November 21st, 2016

Me

Book Critique 2016 – 07/09/2016: Bay of Sighs (The Guardians Trilogy #2)

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here.
For review of all books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3.5 / 5
My Recommendation: If you are an avid Nora Roberts fan like me, go for it! A light read for any day.

Bay of Sighs is the second book in the series The Guardians Trilogy by Nora Roberts published in June of 2016. I had written about the first part, Star of Fortune, earlier this year (Check my review here (http://inspirethoughts.livejournal.com/538510.html)) and had mentioned that it felt like a merge of Stars of Mithra and Circle Trilogy series - both these written by Nora herself. Although not as strong as those series, this is still a good one. Nora's style of writing, her essence is coming back with this episode in the series. Yet, waiting for her to completely bounce back to her previous self.



Three goddesses of moon create three stars, one of fire, one of ice and one of water to celebrate the rise of their new queen. To keep them from the evil goddess, they place them in the sky. But they fall down to unknown places after being cursed by the evil goddess Nerezza, putting the world in danger. Now six people – three women and three men – have to band together, earn trust, experience love, find the stars and fight the evil goddess. They are the Seer – Sasha Riggs; the Sorcerer – Bran Killian, the Werewolf – Dr. Riley Gwin, the immortal – Doyle McCleary, the Time and Space Traveler – Sawyer King and the Mermaid – Annika Waters

Now that the Fire Star had been found and well-hidden by the Six, Nerezza would be coming back at them with double the force and triple the power to stop them from acquiring the second start - The Water Star. They move to Capri - for that's where the compass of the Traveler, Sawyer and the vision of the Seer, Sasha guides them to. Settled in a home - smaller than the villa in Corfu, Greece - the Six prepare for the hunt of Fire Star and the next phase of the battle. Sasha's vision also mentions that this time along Nerezza join hands with a man as dark as her with the same thirst for blood she has and that in between the songs and sighs - of land and sea - they will battle for the next star. Annika seems to be the only one who had heard the songs and sighs while they were traveling through time and space from Corfu to Capri using Sawyer's compass and ability to time travel. What does this mean? Where are these songs and sighs?

Annika Waters, the mermaid, unbeknownst to Sawyer King, had already fallen for him. She had only three turns of moon for her to be part of this quest, before her legs will no longer be hers and the sea would be her home for ever. And she hoped that Sawyer would feel the same towards her at least for one day.

As Sasha had predicted, Nerezza meets with Andre Malmon - a thief, murderer, enforcer, kidnapper and many more and much more darker than Nerezza at time - incites him with the quest for the Stars of Fortune. With Nerezza luring him with the gift of giving all the powers of the six guardians, contract sealed with blood, tied down by her body, Andre had no chance to reject the offer - not that he want to, especially when he had old scores to settle with Riley and Sawyer. But what he doesn’t know is the hidden agenda of Nerezza. Will she achieve her goal using Andre? Or will Andre over power her with his ambition and cruel intentions? Has Nerezza find the right match on her side in the battle against the Guardians - for Andre Malmon is no ordinary killer? He has his own team of mercs that know no bounds when it comes to doing evil things towards humans and animals alike. Can the Guardians fight him?

The love between Sawyer and Annika blooms despite the trials that Nerezza throws at them, despite the fact that Annika is not of this world and that her time is short and above all despite how hard Sawyer had controlled his emotions towards her. Will Annika become an Achilles' heel for Sawyer? Or will he be like Sasha to Bran? As much as Nerezza is growing stronger and gathering a different kind of army, so are the Guardians. Sasha is becoming much stronger at holding off Nerezza in her mind and in some cases even hurting her back. With Doyle's training everyone are getting much more capable at combat fighting. With Bran's magic, Sawyer's intelligence and Riley's network they all are getting equipped with weapons both magic and machinery alike. Annika glues them all together with her sunny and positive attitude. They have come to become a family. Will Nerezza see that as a fault? Will the Guardians use that to their advantage? Where is the second start - Water Star?

Finally the true Nora Roberts flair comes out. No softening of pain or love - all described as they are, raw and much to feel at heart. Although I hurt when I read the chapters that show the cruelty Mormon and his men can induce on a fellow human or living being. Yet, the chapters set a very important stone for finding the Water Star for these six guardians.

An excellent light read, with the old way of her writing. And yes it does still remind me of two other series that Nora Roberts had written in the past – Stars of Mithra and The Circle Trilogy. Mormon's viciousness is so close to the villain in the Stars of Mithra series. While Nerezza reminds me of Lilith from the Circle Trilogy. Despite that looking forward to see the final showdown between the Guardians and Nerezza while finding the Ice Star- the third star.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Nora mentions that the stars belong to the queen who rules the Island of Glass. In the Key Trilogy (Read my reviews of those books here), she mentions the Keys belong to the souls of Daughters of Glass. So similar yet so different.
2) Surprisingly a few grammatical errors are seen - "quest" is used instead of "oath" in the third parah last line where Annika is explaining about the oath that mermaids take (pg. 93).
Me

Book Critique 2016 – 07/10/2016: Murder, She Wrote #11: A Little Yuletide Mystery

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here
For review of all books under Murder, She Wrote series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: If you want an easy and quick murder mystery pick it up and you will enjoy it.

A Little Yuletide Murder is the 11th book in the Murder, She Wrote series by Donald Bain and fictional writer Jessica Fletcher based on the popular TV Show of the same name. The book was published in 1998.



This time around the plot is set in Jessica's own home town Cabot Cove, Maine. When the entire town is in full-mode planning for the town's famed week of Christmas celebrations, Rory Brent - local farmer who played the role of Santa Claus every year - was found murdered in his barn. Why would Rory be walking off to his barn that was almost half a mile from home with no coat, no hat and gloves in the bitter cold? Sherriff Mort Metzger had confirmed that Rory Brent had been murdered. Who would have had motive to kill him, other than the obvious person, Jake Walther - Jake and Rory had bad blood between them for a long time.

As the Sherriff and Jessica are investigating the crime, the rumor mill of Cabot Cove with its sharp tongue is bent on convicting Jake Walther without a trial only because he had burned quite a few bridges with everyone. But, did he really kill Rory Brent? Did Rory have any other enemies? With enough probable cause, Sherriff Metzger arrests Jake on suspicion of murder. And now Mary reaches out to Jessica for help. Jessica takes it upon herself to help Jake despite her mixed feelings. Will she be able to uncover the truth? Find who really killed Rory? And what is the reason behind all of it?

As usual no matter what Sherriff Mort Metzger might say, Jessica butts her head into the investigation. And she comes up with a series of potential suspects - Robert Brent (Rory's rebellious 18-year old son), Patricia Brent (Rory Brent's wife who had taken the death of Rory rather easily causing eyebrows to rise), Jake Walther (obviously because of the bad blood between Jake and Rory), Mary Walther (Jakes's wife), Dennis Solten (Mary's slow-witted brother), Jill Walther (Jake Walther's daughter)

The plot was essentially a very good one, with lot of complexities tied in. However there are quite a few chapters that go on and on and on about the nature of Jake Walther, the reasons for him to be suspected, etc. It made me feel as though I was living through the rumor mill. It was tiring to read so much of repetitive text. All in all another easy read from this series.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Grammatical errors in the book: a. On Pg. 24, para 2, in the last line "Jos. A. Bank" is spelled as "Jos. Bank" - the "A" is missing.
2) Geographical errors in the book: a. On Pg. 101, the author speaks about Indian food that Jessica's palate was not pleased. I was surprised that the author made such a huge error. The dishes mentioned are in reality from a different origin: Hummus Ba Tahini is a Mediterranean dish, Chicken Cous Cous is a Moroccan dish while Galaktoboureko is a Swedish dish.
3) Jessica speaks about her book, The Hanging Vine (which was originally titled The Hanging Grapevine), that had a similar plot where the rumor mill had taken center stage. But this is not a book that Jessica writes in the TV series nor in this book series. Perhaps something just mentioned in this plot.
4) Jessica's chef friends Richard and Mary Jane when inviting Jessica to their home for dinner mention the names of their guests. One happen to be friends from New York (Pg. 101). But later in the book this "Friends" turn out to be Richard's Cousin and his family (Pg. 104). Wonder if author forgot about the original characters. :P
5) The author mentions about a 1664 cookbook titled "The Accomplished Cook: Or, The Art and Mystery of Cookery". I did a google search and found that it was written by Robert May. Some of the pages have been reproduced in the 1980 cook book titled Maine Coastal Cooking. How interesting! 300 years old cooking recipes still are carried on.
6) The author mentions about a radio series Casey, Crime Photographer in the book. Later it has become into TV series too. More about here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casey,_Crime_Photographer_(radio). Something to read for a future blog.
7) Jessica's publisher Vaughn Buckley wants her to write a true crime novel based on the crime that happened in her home town. Although reluctant Jessica does think about the pros and cons of writing a true crime novel. I wonder if the author will ever create one in future.
8) Some other Christmas books are mentioned in the book - some only exist for this plot and some are for real. Some more adding to my list of books to read and blog about. :)
a. The Dog That Talked at Christmas by Laurie Wilson - Does not exist for real.
b. A Christmas to Remember by Eugene Bradley Coco - Does exist
c. Carl's Christmas by Alexandra Day - Does exist
d. The Nutcracker Ballet by Vladimir Vagin - Does exist
e. The Lonely Snowman - I am thinking this exists as well
f. The Littlest Christmas Elf - Also exists