Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review: The Cursed by Heather Graham

Title: The Cursed
Author: Heather Graham
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

Hannah O'Brien, who grew up in the house and now runs it as a B and B, has always had a special ability to see a pair of resident ghosts. But when a man is murdered in the alley behind her place, she's dismayed when his spirit appears, too, asking for help. 

FBI agent Dallas Samson has a passionate interest in the murder, since the victim's a colleague whose death is connected to the smuggling ring known as Los Lobos—the wolves. Now Dallas is even more committed to chasing them down…. 

Unaware that Dallas has certain abilities of his own, Hannah calls her cousin Kelsey O'Brien, a member of the FBI's Krewe of Hunters, an elite unit of paranormal investigators. The present-day case is linked to a historical mystery involving salvagers, a curse and a sunken ship. Danger and desire bring Hannah and Dallas together, but to survive, they have to solve the mysteries of the past—and stay alive long enough to solve the crimes of the present!

My Thoughts:

I love the settings that Graham uses in this series! This book is set in Key West, one of my favorite places. Her descriptions of the lifestyle and island are fabulous, and she has definitely done her research on this place.

The action begins right away, when a tourist couple staying at Hannah O'Brien's B & B Siren of the Sea sees what they think is a ghost. However, the ghost was not an apparition but a real person, one who had sustained deadly injuries. Since this occurred directly behind the Siren of the Sea, Hannah becomes involved - even more so since the man's ghost appears to her, asking for her help.

The Krewe of Hunters are a special arm of the FBI, who investigate crimes with a possible supernatural cause. These agents are able to communicate with ghosts, and the ghosts help them to solve murders. Of course there is the requisite love story that accompanies Graham's books, which is a nice sideline. In this book, it is between Hannah and a gruff FBI agent named Dallas.

This book is peppered with local Key West legends, including Robert the Doll and the Elena De Hoyos story. If you google Elena, be prepared for some creepy photos and a grisly tale! I made the mistake of reading more about her before bed, and was thoroughly freaked out. I loved reading about the local lore and legends, and the mention of the Hemingway cats.

The mystery itself was really well done. I didn't figure this one out, and I felt that this one was a bit creepier than the other books in this series. All in all, this was a very entertaining and enjoyable story. I recommend reading this book on a warm night, with the breeze blowing through the window and a mojito on the table beside you.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list. 

This week, I am going to meet Christopher Moore! He is going to be at a local bookstore, doing a book signing event. 

I just had the best week ever! No work, no classes, I was able to spend time doing things I haven't had time to do for a while, including some much needed spring cleaning. Who knew that could be so fun?  This week is hell week - the book fair at work (that I am in charge of), followed by an obligation every night after work. Fun stuff, but I am going to be so tired! But only 30 days of this school year left, then it will be just me and my classes and whatever else I want to do.

 Read Last Week:

I indulged in vacation books. 


The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts: I saw this on the shelf and picked it up. It's been a while since I read a Nora Roberts book, and I was amazed to learn that there is real, working hotel based on this series. 

The Cursed by Heather Graham: I really enjoy the Krewe of Hunters series. This one took place in Key West, and I enjoyed reading about the local legends of the island that were mentioned in this story. Review coming soon. 

Reading this Week:

Since I haven't been very good about following a plan lately, here are some of the books I will be choosing from. If there is one that you think I need to read ASAP, let me know! 



Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor: I can't believe I didn't read this last week!

Always Watching by Chevy Stevens: Still Missing got me hooked on this author.

Reviews Posted Last Week:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review: The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs

Title: The Beekeeper's Ball
Author: Susan Wiggs
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

Isabel Johansen, a celebrated chef who grew up in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel, is transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school—a unique place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts. Bella Vista's rambling mission-style hacienda, with its working apple orchards, bountiful gardens and beehives, is the idyllic venue for Isabel's project…and the perfect place for her to forget the past. 

But Isabel's carefully ordered plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O'Neill arrives to dig up old history. He's always been better at exposing the lives of others than showing his own closely-guarded heart, but the pleasures of small-town life and the searing sensuality of Isabel's kitchen coax him into revealing a few truths of his own. 

The dreamy sweetness of summer is the perfect time of year for a grand family wedding and the enchanting Beekeeper's Ball, bringing emotions to a head in a story where the past and present collide to create an unexpected new future. 

My thoughts:

This book was perfect for the springtime mood I have been in. The sun is shining, and I am itching to get outside and plant flowers and do outdoorsy things.This book is book two in the Bella Vista series; the first is The Apple Orchard, which I didn't like quite as much as this book. I think the story line was more developed this time, and the characters as well.

Isabel was my favorite in The Apple Orchard, and I was so happy to read a book about her character. And the food sounded to die for. I want to make or at least eat the bee sting cake that was mentioned in the story. I found a recipe here,  and I am thinking about attempting it this summer.

Isabel is a reserved, organized woman, who grew up practically in paradise at Bella Vista. Her parents died before she was even a week old, and she was raised by her adoring, indulgent grandparents. She loved cooking, and went off to cooking school to pursue her dream of becoming a chef, and now she is back, turning her home into a destination cooking school. And from the sound of it, if this place were real I would want to go myself! Although Isabel seems so together, she is harboring a secret that is preventing her from living her life fully. She closes herself off from love, and prefers her orderly world of her own creation.

When sexy-hot Cormac "Mac" O'Neil bumbles onto her property, you know he is definitely going to shake things up. A journalist and adventurer, he is at Bella Vista to write the biography of Isabel and her half-sister Tess' grandfather Magnus. Isabel mistakes him for a local beekeeper that she has contacted, and this results in a trip to the emergency room. Cormac is anything but safe and orderly, which is intimidating to Isabel. She fights her attraction to him, even as he pursues his attraction to her. He has his own demons, but as he is enveloped into the world of Bella Vista, he does his own soul searching.

When Mac begins the biography on Magnus, the reader is transported back to Nazi occupied Copenhagen, as we hear about Magnus' life under the regime. Later, we also hear about the ordeals that Anneslise shares. Her story actually brought tears to my eyes. Wiggs does an excellent job writing about such sensitive topics in a respectful manner.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a book about family, love and healing,  set in a gorgeous paradise. If you liked The Apple Orchard, you will love this one.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's Monday!! What are you reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list. 

Freedom!!! Classes are over, and I am actually off work all this week as well!! I am so excited to have this week off! I plan to do a lot of reading and to catch up on some reviews as well.

Read Last Week:


The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs (Bella Vista #2): I got this book from NetGalley and I loved it way more than I expected. It was just what I needed.

Wait for What Will Come by Barbara Michaels: There is just something so relaxing about these books to me. An old favorite that I slipped right back into.

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens: There was nothing comfortable or relaxing about this book! It freaked me out, it made me cry..but I liked it! This is our book club book for April.

Reading this Week:

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor: I am so so excited to read this book!! I hope it is good!!

The Cursed by Heather Graham: I just can't stay away from this series.

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler: This hold came in from the library just in time for my break!

Posted Last Week:


Friday, April 18, 2014

March Book Club

Hostess: Erin (me)
Book:Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Food:  Moosewood Kitchen's French Vegetable Bean Stew, Roasted Beets with Feta, Cheese and crackers, Bread, and a homemade Raspberry Linzer Torte
Month: March 
Wine of the Night: Chapelle St. Arnoux Cotes du Rhone

One thing that I really enjoy about book club is planning the menu and preparing the food. I love feeding people. This time, I had March, which I always find a slightly difficult time to plan food for. Is it going to be cold?Warm? I don't want to make stew if it is hot, or something springy if it is cold. It ended up being a chilly day, so I was able to make stew. I love the Moosewood books, and this recipe I got from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites Cookbook. The stew was thick and hearty, and everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I hope it warmed everyone's bones. 

I also attempted a linzer torte. I am not the most fabulous baker in the world, so I enlisted the help of my mother, who is. Together, we spent three hours baking it! We had a great time baking and dancing around my tiny kitchen to Stevie Nicks and Van Morrison. (two of my favorites!) I think it turned out delicious!! I wish I could have served it warm but I forgot to heat it up when everyone came over. It was awesome, but would have been perfect a little warmed up. 

This is the Smitten Kitchen version; our's wasn't quite as pretty. But it was delicious!

After stuffing our faces full of food, we got down to the book discussion. We didn't really want to talk about exploding buboes while eating for some reason.

Everyone was shocked by the big secret reveal in the book, except me, because I am jaded or something. I just felt something was wrong in their marriage for some reason. For Jennifer, it just about ruined the book. She was very upset at this secret, and I have found in reading other reviews, that other people felt this way too. I can see understand there position.  

We talked about what we would do in that position. Would we stay, or go? 

For practical Chrissy, her answer depended on a few things - if she had children, what is her financial status, if she had family that would take her in..all of these are factors that Chrissy would need to consider in making this decision. But she thinks she would stay since the chances of getting it elsewhere also exists. 

Mary said she would stay, especially if everyone she loved had succumbed. Jennifer said "I doubt I would've left the village.  Mr. Mompellion's argument was a strong one (even if he turned out to be a butthole) and I think at that time people were more apt to help others out in their own villages, even if they were risking the plague.  Also at that time, you would have no idea if other villages were safe, it's not like they had Channel 7 action news so taking the chances of leaving home to just become ill somewhere else doesn't sound so hot to me."  As for me... I would have stayed too. 

We all ate and drank and talked and talked, as always. I love our book club nights, and this time with my friends. It is a dedicated night every month, that we all stop our lives for a few hours and catch up. 

April is Alyssa, and our book is Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list. 

I missed last week! I have been fully immersed in finishing up my final projects for my classes. I haven't had much time to do anything else! I have squeezed in a few books though.

Read Last Two Weeks:


The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemoore: I loved this book! It was all about these awesome heroines and their authors, and the struggles the authors lived through. I was blown away by a few of them!! It was really inspiring to read it when I did; if these women could write such masterpieces under the conditions they did, then I can manage to finish my homework! Lol.

Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson: I am really enjoying this series more and more each book! This was a fun read, and I needed it.

Witch by Barbara Michaels: And when I need the most comfort, I turn to Barbara Michaels. They are like a favorite pair of jeans, or a cup of tea. Perfect, comfortable, familiar. 

Reading This Week:


Still Missing by Chevy Stevens: This is our book club book this month, and I have to admit it is really freaking me out! 

Wait for What Will Come by Barbara Michaels: Another old friend.