Series: standalone

Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

Posted April 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 4 Comments

Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna GoodmanThe Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
Series: standalone
Published by Harper Paperbacks on April 17, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
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.

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.
In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.
Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.
Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.

Trigger warning for rape

It’s 1950’s in Quebec and Maggie is the daughter of the local seed store owner. The French and the English just barely tolerate each other, the tensions are high. Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phenix, a poor french farmer from next door. When Maggie get’s pregnant at 15 years of age, her parents give up her baby Elodie for adoption so Maggie could get her life back on track.

Elodie is being raised in one of Quebec’s impoverished orphanage’s. When all the sudden the laws change, her orphanage is converted into a mental institution and hundred of orphans become trapped in that system, classified as mentally ill.

Years later, Maggie cannot stop thinking about Elodie, and hopes to find her daughter again.

This book follows both Maggie and Elodie and how they grow as people in the life they have been thrown in. This book also explores The Duplessis Orphans who were the children that were victimized and falsely certified as mentally ill by the government of Quebec, Canada mid 20th Century. It wasn’t easy to read at times, the beginning of the book especially was a bit rough for me, because it involves rape of Maggie as a teenager by an adult and it was very uncomfortable.

I thought the writing in this book was well done, the author did a fantastic telling both Maggie and Elodie’s stories, even if Elodie’s part was also difficult to read at times, you just cannot help but sympathize with the characters.

This topic was new to me, I did not know much about Canadian history prior to this book, nor about the animosity between the people. I found this whole topic fascinating and very heartbreaking, especially with what happened to these orphans.

There was a bit of a struggle with this book at times based on the misogyny of the male characters and how they kept assuming that children will make a bad marriage better. When Maggie first get’s married, I wanted to throttle her husband for disregarding Maggie’s dream and forcing her into producing babies. Thought given the time frame, it isn’t all that surprising, does not make it any less annoying.

The ending did feel like it wrapped up kind of weird and convenient, I didn’t expect it to be as neat but it was really touching.

Overall, the writing I found really good. The storytelling flowed. I did find myself invested in the characters and their storylines. I did enjoy it and looking forward to more from this author in the future.

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Review: The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette

Posted April 11, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan PaquetteThe Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette
Series: standalone
Published by Philomel Books on March 20, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover
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.

A magical story about a boy's love for his dying father and his journey to the mythic Train of Lost Things, where beloved lost objects are rescued and protected until they can be returned. Perfect for fans of The Phantom Tollbooth, The Bridge to Terabithia, and Lost in the Sun.
Marty cherishes the extra-special birthday present his dad gave him -- a jean jacket on which he's afixed numerous buttons -- because it's a tie to his father, who is sick and doesn't have much time left. So when his jacket goes missing, Marty is devastated. When his dad tells him the story of the Train of Lost Things, a magical train that flies through the air collecting objects lost by kids, Marty is sure that the train must be real, and that if he can just find the train and get his jacket back, he can make his dad better as well.
It turns out that the train is real -- and it's gone out of control! Instead of just collecting things that have been accidentally lost, the train has been stealing things. Along with Dina and Star, the girls he meets aboard the train, Marty needs to figure out what's going on and help set it right. As he searches for his jacket, and for a way to fix the train, Marty begins to wonder whether he's looking for the right things after all. And he realizes that sometimes you need to escape reality in order to let it sink in.
In this achingly beautiful adventure, it is the power of memories, and the love between a father and son, that ultimately save the day.

Marty receives a jacket from his father for his birthday, a few days before he finds out that his father has the bad kind of cancer. The jacket is meant for Marty and his father to build memories between the two of them, and for each memory, Marty get’s a pin to put on the jacket to remember his father by. When Marty and his mother travel back from a trip because his father is doing worse, Marty ends up losing his jacket. In order to find it, Marty has to believe his dad’s story about the Train of Lost Things and find a way to get on this mythical train.

This story was just wonderful. It’s a story about loss in different forms told in that fantastical, magical, mystical Middle Grade way. I found this story to be important and so well done. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking. The writing was great. The author really knew how to weave an emotional and important story with elements that children and parent’s will equally enjoy.

I find this book to be a keeper and an important one at that. It definitely allows you to use your imagination on an interesting setting of a magical train where your hearts most precious possessions go when they get lost.

I highly recommend this book for parents with children that read Middle Grade and it will go on my shelves for my son as a keeper as well.

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Review: Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back? by Jory John, Liz Climo (illustrator)

Posted April 4, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back? by Jory John, Liz Climo (illustrator)Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back? by Jory John, Liz Climo
Series: standalone
Published by Dial Books on March 20th 2018
Genres: Childrens, Picture Books
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
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.

Persnickety Elephant has an itch--a big one--and he can't reach it! While he isn't above asking for a little help, no one is up to the task. Turtle is too lazy, Snail is too slimy, and Alligator... well, Elephant isn't sure he wants his assistance. Does Elephant have to do everything himself?

A story about an Elephant who isn’t able to reach an itch on his back, so he is looking for someone who can help him scratch his back. He asks an array of different animals and each pose a bit of a problem when it comes to back scratching, until a very unlikely helper comes along.

I thought most of this story was really cute. I liked the illustrations because they were clean, well done and very eye pleasing. I liked that it featured different kind of animals doing what they can to help the elephant with his problem.

I did not understand the end…

It was funny, sure, but the elephant used the one animal that tried to help him and kind of tossed him aside in turn causing the animal its own problem. I thought the lesson of the story would be “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” but the lesson was kind of lost on me when the elephant turned out to be kind of rude.

Maybe I am overthinking this? My son did enjoy the book and found it funny, but I am trying to teach him using the example in this book – that if someone helps you with your problem, don’t use the person and be rude about it, because you never know what consequences might come of it. It is always better to respect the people who help you.

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Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 2, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn BennettStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
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.

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Zorie and Lennon have been best friends for a really long time, until the Great Experiment when their feelings for each other changed. But, last year when the two decided to go public, Zorie found herself stranded at homecoming by Lennon with no explanation and a single “I’m sorry” via text.

Now it’s a year later, summer time, and Zorie finds out from her step mom that she has been “invited” by a girl named Reagan on a glamping trip (camping for rich people). At first, Zorie doesn’t really want to go, but when she discovers a letter addressed to her mother that has something to do with her father – Zorie finds it as a way to escape until she can decide what to do about this new information. What Zorie did not expect was for Lennon to be joining the trip, nor the events that follow suit.

This was such a cute read. I absolutely adore Jenn Bennett’s YA romance. They are definitely a bit on the older side of the YA adult, but they are just so well done. I love that it’s sex and safety positive. I love that it generally has awesome parent’s (with the exceptions of Zorie’s father in this case) and such great, well developed characters.

I enjoyed the setting and the duo’s adventure as they make their way through the state park after getting stranded. I learned a thing or two about camping myself that I was not aware of. I love the relationship between the two characters and they were just both such great kids. The romance was sweet, wonderful and believable. Lennon had really great parents (two mothers). Zorie had an awesome relationship with her step-mother Joy and that just made my heart sing.

Thought I enjoyed the large part of this book, I had gripes with Reagan and her friends. I understood the girl had issues because she did not get what she has been training for all her life, but I did not like what she did to Zorie and Lennon. I also did not understand why the others just followed suit with her decision. It felt like it could have gone so terribly wrong and there just wasn’t enough repercussion for their actions. I also felt like Summer and Kendrick should have stopped her, because they did not seem like the type of kids from what I got out of them in the book, that would be capable of doing something like that.

Oh, and Zorie’s father really got under my skin with his actions and lack of thought for his daughter. I understand that he lost a wife, but Zorie lost a mother and he should have been a better parent in this situation – but he was not. I did adore that Joy – her step-mother was just such a fantastic character and was able to step right in.

Overall, this was just another awesome read from this author. Her writing flows, her characters are extremely likable for me, I enjoyed the story and the writing and looking forward to her next book.

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Review: Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Posted March 28, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: Black-Eyed Susans by Julia HeaberlinBlack-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
Series: standalone
Published by Ballantine Books on May 31st 2016
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

A girl's memory lost in a field of wildflowers.A killer still spreading seeds.
At seventeen, Tessa became famous for being the only surviving victim of a vicious serial killer. Her testimony put him on death row. Decades later, a mother herself, she receives a message from a monster who should be in prison. Now, as the execution date rapidly approaches, Tessa is forced to confront a chilling possibility: Did she help convict the wrong man?

Black-Eyed Susan is about a woman named Tessa, who somehow survived the serial killer responsible for killing a bunch of young girls and burying them among the flowers Black Eyed Susan. Years later, she is still known as the surviving Susan, but with the “killer” on death row, Tessa teams up with Bill and Jo to uncover the truth about the real killer and hopefully release the wrongly accused man from being sentenced to his death.

This book follows two different timelines. We follow Tessie, a 16 year old girl and a survivor of her monster and Tessa in present time as a grown woman.

I don’t know how to feel about this to be honest. The mystery was interesting enough, but it was riddled with holes and the pacing made it hard to be really excited about.

Maybe it was just me, but I did not understand how they got the man that they did (the wrongfully accused) as the Black-Eyed Susan murderer. I thought it was going to be revealed through Tessie’s chapters, but I never got the answers I was looking for.

I did not understand why Tessie was spared and the other girls weren’t. How was she picked to be one of the victims?

I also did not understand who kept planting the Black-Eyed Susans years later.

The Lydia storyline seemed a bit far fetched an the end and really hard to believe.

I enjoyed the premise and felt it had a lot of potential, but it fell a bit flat for me. Also enjoyed the underlining commentary and an attempt to bring awareness of the whole justice system in Texas as far as Death Row goes. It was a bit terrifying and uncomfortable. I also enjoyed learning about forensic science and have discovered things I have never heard of before as far as bone identification goes.

Overall, it was a decent read but the pacing and the holes left in the story made me want a bit more. The ending I did not see coming and I was thankful for that, it took me a while to figure out who the killer really was.

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Guest Review: Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Posted March 26, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Happy Monday everyone! Got Sophia Rose on the blog today with a review of Other People’s Houses. Totally exciting to see what she thinks of it myself because I am going to be listening to my copy in the near future. Enjoy!

Guest Review: Other People’s Houses by Abbi WaxmanOther People's Houses by Abbi Waxman
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on April 3rd 2018
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
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.

"Abbi Waxman is both irreverent and thoughtful."--#1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin
And now the author of The Garden of Small Beginnings returns with a hilarious and poignant new novel about four families, their neighborhood carpool, and the affair that changes everything.
At any given moment in other people's houses, you can find...repressed hopes and dreams...moments of unexpected joy...someone making love on the floor to a man who is most definitely not her husband...
*record scratch*
As the longtime local carpool mom, Frances Bloom is sometimes an unwilling witness to her neighbors' private lives. She knows her cousin is hiding her desire for another baby from her spouse, Bill Horton's wife is mysteriously missing, and now this...
After the shock of seeing Anne Porter in all her extramarital glory, Frances vows to stay in her own lane. But that's a notion easier said than done when Anne's husband throws her out a couple of days later. The repercussions of the affair reverberate through the four carpool families--and Frances finds herself navigating a moral minefield that could make or break a marriage.

After the thoroughly engaging The Garden of Small Beginnings, I was pleased to settle back into the writing world that this author can create.

Other People’s Houses is a different style standalone story than the other, though happily there are a few minor crossover scenes. This one is a wry, varnish free up close and personal with four families in a typical middle-class LA neighborhood.

The main narrator is middle-aged, even-keeled Frances Bloom. Frances is comfortable and content. Well, as content as is probably possible- she has the squabbles with her teen daughter, the extra weight that never left after the kids came, the usual spousal disagreements, and the occasional wonder ‘is this my life?’, but yes, overall, she can’t complain. She enjoys being a stay at home, carpool mom with three kids and a comfortable marriage with a man who is more best friend than lover these days. Life is tripping along as normal until Frances comes across one of her neighbors she saw as cool, put together, and happily married, in an affair.

Anne’s affair has far reaching repercussions in her own life, her family’s, but also the neighborhood.

Suddenly people are not so content and all the neighbors are taking a closer look at themselves, their relationships and their lives. One married pair are tense as Iris wants a baby and Sara would rather not. Another married man, Bill is the butt of whispers as people wonder where his wife, Julie, has gone and Bill himself wants her with him. The kids and Charlie are reeling from Anne’s betrayal and what a broken family feels like. Meanwhile Frances and Michael are the unofficial anchors in the neighborhood, though, they do, are forced to pause and evaluate their own lives.

The rhythm of the book is slow as it meanders through all these lives and their days. The gentle pace can get soporific, but that’s where the author’s writing keeps the reader engaged. There are spot on observations, ponderings, and of course those giggle-worthy moments. This is an everyday average people story where the reader who may be middle-aged and/or a parent, a neighbor in a relatively quiet neighborhood can nod, ‘I’ve thought that’. Oh, no, it’s not everyone’s neighborhood or family life, but there is a familiarity to it, nonetheless.

The story ends on a crisis that brings things to a point so that the neighbor situations are all forced to resolve and yet, I had a curiosity for where these people will be in five years, ten, twenty… I got connected without realizing it, it seems.

It was a well-written piece of character-driven fiction. I’m very taken with this author’s writing style. Mildly engaging, a touch bitter at times, and thoughtful, flavored with the sweetness humor and wry housewife wit. I don’t think it is a book that will appeal to everyone, but it’s great if you are a people watcher and want to just sit back and observe the life in Other People’s Houses.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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.

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Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Posted March 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra ChristoTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Series: standalone
Published by Feiwel & Friends on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 342
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.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

To Kill a Kingdom is a loosely based Little Mermaid retelling. It follows Princess Lira one of the most dangerous sirens who one time a year, rips a prince’s heart out. Her collection keeps growing with now seventeen Prince’s that she has murdered. But when the Queen decided to punish Lira for taking a heart too soon before her Birthday, she turns her into the thing that Lira hates the most – a human.

Prince Elian loves the ocean and is the only place he calls home despite being an heir to one of the most powerful Kingdoms. He is a pirate that travels on his ship with his crew while hunting Sirens, and has given himself a name as a notorious Siren killer. When he discovers a naked woman in the middle of the ocean, he knows she is far more than what she appears – but she promises him help finding the Eye of Kato – a powerful weapon that can take down the Sea Queen.

As far as as sirens, mermaid books go, I think this is the best one I have read in a long time. The author does a good job with how she handled mermaids and sirens a like and I found it interesting and original. The writing was really good too and for the most part kept me engaged, despite some pacing issues.

That being said, I felt like this book could have made an interesting adult book. Sometimes the character roles make you forget just how old everyone is and when you finally remember, it sometimes felt hard to believe. Like Elian is about 17 to 18 years old and yet he is one of the most feared Pirates and spends his life killing sirens and building his name around it, at times his age felt off. Until, you remember that he was also completely naive when it came to Lira. He found a naked woman in the middle of the ocean, with no ships in sight, and she seems to know a lot about sirens as well as their action – and he couldn’t put that all together?

The pacing was good for the most part, I did love the world and the world building. I did wish there was a bit more, but I get how the story was supposed to flow and be fast paced. Of course, most of the story ends up being about the crew travel to a Kingdom that holds the Eye and the rest 10% or so dedicated to a battle. At that point I found that I was reading the story just to finish it.

In my honest opinion, for me the book sits at between 3.5 and 3.75 stars but because this was one of the better siren, mermaid books out there I did round it up to 4 stars it is definitely worth the read if you enjoy those type of books because thus far it is one of the better ones out there. I did enjoy it and I did find the writing really good and loved the world the author created.

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Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Posted March 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret RogersonAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Series: standalone
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fae
Pages: 300
Format: Kindle Edition, Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

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

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

A few points about An Enchantment of Raven

  • The writing was gorgeous. The world was beautiful, Margaret Rogerson really has her way with words and she weaves together a stunning, vivid, dynamic world that really makes your imagination come alive.
  • Thought, the world and the writing are beautiful, where the book really hurt was the characters and the weak plot line. The story follows a 17 year old girl named Isobel, a human with painting as her Craft. They live in the world where summer does not seem to go away. The Fair ones hunger for human craft, and Isobel’s paintings are highly coveted. When Isobel gets her first prince – Rook of the Autumn lands – she paints sorrow in his eyes and puts Rook in danger. For Isobel did not know that showing emotion is dangerous and can get him killed.
  • Isobel is 17 years old, Rook is hundreds, if not thousands of years old. There is a bit of instalove between Isobel and Rook. I did not get the romance between the two and was quite frankly a bit confused about it. If Fair Folk are not meant to feel, how does Rook fall in love not once but twice? Also, if Rook is as old as he is and in love with a 17 year old, felt a bit off Isobel had moments of maturity but she also had bouts of juvenile tendencies as well. They have this heated kiss scene at which she comments afterwards that sex really turns people into imbeciles. Which I guess just reminds you that she is a 17 year old girl who just got grabbed by a Fair Folk that is hundreds of years old. I couldn’t get past that, mainly because he was so much more mature and experienced as her that the duo was making my head hurt.
  • There were a few other parts that confused me. The Hemlock plot line just felt kind of underdeveloped. At one point it is said Rook is losing his magic, I did not understand if he was going to recover and get it back and the whole conflict just felt a bit confused and one I found I really did not care for. The Ardan King is somehow poisoning the lands, but I did not understand how or why.
  • Isobel is a special snowflake, only she can save Fair Folk lands with her craft.
  • Overall, the writing was magic, stunning in it. But it faltered in characters, romance and a plot line that just didn’t completely work.

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Review: A Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca

Posted March 10, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: A Kiss in the Dark by Gina CioccaA Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, 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.

When the lights go out at a Georgia high school football game, Macy Atwood finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless – but is gone by the time the lights come back on. All she knows is that there was something special – and oddly familiar – about her mystery kisser.
Noah Granger, Ridgedale’s resident bad boy and newest transfer student, has no problem taking credit for the kiss, but Macy can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying. Especially since a photograph of Macy and former star football player Joel Hargrove resurfaced online moments before the blackout, a not-so random reminder of how hard she fell for Joel last year. And how doing so ultimately sent her lifelong friendships with Meredith Kopala and Ben Collins up in literal smoke.
Soon junior year’s wounds begin to reopen as Macy realizes the events that unfolded are somehow tied to her mystery kisser. Discovering how means finally facing what really went wrong with Meredith, Ben, and Joel – and finding out what Noah is covering up.
But the closer Macy gets to figuring it all out, the more she starts to worry that the boy who kissed her in the dark and the boy who is stealing her heart might be two very different people.

Macy had a rough junior year and is hoping to make the best of her senior year, including mending some relationships that were destroyed last year. When the lights go out at her high school during the football game, Macy finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless. The boy seems to know her and everything about him is familiar, but she can’t quite figure out who is he.

Noah, the resident bad boy has no qualms about taking credit for the kiss and Joel – her junior crush who bailed from taking her to homecoming is acting weird again.

But Macy is also trying to build a bridge between her best friend Meredith and her former friend Ben after something happened during Junior year as she continues to try and find the boy who kissed her in the dark.

Okay, this book was… Okay.

First, I am very confused because the football game happens at night and when the lights go out, well am I the only one who is confused how Macy still did not see this person? Because I did not get an impression that this was a dome setting (maybe I missed the part?) because otherwise, Macy should have been able to see the person who kissed her. Not really up to how she was so blind that moment.

Two, Macy was a sweet character and easy enough to follow, but oh my god I did not understand how she was super oblivious. Like the signs were everywhere and the other characters knew, but no one apparently bothered to tell her what was going on. I found this beyond frustrating and I wanted to throttle her. She was always confused about Ben and Joel and was questioning their behavior and “mysterious” words the entire damn book and somehow could not see what is in front of her? I find it hard to believe. That, or the character herself really was that thick.

This book takes place during senior year, but we get chapters that tell us what unfolded during junior year. I liked Meredith and I felt so sorry for what she went through.

I thought the romance could have been so sweet, but a lot of the book focused on Macy navigating senior year and a lot of it was about homecoming. I couldn’t relate to the obsession of homecoming because when I was in high school about ten years ago, we didn’t have homecoming in my school. The romance kind of happens slowly and by accident, but the focus of the book felt like everyone around Macy were mad at her the entire time because she seemed to just…Not get it.

Overall, I found some of the book cute. It was a fast read. I just found some things to not make sense and the whole case with Macy being completely blind to everything was a little frustrating through the book. But, I did find that I still enjoyed it well enough. Also, I LOVED Macy’s parents and I was glad for positive parent representation in the book.

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Review: Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

Posted March 1, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura MadeleineWhere the Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine
Series: standalone
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on February 13th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
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.

I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was like tasting for the first time. Like discovering colour . . .
In 1919, the cold sweep of the Norfolk fens only holds for Emeline Vane memories of her family, all killed in the war. Whispers in the village say she’s lost her mind as well as her family - and in a moment's madness she boards a train to France and runs from it all.
She keeps running until she reaches a tiny fishing village so far from home it might as well be the end of the world. Transfixed by the endless Mediterranean, Emeline is taken in by Maman and her nineteen-year-old son, and there she is offered a glimpse of a life so different to the one she used to know: golden-green olive oil drizzled over roasted tomatoes, mouth-wateringly smoky red spices, and hot, caramel sweetness.
But it's not just the intense, rich flavours that draw her to the village, and soon a forbidden love affair begins. One that is threatened by the whispers from home that blow in on the winds from the mountains . . .

In 1919 Emeline Vane has lost most of her family to war and her mother to the flu. When her uncle decides the fate of her house, her youngest brother and her, for her, Emmeline unable to cope with it decides to run away.

Now in 1969 Timothy Vane (her youngest brother) is dying and his descendants want to sell the abandoned family home to a developer. Bill Perch a local young solicitor in training is tasked with finding Emeline Vane or find proof that the great aunt was as crazy as they were said to believe.

This was a beautiful, poignant story of self discovery in the face of self perseverance, family and romance, brimming with rich vivid detail of food and French landscape.

I loved the book, I loved the strong willed, driven characters. I loved the setting and the descriptions made me feel like I was in France watching the tale unfold. I felt so wrapped up and invested in Emeline story and how she overcame everything, that I found it difficult to part with.

I found that the story was never dull as we follow the journey of both Bill and Emeline and the pages flew rather quickly. Thought that being said, I did find Emeline story much more richer not only in the setting that the author enveloped us in but also in quality. The love story between her and the boy that discovers her grows slowly despite the stakes that seemed to rise against them.

The ending did feel a little abrupt to me. Bill’s story was left a little open ended, but provided a world of possibilities for the young solicitor. Emeline’s ending thought a happy one, also was a bit sad.

Overall, this was a great book. It didn’t feel long, it didn’t drag and the author was a master at creating a rich atmosphere with vivid details of the landscape and the food described in the book. I adored both the characters and their story and am looking forward to more from this author.

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