Publisher: Berkley

Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Posted February 15, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel CleetonNext Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley on February 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 394
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.

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...
Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.
Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Elisa Perez has always dreamt of returning to Cuba after the revolution. Her and many others who have left for exile in America were waiting for the day that Castro would no longer have control of their beautiful country so they could make their way home. The day has finally arrived, but Elisa Perez never had the chance to witness it.

Finally making it onto Cuban soil after many years of her grandmother’s stories, Marisol Ferrera is both excited and saddened that she does not get to experience Cuba with her grandmother as Elisa passed away recently. But she wants to fulfill her grandmother’s dying wish and that is to spread her ashes in Cuba. One problem, Elisa never told Marisol where she wants her ashes spread and as Marisol debates where would be the best place to lay her grandmother to rest, she comes to discover a lot of hidden family secrets since the revolution.

Oh gosh, this book. My first dive into this authors work and I do not regret it. This. Was. Fantastic. Slow moving at first yes, this book took a bit to get into, but once I was fully invested, I absolutely adored it!

This is told in two different time lines. We get to see how Marisol fairs in modern day Cuba, uncovering secrets about her grandmother that she was never told as well as possibly falling in love. Plus, we get to experience Cuba in the 1958 and how the revolution happened as well as Elisa Perez beautifully poignant story.

I loved Elisa’s story, it was beautiful and heartbreaking and I found myself more invested in her romance over Marisols. As Elisa accidentally falls in love with a revolutionary called Pablo, her family is sitting pretty, but scared of what will happen to their country. Coming from a wealthy family, Elisa is a daughter of a sugar baron and her father a huge supporter of Batista. When Batista escapes Cuba after losing the war to the revolutionaries, Elisa’s world is completely shaken and thrown upside down.

The twist in the end totally shattered my heart. I felt that it was coming as everything started to unravel, but I still felt unprepared. Cleeton is such a fantastic writer and storyteller and does such a wonderful job at weaving Cuban history into the storyline. I felt like I learned a bit more about Cuba and what the country was before the revolution. I also felt sad that it isn’t what it use to be after years under Castro’s rule.

The way Cleeton writes about the passion Cuban’s feel for their country in this book is both overwhelming and emotional as evident in the current timeline with Marisol and Luis. Luis is Ana’s grandson. Ana is Elisa’s best friend who stayed in Cuba despite the revolution and it is through their families hardships and passion due we witness the struggle and perseverance of families in Cuba.

There isn’t much negatives about this book. The slow pace aside at points, I do feel like the book could have been shortened just a tad bit at some spots. Also, I wasn’t sure how I felt about such a clean ending with Luis and Marisol, it just felt a tad bit too convenient for me to be believable.

Overall though, this was a great historical fiction with a mix of romance. The story that was told was interesting and the romance between Elisa and Pablo was just so heartbreaking.



Review: Where the Dead Lie

Posted April 24, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 31 Comments

Review: Where the Dead LieWhere the Dead Lie by C.S. Harris
Series: Sebastian St. Cyr #12
Published by Berkley on April 4th 2017
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 352
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.

London, 1813. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is no stranger to the dark side of the city, but he's never seen anything like this: the brutalized body of a 15-year-old boy dumped into a makeshift grave on the grounds of an abandoned factory. One of London's many homeless children, Benji Thatcher was abducted and tortured before his murder—and his younger sister is still missing. Few in authority care about a street urchin's fate, but Sebastian refuses to let this killer go unpunished. Uncovering a disturbing pattern of missing children, Sebastian is drawn into a shadowy, sadistic world. As he follows a grim trail that leads from the writings of the debauched Marquis de Sade to the city's most notorious brothels, he comes to a horrifying realization: Someone from society's upper echelon is preying upon the city's most vulnerable. And though dark, powerful forces are moving against him, Sebastian will risk his reputation and his life to keep more innocents from harm.

Phew, I feel like I have the hardest time writing this review.

This was my first Sebastian St. Cyr book (despite the fact that it is #12), I have been meaning to read this series what feels like forever so when I was offered it for review? Yes, please.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was very atmospheric, but in the heart of it all it is very much so character driven. Could it be read as a standalone? I think so, yes, but and I warn you, you will miss a lot of the character’s back story. Outside of the main mystery, there is a ton going on in the character’s personal life and although I was able to keep up, I felt a little out of the loop.

Despite all that, I was still able to enjoy the book. If I was good at trigger warnings, which I am not, I caution you to go into this knowing it’s a bit of a dark side. Again, this book took me completely out of my comfort zone and I did not find this easy to read. Why? This book deals with the murder of children, rape, flogging and just some really touchy subjects which all of it deals with with like young children around 12-14 year old – so it can be a bit uncomfortable.

This book did have a meaning behind its writing and it was for the author to shed some light on basically street children and how it use to be and the fact that the numbers are still prevalent even in todays society. The horrors, the battles, the means through which they would go through just to survive – I felt there was a message. Despite the fact that it made me feel uncomfortable, it felt realistic.

I read the author’s note and in itself I felt like it was a must read with this kind of a book. She talks about how the research is done, what is fact and fiction and how it was used in her book. It just ties a lot of stuff together, I felt it was important.

As far as the plot goes. It was interesting. I really loved Sebastian and following him as he unraveled the clues to the murders. It was just at times, hard to read, as to me it did feel dark. But, it was good, the writing itself was beyond excellent. Harris is just a really talented writer and has a great way with words. Every sentence just felt so perfectly crafted. I just felt that it was so good, so, so good.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story – despite the fact that it pulled me out of my comfort zone. I found myself rooting for Sebastian to find the killer and avenge all those poor children. As much as it was unsettling, I felt the author did an amazing job. The writing in itself was just brilliant. The characters will stay with me. I will continue this series.

The ending though, ugh… Left a lot of things on the table, it’s not over.



Review: Every Little Thing by Samantha Young

Posted March 29, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review:  Every Little Thing by Samantha YoungEvery Little Thing by Samantha Young
Series: Hart's Boardwalk #2
Published by Berkley on March 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 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.

Hartwell, Delaware—the perfect place to get away from it all, and find what you never knew you needed…
Bailey Hartwell has many reasons to feel content—her successful business, a close circle of friends, and her steady boyfriend…even if their romance feels staid after ten years without a serious commitment. The only challenge in her life comes in the form of sexy businessman Vaughn Tremaine. She thinks the ex-New Yorker acts superior and that he considers her a small-town nobody. But when Bailey’s blindsided by a betrayal, she’s shocked to discover Vaughn is actually a decent guy.
Vaughn admires Bailey’s free spirit, independence, and loyalty. As his passion for her has grown, his antagonism toward her has only worsened. Every little thing Bailey does seduces him. But when Vaughn’s painful emotional past makes him walk away in fear he will hurt her, it opens an old wound in Bailey, and she uncharacteristically retreats.
Once Vaughn begins to realize he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he has no choice but to fight like he’s never fought before to convince Bailey that the love they’ve found together only comes around once in a lifetime.

Every Little Thing is a second book in Youngs new series Hart’s Boardwalk. It’s an enemies to lovers story with a bit of angst. Normally I love my enemies to lovers so much, this was not my favorite. Nor was it my favorite of Young.

I admit, I was excited about her new book because I really enjoyed her other series – so maybe I set my bar a bit too high.

The story follows Bailey, who is pretty much the proclaimed princess of Hartwell and Vaughn, a newcomer to Hartwell, who has built a hotel on the boardwalk but not before Bailey gave him a run for his money. The attraction was instant, but Bailey was dating someone and truly believed that Vaughn hated her.

This book was riddled with too many cliches. Seriously, when Bailey had the big break up moment with her boyfriend, you kind of feel what is going to happen coming. I found myself irritated, like come on… How many times we have seen this happen when a woman tries to spice up her failing sex life by showing up at her boyfriends half naked under a coat only to discover he is already well into another dessert. Like, really? Really?

I really loved Vaughn, and maybe that was what made this book enjoyable because I hated Bailey. I found her frustrating, irritating, and immature. I liked everyone in this book BUT her. The secondary characters were amazing. Bailey just kept making stupid decisions at every turn.

Also, what is with the loose ends? Bailey gets attacked in her hotel room and she thinks she knows who it is and there is an investigation, but nothing happens after the cops show up at her place. It’s like everything was forgotten after her and Vaughn get their dirty out of the way. Honestly, the entire scene felt like a cliche set up and there was no follow through after Bailey explodes her frustration vocally in the store and muddles the investigation. Ugh and her background story? That felt random, it felt like it came out randomly just to add more angst and drama to the story. It was unnecessary and it made my head spin. The reasons she couldn’t commit and trust? Hello, you just came out of a long term relationship where apparently this wasn’t an issue.

My thoughts are jumbled. I wanted to enjoy this. I didn’t. It felt frustrating.

Will I read more of this series? Of course. Dahlia’s and Emery’s stories look so promising.



Review: Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh

Posted March 3, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 28 Comments

Hi guys, today I have a special surprise for you. I want you to welcome my new Guest Reviewer Sophia Rose. Some of you may know Sophia from her regular posting on Delightful Reader. Today she is reviewing for us a great paranormal romance Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh, you can read her wonderful review below.

Review:  Bonds of Justice by Nalini SinghBonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling #8
Published by Berkley on July 6th 2010
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 348
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Max Shannon is a good cop, one of the best in New York Enforcement. Born with a natural shield that protects him against Psy mental invasions, he knows he has little chance of advancement within the Psy-dominated power structure. The last case he expects to be assigned is that of a murderer targeting a Psy Councilor’s closest advisors. And the last woman he expects to compel him in the most sensual of ways is a Psy on the verge of a catastrophic mental fracture…
Sophia Russo is a Justice-Psy, cursed with the ability to retrieve memories from men and women so twisted even veteran cops keep their distance. Appointed as Max’s liaison with the Psy, she finds herself fascinated by this human, her frozen heart threatening to thaw with forbidden emotion. But, her mind filled with other people’s nightmares, other people’s evil, she’s standing on the border between sanity and a silken darkness that urges her to take justice into her own hands, to become judge, jury…and executioner…

I have been enjoying my reading journey this year through the fantastic and engaging Psy-Changling series by Nalini Singh. Her futuristic paranormal world where three races of humans (regular humans, animal shifter humans, and psychic humans) share the planet and all bring their own brand of danger and intrigue to the table with each new book installment.

This is not a good series to skip around and get the books out of order because, though it features a new romance pair with each book, there are ongoing story lines the continue through each book. The world and the large cast of characters was shared in the beginning and build as it goes.

In this latest installment, Bonds of Justice, Singh introduces the reader to another type of psychic human, the ‘J’ or Justice designation (variation on telepathic types) and pairs her with a human. All along, I’ve felt some pity for the psy because many of them stand a better than average chance of either going nuts due to their psy gift messing with them or getting their brain wiped because they are deemed unstable by their own government. Sophia Russo, a Justice Psy, has a truly tough row to hoe in that her designation of psy has a really short shelf life because of the nature of her job- dipping into the darkest of criminal minds to extract the truth so that justice can be served when the forensics and testimony at the trial aren’t quite enough. This is another one of those situations the author does so well when the reader wonders just how she is going to pull out a win for the home team. Sophia is essentially dying, she can’t walk away from the latest assignment that might well be too much and kill her, and now she has fallen in love when a man who loves her back and has had his own struggles that might break him when she dies.

Sophia and Max are a great pair and their backstory, characters, and ongoing relationship that builds between them make a good case why they are so right for each other. Sophia has lived the cold, sterile world of a psy until she encounters red-blooded sensual, but very much alone Max who teaches her to live even while she shows him he has someone to come home to finally.

Their romance is set against the conflict of a ticking time bomb that is Sophia’s eroding mental shields, a dangerous sociopath serial killer, and a cunning murder mystery that they must solve for a powerful psy councilor. There are also check-ins with Lucas and Sascha’s story and other previous couples that Max knows from earlier stories. And beyond that is the ongoing underground civil war taking place in the psy race. It might seem like it was all too much, but it wasn’t. There are quick scene changes, but they lead in and transition well. They serve to tighten the tension and keep the reader riveted rather than distracted.

It ended on a high note and left me with a strong desire to grab up the next book in the series to keep going and see what comes next. The series still feels tight and fresh with a strong conflict that is moving forward steadily. For those who love spicy paranormal romance, I can definitely recommend this series.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.