Category: Guest Post

Guest Review: Paris For One and Other Stories by JoJoMoyes

Posted January 7, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 18 Comments

Happy 2018 Everyone! I know it’s a couple of days too late, but it’s been a long month in general. But, now that the holidays are over lets try and get back into the swing of things shall we? Today we are kicking off with Sophia Rose and her review of JoJo Moyes new book, enjoy!

Guest Review: Paris For One and Other Stories by JoJoMoyesParis for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
Series: standalone
Published by Penguin Books on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

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

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You and After You, Paris for One and Other Stories is an irresistibly romantic collection filled with humor and heart.
"A vicarious jolt of Parisian romance. . . Delightful." -People Magazine
"An old-fashioned, feel-good love story. . . It's as if Moyes has booked a vacation and is taking us along. To Paris. Amour!" -USA Today "Dreamy escapism, a book you can curl up with and easily finish over a weekend, with or without a glass of wine." -Miami Herald
Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She's never even been on a romantic weekend away--to anywhere--before. Traveling abroad isn't really her thing. But when Nell's boyfriend fails to show up for their mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone--including herself--wrong. Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? Funny, charming, and irresistible, Paris for One is quintessential Jojo Moyes--as are the other stories that round out the collection.
From the Hardcover edition.

This was my first encounter with JoJoMoyes writing and I have to confess that I was somewhat reluctant after reading all the angsty and teary-eyed reviews of Me Before You. I’m a chicken about really heartwrenching stories so I held back. But then I spotted this short story collection and thought it might be safe enough.

Well, I made a good call I think, but not because Paris For One was devoid of angst. No, this was a fantastic collection that gave me an idea of the writing gift the author displays, her talent for going deep in an economy of pages, and gave me so many lovely story gems all in one volume. I might just be brave (read greedy for more, there) enough to pick up more of her books.

So… Paris For One and Other Stories.

There were nine stories total including Paris For One which is a novella and the others as short stories. Each showed a different facet of love and life all from each heroine’s perspective only: a young woman ditched by her boyfriend to do Paris alone, rekindling the romance for a middle-aged couple, a new chance at the road not taken (aka former lover vs husband), a woman finding her mojo when she finds some killer shoes, shop girl flirts with robber during hold up, finding contentment in a material world, an infidelity accusation backfires, a two-week pretend life for a bored woman, and a woman who sees her life clearly while on a hunt to fulfill her Christmas list.

They were all good in their own ways and I could see the appeal hitting me differently if I read these in different moods because they hit all facets of women’s lives and feelings. I enjoyed the most, Paris For One as a girl who never took a step without making a list learns to take chances now and then and finds her confidence, but also thought Hold Up was a hoot, Crocodile Shoes made me root hard for the heroine and Last Year’s Coat resonated with me the most, I think, because this woman struggled hard with every day issues.

And, I think that was the appeal of each story. All these gals were every day women that I recognized in myself or others I know. They were familiar, but yet they had new experiences. This book brought out my emotions, but also left me musing afterward.

All in all, I was well satisfied with this collection of shorts and definitely want to try her novel-length books. These are definitely for those who enjoy women’s fiction and chic lit.

My thanks to Penguin-Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange of an honest opinion.

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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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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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: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

Posted November 8, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Just a quick note today to let you know that Sophia Rose will be on the blog today with her lovely new review <33

Review:  Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa MeyerFairest by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published by Scholastic on January 27th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Mirror, mirror on the wall,Who is the fairest of them all?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Sometimes the villains are more fascinating than the heroes. Queen Levana has been the boogie-woman in the dark with nearly ultimate power since the beginning of The Lunar Chronicles series and she has not been afraid to wield the power to get what she wants. I was all on board for this book that takes a dip into her dark and shadowy past to see what came before and get a glimpse inside the mind of such a calculating woman.

Fairest falls between Cress and Winter in the series. I think it was a good place for the series to stop and pull over for this chronological prequel that makes sense to read it after learning the circumstances in the current situation and getting who all the players are before going back to see how it was all set in motion and then going on to get the last chapter in the story. I do not recommend reading it at the opening of the series because there is a feeling that though further back in time, that the reader has a good grasp on the world building. Plus, it’s a series spoiler in ways if read first.

So, Fairest, Queen Levana’s story and a loose retelling of the Wicked Queen and stepmother of the Snow White tale. It begins when Levana is fifteen, her parents have just died, and her sister is taking the throne. It stays with Levana as the narrator through the whole story.

I felt a certain sympathy for her. She never really stood a chance between a lack of nurture and her own nature. The story focuses on her quest to have something she can’t understand or truly grasp- love, being loved, having a feeling of belonging and family, but she snatches for it anyway. She both breaks the beauty of what she had and discovers that it was an illusion all along because she wants two very different things constantly and those things are at cross purposes and can’t exist at the same time the way she wants them.

It’s a sad story, but the author did a fine job painting Levana as she is under her glamour. I had the joy of seeing how things in the series were set in motion and the significance of the players and their roles. This is a great lead in to the final book, Winter, especially now that I know better the heroine Winter’s backstory from this book.

This won’t be for everyone and it is cleverly written so a reader can choose to read it or skip it. Worth reading it though.

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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Guest Review: This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber

Posted October 28, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 10 Comments

Morning everyone! Sophia Rose is back on the blog today with a guest review and she has an interesting one for you. A historical mystery set in England of 1919. That sound fun already. Read on to see what Sophia Rose thought of the book.

Guest Review: This Side of Murder by Anna Lee HuberThis Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber
Series: Verity Kent #1
Published by Kensington Publishing on September 26th 2017
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 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.

The Great War is over, but in this captivating new series from award-winning author Anna Lee Huber, one young widow discovers the real intrigue has only just begun . . .
An Unpardonable Sin?

England, 1919. Verity Kent’s grief over the loss of her husband pierces anew when she receives a cryptic letter, suggesting her beloved Sidney may have committed treason before his untimely death. Determined to dull her pain with revelry, Verity’s first impulse is to dismiss the derogatory claim. But the mystery sender knows too much—including the fact that during the war, Verity worked for the Secret Service, something not even Sidney knew.
Lured to Umbersea Island to attend the engagement party of one of Sidney’s fellow officers, Verity mingles among the men her husband once fought beside, and discovers dark secrets—along with a murder clearly meant to conceal them. Relying on little more than a coded letter, the help of a dashing stranger, and her own sharp instincts, Verity is forced down a path she never imagined—and comes face to face with the shattering possibility that her husband may not have been the man she thought he was. It’s a truth that could set her free—or draw her ever deeper into his deception . . .

I first noticed this author’s regency era mysteries and they seemed good. Then I noticed that she was starting a whole new series of historical mysteries and they were to be set post WWI with a clever former Secret Service heroine. Immediately, I chose to go with the shiny new series though after reading, This Side of Murder, I do very much need to go back for the older, Lady Darby series, too.

The book was an engaging blend of history and mystery with a whiff of romance. The heroine, Verity Kent, is a war widow who is living on the edge as a way to push back the shadows of grief. This island house party hosted by a friend of her dead husband is not one she would have attended save for the cryptic letter accusing Sidney of treason. Nothing feels right about the party from the atmosphere to the other guests to the hosts themselves and then someone dies…

I was bowled over by this author’s gift for time, setting, and atmosphere. I had no trouble believing this story was from the ’20s or that the characters had all been touched by the horror of war in their own ways. Verity was a character gem and I enjoyed exploring her world and watching her backstory and personality develop as things progressed. She wants to move on with her life after Sidney and the war, but she can’t seem to let go. And now there is Max who seems to awaken feelings in her even while he is also a suspect in the current situation and so cannot be trusted entirely.

The mystery was complex. It was a current murder mystery that was strongly connected to a secret past incident that ties all the house party guests together and makes them suspects. Just when I thought I had a grip on the answer there was this huge twist at the end that showed me I only had a partial answer.

All in all, I was thrilled with my first encounter with the author and her new lady sleuth. I will definitely be exploring further mysteries with Verity and also want to go back for the Lady Darby ones as well. Historical mystery fans should definitely give this a try.

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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Audio Review: Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich Lorelei King (narrator)

Posted September 12, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 20 Comments

Good morning/afternoon! Hope you guys are having a good day. Can you believe its Sept 12 already? Wow. Tomorrow is my nieces birthday and I am super excited because we get to see her for her birthday on Sunday. As we live 4-5 hours away, we only get to spend a little precious time together. Today I have Sophia Rose on the blog and she delivers us an audio book review of Janet Evanovich interesting new series. Like Sophia, I’ve been meaning to try her books for a really long time as well. I think I am just good at collecting books over reading them. Regardless, enjoy her lovely review!

Audio Review:  Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich Lorelei King (narrator)Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich, Lorelei King
Published by Random House Audio Publishing Group on June 20th 2017
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 6 hours 44 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 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.

The irrepressibly charming duo of Emerson Knight and Riley Moon returns in another gripping mystery by #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.
Buddhist monk Wayan Bagus lost his island of solitude and wants to get it back. The island was about two hundred miles northeast of Samoa. It had a mountain, beaches, a rain forest, and a volcano. And now it’s gone. Poof! Vanished without a trace.
Brilliant and boyishly charming Emerson Knight likes nothing better than solving an unsolvable, improbable mystery. And finding a missing island is better than Christmas morning in the Knight household. When clues lead to a dark and sinister secret that is being guarded by the National Park Service, Emerson will need to assemble a crack team for help. Since a crack team isn’t available, he enlists Riley Moon and his cousin Vernon. Riley Moon has a Harvard business degree and can shoot the eyes out of a grasshopper at fifty feet, but she can’t figure out how to escape the vortex of Emerson Knight’s odd life. Vernon has been Emerson’s loyal and enthusiastic partner in crime since childhood. He now lives in an RV behind Emerson’s house.
Together, this ragtag, mismatched trio will embark on a worldwide investigation that will expose a conspiracy one hundred years in the making.

For years, I’ve been meaning to try a Janet Evanovich book. I thought it would be her acclaimed Stephanie Plum series, but then this one which was only two books in, caught my eye and, yes, I confess, it was because I adore Lorelei King as a narrator.

I was a little concerned that I was picking up the second book in a series, but shrugged it off. Dangerous Minds ended up doing just fine out of order and would work as a standalone.

The book opens with a startling arrival to wealthy Emerson Knight’s estate. His former mentor, a soft-voiced Buddhist monk states that his island home disappeared. Of course, it was funny, but also set the ball in motion for eccentric Emerson, redoubtable Riley, along with Emerson’s hilarious horn-dog cousin Vernon, and the monk, Wayan, to head out on their latest adventure.

Throughout the book, I found myself bursting out with laughs, mostly at Vernon’s juvenile humor, but nearly as often at Emerson. Evanovich knows how to write brilliant, quirky and engaging characters.

The setting for this latest case is America’s Nat’l Parks that contain volcanic action. I loved this, particularly, since I just spent a bit this past summer camping at a Nat’l Park and exploring its volcanic region and I’ve been to Yellowstone, twice, where lots of the story took place.

This is a lighter suspense story with the bad guys evident from the beginning, but the mystery of what they are hiding in the national parks being the unknown element. There are a few ‘ew’ moments when things get gritty, but for the most part, the intrepid gang of heroes manage to keep life and limb intact while cheesing it up.

There is a very slow-build romance element between Emerson and Riley, but the situation they are in causes this to stop and start its way along. They are a fun pair of opposites.

Lorelei King told a saucy adventure well and I loved that though there are many more male voices than female, she nailed it. Great match for the tone and pace of the book.

So, my first outing with a Janet Evanovich book was a rousing good success and I will definitely want more Knight & Moon adventures. I think the cozy mystery and light romantic suspense lovers would be a good fit for this book/series.

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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Guest Review: Devil’s Cut by JR Ward

Posted August 25, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 16 Comments

Hi guys!! Is summer going fast or what? I missed this place but I’ve got good news, I am not gone, I am coming back and despite the fact that I have not had time to blog – I have been reading. Oh and to start off this with a bang I have Sophia back from her summer vacation with another lovely review. Make sure to leave this girl some love <3

Guest Review: Devil’s Cut by JR WardDevil's Cut by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #3
Published by Ballantine Books on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
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.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward s thrilling finale of the Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch and a shocking arrest. At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing. Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing. As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing s for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

And now, we come down to it. The final pages of this addicting family saga romance about the wealthy and tumultuous, fast living Baldwines of Western Kentucky where horseracing and bourbon is king. Each book has drawn me into the world, the characters, and of course the tension-laden plot. Devil’s Cut delivered on all the early promise of The Bourbon Kings’ series.

Devil’s Cut is the third and final leg in the trilogy and follows the ongoing storyline began earlier in the series so it is not standalone or good out of order.

As I noted in the opening, this ongoing story follows the Baldwine-Bradford family and those close to them. There are multiple narrators and a few different plot paths that keep the readers on their toes without being utterly confusing. The pace of the story has picked up because of the plot points.

There are so many curious and captivating moving parts to the plot, but with a veteran move, the author controls the reins and ties each thread up neatly by the end. Relationships, character growth, and a few secrets along with the big murder mystery all resolve in what I thought was a satisfying way.

All in all, I loved my time with this series and all, but devoured this last book in a day. I enjoyed all the emotions I felt including being surprised over some twists and sad over a loss. I can highly recommend this book/trilogy for those who enjoy a blend of contemporary romance, family saga and 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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Guest Review: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

Posted July 17, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 20 Comments

Good Morning guys! I hope you all are doing well and enjoying your July. I myself cannot believe how fast this summer is flying. Before you know it, we are going to be in the fall and than the year will come to a close. I miss you guys. It’s been super busy around here but I have managed to keep on reading, so I have a bunch of books to review for you and hopefully be back in full swing soon. Until than, the lovely Sophia has another review for you. Enjoy her take on how she felt about book twelve in the Pink Carnation series. I’ve been eyeing this series what feels like forever, it sounds like a great read with interesting characters.

Guest Review: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren WilligThe Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig
Series: Pink Carnation #12
Published by NAL on August 4th 2015
Genres: Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 528
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 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.

In the final Pink Carnation novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, Napoleon has occupied Lisbon, and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, teams up with a rogue agent to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal.  Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.   All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.   It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.
READERS GUIDE INCLUDED

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for espionage stories particularly from the past so the Pink Carnation series has been right up my alley. The Lure of the Moonflower is the twelfth and final book of the series and brings things full circle with a mission for the Pink Carnation herself.

For those not in the know, this series is told split story- present story framing a past story. In the present, Eloise and Collin have their adventures as Eloise lives at the old Selwick country estate to do research for her grad dissertation on the enigmatic shadowy lady spy of the past during the wars with France, The Pink Carnation. And in the past, the stories follow the missions of the members in the Pink Carnation’s league of spies. There is suspense and romance to be had- heavier on the romance much of the time.

The missions can get quite twisty so that sometimes it comes down to the end before secrets are revealed. These are exciting stories, but don’t slip into gritty thriller territory. I confess that the split stories don’t hold my attention equally. I enjoy Eloise, Collin and their families, but I get more engaged with the stories in the past. That said, with this last one, I found both stories engaging and I loved how this last story ended up. And I really hope a few of those possible future threads get addressed.

What I enjoyed about this one was not the actual spy mission itself- Jane, the Pink Carnation, recruiting a dubious Jack to help remove the queen of Portugal from French hands. No, I enjoyed the interplay between stiff, prejudiced, and know it all Jane against a man of equal intellect who is not what she thought he was. The Pink Carnation never errs and never is taken by surprise, but from the outset, she thinks she knows all about him and lets these preconceived notions guide her into making mistakes.

I was so afraid that there would be an imbalance and that the hero would never live up to who was needed to pair with Jane because she is such a strong and highly skilled agent and woman, but that was not the case. Jack was a brilliant complex character- strong enough to stand beside Jane and let her do her thing, but also have her respect because he was strong in his own right. Their chemistry was smoldering at first as they battled wits and figured out how best to get along, but then it was sizzling. Loved how their relationship was brought along.

Incidentally, my paper copy came with some extras at the back- historical notes, author q&a, extended and deleted scenes, and reader discussions.

So this was a great end to the series, but I do hope there are a few more to come someday. These will be for those who can appreciate a split story, gentle suspense that is more focused on romance and character parts of the plot.

 

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: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Posted June 11, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 27 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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