Category: Reviews

Guest Review: The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

Posted July 17, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 18 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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Audio Review: Death Around the Bend by TE Kinsey, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden

Posted July 5, 2017 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 24 Comments

Morning guys! Hope you grabbed your coffee because I got Sophia Rose on the blog today with another excellent review. Enjoy as she expresses her thoughts and feelings about Death Around the Bend, a cozy mystery. I personally thought it sounded so fun that I want to start this series myself <3

Audio Review: Death Around the Bend by TE Kinsey, Narrated by Elizabeth KnoweldenDeath Around the Bend by T E Kinsey
Series: Lady Hardcastle Mysteries #3
Published by Brilliance Audio on June 8th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 8 hours 36 min
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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.

When Lady Hardcastle and her maid, Florence, are invited to Lord Riddlethorpe’s country estate for a week of motor racing and parties, they both agree it sounds like a perfectly charming holiday. But when one of the drivers dies in a crash during the very first race, they discover that what seemed like an uncharacteristic error in judgement may have a more sinister explanation . . .
Closer investigation reveals that the driver’s car was sabotaged – and the driver murdered. The local constabulary are quick to dismiss the case, but Flo and Lady Hardcastle are determined to find out just who has committed this dastardly act, and why.
As the pair begin to make enquiries of Lord Riddlethorpe’s servants and guests, it seems that, below stairs and above, there is more to this case than meets the eye. And, even in the quiet of the countryside, death is always just around the bend.

Sparkling wit, upstairs/downstairs, motor racing, country house party, and a fantastic, unique female detecting pair to make Death Around the Bend a great listen.

This is my first encounter with the series though Death Around the Bend is book three. It can easily be read/listened to standalone or out of order. I had such a good time with it that I definitely plan to go back for the first pair.

Lady Hardcastle and her ladies’ maid, Flo are a sparkling pair and I loved following along as they found their way to the solution in the country house party murder mystery. Even though this is the third book, there is a great backstory for this pair who have been together through thick and thin. Both have surprising talents that make them good detectives.

The book follows the usual style of introducing everybody, a murder, and then the slow working through to the solution. It was not a dramatic piece, but it did have the exciting climax point with a good denouement. There is also an adorable mini-mystery plot involving a ticklish problem for one of their neighbors that bookends the other mystery. Oh, and a bit of romance in the air for another side story for a few minor characters.

It was set in Edwardian Era England. I thought the story caught the tone of those times and balanced well, staying present enough to be noticed, but also not overtaking the other elements of the plot.

The cast of characters surrounding Lady Hardcastle and Flo were a great lot. There were the below stairs serving staff and the upstairs house party of the Earl and his guests.

Now the mystery itself was clever. I worked out the who and how and somewhat why out once I had enough clues, but there were a few parts that I had to wait to get until the solution was revealed.

I really only had one niggle and it was a teeny tiny one. ‘What ho!’ was often used by Lady Hardcastle so that I cringed each time Lady Hardcastle spotted Flo. I suspect it’s her signature greeting.

The narrator, Elizabeth Knowelden, was new to me. She had a great plummy English accent for the upper class characters and her voices for all the levels in the servant’s hall was superbly done. She had a huge cast to read and they were all distinct and I could easily distinguish them. She added an extra layer of goodness to an already good book. I’m pretty sure that the series would lose a little shine if I didn’t experience the rest of it with her narration.

So, all in all, this was an abso-fab story and I will definitely be getting the rest of the series. Historical mystery/cozy mystery fans should definitely give this book/series a go.

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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3 Mini Book Reviews

Posted June 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

3 Mini Book ReviewsAt Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress #3
Published by Avon on January 1st 2009
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 342
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

Some things won't stay buried . . . at grave's end
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield and vampire lover Bones are caught by Patra, the wife of his sire Menchares, skilled in black magic and thousands of years old. Her name honors her mother Cleopatra. Patra unleashes a storm against their allies and families, ghouls and vampires. But Menchares still loves her.

I was in such a reading slump that I decided to pick up an oldie but a goodie. I missed Cat and Bones so much and this was a book I started two years ago and was finally able to finish it.

I am glad I picked it back up. I almost forgot how much I was enjoying this series when I first started it.

Cat and Bones are one of my favorite couple and they continue to prove why that is. I love their connection, and how they interact with each other.

At Grave’s End was such a fun read I had a hard time putting it down. Lot’s going on, lots of action, lots of excitement that had me hooked on the edge of my seat. If you have not given this series a try I strongly suggest it.

I adored the plot and how everything is starting to unfold and progress. I want to say there was some character growth, but I did find Cat to be on the immature side of the tracks even in book 3. I do also have to remember that Bones has been alive for a couple of hundred of years and has a lot more experience and growth under his belt.

Anyway, this book made me lose a lot of sleep, but I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

3 Mini Book ReviewsSeven Years by Dannika Dark
Series: Seven #1
Published by Dannika Dark on October 20th 2013
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 332
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:three-flames

Seven years ago, my world ended.Seven years later, my new life began.
It's been seven years since Lexi Knight lost her brother in a tragic accident. On the anniversary of his death, her brother's best friend shows up unexpectedly - a man she hasn't seen since the funeral. He is no longer the boy Lexi once knew, but a dangerous-looking man with tattoos and dark secrets. He broke her trust and abandoned her family, yet what he reveals makes it impossible to stay angry. Lexi has been secretly infatuated with Austin since childhood, so finding out he's a Shifter just makes him sexier. Dammit.
Austin Cole has returned to the city where he grew up, and just in time. He's lived a hard life these past seven years, and the shadows of his past are threatening to destroy Lexi's family. It's time that she learned the truth about her brother, but there is a shocking twist that Austin never saw coming. Now he must protect her family when her mother and sister wind up in mortal danger. Will Lexi learn to accept the truth about who he is, and can Austin salvage a relationship from the ruins of their past?
Destiny will find you.------------------------------------------------------------A romance series that will sweep you off your feet.
Cliffhanger-freeHEA

I picked this one up because I was on a paranormal kick and wanted something fun and exciting. Well, this was definitely fun, but I did find myself struggling with the book.

The first book in the series follows Austin and Lexi. Austin has been a family friend for a really long time until he disappeared shortly after Lexi’s brother’s death. He is now back in town and things getting awkward, especially since the Lexi’s mother still does not forgive him for walking away from them.

Lexi works at a candy store and has a hard time with her cheating ex boyfriend who keeps coming, back, on top of it all a lot of strange men are showing up in her life and can’t seem to keep their hands off her.

Okay, this was totally weird. The book was a giant wild ride but I found I didn’t always enjoy it. Why?

SO much stuff happens.. Like, a lot.. Like everything just keeps piling up that my head just never really stops spinning. Seriously the amount of stuff the woman went through in this book would have her in a straight jacket, but instead she is all like oh okay, well what’s next? Like no dealing with emotions at all.

Some stuff was also just so random. It felt like the author was trying to pack too many things into one book to keep it interesting.

Also… I have read werewolf books before, but recently authors started adding ‘heat’ into books and its just awkward cause now like EVERYONE wants to practically rape this girl and it was just..blah

The hardest part was buying into the romance since they felt like these two people never really wanted to be together. It almost felt forced.

3 Mini Book ReviewsLuck Is No Lady by Amy Sandas
Series: Fallen Ladies #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on April 5th 2016
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

"You should not have kissed me," she replied breathlessly."I do a lot of things I shouldn't. It does not mean I won't do them again."
Gently bred Emma Chadwick always assumed she'd live and die the daughter of a gentleman. But when her father's death reveals a world of staggering debt and dangerous moneylenders, she must risk her good name and put her talent for mathematics to use, taking a position as bookkeeper at London's most notorious gambling hell. Surrounded by vice and corruption on all sides, it is imperative no one discovers Emma's shameful secret or her reputation-and her life-will be ruined.
But Roderick Bentley, the hell's sinfully wealthy owner, awakens a hunger Emma cannot deny. Drawn deep into an underworld of high stakes gambling and reckless overindulgence, she soon discovers that in order to win the love of a ruthless scoundrel, she will have to play the game...and give in to the pleasure of falling from grace.

Another book I am super glad I picked up. I found myself absolutely adoring Luck is No Lady and chewing up the pages.

The story follows Emma a spinster who is looking out after two younger sisters after both of their parents had passed. Their father happened to leave them in a major debt and she is now being hounded by the mysterious loner who wants the money and is willing to go far to get it from them.

Emma meets Roderick Bentley a bastard son of an earl that society seems to have an issue with. Roderick is wealthy and own a gambling hell with questionable acts that might ensue behind closed doors. He is also the man hiding behind the curtain that she slips behind to get away from another lord and steals a kiss.

Since Emma needs money, she applies as a bookkeeper named Ms Adams at the gambling hell without knowing that Roderick is the owner, that he knows exactly who she is and what they share.

Sparks fly, the attraction is real and the romance is so swoon worthy I had a hard time putting this one down. I adored every minute of this and I loved Emma and Roderick. I could not help but root for them, especially after everything he himself has gone through.

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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: When to Engage an Earl by Sally MacKenzie

Posted June 7, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review:  When to Engage an Earl by Sally MacKenzieWhen to Engage an Earl by Sally MacKenzie
Series: Spinster House #3
Published by Kensington Publishing on May 30th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:two-half-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.

If love is a malady, the Spinster House ladies have caught it, one by one. Miss Jane Wilkinson couldn t be more delighted when her two best friends marry, creating a much-desired vacancy at the Spinster House. For the first time in her twenty-eight years, Jane can be free of her annoying older brother and enjoy complete solitude with the exception of the Spinster House cat, Poppy. If only Jane s unruly thoughts didn t keep drifting to handsome Alex, Earl of Evans, in the most un-spinster like ways Though jilted once, Alex has always intended to marry and raise a family. Now that his two closest friends have tied the knot, he is more determined than ever to find a wife. If only it wasn t the intriguing Miss Jane Wilkinson that his heart as well as the rest of him desired. Not only does she appear uninterested in marriage, it s clear she s the managing sort. And yet, despite Alex s fiercely independent spirit, the idea of being managed by her is quite appealing. Now if he can only convince her to give up her beloved Spinster House in favor of a far more pleasurable home in his arms Sally MacKenzie s novels are Naked, noble, and irresistible! Eloisa James Perfect. RT Book Reviews Great fun. Publishers Weekly Always a delight to read. Booklist, Starred Review"

This will be a quick review.

When to Engage an Earl is the third book in the Spinster House Series and this one follows Miss Jane Wilkinson and Alex, the Earl of Evans. Jane is a self proclaimed spinster. She has been eyeing the Spinster House for a really long time, but kept loosing the lottery so she deviously won the house by making sure the two women before her, fell in love and got married. Now Jane lives in the house alone with Poppy the cat and has no plans on getting married.

Alex is the Earl of Evans and he is looking for a wife because he needs an heir. Alex is a bit wary, especially since he was recently jilted at the altar by the woman he thought he loved. He knows Jane is out of the question as the woman is a proclaimed spinster who is uninterested in marriage and fiercely independent. Yet, Alex can’t seem to stop being drawn to her and often shows up with no reason in her town just to see her.
This was super cute and a quick read. The romance was easy, albeit a bit frustrating in the end there until Jane’s wants and needs get resolved. I enjoyed Alex and Jane together and the secondary characters had me chuckling. I especially love Alex’s mom and sister’s involvement in trying to get the two together. Their meddling at times has led to some interesting scenes between Jane and Alex.

This book was definitely on the lighter side and what kept me on reading. I enjoyed how the romances unfolded and I did adore the secondary characters. Jane and Alex were so easy to live and overall I found it to be a very solid read.

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Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Posted May 31, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review:  One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManusOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on May 30th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 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.

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Well guys, I official don’t know how to review this book. I set on it for a day now and I think this will end up just me spilling my thoughts out the best way possible, without spoilers.

The book is about five teens that end up in detention together. Abby, the popular girl. Bronwyn, the good, smart girl. Nate the bad boy. Copper, the jock, and Simon the social pariah. Nothing too original. They end up in detention after a teacher confiscates their phones for breaking his rules. So despite the fact that after they present evidence that the phones are not theirs and this looks like a setup, the teacher refuses to believe them. Right, that happens…

So an incident occurs and Simon, the social pariah ends up dead. So despite the fact that the teacher was also in the room, the police are convinced that it was murder and the foursome is lying.

Which leads me to the title, it’s very misleading. All four of them are lying and Simon was about to expose them for their lies, but he dies (also, not a spoiler it’s in the blurb)

The book is also the first point of view with a section dedicated to each teen. So sometimes, when your mind wanders, and mine did often, you kind of forget who you are now reading. Especially since none of the teens really stood out.

So despite the fact that the police have no evidence and it’s blatantly obvious that the group was set up. They continue to grip at straws and drag these teens through the mud.

Which brings me to my next gripe. The adults in this book, are painted as major idiots. I get it, okay, teenagers can clash with adults. But this time I have to say, wtf?
The police? Idiots. The Lawyers? Idiots. The media? Idiots. The parents? Yeah, you get it.

It is just so damn frustrating what the cops/detectives put these teens through and the part where they violate Coopers personal rights made me so angry. Because one, they didn’t even bother looking elsewhere, they were so focused on destroying these young peoples lives. Like does that happen? Because the clues really kind of lead you that someone else might be involved, but they don’t even bother. So obviously they are completely incompetent and it’s up to the four to find the real killer.

So you can guess…

The cops did not solve the mystery in this book.

I love that for the teens that do end up reading this. The authorities are painted so damn badly in this, that it’s not only scary it just does not instill any sort of confidence in them or respect. See, that really bothers me.

Also

I hated the ending. No. I did not fully see it coming and when things were explained I was actually taken back by it. Because one, I was really angry and annoyed about how far one of the people involved in this let it get and the fact that another character in this continued their relationship with this person.
Like that person should have never let it get this far.
Second, the ending has been just horrible.

Which leads me to another issue.

I do not like the way bullying was handled in this book. I kind of felt like everyone was a bully in this book. The teens, the classmates, the media, the cops, the parents. Ugh. The treatment has been just horrible.

I can see the appeal of this book, so maybe I am over analyzing it. But, I do have to get one thing out there to adult authors who are writing YA books.

Stops making EVERY single adult in YA Books and IDIOT. You are doing no one a favor here, including yourself.

And dear god, if you’re going to deal with a form of bullying in your book. Deal with it better, cause this gave me a headache.

But I get the appeal and why so many people loved it. To me though, I felt there were quiet a few issues I wasn’t comfortable with.

 

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Review: The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

Posted May 25, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 32 Comments

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 Kept Woman by Karin SlaughterThe Kept Woman: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
Series: Will Trent #8
Published by William Morrow on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
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.


Husbands and wives. Mothers and daughters. The past and the future.


Secrets bind them. And secrets can destroy them.

The author of Pretty Girls returns with an electrifying, emotionally complex thriller that plunges its fascinating protagonist into the darkest depths of a mystery that just might destroy him.
With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.
Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn't belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished . . . and who will die soon if she isn’t found.
Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city’s most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world’s most expensive lawyers—a man who’s already gotten away with rape, despite Will’s exhaustive efforts to put him away.
But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will’s troubled past to the case . . . and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends—and even the suspects he pursues.
Relentlessly suspenseful and furiously paced, peopled with conflicted, fallible characters who leap from the page, The Kept Woman is a seamless blend of twisty police procedural and ingenious psychological thriller -- a searing, unforgettable novel of love, loss, and redemption. 
 

Okay, I am kicking myself for not giving Karin Slaughter a try sooner. If you love Crime, Thriller or gritty Mystery and you have not read this author before, you really need to give her a try. This was my first book by Karin Slaughter, but it will not be my last.

The story follows a murder of an ex-cop at an abandoned construction site. A murder that might also be linked to a very wealthy, very powerful and politically connected athlete that has all the money in the world to protect him. A man that Will has already tried to put away due to a rape and has used that power to get away with.

But things are not always what they seem and the crew is about to step into something a lot more dangerous. When a ton of blood at the crime scene implicated Will’s “ex” wife, not only is this case a lot more personal, but a lot more is riding on it.

Wow.. Oh…Wow… I totally adored this. I loved the way the book started with a sneak peak into a scene that sets up the entire investigation. Just as Will, his boss Amanda and partner Faith start to uncover something – there is a brief pause as the author goes back and reveals what had actually transpired through Will wife Angie’s side of the story. It was so messy that it’s scary to think what people with enough money and power can get away with. Angie was a fixer, who got herself involved with the wrong group of people in order to save her daughter. I didn’t know how to feel about Angie, her character was seriously messed up. She had good intentions for sure, but her weird stalking of Sarah (Will’s new girlfriend) and possession of Will was a bit uncomfortable.

That being said, Slaughter is really good at making you feel uncomfortable. The book is definitely not for the faint of heart. The author is really good at the dark and gritty and messy murders. She has really amazing skill at unfolding the story and making the pieces fit together like a great big puzzle. I was left gaping by the end of the book because just as I was starting to think I knew what was going on, nope, she threw in a curve ball.

Her characters are amazing and so human. So flawed, but they feel super real and believable. The entire book was just enjoyable.

I did take a star off only because despite me loving the curve ball and the ending – I was a bit reserved on the plausibility of it.

Regardless, I am looking forward to more from this author and definitely revisiting her other books. Because her writing is great and just hooks you from the very first page.

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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: The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

Posted May 17, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi WaxmanThe Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction, Chick-Lit
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.
At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.
After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not…

I really needed something different and fun in my reading life, so when dear Heidi over at Rainy Day Ramblings personally recommended this book, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Guys, I cannot express how much I adored this book. It did exactly what I need it to do. It pulled me out of my reading slump and offered me a book with so much fun, laughter and a lot of heart.

Lilian Girvan is a widow. Her husband died a couple of years ago in a car collision right outside of their house and left Lilian with two little girls. Lilian had a hard time recovering from his death at first and actually had to be admitted to a hospital. Her sister Rachel provided a huge support network not only helping Lilian get past her husband’s death, but also in taking care of the kids.

Now Lilian is working as an illustrator and her company is hired to illustrate a gardening book. They only have one request. Lilian must take a gardening class. So after recruiting her sister and her daughters to join her in the class on weekends, Lilian’s world opens up to the great group of gardeners that might be just what the doctor ordered.

This book was fantastic. The writing was super great, super fun and I adored Waxman’s humor, it was just my kind of cup of tea. I was super surprised that this was her debut novel and also a bit disappointed because I so want more of the author’s writing. I cannot wait for her next book to come out, it is definitely going on my auto buy list.

This book is just great for the spring and summer alike. As a gardener myself. I adored the gardening aspect of the story. I also love the quirky gardening guides between the chapter breaks, they had me rolling with laughter.

All the characters were wonderful and endearing. I adored’ Lilian and her daughters. I love the interactions between Lilian and the characters – especially her two little girls. I also loved the strong sister bond between Lilian and Rachel. Really, I just loved everything about this book. The supporting extra characters in this book also just really added both heart and depth to this story.

The only thing that made this a little frustrating was the open ending. I kind of wanted to know a little more and not just where Lilian’s character was going, but also Rachel’s. I guess I could almost understand why the author wrapped it up the way she did, but I still found that I really did want that closure.

Overall, I am looking forward to more of Waxman’s writing. If you are looking to add to your summer book read, I highly recommend this one.

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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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