Blogmas Day Two: Books & Baking – Blood Magick

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Hi, lovelies! I’m back for another edition of Books & Baking! For this latest edition, we’re going in the direction of adult romance with one of my favorite authors. An author I am sure will make another appearance on this blog feature, the ever wonderful, Nora Roberts. I started this trilogy (though it’s one I’ve read before) in October and I knew the third book would be perfect for Books & Baking.

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Book: Blood Magick by Nora Roberts

Read my full review here!

This series follows six characters as they attempt to win an age-old battle. This is the third and final installment in the Cousin’s O’Dwyer Trilogy that follows my favorite pairing, Branna and Fin. I would die for Finbar Burke and Branna is a lady I would wife the hell out of. Branna creates incredible things in this book. From food and desserts to handsoaps, candles, and lotions. These are my favorite characters of the six we get to know. With an Irish setting and a magical cast of characters, I really couldn’t ask for more.

“I’m so angry it feels my blood’s on fire. If I didn’t bank it with calm, I might burn the place to the ground.”

“Love can fade and die. I’ve seen it. It can grow and build as well. I think when it’s real and meant, it can only grow bigger and stronger.”

“We’re a superstitious breed, we Irish, and wise enough to build around a faerie hill without disturbing it, to leave a stone dance where it stands. And to keep back from a place where the dark still thrums.”

Baking: Ginger Biscuits 

Find the recipe here!

When I saw these mentioned in the book, I knew they had to be my next creation for Books & Baking because they were perfect to bring to my family as a Thanksgiving treat!

“After donning a white apron, she made her ginger biscuits first because it pleased her. While they cooled and their scent filled the air, she gathered what she needed to make the candle sets on the new list Eileen had given her.”

Ingredients

Plain flour
Ground ginger
Baking soda
Ground cinnamon
Ground cloves
Salt
Margarine or butter, softened
White sugar
One egg
Water
Molasses or golden syrup
White sugar (for rolling)

Instructions

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Mix flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt, then set aside. Combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, then water and molasses. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, letting each addition combine fully before adding more.

Form dough into one in balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Bake eight to ten minutes, then cool.

I will admit that I sampled more than a few before packing them up to bring with me to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. My husband had some too. Honestly, between the two of us we probably ate a whole batch. So, I’m glad this recipe made more than enough for us to sample and still share for the holiday. I thought they were delicious. I might even make them again when I start my Christmas baking.

Do these sounds yummy or what? Feel free to try them out and let me know what you think! The recipe was fairly easy too!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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GoodReads

Blogmas Book Review: Blood Magick by Nora Roberts

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GoodReads Summary:
County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch.
Branna’s strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family—along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound. But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love…
She had it once—for a moment—with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood. Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion.
Branna and Fin’s relationship offers them both comfort and torment. And though they succumb to the heat between them, there can be no promises for tomorrow. A storm of shadows threatens everything that their circle holds dear. It will be Fin’s power, loyalty, and heart that will make all the difference in an age-old battle between the bonds that hold their friends together and the evil that has haunted their families for centuries.
Blood Magick (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #3)Review:
The final book in this trilogy, Blood Magick, is the one I’ve been most excited for. In this third book, we follow Branna and Finbar. The sparks between them are flying right from the first book. I was dying to get into this finale.
Branna is the responsibile one of the fated three that make up the Dark Witch. She has a strong sense of duty and takes on the role of the leader in the family. I really admire Branna. She takes her duty seriously and teaches the others anything they need to know. I also loved seeing her in her workshop and in the kitchen. In the first two books, we’re told she does the cooking and sort of what she does for her shop in town. But I adored getting to see her thoughts while making new candles, body lotions, or soap scents. I thought it was a great part of this book.
Let’s talk about Finbar Burke. I would die for him. He is the blood of Cabhan but has fought it his entire life. He is as honorable as they get but still doesn’t hide his feelings for Branna. His love for animals, horse, hound, and hawk alike, was one of my favorite things about him. He’s so full of love, for animals, for Branna, and for the rest of their circle.
Seeing these two put aside the past and come together again made me so happy. It truly displayed the growth of each member of the circle. The history the two share, really made this couple what they were. Overcoming that history and coming back to one another was the highlight of this book.
Overall, this was my favorite book in the series. I love Branna and I would die for Fin. I loved seeing the circle come together, with the past and all of the connections they learned, to defeat a great evil.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts

GoodReads Summary:
With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken… A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss. Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle. Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves…
Shadow Spell (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #2)Review:
In the second installment of the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy, we follow two more of the six that this series follows. We already know them all from the first book, but we get to know Connor and Meara a bit better. They’re known one another their whole lives, and after a brush with Cabhan, Meara finds herself unable to resist her lust for Connor after she thought him dead. I liked that this book was sort of the opposite of the first. In the first Iona is new to the area and the people, but with Connor and Meara there’s history. There’s a past there.
Connor is the guy that’s friends with everyone. He’s a loveable flirt. But his loyalty knows no bounds. I love his relationship with his sister and cousin, but I also love the brotherhood he shares with Fin and Boyle.
Meara is the tough girl that you don’t want to mess with. But she has a heart of gold she doesn’t let many see. She fears that she is like her father and finds it hard to let herself be loved. I loved seeing the growth she goes through in working through this issue. I also loved her ferocity when up against Cabhan.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. Not a favorite, but it was fun. There was action and romance, friendship and growth. I will always love Nora’s books and this one was no different.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Dark Witch by Nora Roberts

GoodReads Summary:
With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.
Ireland.
County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.
Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.
When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.
Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…
Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #1)Review:
I am forever a fan of Nora Roberts. I always love her books and Dark Witch was no different. While there were flaws in the story, I still really enjoyed it. I absolutely adored the Ireland setting and would love to know how accurate it was. I loved all the characters and really just everything about it.
We follow Iona as she picks up her whole life and moves to Ireland to find her cousins. I think I liked her so much because really all she wanted was to find where she belonged. She just wanted to be loved. And that’s something I can relate to myself. I liked that things worked out so easily for her. I know some people might not, but I liked it. She found exactly what she was looking for and just needed to figure out how she now fit into this new dynamic.
Boyle was the big manly man. He was a little bit of a stereotypical tough guy but I didn’t mind that at all. I liked his development with his new relationship with Iona. I think they two are really well matched and good for one another.
I am obsessed with the cousins, Branna and Connor. I hope Connor’s book is next, but I wouldn’t mind if it was Branna’s. Branna is the know it all responsible one. There’s a love/hate relationship with Fin and I frigging loved it. I can’t wait to see how they make amends and reconnect. Connor is the flirty, friends with everyone guy. I adore him. He’s open with his affection and I loved it. Finally, Meara. I loved her from the moment Iona met her in the barn. I love this group of six with my whole heart. I think they’re a fascinating team filled with love and conflict.
I would have liked a bit more explanation of the big bad. We see him in the first chapter but his origins are never really explained. We’re sort of just thrown into the story and sort of stumble along piecing things together. I managed but was still left with questions about the big bad by the end of the story.
Overall, no surprise that I really enjoyed this one. I love Nora’s writing and I probably always will. I definitely suggest this one. I read it at the end of October and it was the perfect mood for Spooktober.

Quotes:

“What’s an adventure if you know all the steps before you take them?”

“Emotions are a magick of their own, aren’t they? Love and hate the strongest and most powerful.”

“You can’t just hope for happy endings. You have to believe in them. Then do the work, take the risks.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Under Currents by Nora Roberts

GoodReads Summary:
For both Zane and Darby, their small-town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they’ve come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?
Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…
Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.
Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.
Under Currents by Nora RobertsReview:
I will never ever have a bad thing to say about Nora Roberts. I’ve been such a huge fan of her books for so long. Under Currents was no different. The only thing that was different for my reading experience this time was that since I’ve started taking my college writing classes, I’ve begun to notice the writing in books more, rather than just plowing through the story. I found myself blown away with certain little things that she connected and certain lines. I think from the perspective of a fledgling writer Nora is a Goddess.
I’m going to try to keep this short and to the point, but longer than “I love this, go buy it and read it now.” Nora just has a way with the characters that make you fall in love with them. She gives them incredible histories and develops them beautifully. You can’t help but love her characters. In this story, that was Zane and all of his extended family. I hated the first part of this book because of Zane’s past, but once he starts living with his aunt, Emily, I just couldn’t get enough. Then we meet Darby. I finished this book and then proceeded to ask my aunt to help me plant some flowers in my yard. Her passion for what she loves to do was inspiring.
Nora’s books tend to follow a similar structure of giving the backstory on the characters, they fall in love, then some ‘big bad’ comes and shakes everything up. This one was similar but still had its own twist. I like that even though the structure was similar to most of her other standalone novels I still had such a good time reading it.
Overall, Nora Roberts can do no wrong. I will love every one of her books until the end of time. If you haven’t picked up anything by her, you should do so now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

I Heart Characters!

I Heart Characters! is a weekly meme hosted by Dani @ Perspective of a Writer to showcase our book blogger love for characters! Each week she’ll supply a topic and you’ll supply the character. Post on whatever day suits you, about characters from whatever media you love (books, movies, K-dramas, television, manga, anime, webtoons, whatever!) and link up on Thursday so you and others can blog hop and share the character love.

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This weeks topic is Plagued by Ghosts (A character who IS a ghost or can see and/or interacts with the spiritual realm.)

Amanda

Okay so who here has read The Wicked Deep. our main character sees ghosts. Penny is sort of an outsider in her town. She lives on the island with the lighthouse and takes a little boat to the mainland everyday for school and everything. While I didn’t absolutely love Penny, she was definitely intriguing in this book. A great book for spooky season if you’re looking for something to read this Halloween!

Antonia

The In The Garden Trilogy by Nora Roberts follows three women as they deal with a ghost who’s haunting their house. The ghost has a sad, twisted backstory that I completely loved.

I Heart Characters!

I Heart Characters! is a weekly meme hosted by Dani @ Perspective of a Writer to showcase our book blogger love for characters! Each week she’ll supply a topic and you’ll supply the character. Post on whatever day suits you, about characters from whatever media you love (books, movies, K-dramas, television, manga, anime, webtoons, whatever!) and link up on Thursday so you and others can blog hop and share the character love.

i heart characters.jpg

This weeks topic is A Truly Scary Character (A character that scares you beyond reason! For whatever reason…)

Amanda

Thaddeus and Dead Eye from Tales of a New World series by P.C. Cast. I mention both because one influences the other. You can’t really mention one (in relation to the story) without bringing up the other. Thaddeus changes drastically in this series and not in any sort of posititve ways. He gets meaner and angrier and more terrifying. He’s out to hurt anyone that he can and it’s all because of Dead Eye. I won’t spoil anything by explaining further. But Dead Eye is even worse than Thaddeus, the two of them together are only going to make this dystopian world a more evil place.

Antonia

The “Big Evil” from the Sign of Seven Trilogy by Nora Roberts. Seriously, that’s pretty much the only way they ever refer to it. It’s basically a demon that appears for seven days every seven years and creates absolute chaos in this town. I was so terrified of this thing that could make normal people do terrible things.