Celticlady's Reading Room

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

Abby's Journey - Steena Holmes
Abby's Journey, the sequel to Saving Abby, chronicles the story of the sacred child that Claire was determined to save, at the greatest cost of all.  Abby, born prematurely, suffers from a lung condition that stops her from living a "normal life".  Instead, under constant protection from her father, she's often either sick in the hospital, or being watched over by the anxiety-riddled father that once lost the love of his life and refuses to lose his daughter, too.  
 
This story, told from multiple points of view, carries on Claire's legacy and allows the reader to see inside the mind of each character.  Through letters written by Claire to her family, the reader is allowed, even further, into the mind and emotions of each of the characters.  
 
Though the stories each have a different tone, they are both filled with adventure.  While we get to see Europe through Claire's sad and grieving eyes in the first novel, we get to see it again through the naive and adventurous eyes of Abby as a young adult.  
 
So, as it was Claire's wish to be a mother, it is Abby's wish to know her mother.  And there is no love like that of a mother and daughter. Charming and romantic, heartbreaking and exciting, these stories are compelling and exceptionally written. 
 
 
 
 

Saving Abbey

Saving Abby - Steena Holmes

If you could have one wish, what would it be? Some of us would wish for health, happiness, for wealth, or any number of things.  For Claire Turner, children's book illustrator, it was to have a child.  She longed to be a mother.  More than anything in the world, she wished to have a child.

 
After years of trying, she and her husband, Josh, finally accept the fact that this wish - one they share - will never come true.  Heartbroken, lost and in grief, the couple decides to travel to Europe in hopes of coping with the loss of the one thing they'll never have.  
 
Steena Holmes tells the story of this perfect couple as they travel across the ocean to mourn and to heal.  Along their travels, they make friends, they work on their stories (books about an adventurous kid named Jack that they co-author) and they find peace and joy in each other.  
 
But then, with a twist of fate and an unexpected surprise, Claire returns home to find out she's pregnant.  Elated and shocked, the couple enjoys the first few months of the pregnancy with a joy that only Holmes can describe.  Until life unexpectedly steers them in another direction - Claire is sick.  She has a brain tumor.  And she has to decide whether she wants to seek treatment or have the baby, because it's one or the other. She cannot have both.
 
Holmes writes with such compassion and love that this book is definitely readable in one sitting.  The descriptions of places makes you feel like you're there - you can smell the sweetness of the Belgian waffles and feel the Italian breeze brushing your skin.  And she makes you fall in love with the characters and feel every emotion they feel.  

Saving Abbey

Saving Abby - Steena Holmes

If you could have one wish, what would it be? Some of us would wish for health, happiness, for wealth, or any number of things.  For Claire Turner, children's book illustrator, it was to have a child.  She longed to be a mother.  More than anything in the world, she wished to have a child.

 
After years of trying, she and her husband, Josh, finally accept the fact that this wish - one they share - will never come true.  Heartbroken, lost and in grief, the couple decides to travel to Europe in hopes of coping with the loss of the one thing they'll never have.  
 
Steena Holmes tells the story of this perfect couple as they travel across the ocean to mourn and to heal.  Along their travels, they make friends, they work on their stories (books about an adventurous kid named Jack that they co-author) and they find peace and joy in each other.  
 
But then, with a twist of fate and an unexpected surprise, Claire returns home to find out she's pregnant.  Elated and shocked, the couple enjoys the first few months of the pregnancy with a joy that only Holmes can describe.  Until life unexpectedly steers them in another direction - Claire is sick.  She has a brain tumor.  And she has to decide whether she wants to seek treatment or have the baby, because it's one or the other. She cannot have both.
 
Holmes writes with such compassion and love that this book is definitely readable in one sitting.  The descriptions of places makes you feel like you're there - you can smell the sweetness of the Belgian waffles and feel the Italian breeze brushing your skin.  And she makes you fall in love with the characters and feel every emotion they feel.  

Great thriller!

Remnants (Brandon Fisher FBI) - Carolyn Arnold
Carolyn Arnold is a very prolific author with numerous books in her Detective Madison Knight and Brandon Fisher FBI series. I have read a couple of the books and have enjoyed them. 
 
Remnants is book 6 in the Brandon Fisher series. A serial killer is out there and is dismembering the victims and parts are being found in  Little Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia. Brandon Fisher and his team are tasked with figuring out who the killer or killers are. The bodies are identified as men and when a torso turns up painted blue, the FBI are immersed into mythology of Mexico. They also turn up a phone that was thrown into the river and they think that they have their suspect. But it is not as simple as that. More body parts and clues lead them to more questions.
 
Most of the book is in the perspective of Brandon, but in other chapters we get a glimpse into the killer. A book that is character driven and a believable plot, you have to wonder if this was based on a real case. It is that real. The author conveys a talent for police procedural's and is able to keep the reader enthralled in the story. 
 
Like I said, this is the 6th book in the series, and the only one I have read in this series, but it can be read as a stand alone novel. I personally will be going back and reading more of this series. If you love a good police murder mystery, this is an author that you really need to take a look at. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a fast read for me.
 
 

The Killing Kind

The Fixer: The Killing Kind (The Fixer - Katerina Mills) (Volume 2) - Jill Amy Rosenblatt
Katerina Mills is a fixer. What is a fixer? Well if someone has a problem and are wealthy, Katerina gets assigned and can use the contacts she has to fix the problem, collect the money etc. Simple right? Well nothing is ever easy and simple and Katerina finds that out when she is assigned to several 'problems'. 
 
If it wasn't for the fact that she has some debt to pay off and as a college student, that can be difficult to do. So solving this problem like I said should be a breeze. The problem is she is involved in several different problems that seem to not go as planned. This novel is definitely character driven with a plot that is different than I have read before. At times a madcap journey with different characters, a cop who she has a non relationship with, another man that she really likes but doesn't want to get to close to and then there are the clients, and their exes. Among the many people there are men who are not very nice and will do whatever it takes to get what they want from Katerina.
 
I have only read this the third book in the series, I really want to read the first two now, but this series is definitely one that is a fast paced page turner. I did get confused at times in trying to keep up with Katerina, but that added to the excitement of the story. If you want a fun series to read, this is it.
 
 

I See You!

I See You - Clare Mackintosh

I thoroughly enjoyed I Let You Go, the author's previous book, so I knew I would love this one too. A plot that is scary and plausible in this day and age of computer technology and even the fact that the Dark Net is out there. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough, even the means to stalk someone and know every move that someone takes, from being at home to the route you take to work.

 

I felt that this story was character driven, as we got a glimpse into all of the people in the novel. From the protagonist to the bad guy. The plot, how creepy that you look in the paper and see yourself there and you know that you did not put it there. To me that was the scariest part. The story is not just about stalking but there are women being murdered too. How do you get the people around you to believe you when you tell them that you feel that you are being followed. Your family thinks you are overacting and the police don't believe you.

 

I liked this novel, it kept me wondering who was the bad guy, just when I figured it out, I was wrong. To me a book that keeps you guessing is a good one. At times the story lagged but not enough for it to be distracting. I really liked it and recommend it if you like a good thriller, especially an ending you don't expect!

 

 

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.

Currently reading

Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub
The Breakdown by B. A. Paris
It Happens All the Time: A Novel by Amy Hatvany
The Guests on South Battery (Tradd Street) by Karen White
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince by Lisa Hilton
Progress: 25/400pages