #1
AUTHOR: Eliza Knight
NARRATORS: Antony Ferguson and Arika Rapson
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: June 24, 2014 (first published 2013)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 8 hrs and 14 mins
GENRE: Romance/Historical Romance, Science Fiction/Time Travel
Emma Gordon escapes from a troubling marriage in which she has completely lost sight of who she is. Desperate for independence, she leaves her husband while on a trip in the Scottish Highlands. The only thing is, she ends up hurled back in time to the 16th-century Castle Gealach.

Laird Logan Grant is tormented by a dark past and harbors a secret that could tear his country apart. Unable to resist Emma's beauty and the calm that she invokes, Logan confesses he desires her.

Despite her own reservations, Emma longs to get close to Logan, even while she is desperate to return to her own era. In the end, she embarks on a daring, passionate affair that rocks her to the very core.

MY REVIEW: 

This was a trashy delight, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

For one of my reading challenges, I needed a book with a title that "implied" colour so I scanned titles on Hoopla and found this one with "plaid" in the title. This is why I love reading challenges, because this is probably something that I would not have ordinarily picked up because I don't consider myself a "romance" reader but I was delighted with this pick!

The main character is 26-year-old Emma, who is vacationing at a bed and breakfast in the Scottish Highlands with her rich, domineering husband, Steven, and her equally overbearing mother-in-law. At the tender age of 18, Emma lost her parents and younger brother in a plane crash. Left all alone in the world save for a troubled aunt who is in and out of rehab, Emma had no one. She met Steven at her college campus. An invitation to lunch one day turned into dinner dates. Emma was looking for someone to take care of her, and Steven seemed to fit the bill. He wanted a woman to provide him with an heir to his fortune but, once the verbal abuse started, Emma secretly started taking birth control because she couldn't bear to subject an innocent child to his abuse. 

After a loud argument at the B&B, Steven sent Emma to their room and someone slipped a business card under the door to a taxi service. Emma saw this as her chance to escape an awful marriage. She grabbed her suitcase and some of Steven's money and met the taxi across the street. She had intended on going to the train station, but she asked the driver to stop at the historic site of Castle Gealach that Emma had visited earlier with Steven. The castle was now in ruins, but she was drawn to it. Because of the stormy weather, the driver suggested that she come back another time but Emma was not to be deterred. Emma was touching one of the stones in the castle wall when there was a flash of lightning and she was thrown to the ground. When she awoke, she was in a different time and space. She had travelled back almost 500 years to the 16th century, and she was found by the laird and chief of the castle, Logan.

Logan awakens something inside Emma that she never knew that she had. She feels that this is her second chance at life, to be a different Emma than she was before. Logan had always been a playboy with multiple lovers, but Emma was different. Similarly, she stirred something in him that made him want only her and he had no interest in being with anyone else.

Whew, this book was smoking hot! There is lots of graphic sex and dirty talk, so be forewarned if you like your romances more on the sweeter side. For me, I quite enjoyed it and I'm definitely planning to continue on in the series!

I enjoyed the dual narration by Arika Rapson (Emma) and Antony Ferguson (Logan). Both narrators are new to me, and it took me a bit to warm to Ferguson's Scottish brogue. At times, Rapson could be slightly nasally but overall both narrators did a good job. Here is a sample of the narration:


MY RATING:

4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR list if you enjoy historical time-travel romances.

This book qualifies as:

Friday, December 29, 2017

#Book #Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel #LauraEsquivel @VintageAnchor

AUTHOR: Laura Esquivel
TRANSLATORS: Thomas Christensen and Carol Christensen
PUBLISHER: Anchor
PUBLICATION DATE: October 1, 1995 (first published 1989)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 246 pages
GENRE: Romance, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780385420174
Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit.

The number one bestseller in Mexico and America for almost two years, and subsequently a bestseller around the world, "Like Water For Chocolate" is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit - and recipes.

A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.

MY REVIEW:

I have wanted to read this book for years but, with the strong element of romance, I just wasn't sure if it was something for me so I kept putting it off. I was so wrong! I absolutely LOVED this book!!

The story features the De La Garza family in Mexico, who own a ranch. Mama Elena lives there with her three daughters: Rosaura, Gertrudis, and Tita. Two days after the birth of the youngest child, Tita, Elena's husband dies of a heart attack. As a result, Elena's milk dries up from the shock of it and Tita is left in the hands of the cook, Nacha, to be cared for. Always being around Nacha in the kitchen, Tita learns the ways of cooking and baking and is the only one who learns the family's recipes. As a mom, I simply cannot understand Elena and how she could be so cold and indifferent towards her children! She is cruel and does not form any bond whatsoever to any of her children.

A young man, Pedro, falls in love with Tita (age 15). He goes to the De La Garza household with his father to ask Elena for her daughter's hand in marriage, and Elena tells them that as the youngest daughter it is her family's tradition that Tita care for her mother until her dying breath and that she is unable to marry. However, Pedro is free to marry 17-year-old Rosaura if he so desires. Pedro agrees to marry Rosaura, not because he loves her but so that he can remain close to Tita.

The story is told in 12 chapters, one for each month of the year. Each month features a recipe that is integral to that part of the story. I loved how Tita's emotions became infused into her cooking, which added a mystical aspect to the story. The unrequited love between Pedro and Tita is so heartbreakingly sad, and my heart ached for them. I was rooting for them all the way, and their passion for each other is so intense and just leaps off the page. I also just loved Gertrudis' story, and it was brilliant how the author explained the reason why Gertrudis was the way that she was! Sorry to be so vague, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. The author even manages to make me feel a bit sympathetic towards Elena, despite my loathing of her!

I devoured this book, and the ending is so bittersweet. I went through a whole range of emotions, and I'm definitely planning to read this one again!

MY RATING:

5 stars!! It was superb, and I will likely re-read it in the future. You should definitely read it if you enjoy romances.

This book qualifies as:

Goodreads Fall 2017 Scavenger - Celebrating the Mayflower: Wrap-up Post

I'm finished!!

Goodreads Fall 2017 Scavenger - Celebrating the Mayflower
Timeframe: September 21 - December 20, 2017
20/20 books

✔1. Read a book where a character moves from one country to another - OR - read a book set in the fall (September, October, November).

The Troop by Nick Cutter - 11 Nov 2017
Read a book set in the Fall (October)

✔2. Read a book marked RELIGION on the main GR genre page - OR - read a book written by an author whose first AND last initials can be found in SEPARATIST.

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins - 13 Oct 2017
Read a book written by an author whose first AND last initials can be found in SEPARATIST

3. Read a book marked FAMILY on its Goodreads main genre page - OR - a book with a pregnant woman.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak - 16 Nov 2017
A book with a pregnant woman

✔4. Read a book with some sort of weather shown on the cover (show us the cover) - or - read a book that took longer to read than you expected (it was longer you thought it needed to be or you went on vacation, etc.).

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber - 8 Nov 2017
Read a book with some sort of weather shown on the cover [snowing]

✔5. Read a book with "25" or "12" appearing intact and in that order in the total number of pages (tell us how many pages) - OR - a book with some sort of alcoholic beverage on the cover (show us the cover).

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - 7 Dec 2017
Read a book with "25" or "12" appearing intact and in that order in the total number of pages [512 pages]

✔6. Read a book that is small (150-200 pages) - OR - a book with a character who has to live in a small space (a tent, a small room, an attic, etc.).

Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks - 24 Nov 2017
Read a book with a character who has to live in a small space [a hospital room]

✔7. Read a book with a candle or playing cards on the cover (show us the cover) - OR - a book where a meal is eaten.

It by Stephen King - 9 Oct 2017
Read a book where a meal is eaten

✔8. Read a book where an animal is important to the plot - OR - a book where the first letter of the first word of the title is found in PET (disregard A, An, The).

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs - 27 Oct 2017
Read a book where the first letter of the first word of the title is found in PET [T=Two]

✔9. Read a book with an honorific in the title (Captain, Dr., Mr. Mrs., Sir, etc.) - OR - a book with a character who is a cook or chef.

Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron - 16 Dec 2017
Read a book with a character who is a cook or chef

✔10. Read a book in which the characters are in danger (without telling too much, tell us how) - OR - a book with a gun or cannon on the cover (show us the cover).

Afraid to Die by Lisa Jackson (To Die, Book #4) - 8 Oct 2017
Read a book in which the characters are in danger [women are being frozen in blocks of ice and adorned with pieces of jewelry owned by one of the police officers]

✔11. Read a book with some sort of pot on the cover (show us the cover) - OR - a book with an author's LAST name that begins with L or P.

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips - 12 Dec 2017
Read a book with an author's LAST name that begins with L or P [P=Phillips]

✔12. Read a book where someone travels by ship - or - read a book set in England OR Holland (Netherlands).

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - 25 Nov 2017
Read a book set in England

✔13. Read a book in which a character double-crosses another character or cheats in some way - or - read a book whose title or author's name has TWO sets of double-letters (they don't have to be in the same word).

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware - 16 Oct 2017
Read a book in which a character double-crosses another character or cheats in some way

✔14. Read a book with some sort of tool on the cover (show us the cover) - or - read a book that you started previously, put down, then picked up again and finished.

Wreck the Halls by Sarah Graves (Home Repair is Homicide, Book #5) - 20 Dec 2017
Read a book with some sort of tool on the cover [a hammer]



✔15. Read a book with a character whose FIRST name starts with J (tell us the name) - or - read a book with a carpenter or which contains some sort of wood-working activity.

Dust by Joan Frances Turner (The Resurgam Trilogy, Book #1) - 23 Oct 2017
Read a book with a character whose FIRST name starts with J (tell us the name) - Jessie

✔16. Read a book where a group of people work together to solve a problem - or - read a book with at least two KEY words in the title that start with the same letter.

Beauty and the Beast by Elizabeth Rudnick - 31 Oct 2017
Read a book with at least two KEY words in the title that start with the same letter [B]

✔17. Read a book set in a cold climate (tell us where) - OR - a book showing shoes or stockings/socks on the cover (show us the cover).

The Shining by Stephen King (The Shining, Book #1) - 6 Nov 2017
Read a book set in a cold climate [in the mountains in Colorado]

✔18. Read a book in which disease in involved - or - read a book with either 5 or 3 in the original publication YEAR (tell us the year).

Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco - 30 Oct 2017
Read a book with either 5 or 3 in the original publication YEAR [1973]

✔19. Read a book with hills or mountains on the cover (show us the cover) - or - read a book with a character who acts as bodyguard for another character.

An Angel for Christmas by Heather Graham - 18 Nov 2017
Read a book with hills or mountains on the cover



✔20. Read a book that you consider to be a quick and easy read - or - read a book set in London.

Slade House by David Mitchell - 19 Oct 2017
Read a book set in London




The Troop by Nick Cutter There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks It by Stephen King Two Nights by Kathy Reichs Body on the Bayou (Cajun Country Mystery, #2) by Ellen Byron Afraid To Die (To Die #4) by Lisa Jackson Fierce Kingdom by Gin PhillipsThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware Wreck the Halls (Home Repair is Homicide, #5) by Sarah Graves Dust by Joan Frances Turner Beauty and the Beast Novelization by Elizabeth Rudnick The Shining by Stephen King Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco An Angel for Christmas by Heather Graham Slade House by David Mitchell 
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