Month: December 2017

Guest Review: Favour of the Gods: A Frewyn Novel by Michelle Franklin

Posted December 19, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 25 Comments

Morning everyone! Hope everyone has their cup off coffee, or a choice of drink because this morning the lovely Sophia Rose is back on the blog with another wonderful review!

Guest Review: Favour of the Gods: A Frewyn Novel by Michelle FranklinFavour of the Gods: A Frewyn Novel by Michelle Franklin
Series: standalone
Published by Self-published on October 22nd 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 276
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A story about Gods and children, love and friendship:

Every child in Frewyn is taught that they were created by the Gods, and that every Frewyn is therefore considered with the same affection and given the same attention as everyone else.

This is somewhat untrue.

Aoidhe Dreen is a Gods' Son, a child thought to have a Frewyn God as a parent. While the birth of such a child is not common in the kingdom, and often goes unproven, the divine parentage of Aoidhe Dreen is accidentally discovered by Cgnita, a young cleric at the Kileen monastery, who suddenly finds himself the victim of the God of Japes and Justice, making him very sorry to have received the Favour of the Gods.

A charming gently-paced, fantasy tale of the Frewyn gods when they secretly defy the father god’s rule and dabble a little in the lives of their people. Each in their own way misses walking among and directly caring for their people and find ways to bestow aid where they will. I was delightfully engaged in this easy and light ramble that mostly follows the antics of the colorful, whimsical, and at times volatile, Aoidhe, as he responds to the needs and prayers of his people in his own brand of care.

The story takes place in the fantasy land of Frewyn made up of humans who are most akin to the earth though the greater world include other lands full of other peoples and magics. In time past, the gods retreated from their world and the people are left with some having faith they exist and care for the people and others in doubt.

The world is well drawn and elaborate so that I felt I could be reading of another culture’s real mythology. The people of Frewyn worship a pantheon of gods whose mythology will have familiar traits though apportioned differently perhaps such as Aoidhe who is a god of passion, fire, trickery, and justice or Fuinnag, a god of sky, weather, birds, and hope.

The plot is gentle, but steady in pacing. It has a high fantasy tone to the writing and employs older language and obscure words that solidify the feel of something of a slightly foreign, spicy flavor.

Part of the story follows the life of two Frewyn church brothers, Cgnita and Brudha- one a healer and the other the leader of the monastery like compound- who separately find themselves with an intimate encounter with the trickster Aoidhe and his brother gods in their turn. Cgnita needs a little help finding love which he cautiously accepts along with Aoidhe’s teases and Brudha is bemused at having a god for a friend.

And beyond this pair, there is a larger tale of Aoidhe and his fellow gods sometimes clashing and sometimes agreeing about how they can get around the edict that was set by the father of gods to stay out of the people’s lives so they can truly care for and help the people where they are called upon. I enjoyed each new encounter and had a good time with the lusty, down to earth Aoidhe as he negotiates matters to his satisfaction. It was fun to see him interacting with his brothers and the other gods. I have a soft spot for the ‘moper’, the god of earth and mountains, Menor.

In the end, I was delighted for the last scene to bring things full circle to an old familiar certain irascible farm woman, Baba Connridh. While, this story is a standalone, I definitely got more out of this final scene by having already read the earlier released, Baba Connridh novella.

I would recommend this book and others in the Frewyn world if you appreciate High Fantasy with a classical flavor and particularly if you enjoy good strong world building and mythology.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: Winter in Wonderland by J.S. Drangsholt, Tara F. Chace

Posted December 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  Winter in Wonderland by J.S. Drangsholt, Tara F. ChaceWinter in Wonderland by J.S. Drangsholt, Tara F. Chace
Series: Ingrid Winter Misadventure #2
Published by AmazonCrossing on February 1st 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 234
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Professor Ingrid Winter seems to have it all. But she can’t help feeling like everything’s crumbling around her—just like the roof on her family home.
Now she and her husband are on the hook for repairs they can barely afford, and lack of funds means her husband must cancel his dream trip to Italy. Their three daughters are growing up too fast, her latest batch of students are more disaffected than ever, and there’s no one that she’s not disappointing. To top it all off, Mr. and Mrs. Perfect have moved in right next door.
Overwhelmed and anxious, Ingrid’s ready to take a hike. And the whole family, including Gramps, is coming along. A staycation in the mountains of Norway may be just what the Winters need. But will tromping through nature help Ingrid find the right path or send her deeper into the woods?

Ingrid Winters is a professor that seems to have it all, until things starts to fall apart around her.

Now Ingrid and her husband are on the fence because of the repairs they can barely afford on their home, and has put a wedge into her husband’s dream vacation to Italy. Her latest batch of students at the university are distracted and disinterested and to top everything off, a new couple Mr and Mrs Perfect move in next door.

This was….

I don’t know how to rate this book.

Ingrid was… An interesting character enough. I know people rated this book poorly in the past because they found Ingrid not very related, and a very unlikable character. I actually did not complete hate her. To me, she seemed real, and very much someone I can relate to. Motherhood isn’t perfect and neither is marriage, we get caught up in things we should not and we deal with things differently, sometimes with just the heat of the moment. I think because of translation, there was probably a bit of cultural disconnect, or people don’t feel comfortable admitting that there is a part of us in someone like Ingrid.

Ingrid wasn’t perfect. She got frustrated with her husband because of the roof incident and him not being able to work on it and she had every right to, especially when he decided to take the project on himself instead of paying for the contractor. There was a definite strain on their relationship to the point where Ingrid was questioning rather the two are going to get a divorce, but their marriage prevailed when both parties realized their short comings and maybe there was some truth in how Ingrid felt about the situation.

The story is simple and basically follows Ingrid as she navigates her life, parenting, and marriage. It’s not always pretty, there is strain, she ignores her middle child at some point because of the amount of stress she is already under. What I mean by ignores is that she forgot about her middle child’s play in school while she tried to deal with the fact that their house has a hole in the roof, her husband refusing to acknowledge the fact that the neighbor who promised to help, isn’t, the school is giving her problems because her rating is low among the teachers, her youngest child is being bullied in school and the list goes on. People did not like that, I found it realistic, especially when you take into the account everything that was going around Ingrid. We all want to be the perfect mothers, but we are also humans and I found her short comings very human, even if they are not favorably viewed and frowned upon.

Overall, I found this a quick read. There is a lot going on at the same time not much happens because the whole book is just about Ingrid navigating her life. There are cultural differences that get lost on anyone not living in the same part of the world.

Also, there is a bit of rambling, but that could be part of how it was translated.

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Guest Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

Posted December 13, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Hey Lovelies! Hope you December is going great! Our has been super busy, so reading is a bit slower. Today I have Sophia Rose on the blog with a review, hope you enjoy her opinion on The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living and leave her some love.

Guest Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise MillerThe City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
Series: Standalone
Published by Penguin Books on November 7th 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

"Mix in one part Diane Mott -Davidson's delightful culinary adventures with several tablespoons of Jan Karon's country living and quirky characters, bake at 350 degrees for one rich and warm romance." --Library Journal
A full-hearted novel about a big-city baker who discovers the true meaning of home--and that sometimes the best things are found when you didn't even know you were looking
When Olivia Rawlings--pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club--sets not just her flambeed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of--the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country's longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.
Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn's property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired--to help Margaret reclaim the inn's blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.
With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.
But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee--or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected--it could be even better.
From the Hardcover edition.

A gentle nostalgic, heartwarming piece showcasing a woman’s slow transformation from bright lights and big city to country charm. It’s a New England fairytale that brings into play all that a person can imagine of the best and quirky parts of country living.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a combination of women’s fiction and contemporary romance. It focuses on Livvy’s personal growth, her friendships, her adjustments to a new lifestyle, and a bit of a slow burn romance.

I enjoyed the ambience and tone, the pacing and all the little details of this ideal nostalgic country life that teetered on the line of real and fantasy (not in a paranormal sense), but more wishful thinking. It was a Normal Rockwell setting and people come to life, if you will. I think if one goes in expecting this then it will work better. Livvy is snooty about it at first and is always making comparisons until she sees that there is value in both lifestyles after she settles in.

I only had one real niggle with the story. In the beginning, Livvy was ‘the Other Woman’ in an affair with a married man. There were a few other little things, but that one just stuck. I think it set the tone for me and I never completely connected with her even if I could keep reading and appreciate the rest of the book.

This is definitely a foodie’s book, too. I spent most of the book with my mouthwatering as Livvy worked her baking magic in the Inn’s kitchen or talked food with Chef, Margaret, or shopped in the market. Thankfully, her apple pie recipe is included in the back of the book.

I think the highlight for me was Livvy’s friendship with irascible Margaret. At first, they seem at odds, but then slowly Livvy learns more about her and sees the true Margaret and Margaret opens up a little.

It was not a quick reading experience, but one to pick up and curl up under a throw with me tea and appreciate. I found it a lovely reading experience all in all. I would recommend it to light women’s fiction lovers who appreciate a more soft-glow country life, a gentle romance, with a foodie as the main character.

I understand Louise Miller’s second novel, The Late Bloomers’ Club, is forthcoming from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking. My thanks to Penguin-Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Posted December 11, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review:  Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah MorganMoonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan with Love #6
Published by Hqn on November 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:two-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

She'll risk everything for her own Christmas miracle...
Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list--dealing with Madi's temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.
Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi--how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple--he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there's nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.
Ethan's kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all--letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

Harriet Knight has lived a lifetime in shyness, when she finally decided to conquer her fears, she challenges herself to do one thing a day in December until Christmas that scares her. That includes online dating, which ends in disaster when the man that showed up at a date is much older than he said he was, a climb out the bathroom window to escape, and a hospital visit due to an injured ankle.

Ethan Black is a workaholic, a doctor that is rough around the edges and has already gone through one miserable relationship. He didn’t count on the fact that he will be sitting his sister’s dog, or that the dog will try and destroy his apartment. So he asks his dog sitter to move into his apartment temporarily, not expecting the explosion in chemistry that follows.

This was cute, it was a decent read. I can see why people loved it.

For me? It didn’t get interesting until about 58% into the book. I felt it dragged until then, I was bored, and had a bit of a hard time. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it, I just did not find myself really invested and was really bored. It took me 13 days to read this, ouch.

Harriet was sweet, the relationship, once it got to that point, was cute.

Ethan makes a dumb mistake, realizes he makes the dumb mistake and fixes it… All within a few last pages of the book.

Felt same old.

Also, this takes place in NYC and snows a lot right before Christmas. I lived in NYC for like 15 years and I wish there was this much snow before Christmas…Happens, but not as often and wonderfully as this book made it timing wise.

Overall, romance lovers will enjoy this one. It’s sweet, it’s got winter, good characters and good writing.

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Weekly Wrap up #17 – Slow Reading

Posted December 3, 2017 by Lily B in Recap, Wrap Up / 21 Comments

Weekly Recap

 

I’ve had a mixed reading week. It’s been a bit slow going ever since I read AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS BY LAUREN LAYNE. I really enjoyed it and it started my Christmas reading kick, unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like it’s going so well. A lot of Christmas books that I enjoy are romances, but for some reason Romances have not been working for me lately, so I am feeling a bit stuck.

I own about 127 Christmas books. You know what that makes me? A Christmas book Hoarder, heh.  So I will try and power through them.

Have you guys read anything really interesting lately? Looking to see what are your five star reviews this week/month.

Are you in the Christmas spirit yet? We are getting our tree soon, so that is exciting. I’m probably going to update the layout today or tomorrow, so hopefully I can start getting into the spirit myself.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer

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