REVIEW: DARK WITCH, BY NORA ROBERTS

91U3d-DUvxL._SL1500_When Iona Sheehan heads to Ireland, to County Mayo, she is on a quest. To find her destiny and a sense of belonging.

With her cousins Branna and Connor O’Dwyer, she finds more than she bargained for, and as she begins her instruction to become one of them, she also finds her place working with the horses at the ranch of Boyle McGrath and Finbar Burke. Meara Quinn is also a part of that world.

There is an almost immediate powerful force that connects Iona with a unique horse called Alastar; a horse that others cannot tame or control.

And its owner, Boyle, seems to be part of that connection.

Is it a love thing? Is there a magical pull between them? Or is something more going on?

As Iona struggles to hone her skills as a witch, she recalls the story of her ancestor, Scorcha, and her endless battle with Cabhan, a tale that began in 1263.

Will the struggle continue in the present? And will Iona learn enough to win out over the forces that would defeat her? What final confrontation will continue the battle for the future?

A magical tale of love and the power of destiny, Dark Witch: Book One of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy was one I could not leave behind. The settings, the characters, and the feeling of magic was refreshing to me, since I don’t usually read this kind of story. This one earned 4.0 stars from me.

HUMP DAY POTPOURRI: WAITING FOR “THE NIGHTINGALE”

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday, our special day for sharing upcoming book releases.  Hop on over to Breaking the Spine to find out what everyone else is excited about.

Today I am looking forward to Kristin Hannah’s upcoming release, The Nightingale, due out on February 3, 2015.   I am linking to the Goodreads page.

 

 

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Goodreads Description:  From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic novel of love and war, spanning from the 1940s to the present day, and the secret lives of those who live in a small French town.

Viann and Isabelle have always been close despite their differences. Younger, bolder sister Isabelle lives in Paris while Viann lives a quiet and content life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. When World War II strikes and Antoine is sent off to fight, Viann and Isabelle’s father sends Isabelle to help her older sister cope. As the war progresses, it’s not only the sisters’ relationship that is tested, but also their strength and their individual senses of right and wrong. With life as they know it changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Viann and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

Vivid and exquiste in its illumination of a time and place that was filled with great monstrosities, but also great humanity and strength, Kristin Hannah’s novel will provoke thought and discussion that will have readers talking long after they turn the last page.

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It has been too long since the last book I read by this author.  This one is definitely on my “must read” list.  What are you sharing today?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: AUTUMN LEAVES & ENGAGING BOOKS

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The messy leaves are annoying…but they tell me that fall is really here!  At last.

And there is a crispness in the air that makes me feel energetic.  Does fall create a special feeling in you?  Or are other seasons the ones that invigorate and energize you?

Today I decided to try something I haven’t done in a while:  I am reading two books at once.  I read one for a bit, and then the other.  I couldn’t do this if they were the same genre, but since they are quite different, this seems to be working out for me.

 

Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts, is one I am reading on Sparky…and it’s the first book in a trilogy.

 

 

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With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.   Ireland.

County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

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I don’t often read books about witches or magic, but the draw for me was Ireland.  There is something about books set there that is magnetically appealing.  Perhaps because my photographer son lived there for a while and brought back lovely photos, some of which line the walls in my bedroom.  (Below), see an angel in a cemetery, left; and behind the desk, a castle.  These are just two of the ones in my room.

At any rate, I am having a great time reading this one…so far.

 

 

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My second book is The Oleander Sisters, by Elaine Hussey, and the story takes us back to 1969, and is set in Mississippi…the setting and the times are the draw for me with this book.

 

 

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In 1969, the first footsteps on the moon brighten America with possibilities. But along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a category five storm is brewing, and the Blake sisters of Biloxi are restless for change. Beth “Sis” Blake has always been the caretaker, the dutiful one, with the weight of her family’s happiness—and their secrets—on her shoulders. She dreams of taking off to pursue her own destiny, but not before doing whatever it takes to rescue her sister.

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Now can you see why I can’t put either of these down?  I try to find a stopping place in each before switching to the other book.  It has kept me hopping and enthralled.

Do you sometimes find yourself drawn to two books (or more) at the same time?

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HUMP DAY POTPOURRI: SEASONAL TREATS, BOOKISH & NON-BOOKISH

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Good morning, and welcome to another Hump Day.  An October morning is crisp and beautiful, with just enough coolness in the air to make me feel fully alive.

I loved setting up my breakfast tray on the pub table (above), decorated with a few of my Halloween goodies.

What a great week it has been so far!  I just finished my second book of the week, Ruin Falls, (click for my review),

 

 

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and jumped right into Further Out Than You Thought.

 

 

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The first chapter did not engage me, and I started to get that feeling…you know the one:  Oh, no, what have I signed on for?

But then I started the second chapter, sped right through it, and on.  Now I am starting to feel the characters.  In the beginning, we see their “make believe” world, with pseudonyms, and then we begin to know who they really are.  Their dreams, their struggles.

But what I am eager to get to is this part:

 

When the city explodes in violence after the Rodney King verdict, the chaos becomes a catalyst for change. Valiant is invigorated, Leo plans a new stunt—walking into east L.A., naked, holding a white flag—and Gwen, discovering she is pregnant, is confronted by troubling questions. Can Leo become a good, dependable father? Can she leave the club life behind, or will the city’s spell prove too seductive?

Combining poetry and sensuality with an edgy urban sensibility, Further Out Than You Thought is a celebration of life and a haunting story of love, friendship, and one woman’s quest for redemption.

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Now THAT’S what I want to get into.

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Meanwhile, despite my vows to curtail the books I requested from Vine, I have two more on my stack and two headed my way.  Coming soon:

 

The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion

 

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The previous book, The Rosie Project, (click for my review) was the first book I read this year.  So I am definitely curious about where this book will take us.

Meanwhile, a new Jane Green book will soon show up in my mailbox, and I can’t wait!  Saving Grace.

 

 

 

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Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue.  To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity.  With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.
Powerful and riveting, Saving Grace will have you on the edge of your seat as you follow Grace on her harrowing journey to rock bottom and back.
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Oh, no, watch out for those mood swings…and those interlopers!  This one sounds impossible to put down.  I had bookmarked it as a download for Sparky, but then it came up on the Vine list…and I couldn’t be more excited. Thanks for the heads-up, Patty!
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Do you have books you can’t wait to read?  Books you are bookmarking, buying impulsively, or requesting?  Do you feel more energized in the fall season?  I know that I do!
Enjoy!
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WEEKEND POTPOURRI: COZY MOMENTS

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Today has been a very cozy day…and so was yesterday.  So we can appropriately dub these days as Cozy Weekend Moments.

Both days have seen me before this set-up (below) binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

 

 

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I am now on Season III.  Unlike some people, I have never watched all the episodes in all the seasons.  Until now, there were random episodes (first on SoapNet, which is no more), and then on ABC Family.  Again, currently running, but not all the episodes are shown.

 

 

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Have I mentioned how much I am loving this show?  Definitely addicted.

But now I am done for the weekend…and off to continue reading Dear Daughter, by Elizabeth Little, an interesting story of a woman named Jane who was just released from prison after spending ten years inside.  Because she was released on a technicality, many believe she is guilty…still.  Her goal is to find out who really murdered her mother…if there is another possible someone.  Jane is not sure about anything at this point.

 

 

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And then I am looking forward to some more favorites on tonight’s TV line-up, including The Good Wife.  Another show I am addicted to.  Yes, I have serious issues…LOL.

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What has your weekend been like?  Do you have special books, movies, or TV shows you are eagerly awaiting?

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THURSDAY POTPOURRI: THE AFTERMATH OF THE PURGE

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In the aftermath of my purging, rearranging, etc., my rooms still have more collections and books than some people enjoy.

But I am the one who lives here, so I guess I get to decide that!  LOL

Here are some changes on the hearth:

 

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Yes, some of the goodies are now resting comfortably in garage bins that had space freed up after the purge.

I’ve also been tackling some closets, including the nook in my office.  You won’t believe what I found in some of the big, stackable boxes that seem to be purely decorative (see below under the bear), but contained computer floppy discs from the days when those were usable.  Out those discs went!

 

 

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Books are still coming into the house, but as new ones come in, some older ones are going out to the library collections box in the garage.  The garage, by the way, is looking much better!

 

Here are some Amazon Vine books I’ve received: 

 

When We Fall, by Emily Liebert

 

 

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Ready for a fresh start, Allison Parker moves back to her hometown in the suburbs of New York. While she’d once savored the dynamic pace of city life, sadly, it lost its allure after her husband’s untimely death. Now, ready to focus on her art career accompanied by her ten-year-old son, Logan, Allison doesn’t anticipate that her past will resurface. When the wife of her husband’s best friend from summer camp takes her under her wing, things begin to spin out of control.

 

And The Oleander Sisters, by Elaine Hussey

 

 

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An emotionally riveting tale of the bonds of family and the power of hope in the sultry Deep South…set in the 60s.

 

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I am looking forward to both of these…and am loving Accidents of Marriage, which I am reading now.  What are you enjoying on a Thursday?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: INTROS/TEASERS – “RUIN FALLS”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Tuesdays are great!  Don’t you love them?  The week is in full swing, and it’s our opportunity to visit blogs and read excerpts.  Today I am sharing one of my review books, an ARC from Amazon Vine:  Ruin Falls, by Jenny Milchman.

 

 

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Intro:  The children had never been this far from home before.  Liz had spent most of yesterday driving around, hunting for no-mess Crayola coloring books, praying they weren’t too juvenile to keep a six- and eight-year-old occupied in the car, then running up and down the supermarket aisles in search of bars and snack pouches in case they couldn’t find food on the road.  Or in case they did find something, and Paul wouldn’t allow the kids to eat it.

Now the hours had ticked by, four of them, and it seemed they were no closer to their destination than they had been when they left home.  Descending from the mountains of Wedeskyull had presented a stark contrast and it felt like they were really traveling.  But the view outside the windows ever since had been made up of little besides cornfields.  Liz wouldn’t have believed how bleak acres and acres of green could appear when the crop was so unvarying.  The road they were driving on hadn’t dipped or risen for thirty minutes.  It was a flat length of asphalt, inky mirages always shimmering just ahead.

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Teaser:  In the few moments she’d been able to attain unconsciousness last night, her rest had been overrun by what she’d learned on that website Paul had visited.  Or what she hadn’t learned.  Letters danced through the shards of her dreams.  P’s and E’s and W’s. (p. 123).

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Blurb:  Liz Daniels has every reason to be happy about setting off on a rare family vacation, leaving behind her remote home in the Adirondack Mountains for a while. Instead, she feels uneasy. Her children, eight-year-old Reid and six-year-old Ally, have met their paternal grandparents only a handful of times. But Liz’s husband, Paul, has decided that, despite a strained relationship with his mother and father, they should visit the farm in western New York where he spent his childhood.

On their way to the farm, the family stops at a hotel for the night. In the morning, when Liz goes to check on her sleeping children, all her anxiety comes roaring back: Ally and Reed are nowhere to be found. Blind panic slides into ice-cold terror as the hours tick by without anyone finding a trace of the kids. Soon, Paul and Liz are being interviewed by police, an Amber Alert is issued, and detectives are called in.

Frantic worry and helplessness threaten to overtake Liz’s mind—but in a sudden, gut-wrenching instant she realizes that it was no stranger who slipped into the hotel room that night. Someone she trusted completely has betrayed her. Though she knows that Ally and Reid are safe, Liz will stop at nothing to find them and get them back. From her guarded in-laws’ unwelcoming farmhouse to the deep woods of her own hometown, Liz follows the threads of a terrible secret to uncover a hidden world created from dreams and haunted by nightmares.

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Doesn’t this sound intense?  I am so looking forward to it.  Would you keep reading?  What are you sharing today?

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