Celticlady's Reading Room

I love books of any type, ebooks, print in a variety of genres. I review and have been since 2009...

Meal Prep

Meal Prep: Quick and Easy Meal Prep Recipes for Batch Cooking & Meal Planning (Meal Prep Recipe Book for Weight Loss 1) - Rosie Daniels

Watching what I eat has become more important the older I have gotten. I have been diabetic for quite a few years now and I had some heart issues last year, so it is vitally important for me to cook and eat healthy meals for hubby and I. The problem for cooking for two at times can be challenging, so at times cooking in batches and having ready made home made meals is important also.
Meal Prep starts out with why you should do meal prep, the benefits of, which is saving money and time, less waste of food, healthy eating, weight loss etc. There are ideas on storage, tips, and a recipe list. There are smoothie recipes, breakfast recipes, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes.
I like the detailed chapters describing various aspects to meal prep. There is a nice selection of recipes from oatmeal for breakfast, chicken for dinner and various snacks. There is a lot of information packed into this small book! I think this book will be beneficial to me and an aid for me in preparing healthy meals.
My review is voluntary.

Meal Prep

Meal Prep: Quick and Easy Meal Prep Recipes for Batch Cooking & Meal Planning (Meal Prep Recipe Book for Weight Loss 1) - Rosie Daniels

Watching what I eat has become more important the older I have gotten. I have been diabetic for quite a few years now and I had some heart issues last year, so it is vitally important for me to cook and eat healthy meals for hubby and I. The problem for cooking for two at times can be challenging, so at times cooking in batches and having ready made home made meals is important also.
Meal Prep starts out with why you should do meal prep, the benefits of, which is saving money and time, less waste of food, healthy eating, weight loss etc. There are ideas on storage, tips, and a recipe list. There are smoothie recipes, breakfast recipes, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes.
I like the detailed chapters describing various aspects to meal prep. There is a nice selection of recipes from oatmeal for breakfast, chicken for dinner and various snacks. There is a lot of information packed into this small book! I think this book will be beneficial to me and an aid for me in preparing healthy meals.

The Woods are Grimm

Grimm Woods - D. Melhoff

Grimm Woods started out pretty benign, a busload of kids and counselors on their way for a week at Camp Crownheart in the Michigan woods. Scott Mamer, a guy who needs a job, decides to take this one for the summer. Pretty easy gig for him he thinks. He meets the owner of the camp, Charlotte and the maintenance guy, Bruce along with the other counselors. The counselors all have their issues and reasons for wanting to be at the camp, some have been working at the camp for years. The kids are your typical camp goers, rich kids, underprivileged kids sent for some learning and fun activities.

 

We learn about Scott and his past and about a little girl named Desiree and what happened to her. The first night at camp there is a get together with all of the counselors at the lake. There is alcohol, drugs and sex which kind of surprises Scott, but he joins in. The first night, two of the counselors go missing and are found dead. That starts the murder spree that continues through the next few days and what a spree it is.

 

I found that the book started out a little slow, but I think that was to set the scene and timbre of the story. Then it took off and I had a hard time putting the book down. I have not read a horror story in a long time and this is definitely a readable story. Makes me glad that I never went to summer camp! The writing was easy to read and I came to really feel for the characters and I usually figure out who the bad guy is but I was not able to until the author lets the reader know. I really enjoyed the book!

Ashes

Ashes - Steven Manchester

Ashes is a story about the animosity and estrangement of two middle-aged brothers, Jason and Tom Prendergast. Jason is a correction's officer at a prison and Tom is a Professor. They have not seen each other in 15 years but are brought together, albeit reluctantly, by the death of their father. The letter they receive from the lawyer is that their father has already been cremated but their task is to travel across country to Seatle to spread the ashes. In order to find out what is in the letter that was left for them with the instructions, they need to follow their father's request. Thus starts the week long cross country trek to do what is required of them.

What follows is a testy trip, and we learn about what transpired and caused the estrangement between the brothers. Jason is divorced and is in the process of his daughter's wedding plans. Tom is unhappy in his marriage after he found that his wife cheated on him. We learn that Tom and Jason's father was extremely cruel to the boys and we get a glimpse into each brother's version of their young lives.

As with all of Mr.Manchester's books that I have read, you get pulled into the story rather quickly. With humor and a lot of bickering back and forth, anger on both parts as to what happened years ago. Is there a happy ever after? Well go get your own copy! I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Steven Manchester, and even if you haven't read anything by him, you can't go wrong!


Two Empresses

Two Empresses - Brandy Purdy
I have read all but one, her first, of Brandy Purdy's books. I am amazed at each one about the depth of the research that she puts into each book. With Two Empresses we learn the little-known story, at least to me, of two women and their remarkable lives.
 
Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie and Aimée du Buc de Rivéry are cousins and they live on the island of Martinique. The story opens with the girls getting up in the night to go see Euphemia David to have their fortunes told. What they learn is that they each will be a queen someday. Rose is desperate to get off the island and find her 'king'. Her wishes come true and she is sent to Paris to marry Alexandre de Beauharnais. Things don't turn out as she had hoped and after the birth of their two children, they are separated by court order.  Her husband is soon imprisoned as is she during the Reign of Terror. She is released from prison after Alexandre is executed and lives the best she can, becoming mistress to various men. She later meets Napolean Bonaparte and the rest is history.
 
Aimee on the other hand, after Rose left to go to Paris, she was sent to a French convent but her ship was, according to legend, captured by Barbary pirates, sold as a harem concubine, and was the same person as NakĊŸîdil Sultan, a Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) of the Ottoman Empire. She was thrust into a world totally unknown to her and the life in a harem certainly was not what she would have liked. But adapt she did and became a favorite of the Sultan.
 
Whenever I read a novel by Brandy Purdy, I find myself totally immersed in the story and characters. Vivid descriptions of the era and even descriptions of clothing and decorations are told in such a way that you think that you are right in the story. That is what I love about historical fiction, is that the reader can be transported right into any story that Ms. Purdy tells. A consummate storyteller and attention to detail make reading the stories worthwhile. 
 
 

 

Cardiac

Cardiac: A Jack Getty Thriller - Jeffrey Monaghan
Cardiac starts out with CEO Jack Getty getting ready to take the stage to give a presentation of a new drug that could help with age longevity. He is offered a drink and shortly thereafter he experiences agonizing pain in his chest and the next thing he wakes up in a hospital room after having a pacemaker put in.
 
Now that in and of itself is not such a big thing, pacemakers are put in routinely. As Jack finds out, on the day he goes home from the hospital, he experiences chest pain again, it does not last long so he thinks it is just something that is a one off. He recuperates and prepares to go back to work. Weeks later he does go back to work and experiences another attack. He is concerned so he goes back to his doctor because of his concern that there is something wrong. He gets a clean bill of health, again. At home while on the computer, he gets a pop up window that he finds to be concerning. After a few conversations with this person, he finds that whoever they are have control over him via his pacemaker. The pacemaker has wifi capability and can be hacked and it has been. The person wants some information regarding a former employee and if Jack does not comply with their wishes....he dies. What follows is a wild exciting ride that puts Jack and his entire family at risk of their lives.
 
I really enjoyed the fast pace of this book, well written and entirely plausible, especially in this computer age that anything is possible and hacking of devices is a concern. Great read!
 
This review is voluntary!

Beyond Derrynane

Beyond Derrynane: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe (The Derrynane Saga) (Volume 1) - Kevin J. O'Connell

Beyond Derrynane is one of those historical fiction stories that you hate to put down. A novel written about a family as large as the O'Connell's is an especially interesting read as it is somewhat based on fact. Mr. O'Connell definitely has the Irish trait of being able to tell an interesting story.

As often happened in era's past, the daughters of the family were in arranged marriages as was Eileen. In this case, it was not arranged by her father but by her eldest brother Denis as their father was deceased. Denis only did it to increase the families coffers. His reasoning was that the family was cash poor as they often traded in goods rather than money, but Denis was a mean spirited man and hated his sister.

Eileen did as she was bid and went off to live in the home of a man quite a bit older than she was. Mr. O'Connor was abusive and beat her within an inch of her life but Eileen was able to rise above this and tried to make a life for herself as the mistress of the house and even after awhile came to care about her husband.
Mr.O'Connor dies suddenly and Eileen returns home to Derrynane.

Eileen's mother contacts General Moritz O'Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army who is Eileen's uncle and along with her sister, Abigail, enter the court of Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna and the court quickly becomes home to both. Abigail is close to the Empress while Eileen becomes governess to the Empress two daughters. After awhile they both come to love the Empress and create a happy life for them both.

I really enjoyed this story, as I love any books written about Ireland and its people. The characters were easy to relate to and love. I look forward to reading the next in the series in the continuing life of the O'Connells! If you love and enjoy historical fiction, then this book is not to be missed.

Legacy of Luck

Legacy of Luck (Druid's Brooch Series, #3) - Christy Nicholas
This is the third book in the Druid Brooch Series but a stand alone novel. Ireland, travelers, castles, mystical things and great characters make for an enjoyable read. Eamon is a horse trader and along with his father and siblings are at a fair to trade. Kate and her sister Deirdre are also at the fair, their parents are nasty people and the father arranges for Kate to be married. The traveler's women always have the option to say no to prospective mates but Kate's father doesn't give her the opportunity, so off she goes with her husband. She tells her husband that she will not consummate the marriage until she meets with her father in law and thus starts the tumultuous journey of Kate and Eamon trying to find her and rescue her!

I enjoyed this story, especially the mystical part with the Druid's brooch which Eamon inherited from his father. The characters were well written and the storyline believable, I kind of wish there had been more detail about the brooch and the powers that the brooch had and the history of said brooch. That said, I learned a bit more about the Travelers, not to be confused with Gypsies. Even though they rarely set down roots, their lifestyle is interesting. This is a story that will sweep you away into a time of bygone Ireland. An enjoyable read for sure!

Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes: A Novel - Sarah Pinborough

Why is everyone talking about the ending in Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes, why indeed? That is a legitimate question and one of course that I am not going give you the answer to, you really have to read the book to find out.

"Pinch myself and say I AM AWAKE once an hour
Look at my hands. Count my fingers
Look at clock (or watch), look away, look back
Stay calm and focused
Think of a door"

Thus starts this psychological thriller that will have you turning the pages into the wee hours, I know it did me.

David meets secretary Louise, not knowing that he is her new boss and he is married. They share conversation, a drink and a kiss. Louise is a newly divorced mom with a little boy working and really has no life and only a few friends. She really does not want to get into a relationship with a married man, but eventually does.

Enter Adele, David's wife, who 'accidentally bumps into' Louise on a walk, they go for coffee and develop a mutual liking for each other. The have a blossoming friendship unknown to David. David and Louise start to have an intimate relationship unbeknownst to Adele. Or is it?

David and Adele have a secret that Louise eventually tries to figure out. Adele had given Louise a journal to read of when Adele was in an institution after the death of her parents in a fire. Adele came from wealth and we learn that David worked on the estate and when Adele was young, she followed him around. As she grew up she developed a relationship with David, against the wishes of her parents. A fire breaks out in the house and David rescues Adele and is severely injured in the process.

While Adele is at this institution, she meets a young man named Rob who after Adele is released, comes to live with David and Adele for a short period of time. Things happen that we really don't know about as the reader, why did David and Adele have to keep moving around? All of these things culminate in an ending that will knock you sideways. Just when you think that you know what is going on and who did what, the story twists. I really love these kind of stories, the stranger the better because I do not want to figure out what happens to easily. Well this is one of those stories. Kind of a freaky ending for sure. I think this will end up being my favorite thriller for 2017. A must read!

Bury the Living

Bury the Living (The Revolutionary Series Book 1) - Jodi McIsaac

Bury the Living starts off in Belfast Ireland, 1990. A tumultuous time in Irish history. Nora O'Reilly has always believed in the IRA cause. Because of the deaths in her family because of the "Troubles", Nora is now a missionary in Africa, where there is also danger. She comes back to Ireland for another funeral and is brought back into the fight for freedom. She starts having dreams about a man that she has never met, vivid dreams that she can't ignore.

Nora is given a historical artifact and is instructed to meet with Bridget of Kildare. This artifact mysteriously sends Nora back to the Irish Civil War in the 1920's. This civil war was between two factions, Irish republicans and Irish nationalists. This is where the book gets really good, her search for Thomas who is the man from her dreams who is actually Fionn mac Cumhaill, a mythical character from Irish legends. He is on a mission also to fight for what he believes in and with Nora's help, they try to change the course of history.

Since I am Irish, this book really intrigued me and I also love time travel novels so this book was doubly interesting. The addition of Bridget of Kildare, an Irish patron saint, who was a nun and founder of several monasteries for nuns is interesting.So for Nora to have this ability to go back in time and try to change the outcome of the Civil War is particularly intriguing. I won't tell you whether she accomplished her goals or not, you need to read the book. I think if you love Irish historical fiction mixed with a bit of fantasy, you absolutely need to read this book! I look forward to reading Summon the Queen which takes Nora and Fionn back to 1500's to meet with Granuaile Ni Mhaille or Grace O'Malley and Queen Elizabeth I to continue their quest for Irish freedom.

The Loyalist Legacy

The Loyalist Legacy (The Loyalist Trilogy) (Volume 3) - Elaine Cougler
The Loyalist Legacy is the third book in the Loyalist series. I did not read the first two but that did not deter me from understanding what the story was about. The Loyalists were people who stayed loyal to the crown after the Revolutionary War. After they were defeated a lot of them moved to Canada, in Ontario near Niagara Falls. In this particular story we have William and Catherine Garner who eke out an existence on their two hundred acres. The novel starts out with Catherine alone with the children because her husband has gone to seek his brother Robert, who has gone to find their parents as they have disappeared from their home . Turns out that their father John has been arrested and put in jail for no reason other than the fact he was a Loyalist and because of one mans, John Strachan, hatred of the Loyalists. Bishop Strachan was the first Anglican Bishop in the area and was very political. He did not believe that the voice of the people was the voice of God.

The story spans 20 years and includes the struggles the families have with the Family Compact which is a group of men who exercised most of the political, economic and judicial power in Upper Canada (modern Canada) led by Bishop Strachan. There is political upheaval throughout the whole story but these people are strong, the reader gets to read about how these people survived the harsh winters, and the environment. There is also a bit about the slaves who ran away from their owners and how they are hunted, and how the Garners help these people along their way to relocate into Canada, not unlike the underground railroad that was prevalent during the Civil War. The Garners also befriended a Chippewa family that Catherine had taken in and fed and clothed. The family had left the reservation because there was hardly any game left on a small parcel that was given to the Chippewa's.

The town thrives and grows with the addition of a school, a general store and of more people coming to the area and settling down. There are many different characters that help to tell the story of this family, births, deaths and marriages that make this story very readable. Many characters are from history but the Garner family is fictional but it does give the reader an insight into the difficult life was for settlers in this era.

I loved the story, learned about the area and the history of Ontario which was interesting, and just loved the story of life for one family. If you love historical fiction, this series should please you.

Corporate Citizen

Corporate Citizen - Gabriel Valjan

The smart and savvy forensic accountant, Bianca, is back with her and her Italian and American friends. They are investigating the murder of a call girl and one of the group, a Boston detective is implicated in her murder. The group must work together again to find out who the murderer is.

Bianca is on a break from Dante, his choice, after Bianca loses the baby. She does find an ally in Nick, a young man she meets as he had been questioned about the murder of the girl, but there is a mystery to him also. He is a war vet who can't remember his tours overseas. It appears that he has PTSD big time. Something happened to him while fighting and he is reluctant to talk to Bianca about it.

Bianca, Gennaro, Silvio and Allesando must race against the clock as there are more murders, plus the criminal element makes this task difficult. Loki is back as is a new character called the Magician and there is Rendition. Where do all these characters fit in relationship to each other and the murders? Well that is explained in the book!!

I think each book is unique in it's own way and the author's research is impeccable, I have to say that I enjoyed this book, maybe even a little more than the previous ones. I think Bianca is becoming more human with real feelings. This is the fifth book in the series! If you love a series that takes the reader along for a wild ride, then this is it for you!

Dreaming Sophia

Dreaming Sophia: Because Dreaming is an Art - Melissa Muldoon
What a fun book! Dreaming Sophia's protagonist, Sophia, is a young woman who is an aspiring artist and is passionate about Italy. She is away at college and her parents are in Rome on a second honeymoon. She receives devasting news that the plane that her parents were on bringing them home has crashed and both parents have died in the crash.
 
Sophia is so upset by the news that she virtually hides away, still going to classes but just kind of living inside of herself and her dreams and memories. In this time we learn abit about her parents and that her mother was also an artist and Sophia inherited her free spirit and dreams from her. Sophia was named after Sophia Loren, the beautiful Italian actress, as her mother was a fan of Ms.Loren.
 
Sophia's dreams are what keeps her going in this tragic time. Her art professor tells her about an art school in Italy that she applies to and is accepted. She needs to get away and get immersed in her art. She travels to Italy and starts her new life among the art of the Medieval, Baroque, Renaissance,and Modern periods that she loves.
 

As I mentioned before, Sophia dreams, she dreams not just at night but during the day also, as she wanders around Florence she not only encounters the art works that she so loves, but she also dreams about historical figures such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Eleonora de Medici and Cassonova. The dreams are so vivid that it is like she has been transported to the era that they lived.

What a fun time I had reading this book, I am not an expert on art but it was fun to learn about the works of the artists famous in Italy who have so shaped the beauty of the country. The writing was so good that it felt like I was on the Sophia's journey right along with her. The sights, sounds and smells of Italy came right through the pages. The author definitely knows of what she writes and has put her own experiences onto the page. To me that is the mark of a great author that can have the reader transported into the pages of the book. I hope to read more by this author, maybe a continuation of Sophia's story.."because dreaming is an art".

Nest

Nest - Terry Goodkind
This is the first book I have read by Terry Goodkind, I really don't care for fantasy type stories, but when I was offered this one and read the blurb I thought, this is just my kind of story, scary, speculative type story. 
 
"For the past three weeks, John Allen Bishop had been keeping the devil chained in the basement" John Bishop is a young man with developmental issues, who can "see the evil" in people's eyes. A series of events end up taking this young man's life.
 
Kate Bishop is John's sister who is just a normal woman, living a normal life and becomes involved in the investigation into her brother's murder. She finds that she has the ability to identify killers just by looking into their eyes. Now that is pretty scary in and of itself, but there are other people out there with the same ability and they can tell when a person has the ability like Kate does. That puts Kate in great danger. She meets Jack Raines, an author, who actually works for Mossad, the intelligence agency for Israel. What Jack does is find people with Kate's abilities and try to protect them from predators out to kill them.
 
These predators go to the Dark Net, a part of the internet used for computer hacking, pornography, and other nefarious acts. Jack and Kate must find these people and kill them before they kill her. This proves to be a terrifying task and they both may end up dead.
 
I have to say that this book was a real page-turner. Just the very idea that you could have the ability to see evil in a person's eyes and see how they are going to commit a horrible crime would be overwhelming. The author has indeed a vivid imagination and an enormous ability with the written word. If you love a good thriller, this one is for you. 

 

Stolen Beauty

Stolen Beauty: A Novel - Laurie Lico Albanese

This historical novel is about Adele Bloch-Bauer who was the wife of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a sugar baron who supported the arts. Gustav Klimt was the painter who immortalized Adele twice in his paintings. This story is based on real characters but fictionalized so as such in this story not only did Gustav paint Adele but they had an affair. 

The novel takes place in alternate era's, early 1900's and WWII, told by Adele and her niece Maria Altman. Adele's portraits hung in the Bloch-Bauer household in Austria but were seized by the Nazi's and then they were in the Austrian Museum after the war. Through alternating chapters, we are given a glimpse into the lives of this family and what happened to them during the war and the Nazi's. During the reign of the Nazi's, they took into possession of valuable art, jewels and anything else of value from the Jews. This plunder took place from 1933 and through the end of the war in European countries. 

Adele had stated in her will that she wanted to have the two paintings of her done by Klimt, donated to the Austrian Museum. After Ferdinand died, his own will indicated that the paintings were to be retained within the family, thus Maria Altman took the case to the American courts against the Austrian government and won the case and now the paintings are at the Neue Galerie in New York City.

Not only is this story about a family torn by a horrendous war, it is about the love of family, art, and survival. I really enjoyed this story, it is amazing to me, even after all of the books I have read of the Nazi's how destructive and demoralizing they really were to the Jews and others who were not Aryan. If you are looking for a great historical fiction to read, take a look at Stolen Beauty. 

Echo of Twilight

The Echo of Twilight - Judith Kinghorn
Two women, Pearl Gibson and Lady Ottoline Campbell are the main characters in this historical fiction novel that starts at the beginning of World War I. All Pearl knows of her mother is that shortly after her birth, she committed suicide. Pearl grows up with her Aunt Kitty, living hand to mouth and when Kitty dies, Pearl goes to work with Lady Campbell. Their relationship becomes more than just servant and mistress, they become friends. 
 
With the advent of the war, the Campbell's sons sign up to fight which does not end well. This tugs on the fragility that is Lady Ottoline's psyche and she spirals into depression. Pearl had had a relationship with Lady Ottoline's cousin, Ralph, who also goes off to fight. After he leaves Pearl finds out she is pregnant and with the help of Ottoline, she delivers a little girl, Lila, named after Ottoline. Life goes on peacefully if not tensely as everyone waits to see if their loved ones will come home from the war. 
During this time, Ottoline's depression continues and she and Pearl have a falling out and Pearl and Lila leave and go back to London. There Pearl ekes out a life for her and her daughter.
 
This story takes place in three parts, just prior to the war, during the war and after the war. The reader becomes part of Pearl's life, the ups and downs, through love affairs and friendships. A beautifully written story that will keep the reader turning the pages, hoping that Pearl finds the love she seeks. A bit of a twist at the end was unexpected but welcomed! I loved this story that was reminiscent of stories by one of my other favorite authors, Lucinda Riley.

Currently reading

I See You by Clare Mackintosh
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince by Lisa Hilton
Progress: 25/400pages