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Review: Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan by Jonathan W. Stokes

Posted November 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan by Jonathan W. StokesAddison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan by Jonathan W. Stokes
Series: Addison Cooke #2
Published by Philomel Books on November 14th 2017
Genres: Middle Grade
Pages: 464
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.

The Goonies meets Indiana Jones in Addison's second laugh-out-loud adventure! A journey through Asia in pursuit of the legendary tomb of Genghis Khan.
Fresh off of a victorious treasure hunt and rescue mission in South America, Addison Cooke just can't seem to steer clear of rogue bandits, pesky booby traps, and secret treasure troves. But it sure beats sitting around in school all day.
Addison's aunt and uncle, on the other hand, are none too happy about their habit of attracting kidnappers. When they become pawns in a dangerous gang's plan to steal the most prized possession of the notorious Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, Addison and his friends find themselves once again caught in the middle of a multi-million-dollar international heist. Armed with nothing but their wits and thirst for adventure, they travel across Asia in an attempt to rescue Addison's family and stop the treasure from falling into the wrong hands.
Brimming with round-the-clock action and tons of laughter, Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan is perfect for fans of Indiana Jones, ancient history, and James Patterson's Treasure Hunters series.
Praise for Addison Cooke
"Combines the derring-do of Indiana Jones with a genuine archaeological mystery. Stokes brings a cinematic scope to the story. This lively debut promises more seat-of-the-pants thrillsfor readers who love adventure."--Booklist
"Cinematic pacing and action drive the story, but it's Addison and his friends who will keep readers engaged. Humor is never in short supply . . . and Addison's endless optimism and irrepressible confidence in his own abilities are endearing."--School Library Journal
"Addison is often one step ahead of the adults, but his lead is constantly threatened, building steady tension throughout the novel, screenwriter Stokes's debut."--Publishers Weekly

Schools out, summer is in, and Addison and his group of friends are off to Asia!

Trouble seems to follow Addison no matter where he goes, fresh of a treasure hunt and rescue mission in South America – Addison finds himself in a whole new set of trouble out in China.

When Addison and Molly’s Aunt and Uncle get kidnapped in China by the mysterious Madame Feng, they must use their knowledge as survival skills in order to beat Madame Feng to what she really wants – the Golden Whip from the lost grave of Ghenghis Khan.

This was a really fun read. At over 400 pages, the pace was steady and exciting. Addison is a very interesting 13 year old boy, who is witty, but a bit quirky at times. He hates germs, he loves to read and seems to always have the knack of knowing how to get his friends out of trouble.

The story and the progression was kind of interesting for me, because I was always interested in Mongolia and Ghenghis Khan. I actually did not know that his tomb/grave was purposely done so not even the Mongols could find it. I had to google that bit myself and the author did mostly stick to the fact at the beginning of the book about the possible locations and how he was buried.

I thought that was fun because not only does it provide middle grade kids with a fascinating plot, fun characters, great adventure and a strong set of friendships, it also educates quiet a bit.

I did have to take my time time with the rating because I wasn’t sure about a few things. I did have to keep in mind that this was a middle grade adventure novel and a lot of it does seem a bit out there, but that’s okay, because to me, it allows the children to get caught up in the excitement and imagination. That part I am fully aware of and perfectly fine with, despite some scenes. I especially loved how the author took the fact that they are kids into consideration and during a lot of scenes he limited their capabilities of what they can or cannot do. I love how they think it would play out in their head and how it actually happens is completely different because at the end of the day, Addison and his friends are still children. That kind of line of thinking was awesome and I think something that can be related to.

I wasn’t sure how the kids would relate to Addison thought because for a 13 year old, he is witty, he can talk circles around you and get himself out of sticky situations. He is also the type of kid that will read The Art of War. But, despite being a sort of prodigy (?) Addison still uses tactics that are childlike and it just makes you giggle.

This was a great book. It was fast paced. There is action, adventure, a mystery and it is really, really well written you guys. I absolutely loved the writing, Stokes just does a wonderful job that it even makes it really enjoyable for an adult because I forgot at several places that this was a middle grade book.

My favorite character I would have to say is Dax’s (the adult in this book) copilot Mr.Jacobsen a goofy Great Dane.

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Guest Review: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery + Giveaway

Posted November 21, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 45 Comments

Good Morning Everyone! Hope you guys are having a great week so far. Sophia Rose is back on the blog today. She has a review of a classic and if you follow the instruction and rafflecopter below she also has a great giveaway for you! Enjoy!

Guest Review: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery + GiveawayAnne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Benjamin Lefebvre, J. Courtney Sullivan
Series: Anne of Green Gables #1
Published by Penguin Classics on March 1st 2018
Genres: Fiction, Childrens
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 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.

The beloved coming-of-age tale of a spunky heroine named Anne "with an E," now for the first time in Penguin Classics and packaged in a Deluxe edition. L. M. Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan mistakenly sent to a pair of siblings who intended to adopt a boy to help work on their farm in Prince Edward Island. Yet Anne's quirky personality and good-natured spirit causes the siblings to grow to love her anyway, and soon the entire town falls for the precocious little girl with bright red hair. Cherished by both children and adults, Anne of Green Gables is a celebration of fierce individualism, and the families we create, rather than the ones we are born into. This Deluxe edition is enhanced with a foreword by bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan, and an introduction and suggestions for further reading by Benjamin Lefebvre, as well as reviews and a selection of early writing by L. M. Montgomery about the process of writing Anne.

Decades later and I still count Anne of Green Gables as one of my favorite all-time books. As a young girl, it was likely one of the three most influential books I read. Over and over. I delighted in the later TV film adaption, but still gravitated to the sparkling, light-filled prose of the print copy on my shelf. I have carried around that copy over thousands of miles and years.

I was all agasp when I was offered the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition knowing that 2018 marks the 110 year anniversary of the book’s release and 75 years since the gifted author’s death. The book’s whimsical cover and end papers made me sigh with happiness to see and touch them. I’m a sucker for the rougher cut style cream colored pages. And it was fascinating reading the author biography, forward, introduction, and later the discussion of how Montgomery came to write in the author’s own words.

But the piece de resistance was the ageless story about a little red-headed orphan girl brought by mistake into the colorless, lonely lives of older siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, of P.E.I.’s Green Gables farm.

Matthew, much to his own surprise, was enjoying himself. Like most quiet folks he liked talkative people when they were willing to do the talking themselves and did not expect him to keep up his end of it.”

You’re not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it were a serious shortcoming. Anne sighed. I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?”

I’ve never been in the depths of despair, so I can’t say,” responded Marilla.

Weren’t you? Well, did you ever try to IMAGINE you were in the depths of despair?”

No, I didn’t.”

Then I don’t think you can understand what it’s like. It’s very uncomfortable a feeling indeed.”

Anne with an ‘e’ makes her odd and endearing way into the hearts of many including readers because of her sincere, honest, but many times disastrous ways. Bosom friend Diana. Long bitter school rival Gilbert (at least on Anne’s part, wink). Mentor in teacher, Miss Stacy. Nosey, managing neighbor, Rachel Lynde. And oh so many more connections in the little village of Avonlea and beyond.

“Gilbert told Charlie Sloan that you were the smartest girl in school, right in front of Josie.”

“He did?”

“He told Charlie being smart was better than being good looking.”

“I should have known he meant to insult me.”

Miss Barry was a kindred spirit after all,” Anne confided to Marilla, “You wouldn’t think so to look at her, but she is. . . Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

There are no flashes of swashbuckling danger or passion in this story, but there are universal themes of childhood, family, friendship, dreams, mistakes, and growing up from a child and adult perspective with which young and old, male or female can connect. The book still brings me to laugh, cry, and sigh throughout. I’ve been quoting Anne-isms now for years like ‘tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it’ or ‘I’m having a Jonah day’ or ‘bosom friends’ or ‘we’re kindred spirits’ or ‘I’m in the depths of dispair’. So many.

My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”

I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.”

Picking up this new edition with its classic tale was sheer joy. I meandered down to the Lake of Shining Waters and gasped at the beauty of the White Way of Delight, and sighed over the loveliness of October, and girlhood fancies and dreams. I was impacted by the uplift I got from reading of a more innocent time and place, but with real people going about their normal lives.

Whether you are a newbie or a long-time Anne lover, I can definitely recommend picking it up and losing yourself in the pages.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY

I have a treat today for US residents. Penguin Classics is offering up one print copy of the book to one of our US readers. Fill in the Rafflecopter for your opportunity to win.

  • U.S. residents 13 years of age or older (if you are underage have an adult enter on your behalf)
  • Must reply within 48 hours to collect your prize

Have you read or watched a film adaption of Anne of Green Gables? Do you have a favorite Anne-ism or favorite scene?

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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 Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Posted November 18, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv ConstantineThe Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
Series: standalone
Published by Harper on October 17th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

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

A mesmerizing debut psychological thriller full of delicious twists about a coolly manipulative woman who worms her way into the lives of a wealthy “golden couple” from Connecticut to achieve the privileged life she wants.
Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairytale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.
With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

A story that follows two points of views, of two very different women. First, we have Amber, a small town girl who grew up dirt poor and believes she deserves better. In fact, she believes that so much that she had set her eyes on Jackson Parrish, the husband of Daphne Parrish – who happens to be handsome and rich – the two portraying the perfect golden couple. The second woman, is Daphne, the perfect wife, the perfect mother. She is gorgeous and rich, and Amber wants her spot.

This was a really interesting story, a really quick paced read with some interesting characters. I hated Amber, but we were meant to hate her. She was so deceitful that at times I couldn’t help but have to put the book down from the anger. I felt bad for Daphne, who we later discover has enough on her plate without this snake wiggling into her life.

This book was a good read, well written, totally engrossing with fantastic character development and progression. It was exciting, as it was uncomfortable and believe me the second part of the book had some really cringe worthy scenes when Daphne unravels everything and keeps us on the edge of the seat.

Unfortunately for me, the book was super predictable down to the bone because this was exactly like The Wife Between Us, but on steroids. There was just so much that was super similar, it was kind of weird how similar the two books were? There is even an expression nervous Nellie, which was odd cause it’s not something you see often for it not to be a coincidence? And there were other similarities as far as the story went.

Umm, the difference was how it was told, how it unrevealed and the authors of this one really went farther about the dynamics between Jackson and his wife. Plus the whole Amber plot line was completely different. It was still really well done. I really enjoyed it, a lot, in fact, and why wouldn’t I, I absolutely loved the storyline.

But after reading this, I am a little confused how that happened.

Anyway, that aside. Great book, great characters. The main plot line was different, but the point where this was heading and some things that occurred, felt the same…

I still highly recommended it for fans of psychological thrillers and domestic thrillers, because I found this to be enjoyable, uncomfortable, but still well done.

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Review: Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Posted November 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: Best Day Ever by Kaira RoudaBest Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
Series: standalone
Published by Graydon House on September 19th 2017
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Pages: 342
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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.

I glance at my wife as she climbs into the passenger seat, and I am bursting with confidence. Today will be everything I’ve promised her…and more…
Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he's promised today will be the best day ever.
But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?
Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

Paul Strom is the perfect husband with the perfect life. He has a beautiful wife, two healthy boys, a dream career as an advertising executive, a big home and a vacation cottage. He brings home the money, he protects his family, he provides for them. Paul even planned a romantic getaway vacation to their Lakeside Cottage so he and his wife, who has recently been in poor health, can have the best day ever.

Paul has everything planned.

This book was a fast pace thrilling ride. Being in Paul’s head was hard, pulling me out of my comfort zone, made me cringe, but kept me on the edge of my seat.

Paul is a big narcissist who loves being in control and things always have to go his way.

This book was a fast pace thrilling ride. Being in Paul’s head was hard, pulling me out of my comfort zone, made me cringe, but kept me on the edge of my seat.

Paul is a big narcissist who loves being in control and things always have to go his way. As long as Paul stayed in control it was almost scary the way his thought process worked and how calmly he handled the entire day and what he had planned. To me it felt like the most chilling part of the book.

When Paul and his wife Mia hit the road, the tension starts to rise. I couldn’t seem to put this book down, the voice in the story kept me glued to the pages and devouring the book. It was fast paced, it was creepy, it was disturbing, but at the same time I needed to know how all of this was going to unfold.

It almost makes you feel a little dirty at times.

I do wish that things in the end wrapped up differently. I wasn’t a complete fan of the ending because of the way things played out. I thought Paul deserved a lot more than what he got, especially after everything that he did.

I had also wished we kind of got alternative chapter between Mia and Paul to give us some sort of a break from being inside of his head, but it wasn’t terribly needed. I think part of what made this book so interesting and uncomfortable was the fact that we got to witness how Paul’s thought process worked, the calmness until he wasn’t in control anymore, the calculative moves and motives, the ease he did everything with and holding no repercussions for his actions.

It was a page turner, and a plot well done. If you enjoy domestic thrillers, I definitely recommend giving this one a try.

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Review: Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Posted November 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  Night Road by Kristin HannahNight Road by Kristin Hannah
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 22nd 2011
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 385
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon

For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices. To hold on…To let go..To forget…To forgive…Which road will you take?
For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows--her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.
Jude does everything to keep her kids safe and on track for college. It has always been easy--until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.
On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.
NIGHT ROAD is vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, identity, love, and forgiveness. It is a luminous, heartbreaking novel that captures both the exquisite pain of loss and the stunning power of hope. This is Kristin Hannah at her very best, telling an unforgettable story about the longing for family, the resilience of the human heart, and the courage it takes to forgive the people we love.

Night Road follows a woman named Jude, who is a mother to two twins Zach and Mia and Lexi a former foster child with a dark past. Lexi quickly befriends Mia and the two become inseparable even when later, Zach and Lexi fall in love.

Jude is helicopter mother. She does everything she can to keep her twins safe and she makes sure that they are both on track for college.

One night when the twins attend a high school party right before their graduation, Zach – who is suppose to be the DD ends up being mad at his mother and drinking, the other two don’t fare much better. When it came down to going home, they had to make a decision between calling their mother, or driving the one mile towards home. Last time the twins got drunk and called for their mother to pick them up, Jude reacted poorly and punished them, despite the fact that they did the right thing.

Well the kids choose to drive and a terrible accident happens, and leaves one of them dead and the events that follow changes everyone’s lives.

This was my first Kristin Hannah book and I honestly have no idea how to feel.

I had a hard time putting it down, it was engrossing, the plot was super interesting, it was emotional. This is one of those books that really takes you for a ride. We get to know Mia, Zach and Lexi as they grow up for the first half of the book and then this terrible tragedy happens and it’s hard to bear, because we actually got to know the kids before this life changing moment. I got to see them as young kids heading towards a future and for some reason books like these can be way harder to read over books that start with the tragedy because of that attachment.

But the problem for me ended up being that after the tragedy that occurs, I found that the emotion that was most prominent was anger. I found myself angry for the rest of the book. Angry about how the scene at the hospital went, angry at Jude, because if she handled the night that the twins actually called her to get picked up better – than maybe the twins wouldn’t have gotten into the car drunk and instead had called their mother. Angry at the way Jude reacted towards Lexi when there was so many factors and people at fault for the accident. I felt like both Jude, Lexi, Zach and Mia were all at fault one way or another here, but the poor girl with the dark background is the one that gets the short end of the stick.

Lexi is unable to take what she had done and ends up pleading guilty and going to prison as MADD was already trying to make an example out of her and Jude had decided to press charges for Vehicular homicide.

But the problem for me ended up being that after the tragedy that occurs, I found that the emotion that was most prominent was anger. I found myself angry for the rest of the book. Angry about how the scene at the hospital went, angry at Jude, because if she handled the night that the twins actually called her to get picked up better – than maybe the twins wouldn’t have gotten into the car drunk and instead had called their mother. Angry at the way Jude reacted towards Lexi when there was so many factors and people at fault for the accident. I felt like both Jude, Lexi, Zach and Mia were all at fault one way or another here, but the poor girl with the dark background is the one that gets the short end of the stick.

Lexi is unable to take what she had done and ends up pleading guilty and going to prison as MADD was already trying to make an example out of her and Jude had decided to press charges for Vehicular homicide.

I was discussing it with my husband and he asked me, so what is it you don’t like about this book, the fact that it’s realistic? No that is not it, I do believe it is realistic. I think Jude’s reaction is realistic for a mother that lost her child, but at the same time, it felt overwhelming for me. I spend a lot of the book being angry, and the book was a bit on the long side, so I spent a lot of time just trying to get through it. It just felt so emotionally draining that at times I just had a hard time with the book.

It feels like one of those books where the author chooses one character who already has a short end of the stick and keeps throwing punches at that character through the book, to me that is just seriously exhausting. Thought the book was well written and the story was interesting and compelling, I felt like it was also a little too long and it just felt like a little too much? Maybe I would have felt differently if Lexi wasn’t the one who kept taking those punches?

I just had a hard time with Jude at the end, her anger blended with my anger, but I felt like it was all just so unfair. Plus, I did find that Zach’s lack of involvement not very realistic. That night was honestly in part his fault, now Lexi was taking responsibility and he couldn’t even stand up for the girl he loved? He was 18 years old, he should have had a voice.

Overall, I still don’t know how to feel. It’s well done, it really draws some sort of emotion out of you. It’s suppose to be a tearjerker, but at no point in the book did I found myself able to feel that way when it was overtaken by strong anger. I was sad for what happened, it was absolutely heartbreaking and I don’t even want to imagine how that sort of thing feels, I don’t even want to know. I do believe that Jude’s emotion and the lashing out is probably true to form, but she let her grief rule her for so long, that I was honestly surprised her husband continued to stay in that relationship. She also seemed to have forgotten that she still had Zach and he needed a mother, but for years, she couldn’t even do that despite that her whole life was centered on being a mother.

But, the book did its job. It caused a real and a raw emotion and I think it doesn’t matter that it wasn’t tears, the author was able to write a novel that I felt strongly about and I applaud her for it. The writing is emotionally driven, the storytelling was well done and I really enjoyed it. As a mother this kind of a thing is terrifying and it wasn’t an easy read, but it was well worth it.

Rating Report
Plot
4.5 Stars
Characters
3.5 Stars
Writing
4.5 Stars
Pacing
3.5 Stars
Cover
4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars

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Review: Sanctum by Madeleine Roux

Posted October 27, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review: Sanctum by Madeleine RouxSanctum by Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #2
Published by HarperCollins on August 26th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 343
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

In this haunting, fast-paced sequel to the New York Times bestselling photo-illustrated novel Asylum, three teens must unlock some long-buried secrets from the past before the past comes back to get them first. Featuring found photographs, many from real vintage carnivals, Sanctum is a mind-bending reading experience that blurs the lines between past and present, genius and insanity, perfect for fans of the smash hit Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they'd love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it's here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years.
Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of the surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the influence of the asylum runs deeper than Dan ever imagined.

Sanctum opens up shortly following the events of book one. Dan is having nightmare’s and he isn’t sure how to stop them. Getting away from the Asylum, he assumed that his problems would be fixed – but they are not. It doesn’t help that his friends Abby and Jordan seem to be ignoring him, and someone is sending them weird vintage carnival pictures. When a letter shows up from his ex-roommate’s mother, asking Dan to visit her son, all clues start to point for the trio to go back to New Hampshire College.

Guys, I am just adoring this series.  I think a large part of it is due to the fact that the book is mixed media, I love asylums and old creepy vintage carnivals and atmospheric books and this had all of it mixed into one. Once I picked this one up I had a hard time putting it down, I completely devoured it, and loved falling back into this series.

A large part of me wishes there were more books out there like this. I truly believe it adds to the reading experiences and the photos were creeptastic and perfect for this time of year.

Also, this entire book takes place close to Halloween time. So when Dan, Jordan and Abby go back to the college, there is a bunch of secrets that they are still trying to uncover. Including the fact that there seems to be a secret society that is linked to Daniel Crawford and the society seems to be after the trio.

This book isn’t without issues and I acknowledge that. I still feel like there is a bunch of holes that the author needs to fill and I hope everything wraps up in the final book. I don’t think everyone would love this book as much as I do. Because at times Dan and his friends have quiet a bit of drama going on, but they are pretty normal teenagers, so I can see how that would definitely play the part in the book, even if it is probably one of the few realistic parts of this book.

But, I still love it. It’s on an atmospheric side. It’s great for Halloween or fall. It’s creepy, and I am totally hooked. Plus there is a creepy carnival – I’m sold. Also, ghosts, yes?

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Review: The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Posted October 24, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review:  The Awakening by Kelley ArmstrongThe Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Darkest Powers #2
Published by HarperCollins on March 23rd 2010
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 360
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

You don't have to be alive to be awakened.
Chloe Saunders is a living science experiment—not only can she see ghosts, but she was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. She's a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control, which means she can raise the dead without even trying. Now Chloe's running for her life with three of her supernatural friends—a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch—and they have to find someone who can help them before the Edison Group catches them.
Or die trying.

The Awakening is the second book in the Darkest Power series and it follows directly in the aftermath of book one.

This review will contain spoilers from book one, so turn back now if you are not interested.

Chloe and Rachelle are captured after fleeing the Lyle House by the Edison Group – a group that seems to be responsible for what they are. After learning some unsettling facts about herself, Chloe and Tori break out and regroup with Derek and Simon to escape the Edison Group and find Andrew – their father’s friend.

Meanwhile, the Edison Group is hot on their heels and are refusing to give up.

This was another interesting reading. I am just completely addicted to Armstrong’s writing. I think she weaves and tells a story well and there is just something about the way she crafts her story and characters that makes it impossible for me to put down. I flew through the book and now sitting here awaiting book three to arrive in my mailbox.

The characters are slowly starting to grow and develop more. I like the long way Tori came from book one, but I also like the fact that she isn’t perfect and is still very Tori.

I adore the relationship between Derek and Chloe and how of all the characters they seem to click and understand each other the most. That being said, it does disappoint me a little that there is this weird triangle going on between Chloe, Derek, and Simon – one that I do not seem to understand. Chloe and Simon don’t have a connection at all and are barely together in the book. The relationship between Chloe and Derek is well fleshed out, so I am worried going into the last book to see where exactly this is going.

The ending of the book was intense and kept me on the edge of the seat but it did end a little abruptly and left me wanting to know what happens next.

Overall, this was another great read. Everyone’s powers are still developing so it’s kind of interesting to see how these kids are not perfect and don’t have much control  and are still working on figuring themselves out as they try to survive.

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Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

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

Review:  Asylum by Madeleine RouxAsylum by Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #1
Published by HarperTeen on August 20th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
Pages: 317
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.
As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Asylum follows a sixteen year old boy named Dan Crawford, who is somewhat an outcast in his high school and doesn’t really have any friends. When he arrives at New Hampshire College for Prep, it is more than just a summer program to him, it is everything. He meets a girl named Abby who is an artist and a boy named Jordan who is extremely smart and loves math. It isn’t long into their stay when Dan discovers that the building in the summer program is stationed is an old Asylum, one that was used as the last resort for the criminally insane. Soon the trio is found sneaking away and looking into the dark secrets of their temporary summer home, but soon find more than they bargained for.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I love mixed media type of books, so the fact that the author incorporated pictures into it made me so giddy with excitement. It was wonderful enough that I felt like the book itself was atmospheric, but the pictures added to it, just bought everything together for me and it was everything I could ever ask for.

Does this book have creepy? Oh yes it does. I loved following Dan and his group of friends as they dug deep into the underbelly of what had transpired at the Asylum when it was open and all its dark and creepy secrets. Secrets that might be linked to them. They also start having these creepy dreams and there is a bit of a drama with the group because they don’t seem to want to admit that the Asylum is effecting them. Then they find there is a killer on the loose and someone is trying to contact Dan, and they are trying to link the killer and what had happened in the past, because the two might be connected.

Despite the fact that this book takes place during summer. This is a perfect read for this time of years because of its creepy atmosphere and the dark mystery.

So why not a higher rating if I enjoyed it so much? There was a lot of build up, this book had me flipping through the pages and before long I devoured it. I didn’t rate it higher because of the ending. I feel like things escalated so much but the ending was quiet a bit quick and the resolution left me wanting more. I soon discovered that the ending sets up book two wonderfully though, despite the fact that I felt it all wrapped up a bit too quickly.

Overall I am loving this series so much that if you are looking for something interesting to try this Halloween that also has creepy pictures to guide your curiosity, I definitely recommend giving this book a shot.

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2 Quick Book Reviews

Posted October 6, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

2 Quick Book ReviewsDeath by Eggnog by Alex Erickson
Series: Bookstore Cafe Mystery #5
Published by Kensington Publishing on September 26th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

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

Krissy Hancock is staying in her adopted hometown of Pine Hills, Ohio, for Christmas this year--and she even has a whole week off from her combination bookstore-cafe. But a killer is about to dampen her spirits . . . Unfortunately, Krissy's been roped into filling in for a sick elf in the local holiday musical extravaganza. With a demanding director, backstage gossip, and two men in fierce competition for the starring role, it isn't all sweetness and Christmas lights. Then a murder puts a stop to the production, and Krissy is faced with a pageant of suspects. Could her ex-boyfriend, a fellow elf, really be the culprit as the police are claiming? Or will the actor playing Santa be trading his red suit for an orange jumpsuit? When her behind-the-scenes investigation starts getting dangerous, the only thing Krissy really wants is to make it to Christmas dinner alive. But first she'll have to finish wrapping up this case . . .

After her father cancels their Christmas plans, Krissy Hancocks finds herself staying home for the holidays. Already taken time off from work, one of the towns people ropes her into helping with a Christmas play. Everything seems to be going fine until the very crude Santa is found dead in his dressing room and the person suspected of murder is no other than Krissy’s ex-boyfriend who now wants Krissy to clear his name.

I enjoyed this for the most part, I thought it was interesting and it seems like a great read for Christmas with a small town setting and a group of people who really love the holidays.

This would have been a 4 star read, but I took half a star off because of who done it in the end. I thought it came out of no where and the reason was just like, blah, really? It felt a bit disappointing.

2 Quick Book ReviewsSugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #7
Published by Harlequin Books on September 26th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

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

An unlikely attraction brings comfort, joy and unforgettable romance this holiday season!
Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's.
Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…

If you are looking for some holiday reading this Christmas season, look no further. RaeAnne Thayne is an amazing author to pick up when you are looking for a cozy, heartwarming romances. Yes, they are predictable as far as romance goes, but her books are very character driven.

Julia Winston was a lovely librarian character with a big heart that took in two boys in need and gave them a temporary home, even if she knew it would eventually break her heart.

Jamie had quite a lot of heartbreak in his life when it came to women and family, but watching his affection grow for Julia was so heartwarming.

Wonderful characters, sweet romance, and heartwarming writing that just keeps me coming back for more.

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Review: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Posted October 4, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review:  The Stolen Marriage by Diane ChamberlainThe Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 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.

From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel
In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.
The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.
When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?

The story

Tess DeMello was going to have the perfect life. She was going to marry the love of her life and get a nursing degree. Everything was going great, until Vincent took on volunteer work for a couple of months away from Tess and her entire world falls apart.
Unable to stop herself from feeling sad about her future husband’s long absence and a niggling feeling that he might be seeing someone else – Gina takes Tess to Washington, where a drink too many leads Tess into sleeping with a mysterious stranger and falling pregnant.

Unable to forgive herself and not knowing what to do, Tess breaks off her engagement and moves elsewhere in hopes of starting her life all over again. When the father of the child decides to do right by her and she marries the mysterious stranger and moves to his hometown of Hickory, North Caroline where she learns the struggle of racial tension and hardships imposed on the town by World War II.

Thoughts

Woah, just Woah you guys. I started this book last night, read it till the wee hours of the morning and when I woke up I had this book on my mind and had to finish it. I just finished it and still reeling from the emotional storyline.

I was so angry with Tess at first and her mistakes because it started out badly and what looked like unforgivable, but ended up mounting until the character started growing from her mistakes into this strong-willed woman that has seen and been through so much hardship and heartbreak in such a short amount of time.

This book dealt with a lot. It dealt with Tess and her loveless marriage, leaving a cloud of mystery hanging over the entire book by making you wonder what is going on the entire time. Just as I thought I had it figured out the author takes this in a completely different direction I was not expecting.

Chamberlain also weaves so much history and everything that people have gone through during this time period with racial tension, laws, World War II, Polio, the building of the Polio hospital and all the sickness and heartbreak. It just added such a punch to the entire book and made it so riveting and hard to put down.

I spent half the book feeling like Tess deserved what she got when she made the stupid choice of leaving the love of her life and the second half respecting her and everything she went through.

I loved that Tess kept pushing and defying the customs and her husband and mother-in-law with the respect that came to her nursing license. I like that she took charge of that part of her life in order to make herself happy again.

The author throws us into the action right away with the opening of the book and the book sits in two parts. The events leading to the accident and the events following the accident. You see a lot of character growth as the story goes on and it just completely blew my mind.

I was sad, I was teary, I was enthralled in the story and the characters writing. It was so well written, the storytelling was remarkable and I was so drawn and flipping through the pages that I actually had a hard time saying goodbye to these characters.

The pacing was perfect, I never felt like there was a dull moment. The author kept me glued to the pages wanting to know what was happening, what was going to happen to these characters. I loved how she incorporated this time period into these characters lives and made them feel really genuine and human, that at times I forgot that they are fictional.

If you enjoy Historical fiction, absolutely wonderful writing, an emotionally gripping story, raw characters, I strongly recommend you read this because, I just cannot express how much I loved this book and everything about it.

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