Check out this great post by All About Romance about what’s coming up in romance and not-romance in books. There are quite a few gems out there that look just amazing.
We had the winds of all winds yesterday night and, as a result, we have no power today. No power means no showers (the water is drawn from the well via a pump that requires electricity), no phone, no TV, no cable and, worse of all, no internet.
So, how am I posting? Well, we escaped our hydro-less house this morning and sought refuge at the nearest coffee house. Yes, I’m drinking coffee right now.
Yes, it’s delicious.
No, I’m not happy.
One look at the hydro website confirmed my worst fears. We aren’t going to have power until tomorrow night…at the earliest. Odds are, we won’t be able to blow dry our hair until well into next week.
Sure, they all like to point their fingers at the winds that blew but I have a suspicion about what really happened to our power.
In the interim, we’ll light candles and try to see if we can read a book or two by candle light. Wish us luck!
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my hubby is about to leave for a week. An entire week without him is a sad thing so I’ve tried to explain things several times to our fluffy doggies. Each time, though, I’ve been met with licks and reassurances. They’re not worried.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the snow is falling thick and fast over here. No matter what the Groundhog said on that February day, I fear an early spring is not in the cards.
So how am I going to survive without my hubby for a week? Well, I have a plan with levels of need:
Level 1: The fluffies. My doggies are amazing at getting in the way, bothering me and basically making sure I realize I’m not alone. I have complete confidence in their ability to continue to do so.
Level 2: Books. I just did a bit of book shuffling and I now have credit at the used book store. One or two books will do the trick…
Level 3 (to be used only as a last resort): The bed. It’s daunting to sleep on our big bed all alone. I might just have to invite our doggies to sleep with me. This of course will probably result in none of us getting any sleep, so it’s a solution only for dire emergencies…
How about you? How was your week? Is it snowing over there?
A huge thanks to Eclectic Alli for hosing Coffee Share and to you, my lovely reader, for reading!
A friend of mine loaned me the book, The hour I first believed by Wally Lamb. I had to have it read quickly because she needed it back. At over 700 pages, it’s not a tiny book, still I gave it a go…and I got hooked.
It’s odd because this, again, is not my type of book. I’ve never read Wally Lamb and the characters suffer so much that I wanted to stop reading; I’m a big wimp when it comes to characters not being happy. But the story and the writing refused to let me go. This book haunted me for the two days it took me to read it.
The story is about Caelum Quirk who starts out as an unhappy man in his third marriage, stumbling around life and not being very successful at living it. Then, while things around him unravel, Caelum slowly starts to confront the knots that are keeping him prisoner in his own life.
A lot of books are great stories, but few are an amazing experience. This one is. I can see why Oprah would have chosen this author as one of her favourites and picked his books a couple of times. I can see why he made the Bestseller list.
Wally Lamb manages to write the ordinary, haphazard occurrences of Caelum’s life into a masterpiece of miracles. Along the way, Caelum is transformed. His beliefs and doubts have completely changed. And, as the reader, I got to see it all.
His wife, Maureen is a nurse at Columbine when tragedy struck. This book is based on that fact but the story is only born around it. Maureen suffers from severe PTSD and becomes one of Caelum’s challenges. Along the way, Caelum meets other characters who teach him and push him further along his journey.
There are many things that I absolutely loved about this book. Though I had to read it quickly, I can see how sitting with it and savouring it would be divine. It’s got details and little nuances that need to be noticed along the way. Nothing is really left to chance, this book is written carefully and with clear attention to detail. It took the author 9 years to write and, in my humble opinion, it was worth every moment of those years. From the tone of the narrator, to the pace, to the twists and turns, this is a book to cherish.
Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is not my usual genre of books. It’s the story of Queen Victoria from the time she became Queen to when she married Prince Albert. It’s written by Daisy Goodwin who has a degree in history from Cambridge and has written other New York Times bestselling novels all about historical figures. I have never read a book by Daisy Goodwin and I rarely read nonfiction. I picked this one up for a moment, read a paragraph and was hooked. I tried to put it down, I actually did slide it back on the shelf, then I walked away and I knew that paragraph would be haunting me for the rest of the weekend and I’d have to return to find out what happened.
I bought the book instead.
I’m glad I did because Victoria was just delicious. I’ve gone and done a bit of searching since just to see if it was accurate and the truth is Daisy Goodwin got all the facts straight. On top of that, she wove them into a wonderful story. That certainly takes talent.
One of my favourite parts about this story is the transition of Victoria from the shy, protected girl we meet at the beginning of the book to the Queen we have in the end. It was quite the transformation. Her mother kept Victoria ‘protected’ while she was a child by not allowing her to see or meet anyone. She was carefully schooled by people she chose and saw only those she approved, which meant that, by the time she was eighteen, Victoria was so sheltered she was very ill equipped to reign.
Her mother’s plan had been to make her daughter dependent on her and so reign through her, but Victoria refused to become her mother’s shadow and to bow to her wishes. Instead, she tries to do things on her own. How she manages to not only succeed but to do so well is the meat of the story.
Queen Victoria was the longest reigning monarch in England until Queen Elizabeth II just surpassed her only a few years ago. She also married Prince Albert not out of necessity but out of love, something unheard of in that time period and had 9 children with him though she hated being pregnant. She was an incredible queen, something that was due to her determination, perseverance and talent because she started off with odds severely against her.
This isn’t a romance story, it’s historical fiction. But I was looking for something different. I like women’s lit and, in spite of the time period change, this is certainly the story of a woman coming of age and finding her purpose and role from a very challenging set of circumstances. It’s incredible how fast those pages turned when I read this book. It seemed to end too quickly.
I would absolutely recommend it. It’s got a fantastic story of triumph over adversity, historical facts, a love story and historical kings and queens all in one great book. Plus, it has a ton of intrigue but not a lot of fighting, which I adore. If you’re a fan of fiction or history, this one is a great one to try. If you do, let me know what you think of it.
I was actually really looking forward to this one, mostly, because of the two main characters. Ryder and Hope have a ton of chemistry. He’s grumpy and won’t even call her by name and she’s feisty and gives him back as good as she gets. I couldn’t wait to see the sparks fly.
Ryder is the last of the Montgomery men, the guy who works things out and doesn’t say much. He’s quick to temper and faster to find a way to do something with his hands rather than talk it out. Hope, on the other hand, is elegant and polished and the innkeeper at the Boonsboro Inn. She doesn’t like his attitude and from using words to hosing him down with a hose, she lets him know it. Reading about these two exchanging grumblings had me laughing and eagerly turning the pages.
There’s something to be said for chemistry but eventually, it has to change to care and love or there isn’t any hope for the couple. The transition for Ryder and Hope went smoothly as only someone like Nora Roberts can write it. Along the way, we get to hear how the other characters from the other two books are doing and I, for one, was delighted to see old faces reappear.
The three women are fast friends, supporting each other and helping out when needed just like the three brothers are fast friends and joke and tease each other in a very realistic way. There’s also construction that was also deftly and realistically portrayed and work that ruled the lives of these characters like it does mine. It didn’t disappear, like it does in some of the sadder books of romance I’ve read. Here, lives are realistic with flaws and triumphs just like in reality. It creates a world that is believable yet appealing.
The Perfect Hope is a really good ending to a great trilogy. I’ll be honest and fess up that I read it in one sitting. It took me only three hours to gobble it up and I ended with a soft sigh of disappointment that it was done. I highly recommend it to any fan of romance and certainly those of contemporary. Nora Roberts is a phenomenon.
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Though this book is the second in the series, it can certainly be read as a stand alone. I had to read it in order, though to give the books the full effect and read them as they were intended but don’t let that stop you if you have this one in hand. It’s excellent.
The Last Boyfriend is the story of Owen and Avery, two of my favourites. Owen is the meticulously organized man who runs the business side of the construction build with his brothers. Avery is inspirational, spur of the moment and, like all of Nora’s heroines, hard working and determined. She runs her own restaurant at the same town.
Owen is realistic and respectful. He’s known and been friends with Avery for a long time. He’s the guy she can lean on when the restaurant is swamped to put on an apron and lend a helping hand.
The move from friend to boyfriend is always tricky. There has to be chemistry along with care and dependability and sometimes, with old friends, things become just boring. Not so with Owen and Avery. They are wonderfully written, realistic and still create a beautiful love story that kept me glued to the book.
I love that the book lingered and showed all the parts of their lives, from friends to the relationships with their mom to get togethers with brothers. It made me feel as though I was enjoying a slice of their lives, not just getting a short, abbreviated route to a romantic end. Nora Roberts knows when to linger and when to move on. Her timing is exquisite.
There’s always a dangerous part in a book and that’s the saggy middle. The same can be said of middle books but this one shines brightly among the three. If you’re a fan of contemporary romance, don’t miss this one. It’s a gem.
I always love reading a book by Nora Roberts and certainly this one wasn’t an exception. She’s got a gift with the written word, for certain but it’s the timing in her writing that impresses me the most. Her stories always feel slow and lazy and not rushed. It’s a beautiful, slow, elegant introduction into the characters and scene. Yet, she can do it somehow with a few words. And this one was particularly beautiful.
The Next Always is the first in a trilogy that I somehow missed reading when they came out. It tells the story of Beckett and Clare. Beckett is the eldest of the three Montgomery men and the architect. He’s helping his family of brothers and mother, restore an old inn and transform it into a beautiful Bed and Breakfast.
Beckett is easy going on the eyes, gentle yet determined in the best of ways. He had already fallen for Clare back when they were teens so it doesn’t take much for him to rekindle the romance. Clare is a widow now, with three delightful little boys and runs a bookstore. She’s kind, motherly and just sweet.
Clare and Beckett are both busy, one with the inn and the other with work and her little boys and, unlike other romances, these two don’t magically lose their business to give way to romance. The romance happens around their busy lives. Clare continues to kiss scraped knees, stop wars and tend to sick boys and Beckett has to answer his phone, curse at delays and run to fix issues on the build. They do find each other, but it’s a realistic, organic build that creates the same realistic, organic feelings of wonder–at least it did in this reader.
I have to add some other things that I absolutely adored about this book. The three little boys weren’t just minor secondary characters, they were delightfully real and absolutely adorable. I loved each and all of them. The same can be said of the dogs in the story and the other secondary characters. Nora Roberts nails it with them.
The other thing I adored was the cheerful banter between the brothers. Nora Roberts does dialogue like a pro and she nailed it in this book. The three brothers are realistically male, joking around much like guys do without becoming bullies or ignorant, which takes a lot of finesse as a writer.
Add in a beautiful love story, and I was a goner. I had to get the second and third book to gobble them up. If you’re a fan of contemporary fiction, don’t do what I did and wait. Pick this one up. It’s fantastic.
Blood Kiss is the first book in a spin off series from the Black Dagger Brotherhood and, after reading it, I can’t wait for the second. What a fantastic way to start off a series.
Paradise is a high-class, well-protected vampire. She actually wants to try out for the training centre program of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. She, unlike the other women of high society, wants to think for herself, act on her own and be her own person. Shockingly, she even wants to fight. Like the men.
Her father is a wonderful supportive man and though he has more than one quibble at his daughter’s request, he finally agrees to let her try. So, there was Paradise, from carefully preserved, protected, high class lady to warrior.
It’s not an easy change and we’re there for the ride. The training in the program is tough as nails and the other recruits are all characters with determined personalities that don’t trust each other or her. Becoming a team and working together takes more than a few moments. These guys bond through the program though and come through it together pretty well. Personally, I thought J.R. Ward did a really good job of presenting a physically challenging program that wasn’t ridiculously unrealistic yet presented vampires with challenges designed to help them grow. I not only bought it, I loved it.
One of the other recruits is Craeg. A tough, quiet guy who’s come from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s there to find his own path and get a little vengeance. Along the way, he discovers Paradise and the two become inseparable.
There are plenty of challenges for the two. Paradise comes from a background that determines who she can and cannot marry (oops, mate) and Craeg has his own issues on the subject, not to mention there’s a war going on. Still, they make it and its both beautiful and credible.
I can’t recommend this one highly enough. If you haven’t tried J.R. Ward, give her a chance. You won’t regret it. She’s a master of the genre and a fantastic writer. I know I can’t seem to get enough of her books.
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The Shadows by J.R. Ward is number 14 in the BDB series. Certainly not the book to start your way into this world. Still, if you do end up with this one and find that you have nothing else to read, you might not find it that hard to navigate. Most things are explained and the premise, vampires, are certainly not unknown.
The Shadows is the story of iAm and Trez, brothers who are members of the s’Hive, a subsection of the vampire world. Don’t panic at this category. It’s not an entire new world, rather a small group of a larger one who follow most of the regular vampire-rules.
So, no panic and here we go. Trey is destined to become something among his people that he absolutely dreads and hates. So he’s hiding and trying to avoid his fate. On the other hand, iAm is at his side, faithfully trying to keep his brother alive and avoiding that dreaded destiny.
I don’t like to reveal too much because it destroys the book, so I have to be vague. The Shadows is the story of both brothers, how they find love and the twists and turns that happen for them along the way. We also get to revisit old characters but, in fantastic fashion, JR Ward doesn’t let them take over the series. They were awesome smaller characters and I was delighted to see them.
I loved the many stories threaded together. J. R. Ward weaves them in to each other like a master. I can’t explain how she does it, I can only vouch that they kept my interest and I couldn’t wait to turn the pages and read on. There were many cliffhangers, twists and turns but not the unbelievable, fake kind, rather the awesome, I-never-saw-it coming type. And the romance is so tender and amazing, I cried…and cried. And there was company over.
Though not everything is resolved, this book did many amazing things. It gave me a heads up as to where everyone is, without becoming boring. It continued the saga with class. It gave me not one but two great love stories. And it set up the series to continue (I have tons of curiosity about it still–and after 14 books that says a lot).
Among 14 books, there are favourites and not so favourites. This one is a definite keeper and one that I’ll go back to again and again to relive those highs and lows. I definitely couldn’t recommend J.R. Ward more highly and, though you might want to start the series at the start, this is one you don’t want to miss.
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