Come Winter takes us back in time

25106362Come Winter by Clare Gutierrez is a beautifully written story that features Lady Caterina Tabor who was headed to England when she is kidnapped by Lord Rhys Dermoth and is placed in the kitchen as a maid.

Caty is a very strong, beautiful woman who Lord Dermoth takes a fancy to even though he isn’t supposed to keep her.  He soon forces her into a marriage that she doesn’t want but resigns that it is what her life should be.  Caty embraces being Lady Dermoth and throws herself into the role by improving the Castle and grounds and doing things that make the locals love her.

All Caty wants is to get to the English courts, so she tries to escape her situation over and over and is never successful.  She’s a female and females are more like property than individuals.  So of course she has men wanting to use and abuse her.

t always drives me crazy how in ancient times, when there were kings and queens who ruled the lands, storming castles and taking land from other rulers, women were always property of the king. Caty never really had her independence. At least she tried to be as independent and strong as possible within the confines of her life, which made the people loyal to her and love her dearly.

I really enjoyed this story.  Clare made me feel like I was right there with Caty each time she tried to escape and when she was helping the villagers.  The descriptions were fantastic and I really got lost in the story.  This one I have been recommending to friends and I think you should pick it up if you enjoy historical fiction.

Book Description:

THE ADVENTURES OF A LOWLY MAIDSERVANT, A DISGUISED FUGITIVE, A SAVIOR TO THE POOR AND ENDANGERED, AND A QUEEN.

Such is the paradox of Lady Caterina Tabor, an extraordinary young girl who, en route to England, finds herself captured and at the mercy of a stern and powerful lord. Forced to work as a common kitchen maid in the dank halls of Dermoth Castle, Caty dreams of her past as a free and autonomous maiden with a bright future in the English courts—did fate have other plans?

This early trial is but the first in a litany of shocking tribulations; imprisoned, abused, accused of sorcery, and kidnapped, Caty’s life is for so long anything but charmed—but you can’t keep a soaring heart shackled. As we follow this misunderstood maiden’s journey through both the unexpected, electrifying joys of new love and the pain of mind-boggling adversity, we become eyewitnesses to the astonishing way she not only transforms herself but also enchants, inspires, and invigorates those around her.

Spanning decades of castle life, treacherous journeys, bloody battles, and heartache, Come Winter is a sweeping yet personal tale of a brave woman who at once embodies and transcends the prescribed, and oftentimes oppressive, roles her society demands. Let Clare Gutierrez (author of Dancing with the Boss) curate your voyage back to the Scottish highlands of ages past—a time and place in which simply staying alive constituted a noble adventure, and becoming a patron of the oppressed and the impoverished could make you a hallowed queen.

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The Wolf Road is a scary thriller

30002336The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis features Elka who is a strong individual who was left with her Nana at the age of 5, so her parents could dig for gold.  Trapper found Elka wandering in the woods when she was 7 and for the next ten years, teachers her all the skills to survive in the wilderness.  After 10 years, Elka finds out Trapper is wanted for multiple murders.

Elka isn’t used to being around other people, so she doesn’t know how to read them and she doesn’t really like people, all she knows is the wild.  She runs away trying to escape from Trapper and the law while she tries to reunite with her parents.

Elka is a great character who is stronger than she thinks.  I was cheering for her to find her parents and to get away from Trapper.  I liked Penelope, who she rescues and even though they are polar opposites, they become best friends and family to one another.

As the story progresses and their backgrounds are slowly revealed, and you realize everyone is a little messed up in the apocalyptic story.  Sometimes I forgot this was in the future because after the Russians drop bombs, everyone is thrown back 150 years.  This is a beautifully written story about a lost girl who has to grow up very fast.  There were times I was sitting on the edge of my seat worried about Elka and the people Trapper attacks.   This was well worth my time.

Book Description:
A debut literary thriller from an incredible new voice. What do you do when the man who gave you everything turns out to be a killer? Perfect for fans of STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel.

Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old.

So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

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Be careful what you wish for

22813276I have mixed feelings about How to Date Dead Guys by Ann M. Noser.  One, it was very well written and an interesting concept.  Two, I wanted to reach in and throttle Emma.  Emma is a very naive college student who can barely talk to a guy without showing how socially inept she is.  Her extrovert roommate and sister take Emma to a campus party where they leave Emma leaning on the wall by the beer keg while the party raved on around her.  In walks Mike and he is a vision of beauty to Emma, he is all she can see.  He is a guy that she could fall in love with.

When Mike’s 21st birthday rolls around, his friends and brother get him super drunk.  He leaves with Emma and wants to swim across the river where others have drowned.  Emma wants to do something crazy, so she decides to swim across the river with him.  But Emma makes it to the other side and Mike is nowhere to be found, which Emma thinks is all her fault.  Personally I thought it was partially her fault because if Mike was as drunk as he was, then I think she could have distracted him away from the river.

I was mad at Mike’s brother Kevin for getting him super drunk.  It drives me crazy when I hear about a 21-year-old over drinking on their birthday and either getting injured or die.  They have a lifetime to drink, their friends should know better than to keep pushing the drinks on them.

Emma finds a book of spells under her roommate’s bed and decides to bring Mike back.  Like that is a good idea.  Of course, she doesn’t get what she wants and soon dead guys are showing up all around her.  There is a reason they are showing up and Emma has to figure out how to help them while avoiding her roommate, who is dating Mike’s brother Kevin.

This is part paranormal romance, part mystery and very entertaining as the nightmare of one night pushes a young woman beyond her comfort zone and into the hearts and souls of strangers.  There are funny moments, sad moments and moments that might make you cry.  A very enjoyable story that makes you ask the question – would you bring someone back from the dead?

Book Description:
College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice: “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”. But when charming Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters.

Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back. Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell. The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury. As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he isn’t the only one.

Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a desperate victim determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand… at first.

More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows. Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims.

Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will ignite the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.

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Death of a Bride is a gripping thriller

29586791Out of the blue I received an email from Luke Christodoulou asking if I wanted to read his latest book Death of a Bride.  Of course I said yes.  This murder mystery starts out when a bride is brutally murdered during a horrible storm the day before her wedding.  The wedding is in a small village on a remote island off the southern tip of the island of Crete.

Police Captain Costa Papcosta, has been invited to the wedding of a cousin of his partner Ioli Cara.  Costa and Ioli immediately get down to business to find the killer who has to be in the house as all boats to the island have been stopped due to the storm.

The crime is because of something that happened in the past and Costa and Ioli have to figure out why someone would take revenge now, which is slowly revealed with flashbacks.

Luke does a great job of keeping the reader guessing on who the killer could be.  I would pick someone and then realize I was wrong.  I finally gave up trying to guess.  This was a gripping and fast-paced story that you will not want to put down until you get to the end.

I really like a good thriller and I can’t wait to read more of the Greek Island Mysteries.  This is the third book of the series but can be a standalone.  Make sure to add Death of a Bride to your to read list.

Book Description:

Of all the plans a bride makes in anticipation for her wedding day, dying is definitely not one of them.  The Zampetaki mansion, on the remote island of Gadvos, welcomes dozens of guests for the grand wedding of Cassandra Zampetaki and Homer Cara. It’s a wedding that will never take place. The bride’s lifeless body is found, brutally murdered, on the morning of the wedding. Planned to look like an open-and-shut case, the mastermind behind it all did not figure on Hellenic Police Captain Costa Papacosta and Lieutenant Ioli Cara to be among the guests.

A storm rages outside and no one is able to leave the island. In a battle against time, the dynamic investigating duo must solve this intense case before the guilty party can depart from the island.  Everyone is a suspect and no one is safe.  Join in on the thrilling mystery and try to solve the crime. The clues are all there…

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Three sisters search for love in Seasons of Love

Nicola Italia knows29536691 how to take a reader back in time and enjoy the lives of the characters.  This time in Seasons of Love, she takes us to Tampa, Florida to the Italian section of the city where we meet three sisters.  Part one, or as I like to call it, the first novella, concentrates on Rosalia, who is the middle sister.  Rosa is the quiet one.  The one that helps at church.  The one who is quiet and shy, the one who falls in love with a man soon to join the priesthood.

Part two, or as I like to call it, the second novella, is about the youngest sister, Angelina, who is a feisty teenager who loves the movies and everything that is modern.  She silently meets a man from Cuba who sweeps her off her feet.  But is he really a good person?

Then there is oldest sister Giovanna in part three, or as I like to call it, the final novella.  Giovanna is the oldest of the three sisters.  It seems like she is never going to find a husband.  She works in a cigar factory as a roller and she also teaches English at the local Italian Club where she meets Carlos who runs the club and also Giorgio who owns his own grocery store.  Two very different men

Nicola is a great literary romance writer.  She is a storyteller who brings the readers into the story with the characters where they lose themselves in what is happening.  She has a way of making readers lose track of time and go back in time.  I find literary romances very enjoyable and love going back in time experiencing what it might have been like before I was born.  If you like going back in time, and like a good romance, pick up one of Nicola’s books.  You won’t be disappointed.

Book Description:
During the time of the Great War, one Italian immigrant family struggles to find their place in the United States.  The three Leone sisters love and care for each other, but each is distinctly different and looks for their own niche in the changing world around them.

Rosalia is the middle sister, devoted to her family and God.  When she falls in love with the shy and kind Dan, it is against his mother’s wishes.  His family tradition dictates Dan must join the priesthood, but in his heart, he wants nothing more than to take Rosa as his bride.  But how can Rosa, who puts so much importance on God and family, ask him to turn his back on both?

Blond with blue eyes, Angelina is the baby of the family.  Modern and wild, she throws herself into the make-believe world of silent films and longs for the same romantic love she sees on screen.  When her heart is dazzled by a handsome Cuban, she doesn’t realize that he hides a dark secret from her until it is too late.

The only sister to have been born in Sicily, Giovanna is a blend of traditional and modern values.  She works in the local cigar factory as an esteemed roller and teaches English at the local Italian Club.  While she longs for a family of her own, she has yet to find the right man—until two vastly different men appear in her life, and she must choose between the steadfast Giorgio and the brash and charismatic Carlo.

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Take to the road in Last Ride to Graceland

26154404Kim Wright has another hit on her hands with Last Ride to Graceland.  This is about two women.  One a 38-year-old blues musician and her mother, who 39 years earlier, at the age of 19, was a backup singer for Elvis Presley.

Cory Beth Ainsworth is barely getting by singing at a local restaurant when her stepfather wants her to mail is waders to him.  But on one condition, don’t look in the shed.  The shed is mentioned several times so of course Cory has to look in the shed.  What does she find?  A Stutz Blackhawk wrapped in bubble wrap.

Cory knows that the car is one of Elvis’ and doesn’t know if he give the car to her Mom and if Laura or Honey Bear as Elvis calls her, stole the car.  Cory calls Graceland and tells them she will bring the car to them.  But what she doesn’t tell them is she is going to try and retrace Laura’s path by the trash left in the car.  At first I didn’t think it was right that Cory Beth took the car but then I decided it was her birthright since her Mom originally owned it and probably saved it for her.

The chapters bounce back and forth between Cory’s journey to return the car and Laura’s year with Elvis, which was a great way to reveal different secrets in both their lives.  I really enjoyed this book and the journey it took me on.  While reading this book about Elvis on his last tour made me think about my parents attending one of his last concerts.  I remember my Mom said that even though Elvis couldn’t see them, every time he looked in their direction, Mom and her friend would scream.  This is a very well written story and is well worth the read.

Book Description:
Lauded for her “astute and engrossing” (People) writing style imbued with “originality galore” (RT Book Reviews), Kim Wright channels the best of Jennifer Weiner and Sarah Pekkanen in this delightful novel of self-discovery on the open road as one woman sets out for Graceland hoping to answer the question: Is Elvis Presley her father?

Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth.

A backup singer for the King, Cory’s mother Honey was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past—and possibly her own identity—Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis’s estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling deep south with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister’s daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.

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Goat Children shines a light on dementia

Lonely teenage girl sitting on the dock on cold winter day.

Lonely teenage girl sitting on the dock on cold winter day.

Goat Children by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek features high school senior Keziah who’s Grandmother (Oma) is starting to show signs of dementia.  Oma needs to go into assisted living but her children aren’t ready to put her there so Keziah volunteers to live with Oma and take care of her.

Oma tells Keziah the story of the Goat Children and tells Keziah that she was once one of them.  She says they are coming to get her and also tells Keziah she is next to become one.  She even tells Keziah how to join them.

I found the story about Goat Children very interesting.  The author told me it was difficult to write the story as she used a lot of events from when she took care of her Grandmother in the story.

Some of the things I struggled with this story was the fact it seemed like Keziah didn’t receive much guidance on how to care for Oma and what to expect from the disease.  Keziah was supposed to go to school and leave Oma home alone during the day, which didn’t seem very smart.  Keziah wanted a normal life hanging out with friends and participating in extracurricular activities, but then Oma would be home alone too long.  She also didn’t understand why she couldn’t go out with her friends and was upset when Oma was mean to her.

I found Keziah a little selfish despite the fact she volunteered to take care of her Grandmother.  This story did make me feel for the people who pretty much stop their lives to make sure their loved ones have a decent life as their minds deteriorate.  This was very well written…another great book by Jordan.

Book Description:

When Keziah de Forest’s grandmother, Oma, is diagnosed with dementia, the seventeen-year-old makes the decision to leave her family and move to New Winchester to care for Oma.  However, the decision comes with burdens Keziah never expected.  Each day becomes a greater weight and loving the woman she once cherished becomes a chore.

Resentful of her hardships in New Winchester and the family secrets buried in the attic, Keziah finds herself drawn to Oma’s ramblings about the Goat Children, a mythical warrior class who ride winged horses and locate people in need, while attempting to destroy evil in the world.  Oma sees the Goat Children everywhere, and as Keziah reads the stories her grandmother wrote about them, she begins to question if they really exist.

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