Day 82 – Interruptions

I truly thought that I could spend Tuesday reading, but family, friends, neighbors and responsibility constantly interrupted me. I know the laundry must be done (especially if I want to wear clean clothes), dishes must be cleaned (isn’t this why we have paper plates?), the carpet must be vacuumed (okay I don’t have anything against this one because yuck – dirty carpet), and guests must be entertained. It would have been rude to ignore the necessity of household chores, the ringing doorbell, phone calls, emails and texts simply because I wanted to read, wouldn’t it? Perhaps I’ll be able to spend at least a few hours reading today, that is if I don’t have to deal with more of life’s little interruptions.

Day 80 – Book 82: DEADLY TIES by Vicki Hinze

Trying to categorize Deadly Ties is somewhat difficult. It is at times a light romance story but it also features heavy elements of thriller/suspense and inspirational fiction. 

The beginning chapter of this story doesn’t make much sense and as a result throws the reader off — or at least this reader. During this first chapter Annie Harper is seen a weak woman and it is unclear if she knows what is going to happen to her husband and child or not. She is constantly asking that she be allowed to go back 24 hours to make things better and this is BEFORE her husband is killed and her daughter kidnapped. This begs the question that if she knew what was going to happen why didn’t she warn her husband? Another question this raises is why didn’t she go on the trip with her husband and daughter?

The premise to the story is that Lisa Harper, a newly licensed physician, witnessed her father’s murder at age 7 while on a road trip and was then kidnapped with the intent to be sold (as a child bride or slave is never made quite clear). She somehows escapes her kidnappers and is reunited with her mother, Annie Harper. Annie, who is written as a woman of extremely weak faith in the first chapter, has a heart attack subsequent to her husband’s death, possibly suffers a miscarriage (not made clear although there is reference to her losing a child: miscarriage or reference to Lisa…this reader doesn’t know), almost loses the family home and subsequently marries the first man to propose, Dutch Hauk, in her efforts to save the family and the house. Regrettably this man is not only domineering but verbally, emotionally and psychologically abusive to not only his wife but his stepdaughter. This abuse continues until Lisa turns 16 at which point her mother signs over custody to family friends and Lisa moves out. The abuse against Annie doesn’t stop. Now she’s depicted as a woman of presumably strong faith and refuses to divorce her husband because this is seen as displeasing to God, even though her husband refuses to allow her to see or speak to her daughter and keeps her a virtual prisoner within her home. 

Enter Mark Taylor, an special ops veteran and security expert hired by Lisa’s surrogate father. Mark facilitates communication between Lisa and Annie by providing them both with cellphones. He also works out a system where he can check daily on Annie to ensure that she has not been injured or worse. Now if you think that Lisa suffered trauma as a child, imagine Mark being emotionally tortured as a child because everyone in his family blames him due to his mother’s death after his birth. As a result, Mark has distanced himself from his birth family (I wonder why) and made his co-workers his family, specifically his ex special ops co-workers. 

Now we have the bad guys, a nefarious criminal organization referred to as NINA (Nihilists in Anarchy), which includes Dutch Hauk, the husband from hell. Dutch knows that something is going on between his wife and stepdaughter so he hires NINA to rough up his wife and then kidnap Lisa (apparently for the second time as he was behind the initial child kidnapping incident). He actually states that he wants his wife kept alive if possible but if isn’t possible that’s acceptable. Long-story short, Lisa is kidnapped again, fights against her kidnappers, and strengthens her faith through prayer and acceptance as a result of her trials and adversity.

There are times when the action stretches credulity, but this reader is aware that fiction does not always mimic reality. If we truly wanted reality then we would read nonfiction. Even with the weaknesses in the story, it somehow works as a story meant to inspire. This may not be acceptable reading material for everyone, but I honestly feel that it works well as an inspirational novel and could be read and hopefully appreciated by anyone of faith, be they Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other. 


The subtitle “A Twist on the Classic Tale” provides the reader with just enough information that you’ll now this is not the old tale. There are just enough similarities to Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid to make this recognizable, but Ms. Turgeon provides the reader with just enough “twists” (including more of the romance angle) to provide the reader with renewed interest in this classic story…well, at least for this reader. 
There are definite unique aspects to this story as we see more into the mindset of Lenia, the mermaid Princess. The reader is also introduced to her rival, Princess Margrethe, daughter of the Northern King. They are not rivals in the true sense of the word in that they do not hate one another, but they are both vying for the attention and love of Prince Christopher, son of the Southern King. Both princesses are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, and even their concept of personal sacrifice is different. Nonetheless they are both willing to do so for love and the greater good. 
I rather liked the characterization of the Northern King being as cold, hostile and foreboding as his northern kingdom, whereas the Southern King is somewhat kinder, gentler and sunnier much like his southern kingdom. A great story that is well-written and captivating, perfect for a weekend or vacation read.

Book 81

I know, I know…I have already gone on record as stating that the paranormal-fantasy genre isn’t one of my regulars, but I was so intrigued by A Discovery of Witches, that I’ve decided to continue reading a few other titles in this genre from my TBR list. I’m currently reading Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon. This will probably be followed by Pale Demon by Kim Harrison, The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman, Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze, and The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (scheduled for release on 03/22/2011). Of course I may get sidetracked and throw in a few other titles along the way, but these titles are at the top of my TBR list at the moment.

Day 78 – Book 80: A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES Review

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

This book doesn’t seem to fit nicely into any one genre, whether it is romance, contemporary fiction, historical fiction, mystery, or even paranormal-fantasy. The fact that the majority of characters are witches, vampires or daemons is important enough to the main storyline (where did these three creatures come from and how?), but the lives of the main characters is the central theme. 

Meet Diana Bishop, Ph.D., historical scholar specializing in alchemical history and a witch, a reluctant witch that craves to be “normal.” Her love interest is Matthew Claremont, Ph.D., M.D., neuroscientist, geneticist (actually a true renaissance man) and vampire. Throughout the first half of the story Diana and Matthew appear to fight their attraction but build upon their timid friendship in the second half by falling in love and fighting for the opportunity to be in love. This fight, along with the discovery that Diana is not your typical witch genetically speaking, are the two big themes throughout the story. Diana, Matthew and their respective families must fight against the creature hierarchy that states that witches cannot be with vampires or daemons and vice versa. Is this done as a means of protection for the species or out of fear?

The other major theme is the discovery of a book that may shed light on the origins of these creatures and provide information on their potential demise. Needless to say the witches feel that this should belong to them, while the daemons and vampires are just as territorial on ownership. All three creatures fear the book falling into the wrong hands and are willing to fight to retrieve it.

These are not your typical vampires and daemons. The daemons in this story are artistically creative creatures that lean towards being slightly off psychologically speaking. Daemons apparently are born to human parents and don’t “come into” their powers until puberty or around puberty. Witches are born to witch parents (one or both may be witches) and come into their powers around age seven. Vampires are humans that are reborn as vampires and require blood to survive, but these vampires are capable of being out during the day or night, can eat some foods (a basic raw foods diet), like to drink (alcohol), and are long-lived. Vampires are apparently infertile after being reborn or so they are led to believe. 

Diana appears to be the strong, independent type throughout much of the book but she has her moments where she becomes weak and weepy. Granted they are due to a separation from her chosen mate or after being kidnapped, tortured and imprisoned, so she has just cause. Matthew is a typical alpha-male and has difficulty dealing with Diana’s independent streak. The story wouldn’t be complete without a cast of supporting characters. Sarah Bishop is Diana’s aunt and surrogate mother-figure after Diana’s parents are murdered. Her life-partner is Emily Mather, another witch and surrogate mother-figure to Diana. Ysabeau de Clermont is the vampire that “made” Matthew and is the matriarch to the de Clermont/Clairmont/Montclair family. Hamish Osborne is a daemon, financial whiz and perhaps Matthew’s best friend. Marcus is a vampire and scientist and considered to be Matthew’s son.

Suffice it to say that there is a lot going on in this book and most of the action seems to take place over a few months, if not weeks. Sadly, the author leaves you hanging at the end. I presume there will be another book that will resume where this book ends. Don’t despair, the lack of resolution at the end does nothing to detract from the story. 


YAY! A Discovery of Witches is part of a trilogy and the second book, Shadow of Night, is scheduled to be released in Summer 2012. 

Paranormal-Fantasy Genre

Is it just me or does there seem to be a plethora of books out lately dealing with witches, vampires, zombies, etc.? The paranormal-fantasy genre has definitely changed over the years. There are well-written books available and some that aren’t so well-written. Although this is not a genre that I traditionally read, there are some interesting and new choices available. Keeping that in mind, I reviewed my TBR list and chose A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness as my next book (#80 for the year). Given the length of this book, it will probably take me at least 2-3 days of part-time reading to finish it. If you’ve read this one or heard good things, let me know.

Day 75 continued

I’ve just finished re-reading Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen and participating in an online discussion on I truly can’t say enough good things about this book, but I’ll try.

I don’t think I can really say too much other than I loved this book! It is whimsical, magical and fantastical yet realistic. There are some dark subjects that are introduced, such as: child abandonment, parental neglect, sibling jealousy, deep-seated feelings of inadequacy, physical abuse and the more mundane small-town animosities. Yet Ms. Allen does a wonderful job of weaving these dark subjects into a great story. It doesn’t leave you sad or depressed but hopeful. I highly recommend this work of incredible contemporary fiction to one and all.

I recently combined my hand-written and online TBR lists and realize that I now have over 250 books that I want to read. Not really a problem except there are new titles being released that are usually added to this list. I think I need to take a week, or at least a weekend, just so I can devote myself to reading full-time and finish a few of these books. Nice dream…

Day 75

I got somewhat of a late start on the actual reading of Dragonwell Dead by Laura Childs, but it was worth the wait…

Another delightful, light tea shop mystery by Ms. Childs. It’s always interesting to see how Theodosia gets hooked into “investigating” happenings (usually murder) around Charleston SC. Of course Indigo Tea Shop, is always front and center as a hangout for friends and tourists. Drayton, her master tea blender, and Haley, the chef and baker, are usually her willing — and sometimes unwilling — accomplices. This does not detract from the action taking place. 
In this story we are introduced to Mark Congdon, a futures broker, and his wife Angie — the owner of a local bed and breakfast. Of course we no sooner meet him then Mark is keeling over with an apparent heart attack. However, it isn’t a heart attack…he’s been poisoned. Theodosia is pulled in because the poison was delivered in her iced tea and due to her friendship with the Congdons. She barely starts her investigation when the B&B burns down due to arson. 
There’s a lot happening in this mystery: murder, arson, possible insurance fraud, orchid envy, and a possible adulterous liaison. All this while Theodosia and Drayton are preparing for an Orchid Society fundraiser. What makes this series work so well is the fact that just when you think you know ‘whodunit,’ the author pulls a fast one and surprises you. These are not predictable mysteries and, for that reason alone, are a worthwhile read…Dragonwell Dead is no exception.

What’s next? Well I’ll be re-reading Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen for an online book group. If you haven’t read any of her books, then you definitely must read this one. Since I’m re-reading this book I don’t think I’ll consider it as book 80. Not quite sure what will be book 80 for this year, but I’ll be double-checking my TBR list to find something suitable. Until then…happy reading!