An O’Brien Family Christmas by Sherryl Woods

Overview
An O'Brien Family Christmas by Sherryl Woods

Title: An O’Brien Family Christmas
Author: Sherryl Woods
Series: Chesapeake Shores #8
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 23rd September 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mira
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: It’s recently been suggested to me that dating is highly overrated.

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods takes the O’Briens to Ireland for a family Christmas they’ll never forget!

Dating Matthew O’Brien – a playboy and a younger man – cost Laila Riley her career and her parents’ respect. A high price, even for love – and when Laila decides it was just a fling, she breaks it off, despite Matthew’s objections.

But the O’Brien family has other ideas, and they conspire to get Laila to join them on a Dublin holiday. It’s a great time to get away from it all, but Laila has reservations about the trip. Matthew’s bound to be there, and she’s far from immune. What if she can’t resist temptation?

Meanwhile, the O’Briens are in an uproar over matriarch Nell’s unexpected romance with an old flame. Will she follow her heart, despite the risks? And will Laila discover that some risks are actually once-in-a-lifetime opportunities?

Thoughts

Alright, it’s a little weird reading a Christmas book in December. But I seem to be doing that a bit lately. And, honestly, it mostly works. I think because the whole Christmas spirit thing is around and kicking, regardless of what time of year. And although I’d probably smile a lot more about actual Christmas if I read this at the right time of year… I still loved this romance.

Matthew and Laila came as quite a surprise when it was revealed in Beach Lane. As does the way their story ended on a bit of a cliffhanger in the novel. Which, of course, meant that I just had to pick up An O’Brien Family Christmas immediately. I just HAD to know what was going to happen next.

The weight of parents’ expectations can be intensely difficult. Particularly if they are then weighed against a lack of respect and recognition when you do hold up against their hopes and dreams. I truly felt for Laila throughout this. She was constantly being placed in situations of doubt by her parents. The very people who are supposed to support her. It would have been heart breaking. If not for Matthew, Trace and the rest of the O’Briens rallying about her.

This is yet another beautiful, sweet Chesapeake Shores story. It also sets up the next book (which I believe features Luke and Moira), whilst rounding out Susie and Mack’s story. That, and Nell, the most perfect matriarch gets her own taste of romance. All completely sweet and adorable.

<- Beach LaneThe Summer Garden ->

Image source: Goodreads

Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods

Overview
Beach Lane (Chesapeake Shores, #7) by Sherryl Woods

Title: Beach Lane
Author: Sherryl Woods
Series: Chesapeake Shores #7
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 20th – 23rd September 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mira
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: You heard me.

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods returns to Chesapeake Shores with a heartfelt story about the healing power of love.

In the close-knit community of Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, Susie O’Brien and Mack Franklin’s “not dating” claim befuddles everyone, especially since the two spend every spare minute together. Susie’s thrilled when their friendship finally heats up. Then, just when happily-ever-after seems within reach, Mack loses the job he loves and Susie faces a devastating diagnosis.

But O’Briens always unite in a crisis. Even her cousin Jess, Susie’s rival for most of their lives, becomes her staunchest supporter – especially when Mack’s former lover comes to town. The stakes are higher than ever before, but Susie’s definitely up to the challenge… as long as Mack’s right there by her side.

Thoughts

After reading the blurb if this book, I’ve honestly been putting it off. Mostly because as soon as it said health scare, I knew it would be cancer. Its always cancer. And some days I just can’t deal with reading about cancer. It makes me cry. And all spoilers aside, yes, this book made me cry.

I love the small town speculation around Susie and Mack. Probably one of the most ridiculous aspects of small town living is thr gossip in all honesty. And people’s need to meddle and find out the answers. The fact that I swear half of Chesapeake Shores seems to be an O’Brien just makes it all that much better.

From the very beginning of this story, there is a lot of turmoil threatening Susie and Mack. In many moments its actually hard to stomach because it is so damn tragic. But, it also shows the amazing strength of the couple. Susie and Mack are able to find a way to create their own happily ever after, in spite of all of the difficulties they face.

This is a fantastic friends to lovers story. One that left my heart feeling just a little bit lighter and more beautiful. And kept me grinning happily long after I turned that final page. Even though there were multiple moments throughout that reduced me to tears….

<- Moonlight CoveAn O’Brien Family Christmas ->

Image source: Goodreads

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Overview
Red Queen: Red Queen Book 1 eBook : Aveyard, Victoria: Amazon.com.au:  Kindle Store

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 5th – 18th September 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Orion
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Just bumbling officers who don’t know you.

Synopsis

This is a world divided by blood – Red or Silver

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to seventeen-year-old Mare, a Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

But Mare possesses a deadly talent of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of her potential, the Silvers hide Mare in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess. Knowing that one false move will mean her death, Mare must use her new position to bring down the regime – from the inside.

Now Mare has entered a game of betrayal and lies.

This is Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

Thoughts

This was one of those books that I felt really unsure of at the beginning. For starters, I’ve read a LOT of mixed reviews about this on the many online book clubs I’m a member of. And there was also the fact that at the beginning it all felt a little same same for YA dystopia stories. Having said that, once I got past the first 50 or so pages it stopped feeling so same same and really started to draw me in.

Mare wasn’t a painful protagonist, which, considering some of the YA books I’ve read, was a pleasant surprise. She wasn’t whiney and childish. Yet, she also wasn’t perfect. I like that she had all the insecurities of a fairly typical teenager – felt like a failure, the black sheep. And that all of this was underlined by an overwhelming love for family and Kilorn.

I knew that this story featured betrayal, but I wasn’t expecting the betrayal that actually happened. I kept flicking back and forth as to whom I thought the “bad” guy was. But I was still kind of seriously surprised when it all came out. Probably part of the reason that I ended up enjoying this book so much.

All in all this was a fantastic book. And the perfect beginning to a series. Now I’m intrigued as to where the story line is going to take me. There’s a sense of wonder and confusion in it all that I just can’t get away from.

<- Steel ScarsGlass Sword ->

Image source: Amazon

Sunrise Point by Robyn Carr

Overview
Sunrise Point, Virgin River by Robyn Carr | 9780778319146 | Booktopia

Title: Sunrise Point
Author: Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #17
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 19th – 20th September 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mira
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: He was smiling.

Synopsis

Return to Virgin River with the books that started it all…

Nora Crane will do what it takes to keep her family afloat. Things are better than they’ve been for a while; still, she’s barely scraping by. But she’s got two little girls to look after so she’s willing to work hard and help out with harvesttime at the Cavanaugh orchard.

Her new boos is tom Cavanaugh. After his time in the Marines, he’s come home to take over the family farm. Tom thinks he knows what he wants – he’s ready to settle down with a sweet, traditional woman. Nora doesn’t seem to be the marrying kind, but he can’t keep his eyes off her, despite his best efforts. And Nora has no intention of getting involved with anyone. She’s got enough relationship baggage to last her a lifetime.

But in Virgin River, love finds its own way, and it starts to become clear that Nora and Tom won’t be able to stay just friends.

Thoughts

Nora has appeared on the sidelines of a few Virgin River books now. And she’s always just… sweet and so damn innocent. Reading her story in Sunrise Point just highlighted that she is made of some seriously strong stuff and independence. Actually, she’s one of my most admired leading females of late.

Tom is kind of cute with his appearance in Redwood Bend. But he was also a little bit short sighted in his own damn love story. I can’t even fathom making the decision to settle down and then just making assumptions about what will work. Luckily, he wasn’t too pig headed throughout and did eventually decide that Nora was a good bet. Before it was too late.

I enjoyed the vast majority of the book. But, as mentioned Tom’s judgement was a bit of a dickish move. Particularly when he decides to tell his grandmother that he’s proposing. I really don’t believe that she ever did anything wrong, yes she made mistakes, but they were out of innocence and love. Yet, even in his decision making to propose, Tom acts as though they’re a character flaw. All in all I liked him as a character and thought he was actually perfect for Nora. But I seriously didn’t enjoy this attitude.

The setting of this story was kind of romantic. An apple orchard in the Fall, picking and a gorgeous small town. The ending was a great happily ever after. One that most definitely left me smiling at the end of it all.

<- Redwood BendMy Kind of Christmas ->

Image source: Booktopia

Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr

Overview
Redwood Bend

Title: Redwood Bend
Author: Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #16
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 17th – 19th September 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mira
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: How can I help you?

Synopsis

Return to Virgin River with the books that started it all…

Former actor Dylan Childress left the LA scene for a quiet life running an aviation company in Montana. But with business slowing, Dylan wonders if he should take one of the offers Hollywood keeps sending his way. He figures a motorcycle trip to Virgin River with his buddies might help him decide what path to take. But his own troubles are left at the side of the road when he spots a woman stranded on the way into town.

Katie Malone and her twin boys’ trip to Virgin River is stopped short by a tire as flat as her failed romance. To make matters worse, it’s raining, the boys are hungry and Katie is having trouble putting on the spare. So when some bikers pull up, offering to help, all Katie feels is relief. Then she sees sexy, leather-clad Dylan, and in one brief moment the world turns on its axis.

Katie’s a sensible single mother and Dylan’s a die-hard commitment-phobe. Neither one is looking for long-term romance. But sometimes it takes only a moment to know you’ve found something that could change your life forever.

Thoughts

Katie’s appearance in Hidden Summit made me fall immediately in love with her. She is sweet and kind, with the rambunctious boys running free and wild. I hadn’t quite realised that this was her story until I opened the first page. And I love that she didn’t stay with the dentist, but found a much more suitable happily ever after.

Katie and Dylan were adorable and wonderful. But, honestly, the boys are the ones who tend to stand out in the spotlight. They are so much fun and full of this wonderful energy that I seriously envy. The fact that one of the biggest dramas comes from them being, well, five year old boys… it just made everything better.

I’m always frustrated by people (both real and fictional) who have decided that they have an issue, or a type, or a path laid out for them. We can’t determine how our lives will turn out and quite frankly I find it frustrating as hell when people think otherwise. Dylan was the key person to do this in this story. And it made me want to smack him one. Yet, he was so much less frustrating about it than many characters I fall in love with in my many, many books.

Redwood Bend was beautiful and fun. I love that it created a blended family and had a few surprises along the way. But, at the end of it all, there weren’t any crazy exes or serious issues to get over. Rather, it was just a light, fun and engaging read. One I look forward to picking up again in the future.

<- Hidden SummitSunrise Point ->

Image source: Romance.com.au

Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr

Overview
Hidden Summit (A Virgin River Novel Book 15) eBook : Carr, Robyn:  Amazon.com.au: Kindle Store

Title: Hidden Summit
Author: Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #15
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 14th September 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mira
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: Brie wanted him to come to brunch.

Synopsis

Return to VIRGIN RIVER with the books that started it all…

When Connor Danson becomes an unwitting witness to a violent crime, he is forced to leave Sacramento and keep a low profile until the trial is over. He arrives in the tiny mountain town of Virgin River with a chip on his shoulder and an ache in his heart.

Leslie Petruso didn’t want to leave her hometown, either. But she can’t stand another minute of listening to her ex-husband tell everyone that his new wife and impending fatherhood are the best things that ever happened to him. Virgin River may not be home, but it’s a place where she can be anonymous.

Neither Connor nor Leslie is remotely interested in starting a new relationship.. until they meet one another. Even they can’t deny they have a lot in common – broken hearts notwithstanding. And in Virgin River, no one can stay hidden away from life and love for very long…

Thoughts

I was kind of expecting to not really like Connor at the beginning of this. After all, he is kind of rude and dismissive towards Bree from that very first moment. But within paragraphs he was hard to dislike. Or forget. I really enjoyed his characterisation and growth throughout.

It was fun to read a romance that featured two people who have been divorced and burnt by love. They’ve both got baggage, and, honestly, I seriously enjoy reading a book that features people who are just a little bit scarred. The way that Connor and Les are able to connect and understand each other through their past… kind of beautiful.

Connor’s arrival in Virgin River brings Paul and Brady back into the story a little more strongly. I particularly like the background romance and highlighting of Cherry and Dan. They may not have had their own book and story, but their romance still gave me the warm, happy feelings. It was fun to have some different characters reappear I this book. Plus there’s the introduction of Katie and her boys… I can’t wait to read their romance!!!

Hidden Summit was another fun, cute and easy story from Virgin River. There’s just the right amount of drama to keep you engaged, but not overly stressed about the happily ever after. And the whole crime angle just makes it much more difficult to put down and walk away from.

<- Bring Me Home for ChristmasRedwood Bend ->

Image source: Amazon

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

Overview
Dark Lover, The First Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward |  9780451468109 | Booktopia

Title: Dark Lover
Author: J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
Rating Out of 5: 2.5 (Readable, but not worth reading again)
My Bookshelves: EroticaParanormal romance, Vampires
Dates read: 29th August – 5th September 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Berkley
Year: 2005
5th sentence, 74th page: Getting him out of a facility against medical advice was always a struggle.

Synopsis

The only purebred vampire left on the planet and the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who killed his parents centuries ago. But when his most trusted fighter is killed – orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate – Wrath must put down his dagger and usher the beautiful female into another world.

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of the Brotherhood and blood frighten her. Yet his touch ignites a dawning new hunger – one that threatens to consume them both…

Thoughts

I really, really wanted to like this novel. It’s got such a good rep and I’ve heard it spoken of multiple times… but I just couldn’t quite get into it. I gave it my nor.al 150 pages before realising that I had absolutely no inclination to read anymore. Which rarely happens, normally I’ll at least skim to see how the story turns out.

For me, a big part of not getting super involved in this story was the fact that I just couldn’t feel attached to the characters. Beth and Wrath did not having anything about them that drew me in. I didnt dislike them, I didn’t like them, I just nothinged them.

In the future I’ll probably give this book another try. But for now… no strong feelings either way.

<- More J.R. WardLover Eternal ->

Image source: Booktopia

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Overview
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Title: Heart Berries
Author: Terese Marie Mailhot
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Memoirs, Mental health, Race
Dates read: 29th August – 4th September 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Counterpoint
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: You were still fucking me, though.

Synopsis

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Band in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, Terse Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father – an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist – who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

Thoughts

For such a short book, this is incredibly difficult to read through. It took me quite a while. Mostly because the emotions and power of Mailhot’s words were unforgettable. Powerful and filled with such rawness that I frequently had to pause and look at another story.

Mailhot is able to address issues of mental health, abuse and transgenerational trauma in a completely unforgettable way. It is, in places, physically difficult to read about this. But it is also filled with a cautious feeling of optimistic hope.

Under all of the writing and experiences, Mailhot has this overwhelming love for her children. Love for her family. And love, ultimately for herself. There is that cautious optimism throughout, but there is also a great sense of overwhelming love and attachment to those in her life.

This is one of those books that MUST be read. I will probably read this half a dozen times and find something new in it that I just wasn’t expecting. The complexity and power of this writing will most definitely give you new insight with each and every new read.

<- The Answer to the Riddle is MeTwelve Patients ->

Image source: Goodreads

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Overview
Shadow and Bone: Siege and Storm : Leigh Bardugo : 9781510105263

Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Shadow and Bone Trilogy #2, Grishaverse #2
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Magic, Young adult
Dates read: 4th September 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Square Fish
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: The wound in my shoulder felt like it was on fire, but I was unhurt and my whole body was thrumming from using my power again.

Synopsis

SOLDIER. SUMMONER. SAINT.

Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.

The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.

But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.

Thoughts

Ever since reading Shadow and Bone, I’ve been seriously wondering what was going to be thrown in Mal and Alina’s way this time. And, you know, when the Darkling was going to reappear. He’s a great villain – I don’t really get the sexy vibes off him that others have claimed, but he is dark, mysterious and undoubtedly evil. A wonderful combination for a villain in my opinion.

Even though I think Mal is a wonderful lead love interest, he’s also kind of a knob. I mean, he’s got a woman who is obviously being thrown into a situation she’s not comfortable with. But instead of trying to communicate and support her? He runs. And just acts… well, knob-like. By the end of the book I was finding him to be a bit much and a bit frustrating in this area… im hoping Ruin and Rising will redeem him a bit more…

The build up that Bardugo creates in this story is wonderfully and seriously intense. Not only is there the clash between Alina and the Darkling, but there’s now royalty and a cult… I mean, if that set of trials and tribulations isn’t gearing up for a massive one, then what is?

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. Even in the moments that I wanted to cringe and look away, I just… couldn’t. The majority of this was read in one sitting. Late at night. When I should have been sleeping. Always a good recommendation for a book in my eyes…

<- Shadow and BoneRuin and Rising ->

Image source: Bookdepository

4th Quarter Challenge

Duration: 1st October – 31st December 2021
Number of books: 8
Hosted by: Bookworm Bitches

4th Quarter 2021
Duration: October 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021
Rules:
~Books must be read during the selected time period.
~Post a link to the book, date you finished and rating
~All books read for challenges can be used for more than one challenge.
~Books can be either Fiction or Non Fiction. Your choice.
~If you don’t have a book that matches the option on the list, pick any book on your TBR.
~Copy the blank template below and paste into a new comment to start your challenge. Update as necessary.

Completed 1/8

1. Read the oldest book on your TBR
2. Read a new to you author – When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
3. Read a book a spooky or winter themed book
4. Read a book with sky on the cover
5. Find a random number generator and read that book.
6. Read an author whose name starts with O, N, or D
7. Read your newest acquired book (bought or borrowed).
8. Catch up on a Bookworm Bitches selection or read a book you have been meaning to read for a long time