Category: Guest Post

Review: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Posted June 11, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 26 Comments

Hi Guys, hope everyone is having a great weekend. I don’t have much time today but I do have Sophia Rose on the blog with a YA Dystopia Romance review. Gosh.. I miss Dystopia books. Going to have to look into some I have not read yet myself. Anyway. I hope you enjoy your weekend and weather and leave this girl some love <3

Review: Rook by Sharon CameronRook by Sharon Cameron
Series: standalone
Published by Scholastic Press on May 31st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. The mysterious Red Rook is a savior of the innocent, and a criminal in the eyes of the government.
Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy's arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.
As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow ever higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.
Daring intrigue, delicious romance, and spine-tingling suspense fill the pages of this extraordinary tale from award-winning author Sharon Cameron.

I discovered Rook had a connection to the old classic, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and it became a must-read for me. I love the old tale of a hero in disguise saving people from death during the time of the bloody French Revolution and I was keen to see how the basic elements of that story would play out in a dystopian YA context. Rook is a separate and independent story so a reader doesn’t have to have read the old classic to appreciate this one.

Rook opens on an intense and exciting first scene where the reader gets a first glimpse of the Scarlet Rook saving innocents from the prison just before they are meant to be executed and then leaving her disguise behind to play an entirely different role back home. It’s a story full of intrigue, plots, spies, and no one seems to be whom they pretend to be and most have a private agenda.

This was one that I had to pay close attention to what was going on, always. There are narrative shifts, swiftly changing scenes even from paragraph to paragraph (this was a niggle), and it’s a large cast of characters though Sophia (ha, love that) Bellamy is the main character. There are main plot threads and smaller ones. Things get confusing near the end and then a series of twists and reveals take place that left me both nodding my head because I saw some of it coming while others were shockers for me.

The dystopian world came about through the shift of the magnetic poles bringing our current world to a crashing halt and centuries later the world of Rook is the result. I found the big natural disaster followed by the domino effect it wrought on humanity was well-done and the social situation of Rook made sense within that context. The theme of this whole book could be that history has a way of repeating itself.

I liked the characters and how there is some depth to them. Sophia was a strong female lead with both brilliant and impetuous moments. Like many YA characters, she has youthful confidence that slips into arrogance at times. She started her double-life because of the excitement and danger before she settled into needing to help the desperate. It worked in this story because she also was given vulnerability and felt fear and uncertainty. She knew she and her friends were the only ones willing to step into the gap and do something for the poor folks getting slaughtered on the guillotine so a few corrupt officials could steal their holdings and keep the mob in a blood frenzy.

There is romance in this one, but it’s complicated by the fact that both individuals are living double-lives and aren’t sure where they actually stand. There is a sad unrequited love also. I do like that the ‘love’ word isn’t tossed around early or lightly especially with all the other things going on in this story.

All in all, this was a great tribute to the classic, but also an engaging story in its own right. A little slow and could get confusing at times, but also exciting and twisting. This is YA dystopian, but the setting is more like French Revolutions era so I think it would also have some appeal for those who enjoy YA Historical Romantic Suspense.

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: The Outlandish Companion Volume Two by Diana Gabaldon

Posted May 23, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 19 Comments

Hope everyone is doing well! The weather here is looking like it’s finally starting to turn nice. It’s been so hectic in real life, so not enough time to catch up on blogging. Luckily dear Sophia had a review for me.  I was just thinking I should really start this series myself.

Review: The Outlandish Companion Volume Two by Diana GabaldonThe Outlandish Companion, Volume Two: The Companion to The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on October 27th 2015
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 656
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

More than a decade ago, #1 New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon delighted her legions of fans with The Outlandish Companion, an indispensable guide to all the Outlander books at the time. But that edition was just a taste of things to come. Since that publication, there have been four more Outlander novels, a side series, assorted novellas, and one smash-hit Starz original television series. Now Gabaldon serves up The Outlandish Companion, Volume Two, an all-new guide to the latest books in the series.
Written with Gabaldon’s signature wit and intelligence, this compendium is bursting with generous commentary and juicy insider details, including
• a complete chronology of the series thus far• full synopses of A Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood• recaps of the Lord John Grey novels: Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner• a who’s who of the cast of Outlander characters,

For over a year, I’ve been meandering my way through this one that I got a couple Christmases ago (thanks to Simply Angela’s Outlander challenge I buckled down and finished, LOL). Sometimes treating it like a coffee table flip-through book and sometimes getting riveted to different parts. It really does its job of what I wanted it for by reminding me of what I was starting to get hazy on with some of the older books and also providing some great enrichment materials to better appreciate the books in the Outlander World.

I was one that devoured and used the Outlandish Companion v. 1 so I was tickled to see that a v. 2 happened. The Outlander World of stories is such a huge saga of history, characters, and story threads that I need something like this to help keep me straight. And then let’s add in the TV adaption storylines. Gah! I needed this.

This one does broaden the scope of what it covers now that Outlander is a sensation on the screen and in audio as well as in the written world. I thought this book did a good job of being an all things for all people so that from whichever path the Outlander lover followed to the Companion they received something for it. For instance, I have not followed the show much, but I have read and listened to the books. However, I saw a lot of references that those watching the show could read and appreciate.

It was fun to browse through this, reading summaries of the books large and small, getting the Lord John and stories away from Jamie and Claire, too. I also enjoyed the lovely maps, charts, indexes (yay for that character one). The structure of this Companion was somewhat more relaxed and less of the scholarly reference tool feel you get when there are citations, cross-references and a ton of indexing. I like it either way.

So, this is a great one for the extras and worked well the way I took my time with it. I know I’ll pull it down off the shelf often to continue referencing it from time to time when re-reading and hey, if I need to pursue a historical point non-Outlander related as well.

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: My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy Jones

Posted May 15, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 22 Comments

I hope everyone had a great mother’s day weekend. This afternoon I have Sophia Rose back with another review to start this lovely week. Hope you enjoy it and leave her some love.

Review: My Jane Austen Summer by Cindy JonesMy Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park by Cindy Jones
Series: standalone
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on April 1st 2011
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 324
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:three-flames

A down on her luck woman goes on an Austen-inspired journey of self-discovery in Jones's middling debut. After Lily Berry loses her mother, gets dumped by her boyfriend, and is fired, she finds in her passion for all things Jane Austen (Jane, indeed, is Lily's imaginary friend) an escape route: she travels to England to participate in a Jane Austen re-enacting festival. Full of enthusiasm—but not acting talent—Lily is not embraced by many of the Janeites, but this doesn't prevent her from meeting a charismatic actor, contending with an impossible roommate, and struggling with dark family secrets, all while trying to find the courage to be the protagonist of her own story. While Jones does a credible job of creating a heroine in transition, Lily's process of self-realization isn't nearly as involving as the subplots, which is quite unfortunate, considering how much time is devoted to sussing out her issues.

This book has been setting on my shelf for some time. I originally picked it up because I loved the idea of reading about a woman traveling overseas to work a summer gig as an actress and all around Girl Friday at a Jane Austen festival held on an English country estate. A fun ‘travel themed’ group read with my GoodReads group gave me the motivation to get going with this book.

I dove in with a little excitement and soon sat back on my heels. This was not going to be a light and fun summer read like I expected. The heroine, Lily, goes well beyond quirky. She has some very real issues that she is refusing to acknowledge by hiding between the covers of her favorite Jane Austen novels- her mother’s death, her father’s rapid replacement of his wife with a younger model, losing her job, losing her boyfriend whom she stalks thinking he’ll change his mind though he has moved on, and finally her determination that she can live out a life like/as a Jane Austen heroine got into some heavy issues and set the tone and pace of this slow moving gentle story.

There is a strong connection to Mansfield Park which I thought was handled well in a modern story. It’s not a one to one correspondence like a retelling which I thought was a smart move. It’s there and noticeable especially when Lily herself starts to not just realize, but purposes to follow the formula in the original novel seeing herself as Fanny Price fending of a rich man’s tempting assurances, pining over a man who has committed to someone else, dealing with disappointment and jealousy over a rival, and being tempted to be the woman who was seduced then discovered she was temporary goods.

While I appreciated some of this story, I stayed disconnected from it and the heroine throughout. I was glad to see her growing and finding herself, but my practical side kept screaming at me that she needed to seek some counseling to deal with the losses and grief and her unhealthy retreat into her imaginary world. She was very deep into that world and stayed there which I think plays a huge role in why I couldn’t get into her- I couldn’t find the real Lily very well. And that ending. Open. I know some people not only tolerate, but love them. I fall at the other end of the spectrum.

I think when all’s said and done, I would have appreciated this more if I would have anticipated this book differently. I didn’t pay attention to the way it was classified and labeled. I went in seeing a light, even comedic, read when it was more a serious women’s fiction about a heroine finding herself and putting distance with her past issues and fails.

So, it was a little satisfying and I’m glad I read it, but it is a story that left me still wanting.

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: Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

Posted April 26, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 31 Comments

Morning guys! I got Sophia on the blog today reviewing Historical Fiction. Gah, how I miss Historical Fiction. Honestly, after reading her review I’m really considering this one. Set in Egypt, it sounds fantastic!

Review: Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie ThorntonDaughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Stephanie Thornton
Series: Standalone
Published by NAL on May 6th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 442
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars
Heat:three-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.

Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt...and sets her on a profoundly changed course.
Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Horus Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.
Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall....
Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.

Before I get into my review, I have to tattle on myself a little. Usually, I’m a blurb reader and that leads me to actually take up a book. But I was distracted, glanced at the cover- saw female ancient Egyptian and assumed. Yeah… I was prepared for Cleopatra and got a little surprise. Not Cleo, but Hatty. And this book suddenly became sooo much more interesting for me. Hatshepsut is one of my favorite historical figures. I was thrilled to death to read this one.

Alright, so this was Hatshepsut’s story from her early years as pharaoh’s daughter, to a pharaoh’s wife (yeah, they do that brothers marrying sisters thing to keep it all in the family), and then a regent before finally, she goes for the crown and becomes pharaoh. Exciting life to be sure.

I loved how the author went about this story. She doesn’t try to paint a romance or a tale of a woman’s story based on her male relationships. The author focused on Hatshepsut, her fiery temper, and her drive towards more. Yet, there are more facets in play here. There are a blend of public and domestic scenes, of points in this woman’s life where heartbreak touched her. She finds fulfillment in her achievements, but also as a mother and lover, and friend. There were so many wonderful layers to the story. Hatshepsut and the land of Egypt during the New Kingdom era came alive.

And even though this is a real life story, the author takes the facts and manages to slip in some extra intrigue at the court with a few very believable additions that could have really happened even if there are no records to show for it.

For those who follow Egyptian history closely, you’ll know that there is great speculation about Hatshepsut’s relationship with the boy she set aside until after she was gone and his later decision to remove her existence from Egyptian history. I actually take the author’s point of view so I was well pleased with how she wrote this part of the story.

All in all, this was a great colorful and engaging piece- historical fiction at its best, I thought. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoy historical fiction bios.

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: The Ship’s Crew by Michelle Franklin

Posted April 16, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it today! I hope your weather is wonderful and you can enjoy some outside time. I’ll be helping my little one hunt for eggs, so it should be exciting!

Review: The Ship’s Crew by Michelle FranklinThe Ship's Crew: A Marridon Novella by Michelle Franklin
Series: Marridon #3
Published by The Frewyn Herald on December 30th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 90
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 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.

The crew of the HMS Myrellenos are about to receive a new addition. After having made contact with the Baracan, the secret underground in league with Prince Lamir of Lucentia, Captain Danaco is eagerly awaiting information that will bring him home as leader of the prince's rebellion, but after a mishap on the ship and a chance meeting at a local tea house, the captain will have to chose whether to harbour a wayward agent until the next missive from the prince arrives. The third in the Marridon novellas.

The Ship’s Crew is the third Marridon Novella and picks up right from the end of The Barrican. Captain Danaco is awaiting word back from Lucentia and in the meantime, the crew of the Myrellenos amuse themselves.

This is a whimsical, meandering piece for much of the story developing the characters of the crew and Danaco’s masterful handling of their eccentric and colorful personalities. Librarian- and yes, scientist- Bartleby keeps them all dancing with his verbal gymnastics and exacting demands whether it is fixing a hole in the deck, the precise way to read a manuscript, or the etiquette for serving tea. The man must have things ‘just-so’ and it is amusing to watch them all tweak his tail.

There is an advancement for Danaco with a message from Prince Lamir and a startling new person on the scene. Rannig and Bartleby are there with Danaco to help save the day. I am eager to see these revolutionaries especially Captain Danaco work to put Lamir on the Lucentian throne.

For those just encountering the series, this is not a good place to start. The Leaf Flute introduces this particular story arc though it also assumes the reader is somewhat familiar with the Haanta universe. I personally started with The Commander and the Den AsaanRaatu, which is where I always recommend newbies start, and read my way through the Tales of Frewyn series, Khantara, and then the on-line short stories on the author’s blog.

I enjoy any chance I get to slip into this fantasy world including this latest series of Marridon Novellas that tell of a Captain and his crew that help depose a tyrant from his throne and put the rightful heir in his place. These have an old-style fantasy feel, classical tones, entertaining characters, and witty dialogue (aka fun challenge learning obscure synonyms and lingual gymnastics).

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Review: I Hate Summer by Michelle Franklin

Posted April 13, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 22 Comments

Good morning guys, Sophia is here today. This time she is reviewing a non-fiction. What a brave soul 🙂 – just kidding. Still, it’s a biography of what it is like for the author to deal with mental illness and social disabilities and how she learned to cope with it. I think it sounds interesting already, hope you enjoy Sophia’s review.

Review:  I Hate Summer by Michelle FranklinI Hate Summer by Michelle Franklin
Series: standalone
Published by Self-published on January 29th 2017
Genres: Non-Fiction, Biography
Pages: 230
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

This is a compendium about my daily battle with depression, anxiety, hot weather, and militant introversion. It is also about plumbers, spiders, loud neighbours, video games, books, and cats.
This book is not a therapy book for those who suffer with depression or anxiety, nor is this book intended as a disparagement or a glorification of my mental and social difficulties; it merely a record of how I have learned to cope with them, and is intended as a comedy not a tragedy. I invite everyone to laugh along with me through one of the worst years of my life, and hope that by reading about my tribulations, you will come to understand why I hate summer.

There is something to be said for putting a positive spin on life and living. I’ve always appreciated when someone is more than capable of doing that. This is why, though I’m not one who picks up non-fiction very often when it comes to current events or lives, I was well-pleased to click through the pages of this delightful rendering of the ups and downs in another fellow sufferer’s life. With wit, sass, and a smidge of the eccentric, the reader is brought along for the dreaded season of summer, life in an apartment building, and city dwelling.

I say ‘fellow sufferer’ because the main title and even some of the subtitle might be my own story. I also confess that I was already a fan of the author’s writing already. I was all kinds of curious to see her pull together a series of postings friends, followers, and fans were privy to recently into a cohesive piece.

The tone and style of the work is in the way of drawing the reader in like a conversation or journal piece. Snippets of life following a few recognizable themes that make the reader sympathize and laugh in turn. I connected well to the ‘storytelling’ and the language style that delights in employing a classical and unique word choice and form.

I was well aware the author was discussing true and serious issues that can befall one, but it was done in such a way that could amuse and draw a sympathetic ear. I cheered her on as she sent rude people away who would interrupt a reader choosing to enjoy a coffee in a cafe, I rallied to her cause as she got the better of a negligent mail carrier, and I snorted my way through the dynamics of apartment living between loud neighbors and chary maintenance staff.

It was a delightful and refreshing experience for me, the fiction reader, to get lost in the world of someone else’s reality that also happened to strike a chord on several levels. I invite others to share in the whimsy of this poor sufferer’s tales.

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: The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward

Posted April 6, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 22 Comments

Afternoon everyone! This feels a little late but better later than never right? I got Sophia Rose back again today on my blog and she will be reviewing the next book in  The Bourbon King’s series. I have to admit, her reviews have left me really curious about it. I haven’t read Ward before nor a lot of family sagas and phew, does this book have a lot going on or what?

Review:  The Angels’ Share by J.R. WardThe Angels' Share by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #2
Published by NAL on July 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 415
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:three-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.

#1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward delivers the second novel in her Bourbon Kings series—a sweeping saga of a Southern dynasty struggling to maintain a façade of privilege and prosperity, while secrets and indiscretions threaten its very foundation…   In Charlemont, Kentucky, the Bradford family is the crème de la crème of high society—just like their exclusive brand of bourbon. And their complicated lives and vast estate are run by a discrete staff who inevitably become embroiled in their affairs. This is especially true now, when the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder…   No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.   Everything has consequences; everybody has secrets. And few can be trusted. Then, at the very brink of the family’s demise, someone thought lost to them forever returns to the fold. Maxwell Bradford has come home. But is he a savior...or the worst of all the sinners?

In this sequel to The Bourbon Kings, the story continues for the Bradford family. The first book set the scene, introduced the characters, and dropped a few bombs of surprise that really made things interesting. Right at the end of book one, there was quite the big twist in the plot closing things out on a bang.

At this point, I will be unable to avoid series spoiler stuff from book one so stop here if you plan to catch the series.

Okay, so we had millions of the family fortune vanish then the culprit winds up dead. Money is still gone and this affects the surviving Bradford family members in different ways. This is a true drama and there are many narrative threads for the large cast of characters. The main threads focus on the three adult children involved in the family crisis. This is a fascinating blend of character and action plot with mystery, romance, and more going on.

I am still enjoying how many of the characters are so flawed and not very likeable yet somehow I still care about their story and I want them to make good. Lane is really stepping up in this one and seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulder. Gin- well she starts out still morally bankrupt and weak, but then she surprised me. Poor Edward. I can’t help pitying this guy. He’s the oldest and should be the one holding the reins of it all and married to his wonderful lady love, but instead he’s a broken unstable man who may or may not have committed murder. Though, gotta say, that if he did, I’m pretty sure that justice was served.

So, this was a transition book. It moves the Bradfords story from point B to point C. There are some surprises, reveals, and twists happening, but it is very much a middle piece and it is obvious there is a ton more to come. And like with The Bourbon Kings, I closed this book on an old Kentucky Bourbon Making family and wished there was more.

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: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

Posted March 28, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 19 Comments

Good morning everyone! I hope everyone is having a great day. Today I have Sophia Rose back on the blog with a review for The Bourbon Kings. I’m interested in her review, never read a Ward novel myself. Hope you guys enjoy it as well.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. WardThe Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Published by Signet on July 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:four-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.

The #1 "New York Times" bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal. . . . Upstairs on the sprawling estate of Easterly, the kings of the bourbon capital of the world the Bradford family appear to play by the rules of good fortune and taste. Downstairs, the staff works tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet. For Lizzie King, Easterly s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing she intended and their breakup proved her instincts right. Now, after two years, Tulane is coming home. And no one will be left unmarked. . . ."

A family saga centered in the heart of Kentucky Bourbon and Horse Racing country sounded fantastic. I had only read the author’s paranormal romance work so I was more than curious to see what she did with the story of those coming from wealth, privilege and old Southern tradition.

My curiosity was more than satisfied about a different genre. Hoo Boy, this book had it all. It’s everything I look for in a family saga and more. The entanglements, the relationships, and the intricate and colorful world all came together in this lush, striking beginning to a dark family tale.

The book took on an upstairs-downstairs feel since one of the main narrators, Lizzie King, is a groundsworker at the big Bradford (Baldwine since the wife was the Bradford) family mansion and another main narrator is the youngest son, Lane. The wealth of this family is measured in the billions and they live in a very different world than the average person. Paid staff behave much like servants of old and even though the story is modern, it had a historical class structure element.

The Bradford- Baldwines are definitely an entertaining group with their flaws, struggles, heartbreaks, and determination. They could be snobby and self-centered, but the author gave them just that right amount of likeability so I could root for them- the children that is. The patriarch- oh man, I hated that man with a purple passion. And that cold, domineering reptile who wants to marry Gin- ick is he a bad one. Oh and Lane’s estranged wife was a shallow, conniving gold digger that needed to make herself scarce, but the rest had some redeeming features that I enjoyed seeing the seeds of growth and promise- especially Lane. I can’t wait to watch Lane learn his strengths and come into his own as things progress.

The author did a fantastic job painting a picture of the world, the set up to the overall story, and all the characters. The complexity of plot and characters left me engaged, intrigued, and very eager to press on with the series. There is romance in this book, but I think I would recommend it more for those who are good with a larger style plot and cast of characters blending the romance with fiction and mystery.

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: A Nun Walks into a Bar by Piper Davenport

Posted March 21, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 26 Comments

Morning guys! Hope you grabbed your coffee, I know I have. This morning I have Sophia Rose back with another Guest Review – Today she will be reviewing a Romantic Suspense A Nun Walks into a Bar – I think the title alone has got me giggling. Check out her wonderful review below and don’t forget to leave her some love <3

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  A Nun Walks into a Bar by Piper DavenportA Nun Walks into a Bar by Piper Davenport
Published by Self-published on March 6th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 333
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:four-flames

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.

After growing up in an abbey, orphan Sadie Ross becomes Sister Abigail Eunice. Her life and career are on track until a chance meeting with a handsome stranger in a place no nun should ever go.

Ryder Carsen’s sister is missing, and he doesn’t have time for distractions. But when a pretty nun walks into his bar, he can’t ignore his attraction to her, even though she’s not the “sister” he’s looking for. He’s relieved when she walks out of his life for what he believes is forever.

Sadie’s life takes a surprising detour when she finds her path crossed with Ryder’s once again.

When they are brought back together, Ryder knows he’s found the only woman he’ll ever love, but time is running out for his sister.

Will Ryder save his sister from the men who took her?

The title… I was smiling and intrigued from the first time I spotted the title. And *snort* it’s the NUN-rated edition.

I’m already familiar with the author’s earlier Dogs of Fire MC series so I was curious about this spin-off story going on in the Dogs of Fire world. New readers can easily pick this one up without having read the older ongoing series without trouble since this pulls in new lead characters and a parallel story line.

I found this a light story with some heartwarming and thoughtful elements. The romance is the focus, but the suspense is a solid element to keep things interesting too. A woman who grew up with nuns and wanted to be a nun, but really wasn’t cut out for that vocation and a guy raised in a dark, gritty world come together. It was an intriguing situation.

Sadie was a mystery to me much of the time, I’ll admit. I had no idea why she got bent out of shape half the time’s she did or at least to the extent she did. She’s naive and vulnerable, but she’s also defensive and snarky. She needs a bit of help transitioning out into the world but sometimes she gets a chip on her shoulder and takes it wrong. She wants to be thought to have arrived before her train is barely leaving the station if that makes sense.

Ryder, now he wasn’t a mystery. He’s a steamroller once he gets going. He’s alpha to the core and has the need to be in control and keep those he cares about safe- bubble wrap probably isn’t out of the question. But, this need makes sense when his past and his sister’s issues come into play. Sadie was a good fit for him and kept him on his toes just like he had the patience and understanding not to see her as an oddball, but a person who just needs some time.

The suspense part seemed to be leading in one direction with Ryder’s missing sister, but then it became something huge and much more. Sadie finds out just how dark Ryder’s world was and has to figure out if she’ll stand with him or sit this one out.

I had a good time with this side story in the Dogs of Fire universe. I think lovers of that series as well as those who enjoy romantic suspense with a stronger dose of spicy romance should definitely snag this up.

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: A Taste of Ice by Hanna Martine

Posted March 11, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Hey guys, I have another lovely review for you today from our Guest Poster Sophia Rose. Sophia reviews A Taste of Ice a spicy paranormal and a second book in The Elementals series.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: A Taste of Ice by Hanna MartineA Taste of Ice (The Elementals, #2) by Hanna Martine
Series: The Elementals #2
Published by Berkley Sensation on December 31st 2012
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:four-flames

There is an untapped world of magic that any man would covet...
Five years ago, Xavier escaped from the Ofarian Plant. Today he calls a Colorado mountain town home. It’s there he buries himself in his work, swearing off magic and relationships—until a woman threatens every promise he’s made to himself.
Cat has always known she is different. Water speaks to her on an uncanny level, and she channels this gift into beautiful painted waterscapes. Now, a gallery is debuting her work in Colorado—and it’ll reveal far more about her than she imagined.
The spark between Cat and Xavier is enough to throw both of them off balance. Every tantalizing moment sends them dangerously close to a rising flood of desire. Dangerous because Xavier comes to suspect that Cat is an Ofarian—his people’s enemy. But they’re both about to discover a far greater, more malicious power at play...

This is one of those ‘why did I wait so long to pick this up and read it?’ moments. Because alien made magical and elemental humans playing up their intrigues amongst the ordinary unsuspecting folks, dark pasts and healing romance in the present is definitely my thing.

I accidentally grabbed book two, but we’re going to ignore that because I did alright. Though that said, I knew I was missing the root of this series and could sense a strong connection to the first book, Liquid Lies from A Taste of Ice.

I enjoyed this refreshing take on the paranormal romance genre as these are heavy hitting magic users who are capable and do some bad stuff and I like action plots paired with romance.

My interest was snagged from the starting line with the set-up of a nearly broken man hiding out in the human world from his past and who he really is just to survive and a bright emerging female artist who has always felt like she is missing part of herself while connecting strongly to water through her paintings.

The coming together of this pair would seem easy since they feel a strong attraction and don’t have some stupid screw-up to come between- no, Cat in particularly handles the landmines of a relationship with a guy like Xavier like a champ. It was an intriguing choice to make a sexual abuse survivor be the male and it was handled well. What ends up being the trouble is a deep and meaningful collection of issues that are valid problems that they try to work out even as crazy and bad stuff interferes. It was an interesting choice to include a third major narrator that is one of those grayish-to-black empathetic villain types.

The build of the plot both action and romance was steady and I enjoyed the anticipation for the big ending which was actually a series of big moments though some were predictable.

So, yes, I will definitely be reaching for the next installment in The Elementals series and heading back for book one. I loved the world building, action and romance plot blend and the attention to the characters. I would definitely recommend it to others who enjoy spicy paranormal romance involving X-Men style magic elementals.

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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