Icon Tag: Refreshing

Review: The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

Posted May 17, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 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: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

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

Review:  Sleeping Giants by Sylvain NeuvelSleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Published by Del Rey on April 26th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover, Audiobook, Kindle Edition
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

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

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.
Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.
But some can never stop searching for answers.
Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?
An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

I think this is one of those books I have a hard time reviewing. I got the book from the library, saw the format and went to look for an audiobook. Despite the fact that it took me a very long time to finish the audiobook, I was absolutely right in picking it up. The audiobook, was amazing. If you like audiobooks with multiple narratives and a story that listens and feels like an old radio show, this was fantastic for that. I thought the actors in this audiobook did a great job with it and I was never really bored.

The format of the book itself is done in interviews. The basis of the story is about a giant hand that get’s found by a little girl named Rose, who falls through the Earth and lands onto its palm. She then grows up and basically dedicates her entire life on this project trying to figure out where the hand came from and is put in charge of putting this thing together as they uncover more pieces around the world.
I thought this was so interesting. I know a lot of people have an issue with the fact that the book is done as an interview so they felt like the book lacked something. I personally had a lot of fun with this and I felt like I was listening to these people tell a real story of their experience and the actors did a great job with portraying emotions through it. It felt personal and kind of real.

The book has a lot going for it. It’s a science fiction, but it almost doesn’t read like it. A lot of this book focuses on finding this giant robot and the political effects of it, since the robot is found in places outside of the USA. So there’s government conspiracy, political power struggle, and the possibility of a giant alien robot and who might have made this and why is it being uncovered now.

I found it interesting, exciting, I liked the format, it was super easy to get into and it’s one of those science fiction books that does not deal with a lot of science fiction jargon I guess, so it wasn’t hard to follow. The characters because of the interview style really grew on me and for that I will be continuing the next book in audio format as well.

This is the first book I completed in audiobook, but I did follow along with a physical book as well a lot of times to keep my mind from drifting. Also, if I missed something it was just easier to reread it in the book. I don’t typically like audiobooks, but I found that I just really liked this one, especially with the multiple narratives.

 

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Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Posted March 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books on February 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
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.

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

Well guys, I finally did it. I finally read, A Darker Shade of Magic. It’s kind of embarrassing really. I had this book sitting on my shelf since 2015 and I have not picked it up due to the cover. It’s a terrible thing to judge a book by its cover, but this was one of those instances that I did. But, I was watching a ton of book wrap ups on youtube and this book kept appearing and it just had so many glowing reviews from booktubers, that I decided that I was going to go and give it a chance.

So this story follows Kell, who lives in Red London and is one of a very rare and dying breed of magic user (as far as he could tell). Kell can travel through doors into other Londons, or as he calls them, Gray, White and Red Londons. There is a mention of Black London, but due to its complicated history – no one travels there.

Kell likes to smuggle and collect objects from other Londons, so when he accidentally accepts a job and smuggles something he shouldn’t into Red London, he brings danger right into his back yard.

The story also follows Laila, a cross dressing girl who wants something more out of her life. She wants a ship and she wants an adventure. So when she stumbled into Kell and steals a black stone from him, she ends up attaching herself to him and the danger in hopes of finding something more to her purpose in life.

This book was actually pretty good. It was an interesting read. As far as fantasy books go this was was easy, cozy, page turning and not at all intimidating. If you are the type of person who wants to try fantasy, but find it a bit intimidating I feel like this book is for you. It really was just an easy read.

I liked Kell. I liked him even if he had that special factor to him, but he was just a really good character. He wasn’t perfect, which made me happy and his love for his brother – Rhys just go so deep, it’s fantastic.

I didn’t find myself as attached to it as I wanted to. I didn’t love it. I liked it well enough, but I didn’t love it. It was a good book for me to read, while reading some of the other things that I wasn’t necessarily into. I didn’t read it in one sitting, it did take me a couple of days to get through. I liked the fact that it mostly follows just two people, so your head isn’t swimming with too much information and the author gave us just enough for it to have great world building and great character building. The book was very creative, I really enjoyed the world a lot. There is obviously a lot more that we are still waiting to discover, but book one is solid, the writing was really good and I am looking forward to reading book two – hopefully soon.

I do totally recommend this book because I believe there are people that will love it and I do find it a must read if you like great writing, interesting characters and worlds.

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City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

Posted October 22, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

City of the Lost by Kelley ArmstrongCity of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Casey Duncan, #1
Published by Minotaur Books on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.
Diana has heard of a domestic violence support town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want; she's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding - in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.
An edgy, gripping crime novel from bestselling writer, Kelley Armstrong, City of the Lost boldly announces a major new player in the crime fiction world.

Guys, I am totally kicking myself for not picking up a Kelley Armstrong book sooner. I picked up City of the Lost on the whim, I read the blurb, it caught my attention and I really wanted a good thriller. I know a lot of you have given Armstrong a lot of praises, so I can’t say I haven’t been curious what the fuss is about. What I got in return, I couldn’t have asked for more, mixed in with some really amazing writing and I was completely sold.

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective that has killed a man when she was in college, and not just any man but a grandson of a local mobster. She knows that eventually her secrets will catch up to her, but that does not seem to stop her from tempting fate.

Now with Casey’s best friend is in trouble. Her violent and abusive ex is back in town and she just can’t seem to shake her. When Diana gets attacked in Casey’s apartment and Kurt get’s shot by one of the mobster men, Casey is forced to make them disappear. Leaving behind her job as well as her casual partner Kurt.

The blurb had me at the mention of a city where people go to disappear. I thought that sounded extremely interesting and I was wondering how Armstrong was going to manage that. Casey couldn’t believe that a place like that exists, but she is proven wrong when she arrives in Rockton with the help from the local Sheriff Eric Dalton.

Eric doesn’t want her there. He wasn’t completely buying her story about Diana since Casey has no proof from the hospital that Diana was abused. Plus, Casey herself has committed murder and he doesn’t want people like her in his town. But Eric needs a detective and Rockton’s council kind of bends his arm into taking Casey in – so he puts her on probation for six months.

Casey arrives in town just in time for another murder and secrets of the town and the wilderness keep me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

Wow… just wow.. I cannot express how much I loved this. It was so engrossing, it was so original and it was in it’s way creepy. There were secrets, there were settlers in the woods and people called hostiles. There was mention of cannibalism and an interesting mystery. Also, because Rockton is such a remote town in the middle of nowhere, we get to see the darker side of people when they don’t believe in consequences, something primal and scary that came from this. These people can suddenly be someone new, and leave the old selves behind letting the remoteness take over their beings. And since the ratio of men and women doesn’t match – there is also a bordello!

Okay, so I might have figured out who the killer is at around half way into the book. But, I was okay with that because there was just so much more going on. There is even a romance, but it’s kind of a subplot and doesn’t take over the entire book. Still, the romance was fantastic. I really loved Casey with the way she was around Dalton, she really bought something out in him. Dalton has an air of mystery on his own and it made me want to learn more about him.

I was confused about Diana and the way her character has changed so much, Armstrong also puts a strong spin on her story-line. I found that I didn’t like her character to begin with and by the end of the book, I hated her extremely.

One thing for sure, you cannot get attached to the people who live in Rockton. With the killer on the loose, you never know what will happen next and Kelley does not shy away from making sure that the reader gets the full experience.

When the big reveal happened, I wasn’t completely surprised I was just surprised by why and the confrontation was a bit odd to me and almost felt out of character. I forgave this because Armstrong still took us on a wild ride and since this is a series I am super giddy to see what happens next. I absolutely adored the setting, it played such a major part in this story.

I feel like I am going through a withdrawal, the worse part is the second book won’t be here till Febraury. Oh well, she has a ton of other books for me to explore that I think I will really enjoy. I am sorry the review was so long winded, but I was excited and had a lot to say. There is cursing, alcohol abuse and possibly sensitive subjects, so read at your own discretion.

Like thrillers? Like Armstrong? Did not read this one yet? What are you waiting for?

Memorable Quotes

He catches my expression, shakes his head, and says, “Ever heard of those amazing devices called DVDs?”

“Sure, but what do you play them on up here?”

“Tree stumps. If you carve them out just right and get ground squirrels to run around them really fast, you can project moving pictures on a wall.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

 

 

 

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Review: Cold Shadows by J.L. Bryan

Posted September 25, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  Cold Shadows by J.L. BryanCold Shadows by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #2
Published by Createspace on October 29th 2014
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 178
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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

Footsteps in the attic. Toys that play by themselves. A dark presence in an upstairs room. Paranormal investigator Ellie Jordan faces a difficult new case. Her new clients are a family haunted by multiple ghosts and a poltergeist that wrecks their home at night. Their seven-year-old son's invisible friends may not be imaginary at all, but the restless spirits of dead children. To clear her clients' house of the dangerous entities, Ellie must unravel the mysterious deaths of another family who lived in the old mansion more than a hundred and sixty years ago-and she must do it before the ghosts can carry out their malevolent designs on her clients and their children.

I cannot believe it took me nearly a year to finish Cold Shadows, but once I had the time to pick it up again, I found that I had a really hard time putting it down. It doesn’t help that I can only read this book dead in the middle of the night, because J.L. Bryan weaves a story so realistically creepy, it really brought a chill up my spine.

Stacy and Ellie are back at it again and this time the ghosts are far more dangerous and terrifying. Upon investigating their new clients house, they run into restless ghosts of dead children and malevolent entities that are out to harm the family living in the house. As Ellie and Stacy unravel the mystery behind the death of the family who once lived there, the haunting spirals into a very dangerous territory that leaves them running low on time.

Adored this book so much.. Bryan really knows how to tell a realistic ghost story with an interesting background that just hooks you from the start. It’s extremely engrossing and I for one have a hard time untangling myself into the real world. I love everything about the writing and the way the story and the characters progress.

Ellie is a great character, with a lot of heart. She really cares about her friends, but due to a very complicated past and her very dangerous job, she has a really hard time letting people in. She is also quirky, as well as Stacy which creates really fun banter between them that leaves a smile on my face. I love the connection between them, they feed off each other as friends so well and I believe Ellie really needs that in her life.

I cannot wait to see what Bryan has in store for these two. This has easily become one of my all time favorite series. Did I mention that I truly enjoy learning the history behind the haunting? I think it’s so fascinating and so well thought out and put together that it just delivers a really good ghost story. Bryan did not hold back with this one, the haunting was sinister, it was so creepy that any fan of ghost stories should really give this series a shot.

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