Icon Tag: Top Read

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: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review:  Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 391
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

If you guys are looking for a fun summer young adult read, look no further because Alex, Approximately might just be the right book for you.

It follows a girl named Bailey who is a completely classics movie buff. She meets a boy nicknamed ‘Alex’ online on a movie forum and they share a lot of things in common. Alex wants her to travel to California because they are going to have this big movie festival during summer and there is a movie he wants her to see, plus because they click so much, he wants to meet her. When her mother’s relationship ends up on the rocks with her current husband, Bailey feels like she has had enough drama and moves to California to live with her dad.

It just happens that Alex, also lives in the same city as her dad.

Bailey get’s cold feet and never tells ‘Alex’ that she is in town in hopes of scoping out the boy first, in case he is a creepy old man, and with her past she has every right to be careful.

Unfortunately the search for Alex hits home a lot closer than she thinks.

Can I just say I absolutely loved and adored this book. As far as romances go, this is like one of my top five favorites of this year so far. I had so much fun with this, with Bailey and Porter. I adored them.

When the two first meet at work, it’s a bit rocky. Porter comes off like an ass and Bailey does not want to cower in front of him.

In fact, right from the start he really pisses her off. The two end up arguing a lot, but when they don’t fight, sparks fly and magic happens. It turns out, Porter actually really likes her.

I just loved this I really did. I needed something light after reading a dark book and this helped a lot. Lately I’ve also been enjoying Young Adult Contemporary because I haven’t read a lot of them. Plus, it helps with the Adult Romance rot I am currently feeling.

Bailey and Porter were great together. Not only did I love their relationship. I enjoyed the positive family relationships as well as friendships that developed in this book.

I absolutely adored how everything unfolded and that Porter is actually Alex and how the two clicked offline, without actually knowing who the two really are. (This is not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb y’all)

There wasn’t much that I disliked about this book except for the part where Bailey felt a bit thick when it came to the big reveal. Porter kind of put the two and two together first and his reaction made me a bit grumpy, but I just couldn’t understand how Bailey did not see the missing puzzle piece when everything was sitting in front of her. Honestly, she should have put the two together a lot more quickly.

Also, the Davy storyline in this was a little rough and a bit weirdly unnecessary.

Overall, this was a great read – currently top 5 romance favorites this year. It was well written, with a wonderful storyline, great characters, positive relationships with friends, family and between Bailey and Porter.

I loved Porter, I really did. He really made the story for me.

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Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Posted April 3, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review: Dark Matter by Blake CrouchDark Matter by Blake Crouch
Series: standalone
Published by Crown on July 26th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 342
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

I can’t believe it took me this long to pick this book up. I actually bought this for my dad about a month ago and after he finished, he told me “Lily, you got to read this.” I was a bit busy, had a lot on my plate, and did not get a chance to. I went to the library and behold, they had a copy available and I snatched it up.

Guys! I could NOT, put this book down. It was…Wow.

What is so great about this? Uh… Everything. It’s a science fiction, but it doesn’t completely read like one. I admit, there had been parts that made my head swim a little, but who cares? Crouch is a fabulous writer. The man knows how to suck you in from the very first page and it just never really lets you go. I lost sleep because of this, for reals. But who needs sleep, right?

This book never had a dull moment for me, I was eating up the pages eager for the end, wanting to know how it all turns out. Quite the roller coaster ride.

Don’t ask me to explain what this is about, I might literally explode. Read the blurb, that is the gist of it, the rest you pretty much have to experience on your own.

This book grabbed me from page one and never really let me go. My eyes are burning me, I am tired, but I am so glad I got to finish this. Crouch is really such a great storyteller.

Does most of this book make sense? No, it’s a science fiction. But, it’s interesting, it’s different, it’s compelling and it’s the first book in over a month that has me so damn giddy. I wasn’t coming into this willing it to make sense. I just wanted fun, excitement, something different.

Different it was. I LOVED the concept, the idea of multiverse. How our lives branch out. How there is a possibility of like everything that we could do in a critical moment in our life. The characters were just so raw, so real, the main character especially. I couldn’t help but feel the connection, I felt his love, pain, his loss and the need to come back home.

It was just so good. Crouch to me is a master in storytelling, he succeeded in everything for me. I felt it. I enjoyed it.

I took away half a star because in the end, I felt the ending to be a little weak. A LITTLE BIT. After everything, I felt like maybe it could have used a few more pages. But I get it. The characters were tired.

It is a bit open ended, it is. BUT, but, you guys in this case, given the structure of the book – it does not annoy me. It felt almost perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It totally made sense following the events, so, go read it if you have not yet. The science fiction part of it is light, but it’s science fiction, don’t go into it thinking it has to make sense, just be open and enjoy every moment.

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Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Posted February 21, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 35 Comments

Review:  P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Series: Standalone
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 330
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

Signed, sealed, delivered…
While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!
Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

I really wanted another book that would engross me and force me to pull an all-nighter and I got just that with P.S. I Like You. West was a new to me author, but I have heard some really amazing things from blogger friends about her, so I wasn’t afraid to throw myself fully into the book from the start.

What I got was an adorable, fluffy, heart fluttering, young adult novel about two very unlikely teens who become pen pals through shared interest and the boredom and chemistry class.

It was super sweet. Lily was so awkward and her humor amused me throughout the book. I found her to be someone I could relate to from my days in high school.(and not just with that fact that she has my name ya’ll) When Lily writes the lyrics of her favorite song, in pencil, on her chemistry desk she never expected for someone to reply to her. Nor did she expect to start exchanging letters with this anonymous teen. I enjoyed reading the exchange and how to letters started about music and eventually, with words, the two hit much more meaningful subjects that hit close to home and expose different layers of themselves. I loved that they could use words on paper to express a different part of each other, especially since Lily feels like she is more awkward in person.

I don’t think it was meant to be a secret as to who the boy that she was writing to be. Even though Lily isn’t aware of who her pen pal is for a while, the readers catch up on what is happening fairly quickly. What we do witness is how writing, interesting and music peals away layers and builds a strong relationship at a deeper level.

This entire book had such a positive vibe to it. I loved that even though Lily has a big family that drive her crazy at times, that they provide such a great support network. I adored that the parents were so awesome and not evil like some Young adult books paint them to be. There was no absent parent, no tantrum over not understanding, just positive, healthy relationship that tugged on my heart strings. Lily’s relationship with her friend was also a joy to read, because I loved how it prevailed in the end and how close to two girls really are.

The one thing I did not understand was the need for the mean girl stereotype. I get it, they do exist, but I felt like West could have gone away with maybe a little less of it. It bothered me that she kept getting away with it, meanwhile in one scene Lily get’s in trouble for the other girls actions

I loved this book and its characters so much I found myself saying aww a lot, it has been just so stinking cute, I never wanted it to end. I also really wished we got the other POV. I would have loved the boy’s side of the story as well. I felt like he revealed a lot of layers of himself to Lily and it kind of made me want to know more about him. I don’t feel like we got that from just witnessing Lily’s POV. The story would have been even more compelling.

Overall, this book totally rocked my world and I am glad I picked it up. It was exactly what I was looking for and the storyline was fun and excited. I adored the dialogue and the characters and thankful for the humor thrown in

 

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Review: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Posted January 29, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 29 Comments

Review:  On Second Thought by Kristan HigginsOn Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Series: Standalone
Published by HQN Books on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit
Pages: 480
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 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.

Following in the footsteps of her critically acclaimed novel
If You Only Knew
, multi-bestselling author Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together 
Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband. 
Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one. 
Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

It’s been a really long time since I have read a Higgins book, but when this was brought to my attention, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

On Second Thought was a book that not only surprised me, but blew my expectations out of the water. To date, I think this is the best book Higgins has ever written.

The story is told from the POV of two sisters, Kate and Ainsley. Kate is the older half sister from their father’s first and current marriage, and she is also a 39-year old widow. For twenty years Kate never thought she would have a chance to marry with her bad luck and a string of bad relationships, she gave up hope – until Nathan came over into her life.

I became Nathan’s wife. One hundred and two days later, I became his widow.

Nathan was sweet, talented, came from a wealthy family and wanted to have children. They dated for a few months before quickly getting married and not too soon after their marriage, Nathan dies, leaving Kate to pick up the pieces.

Ainsley is the younger half sister, who comes from a woman that the girl’s father was actually in love with. Kate’s mother took her in, and for the longest time Ainsley felt a little alienated. She was in a relationship with Eric for 11-years, up until after he recovered from his cancer, watched Nathan die at their life party and decided to cut ties with Ainsley with a very ugly public blog post to top of the hurt.

This book was everything, it had everything. I had my reservations at first, Nathan dies getting a glass of wine for Kate and it is mentioned several times as the guilt sits heavy on her chest. At first I was a little worried that this was going to be a very to shame anyone who drinks wine, but as the story went on, it was proven otherwise and I relaxed a little.
The story pulled on my heartstrings, squeezed my heart, broke my heart and cemented it back together with love and warmth.

It was frustrating, shocking, sad, heartbreaking, but at the same time it was wonderful, full of love and just downright realistic. There were moments that made me really feel for the two women, but Higgins hands the entire situation not only with wit and charm, but with humor cleverly woven in.

The story was about death, grief, moving on after, love, heartbreak, and family all the good, the bad and the ugly. I loved how the heartbreak and the events in both of the sister’s lives bought them together and formed a stronger bond. I liked learning  about their family, and how Candy (Kate’s mother, Ainsley’s step-mother) felt about having another woman’s child trusted upon her. For a long time, I didn’t know how to feel about her, but Candy redeemed herself tenfold by the end of the book.

Kate’s story was rough. I couldn’t even begin to understand how she felt being widowed so fast, but I also had to take into the account that Kate didn’t even know her husband for a year, so the experience must have felt different to other widows who knew them for years.

I loved the romance, especially between Ainsley and her boss Jonathan. When Jonathan appeared more and more in the story, he won me over quickly. He isn’t your typical love interest, which was so refreshing. He is awkward, he doesn’t wear his feelings on his sleeve, his interaction with Ainsley is amusing. She calls him Captain Flatline for a reason, he is hard to read and she often compares him to an alien. But I loved that, I loved that Jonathan wasn’t like the rest of the alpha males in the books, it made him so much more endearing and memorable.

Daniel the hot Fire Fighter was also an awesome addition to the book, and I loved the way he treated Kate and pulled her out of her funk.

The entire story was just great, but I think I already mentioned it. It was well over 400 pages and I was sad that it was over, I will definitely miss Jonathan. I liked both of the sister’s voice and their sarcastic witty humor, I never found a dull moment.

If you want to give Higgin’s a try, I strongly recommend this book.

“Are you crying?”

“Oh…I just…I’m a little, uh premenstrual.” Shit.

He gave me a long, unblinking look. Strange pale blue eyes, like an alien. “Will that be a problem during this interview?” he asked.

“Let’s hope not. But those first two days can be murder.” I smiled. He did not. I felt my uterus shriveling, as if his disapproving gaze was bringing on menopause.

Finally, he blinked. “I’m Jonathan Kent. This way.”

Inside the grocery store, it was as cold as a morgue. Poor choice of words.

I couldn’t remember what I’d come for, Vegetables? Why not? Whole Foods did have the prettiest produce in the entire world, even if it did cost a million trillion dollars.

I was dying to know what my stick-up-the-colon boss did in his spare time. Taxidermy seemed about right.

I pulled into Kate’s driveway, once again doing the walk of shame (though damn proud of it), went into the kitchen and screamed

A very large man was there.

“Hey,” he said. “How’s it going?”

“Who are you and why are you wearing my sister’s shirt?” I yelped..

He smiled. I smiled. The cat smiled.

He had a cat!

“You have a cat!” I said. Maybe shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine. Too late now.

I could seriously go on with snips and quotes forever. Go read the book!

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Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Posted October 1, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 43 Comments

Review: The Hating Game by Sally ThorneThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Series: Stand-alone
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars
Heat:three-flames

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.2) A person’s undoing3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Oh my god! This book is so good, so good you guys. I picked the book up on the whim when the bloggers that I trust and follow, sang such high praises for it. I knew I had to try it out, and although it started out a little slow for me at first, after 20% I was completely in love.

Anyone who has ever loved romance should give this one a try. Sally Thorne absolutely nails it with her humor and talented story telling. The writing was hysterical, smart, emotionally charged, filled with snarky banter and sexual tension.

Lucy and Josh are both assistants to two CEO’s of two book companies that had merged, Bexley and Gamin. Josh is a Bexley through and through, he is well dressed, he appears well calculated and the staff is scared of him. Lucy is a Gamin, and is quite a bit of a dork – which was one of her redeeming qualities as the book went on. She collects Smurfs, she is from a family who owns a strawberry farm, she is nice and also a bit easy to push around. They share an almost antagonistic relationship that had me laughing through the book.

I will be honest, I didn’t like Lucy as much as I wanted to, but maybe it was because I felt a little protective of Josh – especially when his intentions and feelings were starting to become a bit clearer. I was a little worried that Lucy might be a bit mentally challenged, because I didn’t understand how she kept failing so helplessly at picking these said signals up. I really, really wish Thorne had implanted Josh’s point of view in this book, I think it would have been an A+.

Or as Lucy would have put it;

“I want to know what’s going on in your brain. I want to juice your head like a lemon.”

Her dorky personality did redeem her character for me later on, because it was something I could relate to. But the number of times she wouldn’t stop talking about Josh’s body felt at times over the top.

I loved Josh. I wanted to know what was his story. Josh came off a bit damaged, which was clear by the way he handled himself around Lucy – he didn’t know how to. The moments that Josh did expose himself were sweet, raw and left me with a lot of feeling.

Nor did I understand or fully believe the issue between Josh and his dad and how Lucy handled it, but that’s just a small gripe.

I can’t describe the amount of love I felt for this book, it was nearly perfect. It is now my top favorite read of 2016. I loved the banter, I loved the tension, I loved the hate to love romance. I literally went two days with only a few hours of sleep because I couldn’t stop reading this late into the night. I didn’t want it to end, even if the ending was sweet and near perfect. I am feeling like I am not going through a book withdrawal. This was Thorne’s debut novel and she blew it out of the water and earned herself another loyal fan! I already cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next, even if I am going to miss Josh oh so much.

If you love romance, I highly recommend you read this book if you have not yet. It is worth it. Just take the plunge and let it surprise you, because this book is big must read.

Memorable Quotes

But Clark Kent is such a darling; all bumbling and soft. Joshua is hardly the mild-mannered reporter. He’s a sarcastic, cynical, Bizarro Clark Kent, terrorizing everyone in the newsroom and pissing off poor little Lois Lane until she screams into her pillow at night.

“What are you imagining? Your expression is filthy.”

“Strangling you. Bare hands.” I can barely get the words out. I am huskier than a phone-sex operator after a double shift.

“I love strawberries. So much, you have no idea.” He sounds so kind that I feel a wave of emotion. I can’t open my eyes. He’ll see I have tears in them.

“My evil brain is thinking about grabbing some dinner soon.”

“Mine is thinking about strangling you.”

“I’m thinking if we plunge off a bridge I won’t have to go to this wedding.” He looks at me, perhaps only half joking.

 

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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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Review: The Impostor Queen (The Impostor Queen #1) by Sarah Fine

Posted December 8, 2015 by Lily B in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review:  The Impostor Queen (The Impostor Queen #1) by Sarah FineThe Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Series: The Impostor Queen #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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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.

Sixteen-year-old Elli was only a child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic in service of her people. The only life Elli has known has been in the temple, surrounded by luxury, tutored by magic-wielding priests, preparing for the day when the queen perishes—and the ice and fire find a new home in Elli, who is prophesied to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.
But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.
Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between her love for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must choose the right side before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

I think I am in love with Sarah Fine’s writing and I have Ali @ My Guilty Obsession  to thank for that. The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine ended up being a buddy read with Ali, to whom I am thankful for introducing me to Fine’s writing.

I loved The Impostor Queen, a well crafted story about a sixteen-year-old girl named Elli who is a Saadela and the next in line to take over when the Valtia of the Kupari passes and leaves her magic to be passed on to the Saadela. When Elli’s Valtia suffers a terrible tragedy and the young girl ends up witnessing the horrid moment of her Valtia’s final breath, the Elders blame Elli for rejecting the magic when it does not enter her. With a help of her handmaiden, Mim, Elli escapes the temple and the cruel fate that awaits her and disappears beyond the village walls where she is rescued by a boy named Oskar.

Now Elli is living among the very people the Elder’s have been trying to force out of the mines, while trying to learn about her own ability that she is asked to keep a secret by the mysterious old healer.

I won’t lie. The story started out kind of slow, but this is a high fantasy, and it is kind of expected. When the story finally picked up, and boy did it pick up, not only was it impossible to put down but I found myself wanting to savor it. I admit, I was a little disappointed and sad that the book has ended. I went through a book withdrawal and it’s been a long while since any book has caused such a reaction out of me.

Fine’s writing is brilliant, her imagination runs wild in the beautifully crafted magical world. I love that there are two forces that make up the magic, fire and ice, and how the two effect the Valtia as well as the magic wielders.

The plot itself was amazing and interesting. It had me so hooked, I wanted and needed to know how it was all going to turn out, what was going to happen next and how Fine was going to leave us at the end of the book. I was so glad to learn that this is part of the series, though as of right now Goodreads lists the series as the Untitled. I also loved that the ending did NOT feel like a cliffhanger.

Let’s talk about Elli for a second. Elli lived a sheltered life in the temple because she was being molded to do what the Elder’s wanted her to do. The only knowledge she really had about anything was what the Elder’s wanted to tell her, so she comes off very naive. Boy does she learns her lessons quickly when she is forced out of the shelter of the home she knew forever and onto the streets and into the winter cold. I really enjoyed watching Elli develop as a character. Her struggles when she is brought to the camp are real. The fact that she suffers a physical “disfiguration” maker her character appear flawed, but at the same time very human.

Though the book is listed under glbt genre under Goodreads, and does have references to it (Elli’s love for her handmaiden) the book mainly follows the romance between a boy and a girl.

Oskar was amazing. Brownie points to him for taking Elli in. Their meeting in an unusual circumstance ended up being quite entertaining. I loved their interaction and the slow simmering romance that had me holding my breath more than once.

The world-building in this book was remarkable, original and very interesting. It is one of those fantasy novels that you cannot help but fall in love with everything, the writing, the world-building, the well fleshed out characters, it just keeps you wanting more. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time and I cannot wait to see where this story goes from here, because the ending totally blew me away.

If you enjoy a high fantasy novel with an incredible world, with talented writing, what are you waiting for? I strongly recommend this book

 

 

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