Format: Kindle Edition

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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3 Quick-Ish Book Reviews

Posted September 30, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 6 Comments

I hope you guys don’t mind these. I have read more books than I can review and not all of them I have much to say about, but this is the easiest way for me to catch up and I still want to review what I read and how I felt.

3 Quick-Ish Book ReviewsThe Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb
Series: standalone
Published by Hachette Books on February 5th 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Mystery
Pages: 344
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

From award-winning novelist Wendy Webb comes a spine-tingling mystery about family secrets set in a big, old haunted house on Lake Superior.
Grace Alban has spent twenty years away from her childhood home, the stately Alban House, for reasons she would rather forget. But when her mother's unexpected death brings Grace and her teen-age daughter home, she finds more haunting the halls and passageways of Alban House than her own personal demons.
Long-buried family secrets, a packet of old love letters and a lost manuscript plunge Grace into a decades-old mystery about a scandalous party at Alban House, when a world-famous author took his own life and Grace's aunt disappeared without a trace. The night has been shrouded in secrecy by the powerful Alban family for all of these years, and Grace realizes her family secrets tangle and twist as darkly as the secret passages of Alban House. Her mother was intending to tell the truth about that night to a reporter on the very day she died - could it have been murder? Or was she a victim of the supposed Alban curse? With the help of the disarmingly kind--and attractive—Reverend Matthew Parker, Grace must uncover the truth about her home and its curse before she and her daughter become the next victims.

This honestly would be perfect for fall, but I found the book fell a little short for me.

Grace Alban moves back into her childhood home after her mother dies and a strange woman that might be related to her shows up at the funeral. Grace thinks it’s her aunt who disappeared from Alban House years ago. Lot’s of town people think the family is cursed due to all the tragedies that happened at the house that is now a historical place.

The mystery was interesting if not frustrating. It’s obvious the caretakers of the house know what is going on, but every time they are about to tell Grace what happened, they are like “Oh Miss Grace I will tell you everything, but first I must feed you” and then they forget to tell her. It just felt annoying and like everything could have been avoided, all the danger, if people would just tell her what’s up. Especially since all of them were obviously in danger.

There is a missing book manuscript.

At one point you are reading a book about a man who was writing a book, in a book.

Oh, and the awkward relationship between Grace and her pastor, who she apparently beds after only knowing for a little while. Not very realistic.

Good concept, but poorly executed. I still do recommend it for a fall read because the concept was interesting enough.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
3 Quick-Ish Book ReviewsThe Untouchable Earl by Amy Sandas
Series: Fallen Ladies #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on November 1st 2016
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

He's a reclusive Earl with a painful secret that's kept him from knowing a lover's touch. She's a sheltered debutante tired of living by society's rules. But when she's forced from the ballroom to the brothel, Lily discovers the dark thrill of falling from grace...and into the arms of a man who could destroy her as easily as he saved her.
Lily Chadwick has spent her life playing the respectable debutante. But when an unscrupulous moneylender snatches her off the street and puts her up for auction at a pleasure house, she finds herself in the possession of a man who fills her with breathless terror and impossible yearning.
Though the Earl of Harte claimed Lily with the highest bid, he hides a painful secret―one that has kept him from knowing the pleasure of a lover's touch. Even the barest brush of skin brings him physical pain, and he's spent his life keeping the world at arm's length. But there's something about Lily that maddens him, bewitches him, compels him...and drives him toward the one woman brave and kind enough to heal his troubled heart.

When Lily get’s kidnapped and sold to the brothel in order for her family debt to get paid off, she is rescued by the cold and brooding Earl of Harte. Not wanting to marry off just anyone, Lily asks the Earl if she can be his mistress as soon as he rescues her, but the Earl holds a secret, one that might not allow her to get too close to him.

Okay, I loved the first book of the series, but this one felt like it was written by a completely different person.

The first one actually had a story, depth and focus on character building and relationship. This was one sex and… sex.

Which was fine… If that is all you are prepared to read despite such a strong first book. I wasn’t. I definitely did not see the shy, sweet Lily as anyone who would want to be involved in being a mistress, especially since she felt so innocent. I mean, for freaks sake the woman was just kidnapped and was being sold as a virgin in a brothel and all the sudden she is like oh, I want to sleep with you. How could you not have any sort of bad reaction?

I did like the Earl of Harte, his condition was interesting, but that is about it.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
3 Quick-Ish Book ReviewsWild Ride Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Series: Copper Ridge #9
Published by Harlequin Books on August 29th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:three-flames

He's come back to Copper Ridge, Oregon, to keep a promise—even if it means losing his heart…
Putting down roots in Copper Ridge was never Alex Donnelly's intention. But if there's one thing the ex-military man knows, it's that life rarely unfolds as expected. If it did, his best friend and brother-in-arms would still be alive. And Alex wouldn't have inherited a ranch or responsibility for his late comrade's sister—a woman who, despite her inexperience, can bring tough-as-iron Alex to his knees.
Clara Campbell didn't ask for a hero to ride in and fix her ranch and her life. All she wants is the one thing stubborn, honorable Alex is reluctant to give: a chance to explore their intense chemistry. But Clara has a few lessons to teach him, too…about trusting his heart and his instincts, and letting love take him on the wildest adventure of all.

My first Yates book. I love cowboys and really wanted to give her a shot, but it just did not work for me.

I love that there were characters with an age difference. Alex was Clara’s brother’s friend in the service and her brother died in service and gave the ranch for a year to Alex so he can get Clara on track and then leave the rest to her.

Clara ends up attracted to Alex so they start a physical relationship.

I loved that these two were both kind of damaged characters and needed each other.

Not much happens. I was BORED for 90% of the book. Also, they had these lengthy monologue conversations pointing out each others problems that felt like just one bad therapy session that really numbed my brain cells.

I started skimming through the sex scenes. I wanted more tension and relationship building.

Alex just felt years mature over Clara, who despite claiming that she is not a child, felt too childish.

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Review: The Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett

Posted September 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  The Girl in the Picture by Kerry BarrettThe Girl in the Picture by Kerry Barrett
Series: standalone
Published by HQ Digital on September 20th 2017
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

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

Two women. One house. Centuries of secrets.

East Sussex Coast, 1855

Violet Hargreaves is the lonely daughter of a widowed industrialist, and an aspiring Pre-Raphaelite painter. One day, the naïve eighteen-year-old meets Edwin; a mysterious and handsome man on the beach, who promises her a world beyond the small costal village she’s trapped in. But after ignoring warning about Edwin, a chain of terrible events begins to unfold for Violet…

East Sussex Coast, 2016

For thriller-writer Ella Daniels, the house on the cliff is the perfect place to overcome writer’s block, where she decides to move with her small family. But there’s a strange atmosphere that settles once they move in – and rumours of historical murders next door begin to emerge. One night, Ella uncovers a portrait of a beautiful young girl named Violet Hargreaves, who went missing at the same time as the horrific crimes, and Ella becomes determined to find out what happened there 160 years ago. And in trying to lay Violet’s ghost to rest, Ella must face ghosts of her own…

Please be advised, trigger warning for sexual assault and physical abuse.

When Ella and her husband decide to take the jump and move her family out of the city into a small town into a house on a cliff, the last thing Ella expected was the house to be tied to an unsolved murder case that happened 150 years ago. Upon finding a beautiful self portrait of a young woman who may have lived in the house a hundred years ago, Ella cannot help but immerse herself in the mysterious murder and the disappearance of Violet Hargreaves, especially since the girls history seems to resemble what Ella went through growing up.

East Sussex Coast, 1855

Violet is a lonely 18-year-old girl whose father is a widowed Industrialist and travels a lot. To fill her lonely days, Violet paints, despite her father’s disapproval of Violet painting – it is her escape.

She meets a handsome married neighbor next door who claims he knows artists in London that can help Violet get noticed and break out into their world. All Violet wants more than anything is to escape her small town and do what she loves most and that’s paint. But, when Violet ignores warnings about Edwin, she sets in motion the horrible set of events that had the town’s people wandering for years of what had occurred and a mystery that was never solved.

This was so interesting. It’s a historical fiction but those who are afraid of slow moving Historical Fiction don’t be. Kerry Barrett delivers a beautiful if not horrific story about two women set years apart with centuries worth of secrets. She spins a lovely tale of a girl named Violet, who just wanted something more than a lonely marriage out of life and Ella a thriller-writer who might be just curious enough to uncover it.

The entire time I was reading Violet’s story I found myself rooted to my seat, finding it completely riveting and thoroughly heartbreaking.

I wanted to know how it all ended for the young girl so naive, yet so full of passion.

The ending had me gasping, because I did not expect that to go the way it did. Not only was it completely heart wrenching, but also quite a bit horrifying. You can’t even tell that it’s coming until a certain point and at that point you get to know Violet enough to really feel for the girl and her outcome.

I wasn’t sure how plausible the ending was to be honest, but I guess I could see it happening. It felt original, unexpected and definitely creative. Ella’s obsession with Violet was strange and at times it did feel hard to believe because I did not know why she was so consumed in a mystery that happened so long ago, with not much to go on, but her prodding really paid off in uncovering the ugly truth that was hidden all these years unanswered.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys an engrossing story that builds up in tension and mystery, with characters that will stick to your heart long after it is finished.

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Review: Southern Fried by Tonya Kappes

Posted September 22, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review:  Southern Fried by Tonya KappesSouthern Fried by Tonya Kappes
Series: Kenni Lowry Mystery #2
Published by Henery Press on April 4th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 300
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.

In the South, it’s better when the food is fried and the secrets kept buried…
After the dead body of a beloved Cottonwood resident is found tangled up in an electric fence, Sheriff Kenni Lowry has a hunch that somethin’ ain’t right. Her investigation heats up with a fierce cook-off competition, a euchre game where the intel is sweeter than the brownies, and a decades old family recipe that may just be the proof in the pudding.
The icing on the cake: Kenni is fighting an attraction to her recently sworn-in deputy sheriff, and election season is hot on her tail. When the killer comes after who she holds most dear, even her poppa’s ghostly guidance might not be enough to keep her and her own out of the frying pan.

Owen Godfrey is dead and his murder might revolve around a certain family cookbook that everyone is just dying to get their hands on because of a secret okra recipe. When Sheriff Kenni is forced to investigate another murder of a local Cottonwood resident, she and her new deputy Finn, her Poppa and trusted pooch Duke must uncover the secrets behind the cookbook that were worth killing over.

This was such a great read. I never read a Kappes book, but it definitely won’t be my last. Kenni has a lot on her plate, she is still trying to prove that she is fit to be the town sheriff, meanwhile with the re-election coming up the retired sheriff decides to throw his name in the hat, so Kenni must solve this new murder as quickly as possible.

I loved Kenni and I loved Duke and Finn. This book has a lot of Southern charm, wit and humor along with meddling mothers and busy body neighbors, if you like books set in the south you will enjoy this gem.

I found the writing to be fun and fast paced, I found myself just flying and enjoying this book. There is a bit of romance and a ghost of Kenni’s grandfather who was an ex-sherrif who still lingers in order to help Kenni protect the town. There is a lovable pooch named Duke that just melts your heart and a wonderful cast of characters.

If you like cozy mysteries but have not read this one I recommend it. It’s engaging, has a lot going on, and never a dull moment. I just kept flipping through the pages. It was nice to get lost in the town of Cottonwood and I cannot wait to go back.

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2 Mini Book Reviews

Posted September 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

2 Mini Book ReviewsSerenity Harbor by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #6
Published by HQN Books on June 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 377
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.

In the town of Haven Point, love can be just a wish — and one magical kiss — away…
Computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan is about the last person that schoolteacher Katrina Bailey wants to work for. As far as she can see, he’s arrogant, entitled and not up to the task of caring for his young half brother, Milo. But Kat is, especially if it brings her closer to her goal of adopting an orphaned little girl. And as her kindness and patience work wonders with Milo, she realises there’s more to sexy, wary Bo.
Bo never imagined he’d be tasked with caring for a sibling he didn’t know existed. Then again, he never pictured himself impulsively kissing vibrant, compassionate Katrina in the moonlight. Now he’s ready to make her dream of family come true…and hoping there’s room in it for him, too…

A story about a young teacher who is in the process of re-evaluating her life and in the middle of adopting a special needs girl from Columbia when she meets Bowie Callahan – a computer-tech millionaire and his special needs brother.

Reading a Thayne book is like coming home to a sweet cup of warm chocolate. The story is lovely, warm and sweet. I found myself drawn to the two people who were trying hard to find a way to deal with the new developments in their lives.

Katrina had sworn off men due to her boyfriend dumping her on their trip to Columbia and all she wants to do is adopt a little girl she met on her trip and become her mother. Bowie just found out about Milo his young brother who has a possible case of Autism and hopes that Katrina could help him while he awaited the Autism specialist. The attraction between the two had a rocky start, but I loved watching it grow between them through the story and enjoyed seeing these two develop as characters.

The ending was super sweet and heart touching.

2 Mini Book ReviewsThe Decorator Who Knew Too Much by Diane Vallere
Series: Mad for Mod Mystery #4
Published by Henery Press on April 18th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 264
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.

When Interior Decorator Madison Night accepts an assignment in Palm Springs with handyman Hudson James, she expects designing days and romantic nights. But after spotting a body in the river by the job site, she causes a rift in the team. Add in the strain of recurring nightmares and a growing dependency on sleeping pills, and Madison seeks professional help to deal with her demons.

She learns more about the crime than she’d like thanks to girl talk with friends, pillow talk with Hudson, and smack talk with the local bad boys. And after the victim is identified as the very doctor she’s been advised to see, she wonders if what she knows can help catch a killer. An unlikely ally helps navigate the murky waters before her knowledge destroys her, and this time, what she doesn’t know might be the one thing that saves her life.

“If you love Doris Day, you’ll love Madison Night, decorator extraordinaire. She specializes in restoring mid-century homes and designs, and her latest project involves abductions, murder and vengeance.” – Books for Avid Readers

“Diane Vallere…has a wonderful touch, bringing in the design elements and influences of the ’50s and ’60s era many of us hold dear while keeping a strong focus on what it means in modern times to be a woman in business for herself, starting over.” – Fresh Fiction

Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), humorous murder mysteries, book club recommendations, amateur sleuth books, southern humor, Doris Day, chick lit.

Madison Night accepts an assignment in Palm Springs with her beau and handyman Hudson James. The two travel to Hudson’s sister and brother-in-law to help with the new development that his brother-in-law is in
Charge of.

Things were suppose to be easy with designing by day and romantic get away at night, but when Madison spots a body in the water – things prove a little more difficult. Now Madison finds herself tangled in deeper secrets, and a few of them are pointing back towards the new development.

Cute, cozy mystery, really awesome easy to love main-character and this entire book was just an easy read. The story was interesting, it kept me hooked. The writing was entertaining and has made the series sound extremely promising.

I have not read the other books in the series but I loved this enough to make sure I pick up any other follow-up because Madison Night and her Doris Day wardrobe obsession is my kind of girl. Her personality alone was charming and addictive.

If you are looking for a good cozy mystery, I recommend this one for you to try.

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ARC Review: When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Posted September 11, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

ARC Review:  When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew WhalenWhen We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Series: standalone
Published by Lake Union Publishing on September 12th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 276
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.

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?

I did not really know what I was getting myself in it. I picked this book up on a whim after a Youtuber I have been watching mentioned it, then I sat down to read it and I could not put this book down.

If you are looking for a contemporary book with raw, vivid characters, a heartbreaking chain of events set in small-town that triggers self perseverance in a midst of a tragedy look no further.

Worthy is a town of about 5,000 people in Georgia who basically see all and known all. It’s a small town so someone will always know someone. Worthy has one thing that they are really proud of and that is their football team who seem to be one of the best. It’s a huge thing anytime the high school football happens and the town to be involved in. Well, one night, after a big win, three teenage cheerleaders end up in a big car accident with one of the teenage boys from their school. The three girls die, the boy survives, and the event shakes the whole town.

This story was heartbreaking and it felt so real. Like the reactions, the actions, the emotions. You as a reader can just picture this happening and it doesn’t feel far from the truth in a likely event. As someone who now lives in a small town for a couple of years, I can definitely see how something like this can shake the community.

The book falls Ava, a high school teacher who is struggling in her marriage and ends up being reckless with another person that leads to some legal troubles. Leah, another cheerleader that was part of the group of girls who died, who somehow avoided the accident by not being in the car with them at the time. Darcy, the mother of the son who the town is holding responsible for the accident that took the lives of the three girls. And Marglyn , mother of one of the cheerleaders that died.

The story was well done. I did take one star off because I felt like the end did wrap up kind of quickly, but I can see in retrospect how it works anyway. The characters felt real and as a mother, I couldn’t help but feel for Marglyn and her pain. I cannot imagine losing a son or a daughter on such a note. Her story was even more heart breaking because the last time she saw her daughter, they fought and it feels like one of the worse things that can occur to anyone if that is the last time they see this person.

The writing was great. The storytelling was wonderful and emotional. The characters just stick with you. It was a really quick read for me and I found that I did not want to put the book down until I knew how it was all going to come together.

I do have to say. The mystery male in the book that Ava had a flirtation with through me off, I was not really expecting that and it only kind of makes me wonder even more about the real innocence of her character.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone that loves to sit down and enjoy a contemporary fiction set in a small town. It was well done.

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Review: Depth of Lies by E.C. Diskin

Posted September 7, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

Review:  Depth of Lies by E.C. DiskinDepth of Lies by E.C. Diskin
Series: standalone
Published by Thomas & Mercer on September 26th 2017
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 288
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.

“A brilliant examination of the shadows lurking in every relationship and what happens when you step into the darkness.” —Mindy Mejia, author of Everything You Want Me to Be
When Shea Walker, a sunny, easygoing mom, is found dead in a bathtub with a stomach full of booze and pills, the shocking discovery shatters the complacency of her comfortable suburban community.
Kat Burrows, Shea’s longtime friend and former neighbor, is hit hardest. How could a woman she thought she knew so well come to such a sordid end? What could lead happy, well-adjusted, responsible Shea to accidentally overdose on alcohol and narcotics? Or, worse, drive her to suicide?
Compelled to uncover the truth of Shea’s final months, Kat delves beneath the orderly surface of her familiar world to discover a web of thwarted desire, shameful secrets, and shocking betrayal that suggests a scarier explanation for what happened to Shea. As her carefully constructed reality begins to crumble, Kat must question every reassuring assumption her life is built upon to solve the mystery…and summon the courage and resourcefulness to survive it.

A group of friends come together after one of their own is found in a B and B bath tub dead with her belly full of booze and pills. As everyone is ready to dismiss the Shea’s death as suicide, Kat is unable to shake the feeling that something else entirely is going on here and she cannot leave back home until she finds the truth.

This was an interesting read, the story follows Kat as she tries to unfold the lies and get to the bottom of the truth to what really happened to her best friend and we also get to see Shea’s part of the story with the events leading up to the death with the big collision that reveals everything in the end.

I really enjoyed this format. I think it was easy to follow and it made the book hard to put down. The storyline was interesting and it kept my attention. The friends had a lot of skeletons in their closet and it was interesting to see how a tragedy could reveal some very dirty laundry.

I liked how loyal Kat was to her friend and that she did not believe that Shea would kill herself and stuck with her gut feeling. I did find that her loyalty could be felt as overwhelming at times because she was really prying into some personal things and re-opening really fresh wounds.

I was also struggling with how open Kat was at times. I understand that she had no reason to suspect any of her friends, but she basically kept telling everyone what she learned of Shea and some of the dirty secrets including to her widowed husband. I felt like at times she didn’t even understand the damage she could be causing, especially to Shea’s husband Ryan due to all the things he didn’t know about his wife and it was like rubbing salt on an open wound. Regardless, in the end that is probably the only thing that saved her life when the mystery was unrevealed.

Overall, an interesting read, fast paced and easy to follow. The ending was definitely not what I expected, so there is a twist.

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Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Posted August 29, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review:  Stillhouse Lake by Rachel CaineStillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
Series: Stillhouse Lake, #1
Published by Thomas & Mercer on July 1st 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 302
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.

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.
With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.
But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

Gina Royal had an average, but a happy life. A mother to two children and a happy marriage, until the illusion of her life comes crumbling around her when a car plows into her garage and reveals her husband as a serial killer.

Now Gina Royal is Gwen Proctor, a warrior mom who will go the distance to protect her innocent children from the savage world of stalkers and internet trolls that hold her somehow responsible for her husband’s activities.

This book you guys. It was my first Rachel Caine read (I know what, right?) but I have to say it will not be my last.

Stillhouse Lake was everything I ever wanted in a thriller. A great storyline that keeps you constantly on the edge of your seat that is equally captivating and even a bit realistic. Character growth and development. Gwen/Gina was especially fascinating as I loved watching her transform from a helpless housewife into a strong and independent woman through a series of some really unfortunate events.

As Gwen was originally accused of being an accomplice, she has been the victim of being wrongfully accused and what the horror of such a public case can do to her and her family. The amount of hate she received due to that was unfathomable. Mel also has a ton of fans, people who are fixated on his works and who approve of it. The whole thing where they end up attacking Gwen and her children online though, that was really dark and twisted. It really makes your blood run cold thinking that something like this could happen to someone.

When a copycat killer shows up in her little town, Gwen is afraid that somehow she had been found and that her husband has a lot more influence than she had ever prepared herself for.

This was quite a ride. Well written, fleshed out characters that are totally believable. A quiet town with its own dark secrets and trouble that follows Gwen no matter how much she is trying to escape.

The ending thought you guys.. Oh my god. Is the next book out soon?

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Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t Die

Posted August 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Guys, I have been on the roll with ghost books lately, not sure why, it’s still August and summer but, for some reason ghosts is like it for me this month. So I read the entire Bad Girls Don’t Die series and here are my thoughts.

Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t DieBad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die, #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on April 21st 2009
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 346
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.
Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?

The book is about a girl named Alexis who is a bit of an anti-social and is leading a dysfunctional life in school and home. Kasey is an Alexis’ younger sister who is obsessed with collecting dolls and that creeps Alexis out. Things start to happen in the house and Kasey starts to act a bit strange and even worse when her blue eyes shift green. Soon Alexis finds out that something has possessed her little sister and that it might be linked to one of town’s saddest history. Now Alexis must find a way to get rid of whatever is possessing Kasey before her little sister commits any murder.

This was an entertaining read. I loved and enjoyed this author writing so much, I felt like she really knew how to tell a creepy, atmospheric ghost story and it took me to quiet a ride.

I felt bad for Kasey. I felt like she was a bit misunderstood and Alexis treatment of her little sister seemed a little heavy-handed. I definitely didn’t understand the relationship there as my sister and I at this age were actually pretty close. Kasey is definitely my favorite of the two sisters and really made me sad for her, as all she really wanted was to have some friends.

The flow of the story kept me on the edge of the seat and I never found it dull. I liked that Alexis ends up enlisting help in the most unlikely people and despite the fact that her family life is a bit of a mess things seem to work its way out in the end.

I do feel like there was something left out that didn’t get resolved or maybe I missed it ? But there was a scene in the basement where Alexis finds Kasey digging and she runs out of the basement holding something, but I don’t think it was ever mentioned what.

Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t DieFrom Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die,
Published by Hyperion on June 14th 2011
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Alexis is the last girl you'd expect to sell her soul. She already has everything she needs--an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a little sister who's finally recovering after being possessed by an evil spirit, then institutionalized. Alexis is thrilled when her sister joins a club; new friends are just what Kasey needs. It's strange, though, to see how fast the girls in The Sunshine Club go from dorky and antisocial to gorgeous and popular. Soon Alexis learns that the girls have pledged an oath to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Aralt. Worried that Kasey's in over her head again, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the club themselves. At first, their connection with Aralt seems harmless. Alexis trades in her pink hair and punky clothes for a mainstream look, and quickly finds herself reveling in her newfound elegance and success. Instead of fighting off the supernatural, Alexis can hardly remember why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn't to destroy Aralt...why would she hurt someone who has given her so much, and asked for so little in return?

Second book of the series and although I still enjoyed it, I do have to say it wasn’t my favorite.

Following the events of book one, Kasey is back from the insinuation that the paranormal agent had locked her up in so she could get better. After all, who comes away unscratched from being possessed?

Kasey ends up having a hard time being back in school and everyone starts to look at her funny and treats her differently because they know she has been to the looney bin. Kasey gets kind of mistreated and Alexis with her new found popularity and best friends does nothing to help her sister’s transition. I disliked Alexis in this one a lot at the beginning. Her treatment of her little sister was a little cruel and unfair and the fact that she did not ease her sister’s transition in school made me angry at her lack of concern. Alexis has a boyfriend now, Megan ends up being her best friend and the cheerleaders are no longer so bad.

When a new girl shows up at school, Kasey befriends her. Together they start a club called The Sunshine Club where any girl is welcome. The Sunshine Club has many rules and Alexis is worried that there is something sinister behind it all and that Kasey might be in trouble again, so both her and Megan join the club only to discover a ghost named Aralt is telling these girls what to do and is leading them to success. How can someone that seems to want nothing but good for the girls be evil?

This was creepy, it really was. Aralt wanted the girls to always be pretty and successful and these girls spend a lot of time grooming and primping in order to satisfy his wishes. The entire club turns into a kind of occult and I kept wondering how Alexis was going to be able to stop it especially when Aralt seems to be playing a great hand in Alexis own success with her photography and has been around for a while.

The ending was difficult but sets up the final book.

Series Overview: Bad Girls Don’t DieAs Dead As It Gets by Katie Alender
Series: Bad Girls Don't Die,
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 15th 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

It's been three months since Alexis helplessly witnessed Lydia Small's violent death, and all she wants is for her life to return to normal. But normal people don't see decaying bodies haunting photographs. Normal people don't have to deal with regular intrusions from Lydia's angry ghost, sometimes escalating to terrifying attacks.
At first, it seems that Lydia wants revenge on Alexis alone. But a girl from school disappears one night, and Alexis spots one of Lydia's signature yellow roses lying on the girl's dresser the next day. Soon, it becomes clear that several of Alexis's friends are in danger, and that she's the only person who can save them. But as she tries to intervene, Alexis realizes that her enemy is a much more powerful ghost than she's ever faced before... and that its fate is tied to hers in ways she couldn't possibly imagine.
Not even in her worst nightmares.

Third and final book of the series and hard to review without spoilers of the series. After getting rid of Alart and watching Lydia Small die in front of her, Alexis can now see ghosts especially through her photography. Lydia is now haunting Alexis and again strange things start to happen when girls, Alexis knew are starting to disappear and are getting hurt or killed. Alexis thinks Lydia is behind the attacks, especially when she thinks Lydia’s bright light leads them to her and the ghost of the girl always seems to be there.

Soon Alexis realizes that this new ghost she is facing is much more stronger and powerful than before and she is going to rely on herself and an unlikely ally to put a stop to that.

This was kind of dark, a bit darker than the first two books and there is a death in this book that really brought tears to my eyes because I wasn’t expecting it. The story is well told, well written and kept me turning the pages. I read this in the middle of the night and despite the fact that it was super creepy, I could not put this one down. I think of the three I did find this one to be the strongest and one of my favorites.

 

I highly recommend this series if you are looking for ghost stories this October.

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