Format: Kindle Edition

Review: A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

Posted March 13, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review:  A Million Little Things by Susan MalleryA Million Little Things by Susan Mallery
Series: Mischief Bay #3
Published by Mira Books on February 28th 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction, Chick-Lit
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

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


From the bestselling author of
The Girls of Mischief Bay
and
The Friends We Keep
comes a twisty tale of family dynamics that explores what can go terribly, hysterically wrong when the line between friendship and family blurs



Zoe Saldivar is more than just single-she's ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it's up to her to stop living in isolation.
Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated-her first new friend is Jen's widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen's brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe's own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam's flustered, Jen's annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think "alone" doesn't sound so bad, after all.

Friendship isn't just one thing-it's a million little things, and no one writes them with more heart and humor than book club sensation Susan Mallery!

"

I usually like Susan Mallery’s writing, I struggled with this one on a lot of levels.

The book follows three different women in three different stages of their lives.

Zoe has just had sex with her ex-boyfriend who couldn’t commit. She bought a bigger house and quit her teaching job because apparently for some reason (even thought he didn’t give her much) she thought she was going to need to be a step-mother to his daughters and that he was going to propose…

Jen is Zoe’s best friend and is a stay at home mom that constantly worries. Her 18-month-old child has hit every single milestone in his development with the exception of talking. Jen firmly believes that there is something wrong with her son, even thought everyone else is telling her to give it time. Her husband is a detective and she doesn’t like his partner Lucas because he likes his women too much.

Pam is Jen’s mother and has always been a good friend to Zoe. She is a widow and isn’t looking for love, but she was quick to try and hook up her son Steven with Zoe because she thought they would be good for each other. She also meets Zoe’s father Miguel, who wants to date her.

So there is a lot of things going on in this book, there is some romance and dealing with issues and parenting. I just struggled with this because ever character was tough to like and the plot twist the author threw in the middle of the book felt displaced and I found myself angry.

I hated Jen, she was not only horrible to her husband’s partner, but everyone else around her.  She thinks there is something wrong with her son and she does everything she can to limit his exposure to freaking everything. Her mother’s dog cannot come into her house unless he had a bath the day off. Anytime her friend or mother shows up at her house, she is confused and asks them if she knew they were coming. She is into organic eating, no chemicals in her house, and everything has to be made of cotton and nothing that might be dangerous. Everyone she takes her son to tell her to give him time, that all the tests they did do not reveal anything wrong with her son, and she still explodes on them. She hates Lucas because he won’t settle down and dates 20 year olds and thinks he is going to lead her husband astray, based on what logic? I am not sure.

Okay, let me point out that mothers with autistic children do not act like freaking idiots okay? My sister has a daughter, who she believed something was wrong with her after two years of not talking. When she took them to the doctor, they did tests and did find that she was in fact behind. No one told her to give her time, when they saw something, they did something, so when Jen constantly stood defiantly against the doctors claiming no, something is wrong, it was grating.

And of course, it spectacularly bites her in the ass half way through the book. I cannot mention what happens, but it took me everything to finish this damn book.

I felt like there was a ton of mixed signals in this book and it felt like the author was preaching some kind of an agenda. I didn’t like how mothers with autistic children were addressed and painted in this book, it was unrealistic and it made me so angry.

I didn’t like how unplanned pregnancy was addressed in this book either, especially given the situation. It felt like there was the only right answer to what happened here and anything is might as well rain fire.

Pam turned into a very ugly person by the end of this book and the way she was treating Zoe was unfounded and vicious.

I had a really, really hard time with the tone and the messages in this book. I even had the worse time agreeing with anything that happened.

I was actually happy when things bit Jen in the ass both times, but everything still felt just too wrong for me.

After writing this review.. I’ve decided a 2 star rating was appropriate after all. I know a lot of people loved it, and it’s great, but some things just did not do well for me at all.

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Review: The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

Posted March 9, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  The Awakening by Amanda StevensThe Awakening by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen #6
Published by Mira on March 28th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
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.

Shush…lest she awaken…
My name is Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer who lives with the dead. An anonymous donor has hired me to restore Woodbine Cemetery, a place where the rich and powerful bury their secrets. Forty years ago, a child disappeared without a trace and now her ghost has awakened, demanding that I find out the truth about her death. Only I know that she was murdered. Only I can bring her killer to justice. But the clues that I follow—a haunting melody and an unnamed baby's grave—lead me to a series of disturbing suspects.
For generations, The Devlins have been members of Charleston's elite. John Devlin once turned his back on the traditions and expectations that came with his birthright, but now he has seemingly accepted his rightful place. His family's secrets make him a questionable ally. When my investigation brings me to the gates of his family's palatial home, I have to wonder if he is about to become my mortal enemy.

Ever since the disturbing events of the last book, I knew I had to get my hands on The Awakening in order to find out what happens next. Luckily, I read the two back to back and was left with a piece of mind.

The Awakening follows in not to distant feature from book five. Amelia is hired by an anonymous donor to restore the Woodbine Cemetery and all its dark and hidden secrets.

This book at times I find was hard to read, it just slowly keeps getting darker and darker. I still feel like book five was a tad bit darker, but things are really starting to hit the fan.

I really missed Devlin in the last book and even thought he was mentioned often, he finally makes a comeback. I really wanted to know what was going on with him and the strange rift that formed between Devlin and Amelia. Luckily for us, we don’t wait too long to find out, and I loved that we don’t have to wait till book seven for everything to get sorted.

In The Awakening, Amelia has to find the secret behind the murder of a little girl. I find children’s death stories one of the hardest to read. It feels so emotional, so uncomfortable at times. For Amelia especially, as we come to learn that this ghost really hits close to home for her. Not only does Amelia ends up discovering some dark secrets of her own family, she also ends up in a mess with Devlin’s secrets.

More is revealed about the secret societies, more death, more progression in the storyline. I loved reading about all the cemetery research and what the symbols in the children’s cemetery mean. The build up was amazing, the end, rushed.

This seems to now be a consistent trend in Stevens book, and one that I am now finding a bit annoying. We get this amazing build up, this amazing story and then everything happens so fast in the end that you can’t wrap your head around anything. It’s rushed, which makes it more than a little disappointing at times. The ending was mind blowing, but it was just so… quick… Even the confrontation was really quick.

I also feel like Amelia could use a little bit more emotion. She loves Devlin, but her grief felt a little robotic? I guess. It could be the fact that she trained herself not to show emotion, but that’s something that I feel is lacking a bit. It is necessary? I guess not, the book is still amazing, even without it. Just an observation, I guess?

Also, the ending? The ending ended with a mind blowing note. I hope there is a book seven because I need it now. There are still so many unanswered questions, even more after book five.

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Review: Starting Over on Blackberry Lane by Sheila Roberts

Posted March 7, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review:  Starting Over on Blackberry Lane by Sheila RobertsStarting Over on Blackberry Lane by Sheila Roberts
Series: Life in Icicle Falls #10
Published by Mira Books on February 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 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.

Time for a Change—or Three! 
Stefanie Stahl has a husband with renovation ADD. He can't seem to finish anything he starts and her house is littered with his "projects." If he doesn't smarten up, she swears she's going to murder him and bury him under the pile of scrounged lumber in the backyard.  
Her friend Griffin James is suddenly single and thinking maybe she needs to sell her fixer-upper and follow her career bliss up the ladder of success, even if that scary ladder is clear across the country. Getting her place ready to sell proves harder than she originally thought. She needs help.  
She's not the only one. Cass Wilkes, their neighbor, has an empty nest—with a leaking roof. When her ceiling crashes in, she knows it's time to do something. When Grant Masters offers his handyman services at a fund-raiser auction, the three women go in together to outbid the competition and win their man. (Cass's friends think she should win Grant in a different way, too!) Now it's time to make some improvements…in their houses and their lives.

Funny story, despite the fact that I have a ton of Sheila Roberts books laying around Starting Over on Blackberry Lane is my first read from this author.

It was interesting. It follows three women in Icicle Falls, and they all happen to live nearby and are really good friends.

Cass is a forty five year old baker who owns her own bakery and most recently her roof collapsed over her dining room table. She is divorced and has a few grown children, but she is feeling very lonely until Grant Master’s shows up in town. He happens to look like George Clooney and a lot of women fawn and mistake him over the actor.

Stef is married, but is having a hard time with her husband who has decided to tear up the house and do some renovations. It is what Stef had wanted, but the problem is that her husband can’t seem to finish anything he has started and her entire house is a big giant mess. Luckily, a bit of Grant’s Honey-Do company is coming up – and Stef is adamant at winning it in hopes the handyman can finish the job.

Griffin is young and is about to get married, but at her bridal shower, she realizes it is no longer what she wants. She and her fiance had somehow grown apart. Steve is more interested in his video games than at her, and now they barely talk let alone spend time together. After breaking off her marriage, Griffin is looking for a fresh start in New York, where she hopes her food photography will take off. Of course she mets Master’s other son Matt, who is coming off his own marriage and sparks fly.

This was cute. I did mostly enjoy this book. It had a lot going on, a lot. It follows the residents of Icicle
Falls and thought this could be read as a standalone, other characters make an appearance regularly. For the most part, it felt like I was reading a show. The three women win the Honey-Do bid and decide to split the handyman in hopes of getting their houses finished.

The characters were fun to follow, for the most part. I could stand Stef though, she was absolutely horrible to her husband at times. I understood her frustration, but she treated him like crap and that wasn’t okay. She kept calling him frustrating and immature, but the only immature person in this book was her. She was difficult to like and I didn’t like her at all. I thought she was horrid and she never really grew on me after that, the damage was done.

Cass and Griffin were easy to like. I loved that Cass was a baker and was curious with all the mention of food in this book if there was going to be some recipes at the end – luckily for me, there are, so excited.

The romance was okay. Because it follows three characters and their relationships and how they are all looking to start over in a different kind of way (for Cass she wants to love again, for Griffin she is moving to a different chapter in her life and for Stef a new start with her marriage) it was hard to really connect with the romance. I connected with the characters, but I never really felt the romance and at times that was frustrating. The most frustrating part besides Stef and her horrible treatment of her husband was Cass and Grant because of their age difference. Grant was about sixteen years old and kept pointing that out through 90% of the book, I was starting to get annoyed, especially since Cass on multiple occasions mentioned she didn’t care. Grant was also quick to keep calling her out on her age and the difference and it was really just getting old – no pun intended.

The other thing that seemed to bother me was the eating and weight issue in this. I wasn’t sure if the author was trying to spin it into a good message or just use the way people act these days, but it was another thing on the list of frustration and gripes with this book.

Cass was a bigger girl and had an issue with her weight, she kept pointing out the fact that she wasn’t skinny and was gaining weight and yada yada yada. As someone who isn’t skinny herself it can get tedious reading about these women and their low self-esteem, it makes me feel like I don’t sit here and bitch and whine about my weight more often (excuse the language) but seriously – Cass does end up doing something about it because apparently people can survive on salads and egg whites alone.

Griffin was the opposite. She used to be fat and no longer eats. Well, she barely eats. Carbs is an enemy and she picks at her food and basically starves herself until Matt the cook comes along and literally forces her to try the food. Ugh, this was such a major issue for me. I get that people like that exist, but when body issues get mentioned over and over again in this book, it makes me feel like I need to fret over my own weight ever breathing minute of the day. It’s annoying.

Overall, I enjoyed it despite all the gripes and the long list of annoyances. I liked the feeling of the read and how there were so many characters and it was just a cozy page turner.

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Review: Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon

Posted March 2, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnonBel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon
Series: Belfast McGrath Mystery #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on March 7th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
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.

Bel McGrath loves her work as a wedding chef. But with her latest event set to take place at Shamrock Manor, she just can't seem to catch a break. The Casey wedding has left her with ten thousand greenbacks in the hole, a missing staff member, and a dead groom. Now, in between Guinness beers and pub brawls, Bel must find a way to crack the case--even though what she should be cracking are eggs into the batter of the wedding cake. A good Irish girl's work is never done. . .
What begins as local town fodder for an episode of "Wedding Gone Wild" is turning into "Gangsters with Guns." With the Casey family spiraling out of control, and billable McGrath hours being lost by the minute, Bel is definitely in too deep. With all these shenanigans, she barely has time to obsess over her new boyfriend and her own unsolved mystery from years ago! Time is running out on getting the next couple down the aisle before the so-called luck of the Irish takes a deadly turn... Bel of the Brawl will keep Maggie McConnon's fans, new and old, guessing.

When I first saw the blurb for Bel of the Brawl, I knew I had to read it. It’s a cozy mystery, set in a small town. It focuses on Bel and her family who owns the Shamrock Manor (seriously, I love the name) the family is also very Irish. I didn’t read book one, but I kind of get the feel for it in the second book. There has been a murder and Shamrock Manor is suffering a little because it’s a wedding place, so the brides and grooms have a bit of reservation when it comes to booking their wedding. It also doesn’t help that when they do book, Bel’s father gives them massive discounts.

After managing to book the wedding, despite some obvious concerns, things seem to go smoothly until the end of the wedding when Bel discovers the groom – dead in the women’s bathroom. Now the tip money from the wedding is missing, along with one their server’s, and Irish gangster’s are breaking into Bel’s apartment. Can she sort through all the lies flung at her and uncover the real killer?

This was a quick read. I really appreciated the quick short chapters, with my schedule it just seemed to work out well for me. What I liked most about this book is the sibling relationship between Bel and her brother Cargan. The two are very close in this book and are working on the mystery behind the murder and the disappearing banquet server together.

This book was filled with interesting characters, from Bel’s mother and father to her brothers. I really adored the family and the closeness and how they seem to look out for each other. I absolutely adore the way her mother complains about Bel’s cooking, because Bel likes to branch out and try thing that are outside of her parents or Irish comfort zone.

I followed Belfast (loved her name) as she sorted through the lies and was bold enough to approach some people that she never should have.

Also, there is a secondary ongoing mystery in this series with Bel’s long lost best friend Amy. A girl who disappeared years ago and seemed to have shaken the little town. In this book it seems remains have been uncovered and Kevin (Bel’s friend, ex boyfriend) believes that this might be Amy. New evidence has come to light about that night also that shake Bel’s world.

What didn’t I like?

I found myself a bit peeved at Bel and Kevin. In this book Kevin is also getting married to what seems to be a wonderful woman, but because of the connection they share over this mystery with their disappearing friend – Kevin and Bel find themselves in a lip lock not once but twice now. I guess, that bothers me a bit. Bel has some unresolved feelings for Kevin and Kevin seems to as well – but they are also indirectly hurting Kevin’s soon to be wife, who seems to be Bel’s friend and a wonderful person.

The pacing was interesting, but there seem to be a few things I was left unsure of. I wanted to know what happened to the Irish Gangster and the man that was helping him, Donnie.

The reveal was weird and also felt a bit anticlimactic. If you are looking for a cozy mystery that is really just a bit subdued – this will be for you. Also, I wasn’t sure I was 100% on the same page about the reason behind the murder.

But it was cozy, and it did feel like a page turner for me. I didn’t find this boring at all.

Overall, I loved the Irish family dynamics. I loved the secondary mystery lurking in the background and I enjoyed the authors laid back writing. This series comes with well fleshed out characters, some sibling love and an interesting mystery. I did enjoy following the clues and meeting the town locals. I am looking forward to seeing where this takes us next.

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Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Posted March 1, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Review:  I See You by Clare MackintoshI See You by Clare Mackintosh
Series: Standalone
Published by Berkley Books on February 21st 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
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.

Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her...
It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.
Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose...A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.
And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…

When Zoe Walker sees a picture of a woman that looks exactly like her in a classified ad for a FindTheOne.com, during her commute home from work, she finds herself more than a little concern. It doesn’t seem to help that despite the fact that she is sure that the picture is of her (but she doesn’t know where and how it was taken) her family doesn’t seem to feel the same way.

Not too long after, Zoe finds another woman that she knows of in the ad and the fact that a crime was committed against her. Soon a string of women appear, not too long after their pictures are displayed in the ad, with crimes committed against them.

Now Zoe is scared, not only for her own life, but how the ads might be related to the crimes.

This was an interesting story. It is told from the POV of Zoe Walker and also follows Kelly – a police officer that Zoe contacts about one of the women – that ends up working on the cases under a detective.

I admit, it took me a bit to get into the story and it wasn’t until about 40% in did I start to find myself invested. It felt slow at first, but once it took off I found it to be a real solid page turner.

I really liked the format of the book the most I think. I like how we got to see Zoe’s POV and how she was feeling and the fear she was dealing with while waiting for the police to do something. I also liked that we got to see Kelly in her role, while battling her own demons – and how the case slowly unfolded.

It was gripping, chilling, exciting, and nerve wrecking when it had at one point crossed my mind that things like this – can in fact happen.

It also makes me happier that I no longer take the subways in New York late at night like I use to before coming here.

Is the entire situation plausible? Maybe not. Not all women had crimes committed against them in the book, not all women followed, but there is a sense of realism to it that can feel a bit terrifying.

The ending was a bit nerve wracking and the epilogue was chilling. I wasn’t sure exactly if I agreed or liked, by the way things ended – because that part did not seem to make sense to me (about how someone like that is capable of what they did) – but nevertheless, the ending was jaw dropping and unexpected.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. Once the book started to move for me, I was immersed in the character and their stories. I wanted more, I needed to know who was behind this plan and what would come of it. As the layers peeled away, I found myself glued to the edge until the story was over.

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Double Review: Starlight Bridge and Christmas with an Angel by Debbie Mason

Posted February 27, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Double Review:  Starlight Bridge and Christmas with an Angel by Debbie MasonStarlight Bridge by Debbie Mason
Series: Harmony Harbor #2
Published by Forever on February 28th 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 368
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.

A second chance for romance...
Hidden in Graystone Manor is a book containing all the dark secrets of Harmony Harbor, and Ava DiRossi is determined to find it. No one-especially not her ex-husband, Griffin Gallagher-can ever discover what really tore her life apart all those years ago. With Griffin back in town, it's more important than ever that she find the book before someone else does. Because her ex is still angry with her for leaving him. And he still has no idea Ava never stopped loving him...
Ava is no longer the vibrant, happy woman Griffin had once loved and married, and he would do anything to bring back the sparkle to her brilliant green eyes. But what's never changed are the sexy sparks of attraction between Ava and Griffin, and he won't give her up again without a fight. He knows there's the real possibility of a future together... if the truth doesn't burn the bridge between them forever.

I just knew the moment I picked up Starlight Bridge by Debbie Mason that this was going to be the book that will briefly pull me out of my reading slump, and I was right.

We met Ava and Griffin in book one, and ever since then I have wanted to know their story.

Ava and Griffin are divorced. They use to have one of a kind love, but after Griffin get’s deployed, something happens that changes Ava and suddenly she is serving the divorce papers. It didn’t take long for the readers to kind of learn what happened to Ava, but Ava doesn’t want Griffin to find out. The problem is, Colleen, Griffins great-grandmother wrote it down in a journal that now everyone in Graystone Manor and their enemies want to get their hands on.

This book did not disappoint. I was a little worried about how I would feel about it after not liking Sophie in book one, but I totally loved and adored Ava – she had such a big heart when it came to Griffin and her own father no matter the circumstances. I felt for the girl, I really did. What happened to her was horrible and who caused, it was even more heart breaking. But, I enjoyed the simmering attraction and love between Ava and Griffin and I loved watching it unfold through the story. It was sweet, it was wondering and no amount of time took away from the strong hold the two have on each other. Watching them as they worked on staying together despite Griffin’s families opinion on her was endearing and left me cheering them on.

There is so much going on. Outside of battling her attraction for her ex-husband, Graystone Manor is still in trouble and Griffin is one of the siblings that is ready to vote to sell the place. A lot of the Gallagher’s don’t want that, so they hope that Ava can change his mind. Ava is also dealing with her father, who had an accident years ago and now cannot walk. He spends his days chain smoking, watching TV, and drowning his sorrows with liquor. When he isn’t doing that, he is letting his anger explode on Ava and she is suffering, but she loves her father, so she does everything she can to help him.

This really was a great page turner. Another book that I had a hard time putting down and found myself reading at four in the morning. I loved that Colleen is still around as a ghost. I think I had an issue with it in the first book, but once I got passed it, I found that I enjoy that part of the book. It’s different and I am okay with that.

Tons of secondary characters are in book two, so we get to see how Liam and Sophie are doing. I have to admit, I still don’t like her and this book did nothing to change my opinion on her. The way she treated her cousin when things were rough at the Graystone manor with the new cook went uncalled for. I thought Sophie of all people would understand. Rose, the DiRossi grandmother is still funny and great, I loved her character in book one as well as this one.

There was a development between Griffin and Lexi – his second ex-wife that even though at the time I found annoying and unnecessary – I grew to respect when my opinion of Lexi changed by the end of the book.

Overall, I really loved this. The storyline follows what’s been happening in book one with the Manor, so even thought this could be read as a standalone – I feel like the readers would be confused with some of the stuff that happens in this book – so I strongly recommend starting with book one.

Double Review:  Starlight Bridge and Christmas with an Angel by Debbie MasonChristmas with an Angel: A Short Story by Debbie Mason
Series: Harmony Harbor #1.5
Published by Forever Yours on December 6th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 54
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 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.

It's been eight long years since Michael Gallagher has laid eyes on Shay Angel, back when he was a boy from the most prominent family in town and she was a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. But he hadn't cared about their differences - until one bad decision landed her in jail.
That was years ago and now he's back in Harmony Harbor for the holidays. So when Shay goes missing, Michael is intent on finding her - and finding out if their sizzling attraction is still there. But he's now a district attorney, and it looks like Shay is once again on the wrong side of the law.

Honestly, I did not know how to review this novella (?) because I wasn’t really sure what is happening here.

Let me explain. This novella follows immediately the events that happen in book one. Michael has been dumped in the alter so to drown out his sorrow he goes to the bar owned by Shay Angel’s uncle, a girl he once fell in love with but also is partially responsible for sending her to jail.

Well, apparently Shay needs his held – or so her uncle thinks and Michael finds himself trying to get her out of a dangerous situation.

This was a super quick read, maybe like 20 minutes? I felt like I read a few chapters in a book and was left wanting more. We get a brief snip of how Michael is feeling after the wedding being such a big mess, we get to meet Shay. The ending left on a sort of a weird note. There was no HEA between these two, but a promise to meet at the same spot a year later.

It felt like a prologue to a book. At least I hope Michael get’s a book because it sounds like it be fun. Shay and Michael are so completely different with their backgrounds, but we don’t get enough out of this book to really feel neither the connection, nor the characters. Honestly, I didn’t even feel like this needed to be written, but okay?

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Review: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted February 26, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 5 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn SparksHow to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 7th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:three-flames

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

Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father's life.
Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage...until he discovers she's vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?
If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

It’s really tough to write bad reviews. Especially bad reviews on books that I end up feeling like the only black sheep.

I picked up How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days because so many of my friends loved it, and I went into the book with a lot of excitement.

It started out great, with an interesting premise, an interesting beginning of the world – but ultimately faltered by half way.

There are a few things I really dislike in my books and it’s like this one hit each one with a nail on the head.

1. Insta-love – The characters fall in love almost right away. She was drawn to him by just seeing him and was already claiming love after only talking to him twice? Five days in, two conversations later and the poor girl Luciana couldn’t live without Leo. She was so terribly in love with the man of her dreams, who happened to be the man she was being forced to marry.

2. Rapid Fire Writing – what else would you call this? umm… Hectic writing? I don’t know how to explain this, but it’s when things happen so quickly and so much at a time it makes your head spin, but things also get resolved within a first few paragraphs and we move on to more really quick scenes, you know what I mean? I hate that. I feel like the author was trying to smash together too many things into one book and it kind of ended up a big giant mess. First, she didn’t have to put so many things in one book. Second, I felt like it left the book with no detail nor substance.

3. Too much drama – seriously, especially near the end. There were just one too many things happening and so quickly, it probably would have been better if one or two big things happened. I felt like I was reading a movie on rewind or cliff notes. A lot of drama was happening in the end there and it was getting resolved so super quickly that my brain was hurting.

4. Plot – Okay this wasn’t all that bad, but I had some issues. First, Luciana is being forced to marry in place of her twin dead sister because if she doesn’t – her father dies. She accepted her faith, way too easily. Next, she must pretend to be her sister Tatiana, and she ends up being really horrible about it because her sister was a complete opposite. People are suppose to believe that she is one in the same person. The two girls grew up in two different places, so even if they were identical (I am assuming?) there would probably be some differences due to their environment and not enough time had passed between the death and Luciana assuming the role that would make up for these discrepancies. Also, I did not expect the book to resolve the problem with the king as fast as it did. I expected this to be ongoing in the series.

5. World Building –  I was really, really, excited about the world at first. There are many different kingdoms and they are at war…but.. why? I wasn’t 100% sure why they kept attacking each other. Maybe I accidentally glazed over that part. There were different regents of the world, but not much is known about any of them, with the exception that the main land does not tolerate the embraced – yet multiple characters are without consequences. I felt the book would be stronger if there was more focus a bit more on world building. I get it, it’s just a paranormal romance so technically there isn’t a need for complete world building. But, since this is also a fantasy, it really would have benefited from more building.

Overall, I was really excited. I came prepared to love it and really wanted a solid paranormal (fantasy?) . Instead, I found myself rather disappointed. It didn’t help that Luciana was the most awkward virgin ever and the love scene made me cringe hard.

I think my favorite part was Brody and the dragon scene. A bit disappointed there wasn’t more of it. Instead, most of the story focused on finding assassins or assassination attacks and just, blah..

And this is just a mild annoyance, but the male lead had a head full of red hair… the cover model, doesn’t.

Now this totally could just be a me kind of thing and not the book, but for me, there was just too many things that I am not a complete fan of when it comes to books. I will probably give this author another chance as I keep hearing wonderful things about her other series.

Rating Report
Plot
2.5 Stars
Characters
1.5 Stars
Writing
2 Stars
Pacing
2 Stars
Cover
2 Stars
Overall: 2 Stars

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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: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Posted February 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise GornallUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Series: Standalone
Published by Clarion Books on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-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.

At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

A story about a seventeen year old girl named Norah and her take on living with agoraphobia, OCD and anxiety.

This was interesting. As someone who hasn’t read a lot of books featuring mental health, I jumped into this unsure what to expect. What I didn’t expect was to read a book from Norah’s point of view. Under Rose-Tainted Skies takes us for quite a ride when we enter Norah’s head and get a taste of what it is to experience everything she is going through, and at times it wasn’t pretty.

Gornall’s debut novel was well written. It wasn’t suppose to be pretty, and we get to know Norah pretty personally.

She spends most of her days at home, afraid to leave her house. She builds stuff out of food and spit, watches junk TV, surfs the web and has to attend therapy at least once a week. Than her life takes a different turn when a boy named Luke moves in next door and he becomes instantly fascinated with her.

I found that I couldn’t put this book down and devoured it fairly quickly with a day with a lack of sleep. Gornall’s writing really pulled me in and immersed me in a story that was both fascinating and not always an easy read. But I love the way Norah prevails everyday despite what she finds herself going through. The snarky tone of the book does make this a lighter read. I adored Norah’s personality and her spunk.

The romance was an interesting twist, but I did find myself wondering how realistic was it really? Luke was a seventeen year old boy, and despite me absolutely adoring the relationship they form and how he sends her letters through the mail slot – I wasn’t completely sold on the romance.

I think my favorite part of the book is the relationship between Norah and her mother. The support she gets from her is moving and the closeness they share just squeezes my heart. It is so good, so refreshing to find wonderful, caring adults in Young Adult fiction and not painted into someone who doesn’t get it, and is downright evil. It was good, it was more of a realistic feel.

The only thing that bothered me about the relationship is when her mother goes away for a few days on a business trip. I didn’t know if it was also really realistic for a mother to leave Norah, given her situation, alone like that when she has so many things going on inside her head and can panic at any given moment. I felt that maybe she would have gotten her like a caregiver or a neighbor to check on her more often?

The ending was also a bit different. The wrench that the author threw into the mix did not make sense unless she intended it to be a way that Norah finally moves forward with her treatment. The ending was a bit open and basically left me wondering what was next. But, I really enjoyed the writing, it was really good. I enjoyed the humor. I was heartbroken by some of the more difficult moments and found myself really connecting and feeling for Norah.

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Review: Highland Vixen by Mary Wine

Posted February 13, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Highland Vixen by Mary WineHighland Vixen by Mary Wine
Series: Highland Weddings #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on February 7th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance, Scotland
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

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

Fierce Highland war chief seeks comely lass for fun, frolic, and marriage
Marcus MacPherson is every inch the fearsome Highlander. He's used to men averting their eyes and women cowering before him. He thinks he'll eventually settle down with a nice, obedient bride. Instead, he gets Helen Grant... Stubborn as the day is long, fearless and dedicated to raising as much hell as possible, Helen is definitely going to challenge Marcus. And challenge him some more. And then some.
It's anyone's guess who'll win this battle of the heart...

I didn’t actually know what to expect from this book. I wanted something Highlander, and Mary Wine’s book jumped out at me. I have not read her before, and she is a new to me author who has pleasantly surprised me.

Highland Vixen jumped into a story leading from book one, so if you haven’t read book one, like me, I strongly suggest starting from there so you don’t have to face the same confusion.

The book opens up with Helen and Brenda Grant escaping the MacPherson Castle and looking for shelter at Court. Helen was a captive in the MacPherson castle because Marcus took her as a prize, but her life wasn’t bad by any means. The last thing Helen wants to do is sit around and wait for the Laird to marry her off.

Helen and Brenda end up at court, where they are immediately called to Earl of Morton’s attention. Morton is a regent of Scotland, and seems to think he can wield power over the Highlanders. So when Marcus shows up at Court in order to bring Helen back, he is stuck under Morton’s claws, who wants Marcus to marry a girl barely 14 to strengthen alliances. Disturbed by the prospect of sleeping with a 14 year old girl, Marcus refuses, ends up in chains and Helen comes to his rescue with the prospect of marriage to her in order to save them.

This was an interesting read. Once I was able to get used to the writing and the dialect, I found myself fully immersed in the story. It did take some time to put the pieces together, since I have not read the first book, but other reviews helped with that.

I really enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t just a romance novel, there was a lot going on, there was a full storyline with the Earl of Morton trying to cause trouble for Helen and Marcus, bringing in other clans into the fold to try and get in their way.

I was confused about why Helen and Brenda went to look for safety in Court, mainly since the two seem to be aware of Earl of Morton and just how despicable and awful the man is. It seems to me the entire situation could have been avoided. I also still am not entirely sure who Brenda is to Helen and how Helen did not come to help her friend after the escape. Especially now that they know what Morton is capable off as he tried to derail Marcus and Helen at every turn.

The romance itself was actually pretty good. I loved that there was some resistance from Helen at first considering the rocky start the two had, but I loved Marcus and his patience. He wasn’t really good at charming his new bride by any means, considering he is the War Chief of clan MacPherson and his wooing skills are zilch next to nothing. The bickering and the growing attraction were a major plus in this book amidst all the danger and excitement thrown their way.

I liked the secondary characters and their storylines and wonder how this series will progress. Well, now I am finding myself invested and hope to learn what will become of them in the future and how it will play out. Especially since the issues with the Earl of Morton have still been unresolved.

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