Category: Reviews

3 Mini Book Reviews

Posted June 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 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 / 26 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Sophia Rose

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

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Review: 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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Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Posted May 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Warning: This is unpopular opinion review post. It is okay for you to love this book as it is okay for me to hate it. If you feel like this review might offend you, you don’t have to read it. If you want to know why I gave this book the rating I did and can handle it, you can read the review below.

Review:  The Upside of Unrequited by Becky AlbertalliThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Series: standalone
Published by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen on April 11th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 1.5 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.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is.
Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.
Right?

Okay, now that we got that out of the way on to the review.

I’m putting it out there. I never read Simon. I do know it’s a beloved book for many, many people. I didn’t read Albertalli because of the hype. I read the book because I had an eARC and okay, maybe I was curious what the fuss is about.

This book is about Molly a self-proclaimed “fat girl”, her 27 unrequited crushes, a stupid “love-triangle” and Molly’s fixation about being the only person on the planet left without a boyfriend.

This was suppose to be a cute, fluffy, contemporary, feel good romances and I never felt cute or fluffy reading this.

The amount of body issues in this book, was overwhelming. The sister hate in this book, was overwhelming. The need to validate who you are through relationships, was overwhelming.

Maybe in Cassie’s world, you can do that and have it end in making out. But I’n not sure it works that way for fat girls. I don’t know I just like to be careful about this stuff.

Really, I could just let the quotes speak for themselves here.

Because if Mina thinks Olivia’s body is noticeably curvy, I’d like to know what she thinks about mine. No. Actually, I would not like to know.

She is letting her weight rule her, her need for a relationship rule her. To the point where she needs it to validate who she is as a person and feel better about herself, more confident.

She had twenty six? Twenty seven? Unrequited crushes? But Molly is 17 now, it’s summer, she has a job and somehow ends up with possibility of two different boys suddenly being an option. One is a skinny hipster named Will (aren’t hipsters in their 20’s, 30’s?) the other is a “husky” geeky co-worker named Reid. These people, where the most generic characters ever. Cause apparently, when you see geek, Reid had to be a total package. It’s like she looked up what geeks liked and combined it all together, Tolkien, Game of Thrones, World of Warcraft, Ran-Fair. I was like, cue some serious eye roll.

Guess who Molly ends up with?

Can we just mention a quick fact that Reid is just there? And has like no freaking character development whatsoever? Especially when he plays such a major role in this book.

The book felt stale, forced, boring, and it went nowhere. The entire time it was Molly whines about her weight and being the only person who doesn’t have a boyfriend. Am I repetition that? Well, that’s okay because the book itself, was super repetitive.

If it is a glance about me, I will die. We are amused by the sad chubby girl who is clearly enchanted by our hipster beauty.

And like there was so much diversity in this book (again, felt generic. It’s like, oh what will make people praise this book.) I did not understand how can everyone be so accepting about the sex in this book, but not the person’s weight? Like her grandma was so rude and downright mean about it and then she goes to a party, where apparently another kid mentions her weight.

This book put me in the dark place. It made me feel shitty about my own body. Like when Mina says that Reid is not the kind of person you have sex with, but a type of person you marry. Like … what… the ef? Did I connect with the book? Somewhat, I guess. Not in a good way. It brought back really shitty memories. I don’t think I’m fat. I might be a little overweight. But what is considered fat these days? Because by media standard anyone above size 1.

And then this happens

Here’s what I would never, ever admit out loud: a part of me always thought it was some kind of a secret compliment when someone got called a slut. It meant you were having sex. Which meant people wanted to have sex with you. Being a slut just meant you were normal.

Really, like what did I just read? Are you kidding me?

These kids didn’t read like 17 year old’s. I felt like they were 15 based on their behavior alone so when Molly’s age got mentioned I was a little baffled. Dude, you are not mature enough to have sex. Get your stuff straight first.

Why was having a relationship ruling her life so much? Like it felt like Molly had no personality in this book. I get she is crafty and likes pinterest. But what are her aspirations? Like, why is having a boyfriend in high school so damn important? Like it’s a small blip in your life and most relationships don’t last past that when you go your separate ways to colleges and discover yourself as an adult.

Why did this book focus on her body issues? I was surprised that the author works with teenagers and has a degree in psychology. Because if she was writing a book to make it feel like they can relate in a good way, she should have stuck with maybe avoiding body issues and body shaming in her book? It felt overwhelming and did she even realize that it can trigger some bad memories for these teens?

I myself spoke to teenagers about body issues in books and although some would love the MC to be curvy, they don’t like being constantly reminded how others treat them because of it, and the dark thoughts they might have because of that.They would much rather the focus was on the personality of the individual and let that rule who they are. I found I can relate to that way of thinking. I don’t like being reminded of this kind of crap in books. I read them to escape that’s why it’s called FICTION. This book just made me feel so shitty about myself.

Also, the sister relationship between Cassie and Molly was horrible. Cassie was so god damn horrible to Molly it just wasn’t even funny. Even in the end, the nastiness was unnecessary. But like, things smoothed out just because Molly finally had a boyfriend.

Oh, and get this.

Molly feels better about herself when she get’s a boyfriend. All the sudden, she sees herself as a beautiful girl.

So… You need a boyfriend to feel better about your body? Really?

UGH

This review

Is choppy and it sucks, but I just…

I did not understand the love this book received. I guess I felt like, if the author’s first book is a hit that she can do no wrong.

Also, the description of images and WHAT’S WITH ALL THE CAPS at the time was just blatantly annoying. Also, Molly’s raging anger towards Olivia was making my head spin. Also, I never felt there was enough positive about body image to combat all the negative.

I will never recommend this book to teenagers , especially those already suffering from body issues.

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Review: Lethal Lies by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted May 8, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 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: Lethal Lies by Rebecca ZanettiLethal Lies by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Blood Brothers #2
Published by Forever on May 16th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 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.

New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti brings us the second book in a thrilling romantic suspense series.
A deadly secret can't stay buried forever . . .
Revenge. It's the only thing that will help Anya Best sleep at night. The serial killer who murdered her sister is on the loose, and Anya will stop at nothing to put him behind bars-even use herself as bait to lure him out of hiding. But she can't do this alone.
Private investigator Heath Jones's job is to bring bastards to justice. This time it's personal. He knew the Copper Killer's latest victim so when her sister asks for his help, he's all in. But when Anya uses the media to taunt the killer, she exposes Heath's identity, putting them both in jeopardy. Now, secrets buried long ago are coming to light and the forces determined to destroy him are watching Heath's every move, waiting to exact their own revenge. And they'll use anything and anyone to get to Heath.
With twists and turns that will take your breath away, LETHAL LIES is sexy, action-packed suspense at its very best from New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti.

3 Reasons why I did not like Lethal Lies

1. Anya – I never go into a book to hate it. I read Zanetti before and really enjoyed her other series. I could not stand Anya. I downright hated her. I just could not stand her character. There is a serial killer on the loose and apparently killing red heads and somehow it’s connected to Anya and he is doing it because of her.
When Anya meets Heath for the first time, she is being shot at. So after almost getting killed because of him. What does she do? She makes it publicly known that she is engaged to him so the serial killer comes after her out of jealousy. She does all of this at her sister’s funeral.
Ah two things here. 1. She didn’t know the man enough to make that kind of judgment. 2. She met him and almost died, thanks to him. 3. It’s her sister’s funeral and the girl keeps thinking about getting into his pants.
Lot’s of poor life choices there Anya.
I found her reckless, desperate and lacking direction. She gets Heath involved in this serial killer thing, puts him out there without even knowing the man and then thinks she can take control of the situation. She didn’t even really feel like she had a solid plan going into this.

2. The Romance – I had a problem with it. Because 1. It felt to insta-love for me and 2. It probably should have never happened.
The way they met and the set up, I just felt like it was really stupid of her. Like I said, she didn’t know the guy, she almost got killed because of the guy, and it was frustrating.
It didn’t help that Heath’s temper should have really made her run for the hills.
When her ex boyfriend stalks her to the place they were going. Heath literally beats him to an inch of his life due to blind rage. This guy, despite being stupid, did not stand a chance against Heath and his super genetics.
So Anya just stands there, watches as Heath beats the living life out of her ex who is a professor and probably never lifted a fist in this life and after, she just tells Heath she understands.
Like it’s not worth it, and to top it off Heath got away with it and Anya was like oh wow.. But okay, I understand. Really? Come on, Really?

3. The plot – soooo slow.It felt like it was never going to end. It just felt stale at times. It didn’t help that I did not like the main character or the relationship. I think it just made it worse. It took me almost a month to finish this book. I was just 5 days short of a month. I kept thinking maybe it’s just my mood? So I put it down and pick it up a week to a few days later and still nope.
So finally I just had 20% left and battled through it. It kind of hurt to do it. But I did it, and now I can move on.

I also felt that with everything that happened with the FBI and all the stuff they did, they probably got off a bit too easy in the end. I guess it just really did not click with me.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel. I found that I really liked Denver. But the end of the book has me worried that it’s going to be another case of reckless female that puts everyone including herself in danger. Still, thinking about reading his story.

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