Monday, March 31, 2014
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…
I wanted to love Shadow Spell. I was excited to open the cover and delve into Connor & Meara's story and revisit this family as they continue battling the evil threatening to destroy them all. I like the characters, the setting, and the idea of the plot line. Unfortunately, for me, the story just never develops - it never goes anywhere. The anticipation and suspense never build to the point that I can't put the book down. In the end, I felt like I was in the same place I was when I started the book. That alone might be okay if the romance had caught fire. While I love a good friends to romance story, Connor & Meara's relationship was just ho hum for me. I didn't feel the sparks, the anticipation, the bantering that leads to burn up the pages sex...I just didn't "feel" them. They came across as good friends who became good friends with sex and oh yeah - btw, I love you. There wasn't enough angst, fire, or emotions to build the anticipation to make this story come alive. Even the danger never caused me a moment of worry, never made me flip pages to see what would happen, never made me concerned for the characters. Most of the book, they were meeting to form a plan of attack while sharing a meal. When the final attack came, it was anti-climatic.
I have to be honest and say I was disappointed with Shadow Spell. It is an okay "average" read but nothing as special as I'm accustomed to getting from Nora Roberts. I love Nora's books and am a huge fan. I've read them all and I will read the next one...but this one missed the mark for me.
Rating: 3 ♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart...xxx
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.
The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside's shape-shifting leader—wonders whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future threat.
As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.
Murder of Crows is the second book in the series, The Others. Written In Red was a 5 heart read for me...see my earlier review from March 18. I did not originally plan to also review Murder of Crows but it just won't be ignored. This series is fascinating with layer upon layer of intrigue, suspense, and world building, and characters that are magical.
Murder of Crows continues the saga of Meg, Simon, and the Others as they battle forces unknown, guided by the prophesies that are coming more often to Meg. Her visions are like pieces of puzzles, objects that individually make no sense. They include things like blood, black feathers, a shark, smoke in a jar. What do they mean? Simon leads the charge to interpret Meg's visions as danger lurks near. At the same time, Simon and Meg grow closer and continue struggling to learn what their relationship means and where it is heading. Is a romantic relationship actually possible? Simon experiences unfamiliar bouts of jealousy when other males come around Meg while she is unsure of her feelings for Simon. What they both understand is that they really enjoy being together and doing normal human things like cuddling on the couch and watching movies...but Simon isn't human. The character interaction in Murder of Crows is intense and fascinating and often humorous. I laughed out loud at this hodge podge group of characters and their antics.
The plot in Murder of Crows is woven like a fine tapestry with detailed intricacies that will keep you searching for a pattern. It's there, if you can recognize it. Where is it all leading? How does it all fit? Will they figure out the puzzle of Meg's visions in time to save her, the good humans, and the Others? Can they work together to save Meg from the Controller seeking her return to his compound and control? Who is using the blood of cassandra sangues to make drugs that will harm the Others?
While Murder of Crows answers some of your questions, it raises more. The suspense is high as they battle against forces unknown and race against time to discover and destroy the hidden danger threatening them all. Everyone in town works together to help Meg (and her group of girlfriends - the "Fluffballs") reconstruct the journey she traveled when she fled the Controller and the compound where she was held captive - the journey of which she has limited, vague memories. She asks Simon for one thing - to free Jean, the girl who helped Meg escape at the expense of her own freedom, and Simon vows to keep his promise. Can he find the compound in time to save Jean and the other girls who are also cassandra sangues? What will happen if he frees them? Can they be rehabilitated?
Murder of Crows is a intriguing story of many layers that fascinated me as piece after piece of the puzzle slipped into place revealing more of the bigger picture. The characters are all an important, mesmerizing part of the story, each unique in their skills and what they bring to the table. Murder of Crows is a worthy sequel to Written In Red and once again, I'm left anxious for more. I have wavered between 4 and 5 hearts for Murder of Crows but because of the intricacies of the world building, characters and plot, this is another 5 heart read for me. It deserves nothing less. A Must Read for lovers of Fantasy!
Rating: 5 Gorgeous ♥♥♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart...xxx
"S-Simon?" A tremble in her voice.
"Meg?" Still plenty of growl in his voice.
"You're not a Wolf."
"I'm always a Wolf."
"But you're not a furry Wolf."
"No, I'm not. And you're hogging the covers." That said, he grabbed the covers she was clinging to and yanked.
She tumbled into him. Before she could decide what to do, the covers were around both of them, and he had her pinned between his body and the bed.
"Stop squirming," he snapped. "If you bruise more than the hip you just kicked, I will bite you."
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"Where Meg is concerned, you've been confused since you met her." Henry handed one mug to Simon and sat beside him. "And now, my friend, you're a Wolf who has bounded into a pretty meadow and discovered it's full of snakes and steel traps."
He didn't think that was a flattering description of Meg, but he swallowed the impulse to defend her.
"She's not terra indigene, Simon," Henry said gently. "She's not one of us. She's human."
"She's not one of us, but she's not one of them either," he snapped. "She's Meg."
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Six months after nearly losing their lives to a serial killer in New York City, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are suffering through something almost as frightening: the monotony of desk duty. When they're ordered to take a vacation for the good of everyone's sanity, Ty bites the bullet and takes Zane home with him to West Virginia, hoping the peace and quiet of the mountains will give them the chance to explore the explosive attraction they've so far been unable to reconcile with their professional partnership. Ty and Zane, along with Ty's father and brother, head up into the Appalachian mountains for a nice, relaxing hike deep into the woods... where no one will hear them scream. They find themselves facing danger from all directions: unpredictable weather, the unrelenting mountains, wild animals, fellow hikers with nothing to lose, and the most terrifying challenge of all. Each other.
While I enjoyed Cut & Run, I wasn't sucked in to the point of no return. I read it, enjoyed it, and moved on to other books I needed to read. I knew I would return to the series someday but was in no hurry. Several books later, I picked up Sticks and Stones with the thought of finishing this series for a Goodreads group challenge. Early in the book, I found Ty & Zane being ordered on another "mental health" break (vacation) from duty. Jeez...are all FBI agents nut cases?! These guys are seriously messed up in the head. I settled in to read, hoping to discover what had snagged my friends into this series - hook, line, & sinker. Somewhere around a half book or so later, I was flipping pages & snarling at anyone who dared to interrupt my reading. Finally, it dawned on me what was holding me enthralled...Ty & Zane - two men struggling to come to terms with emotions they have no idea what to do with, while fighting to survive on a mountainside with Mother Nature throwing everything in her arsenal at them. You can read the synopsis and get the drift of the many elements & dangers these guys battle while on a hiking trip in the Appalachian Mountains with Ty's dad & brother. I'll just try to relay some of the emotions I was feeling by the end of the book & the reasons why I am now "caught" - just as hooked as my friends are.
Ty & Zane are both struggling to hold on to their sanity from past catastrophes of one kind or the other. In Sticks & Stones, I was more atoned to what they were thinking - each in his own head, and thus, both characters evoked a deeper, emotional response from me. I loved getting in each character's mind and being privy to their thoughts about one another...both of them wondering what the other one is thinking - how each is feeling about their relationship and where it might be going. I felt their insecurities and learned their vulnerabilities as they each battle their own demons. Their pain, both emotional & physical, is very much alive and both devastating and heartbreaking. They face death and fight for life and each other on that mountain. The author did an amazing job portraying the emotional turmoil that is churning inside both men threatening to tear them apart.
I lamented the bumbling job Ty & Zane did as veteran detectives in Cut & Run and slashed my rating by 1 heart because of it. This book does not suffer the same malady. Once they start up that mountain, the suspense and action are non-stop. The interaction between all the characters is fascinating, revealing family dynamics & issues as the mountain and all her secrets threaten to prevent them from ever going home again. I found my heart pounding as I raced through the latter half of this book. Please, I prayed, give me and Ty & Zane a happy ending.
I didn't expect to become caught up in this series but I am. I will be finishing the rest of the books and, like everyone else, anxiously waiting for more, I'm sure. I will just say to doubters - commit to reading the first two books. If you're not a fan by the end of Sticks & Stones, then drop it. I can't imagine any fan of Romance/Suspense not loving it. In my opinion, it just about has it all. I have argued with myself to rate this book 4 hearts...but then I think about how I flipped pages into the night to find out what was going to happen, allowing neither dirty house nor hungry husband to interfere with my infatuation with this story. I just can't justify not giving it the other heart so...here goes. Sticks & Stones is a must read!
Rating - 5 Gorgeous ♥♥♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart...xxx
"Next time you're struggling, you tell me," Ty said quietly. "Don't care what it's about. That way I don't have to guess what you need from me."
Zane's lips pressed together hard, and he swallowed with difficulty, not wanting to pull away from Ty even an inch. "I don't want you to think I can't back you up," he said, their lips brushing as he spoke.
"When I think that, you'll know it," Ty promised, and he leaned away from him just enough to be able to look him in the eye. "It's twice now you've saved my life," he reminded in a gruff voice. "Time you stopped thinking of yourself as the weaker half."
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"There aren't many things left that truly scare me, Ty," Zane said softly. "But that's one of them."
"What is?" Ty asked without looking back at him. There was a hint of dread in his voice as he stared devotedly at the ground.
Zane looked at him longingly, the words on the tip of his tongue: Not being in time. Losing you. But just the sound of Ty's voice carried a warning; they were too close to a line neither of them wanted to cross.
"Hell freezing over because you actually said thank you," he tried instead.
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Leaning close to Ty's ear, Zane whispered, "Don't make me come after you. You get swept off, I'm eating your share of the pie."
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Deuce put his chin in his hand and watched them silently. He couldn't read Zane, but he thought the man's projected emotions were fairly straightforward. When they were visible at all. Right now, Zane was focused on Ty, and that anger appeared to be totally gone, replaced by something milder. Warmer.
But Ty? Deuce snorted. Not in love, his ass. Ty could fool Zane, maybe. He could even fool himself for a while longer. But Ty couldn't fool Deuce, not anymore.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans.
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.
Fantasy is not my genre of choice...not my "go to" genre when I'm looking for my next great read. I've read a few good fantasies and am always open to book recommendations but I don't generally seek it out. When Written in Red won the poll for March Monthly Read in one of my Goodreads groups, I thought, "Okay...I'll give it a fair shake & see what happens." What happened was I freakin' loved it! I was captivated and mesmerized by this book & cast of characters. It's just that good!
I really like the fact that Anne Bishop doesn't take up 1/3 of the book building the fantasy world. After a brief prologue, you get the drift of the world through the characters eyes as you read. And what a cast of characters! Humans vs. The Others which includes a wide range of shifters (wolves, grizzlies, crows, hawks, cougars), vampires, & Elementals - beautifully written characters so real that I could not only feel their emotions...I could see them jump off the page as the visuals in this book are outstanding. It's not just the author's description of these creatures...it's the way she brings them to life. You can "see", "feel", & "hear" them throughout the story - hell, you can even "smell" them. They live and breathe on the pages and literally leap out at you! My heart raced through much of this book while I also chuckled outloud at some of the humorous banter, especially between Meg & Simon. It is hard to talk about individual characters without giving away spoilers. Meg is a human running for her life. Simon is a wolf shifter who grants her immunity to live hidden among the Others, where human law does not apply. Not everyone welcomes her there as her presence puts the whole community in danger of attack. The cast of supporting characters is unbelievable and yet you will be convinced that every one of them could & does exist!
The synopsis doesn't begin to describe the depth and feeling of Written In Red. There is an ominous feel all the way through, danger to the MC but you're not immediately sure of the source. You know she is running from her Controller but who is it? Was she safer with him than with the Others...these Creatures who prize humans as meat?! What are the unseen dangers? What do her prophesy visions mean? Has she seen her own death? The suspense in this book is high all the way through...it actually reminds me of an old horror movie where the ominous music gets louder and louder as the danger increases. By halfway through Written In Red, my heart was thumping as I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen. This author does an excellent job of building anticipation all the way through to the block-buster ending that belongs on the big screen!
Although a little slow in the beginning, I was soon swept into the fantasy world of Written In Red. If there is such a thing as Fantasy Suspense...then this is it. And you know how I love my suspense! I am surprised but happy to say that I loved this book and can't wait to read Murder of Crows, the second book in The Others series, as Anne Bishop left just enough unanswered questions to set it up. This is a must read for lovers of the Fantasy genre...& also for fans of paranormal and suspense. It is going on my Favorites & Addictive Reads shelves! It takes a special book to earn 5 hearts from me but I can't give this one anything less. A Must Read!
Rating: 5 Gorgeous ♥♥♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart...xxx
"Did you open the front door?" Simon asked, fishing in a drawer for the office keys. Finding them on the counter next to the phone, he picked them up and took a step toward the Private door.
"No, I didn't open the door. There was a Wolf in the way!"
He stopped and studied her. Gave the air a little sniff. "You're acting strange. Is it that time of the month?"
She shrieked. His human ears flattened in a way human ears shouldn't, and he backed away from her.
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"What happens if he bites a delivery man?"
"That'll depend on whether he's hungry."
She wanted to say, Ha Ha. Very funny. But she was pretty sure he wasn't joking.
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Humans often said payback was a bitch. Well, Winter was looking for payback.
Having survived the results when Winter was in full temper, he almost felt sorry for the humans. Almost.
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"Is there some kind of rule for when Sam should be a boy and when he's a Wolf?" Meg asked.
"A Wolf lifts his leg and yellows up snow. A boy has to use the toilet, Simon replied.
"And that will work?"
"Only if he needs to pee."
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
What is the Insecure Writers Support Group?
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Wow...I like the sound of that!
I've thought about this for awhile and have decided to take the plunge and join in!
IWSG posts are the first Wednesday of each month. You will find my first post below.
The Power of the Blank Page
I'm a brand spanking, shiny new member of the Insecure Writer's Support Group and happy to be so! As such, I'm writing my very first article for posting. I'm excited, anxious, and a little nervous about taking this step, putting myself out there. But that's what writers do - right? Yes, of course! And so, a little while ago, I sat at my desk, sharpened several pencils, and got out my composition book to start my rough draft. (Yes, I still like to start off with pen & paper!) Suddenly, I found myself face-to-face with the dreaded "Blank Page"!
And 30 minutes later, I'm still staring at a blank page...only now, my respiration has increased, heart is racing, palms are sweaty, I'm feeling very inadequate, and my mind is still as blank as this piece of paper. What is wrong with me? Where are all those awesome ideas that wake me up in the middle of the night or dance through my head when I'm driving singing, "Pick me, Pick me"? Why have they deserted me?
Realization dawns...Oh no! It's the mystical Power of the Blank Page...power that creeps in when you least expect it, stealing all your ideas, playing a conniving game of hide 'n seek - a game where you're always "it", desperately seeking answers to the age old question: "What can I write about?" This blank page is powerful enough to hold my ideas, thoughts, hopes, and dreams hostage - powerful enough to leave me battling thoughts of inadequacy while questioning both my abilities and intelligence and wondering why in the world I am sitting here...NO! I take a deep breath and glance back up to the name of the group I just joined - Insecure Writer's Support Group...S-U-P-P-O-R-T Group! Safe Haven! There's power in numbers! I am not alone. I have support now - other writers who have faced down the Blank Page and won the battle. I can do this!
Looking down at this Blank Page again, I adjust both my attitude and posture, sitting up a little straighter and once again, I pick up my pencil and approach it with a little more authority. What power does this blank page really hold over me? A flicker of light illuminates the dark, blank recesses of my mind...Oh, it's daring to flame up - bursting to life. Then comes the Ah Ha moment! The light bulb is finally ON! Yes, the blank page is intimidating and scary. But more importantly, it is a blank slate, a new beginning, a chance to start over...an opportunity for those with enough courage to swallow their fear and dare put pen to paper. A Challenge! Yes! I can do this! I have come to the conclusion that the Power of the Blank Page is held in my hands - it's up to me to control it and turn my inner power loose. I have to pick up this pen and write! With a little help from my friends and support group, I can do that!
I'll catch you again the first Wednesday of next month! The Power of the Blank Page will still be there next time I sit down to write but I believe I will be a little less intimidated.
Thanks for joining me. Please visit some of the other writers in our group by stopping by here...IWSG List
Cross My Heart...xxx