Source: Publisher

Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Posted February 15, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 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.

Tags:

Divider

Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

Posted February 14, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan MeissnerAs Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on February 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.
In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters--Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa--a chance at a better life.
But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it.
As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world, not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Pauline and Thomas Bright drop everything behind Quakertown when they make the move to Philadelphia in 1918 because the city is the heart of new beginnings and promises.

Thomas has been asked by his uncle to come help him at the funeral home, because his uncle is getting old and does not have any children of his own, with Thomas being his favorite.

Now Pauline and her three daughters, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa have a chance at a better life as they navigate their ways around the new series and adapt to life in a funeral home. But then the ‘Spanish’ flu sweeps across the globe and as Pauline and the girls watch loved ones die around them, they take in a baby that had been orphaned by the disease and he becomes the source of their hope.

This was a story told in two parts. The first part deals with Pauline and her three girls as they move into the funeral home and how there is just so much hope in that move. Hope for a better life for herself and for her daughters, better schooling. That hope ends up being briefly crushed when Thomas, the father, get’s called by draft into serving at war and Pauline stays at the funeral home with the children as the flu sweeps across Philadelphia, claiming many lives.

It was interesting and engrossing following their lives in the funeral home as well as learning more about the events during this time, not matter how difficult it may have been. The flu ended up claiming a lot of lives of people they knew and the war changed the lives closest to them.

It is a story of family, hardships, lost, love and triumphs with the second half, a strong focus on the years following the events that drastically changed their lives.

I adored following the sister’s chapters separately because I adored how the author handled each of their stories, and how each sister grew with the events affecting their lives. It was wonderful, the writing was amazing. There is always something about Meissner’s writing that simply enthralls me and has me craving for more. I never wanted the book to come to an end. I liked the setting, I liked learning a bit about what happened in the American history during that time. The amount of death and from a funeral homes perspective was both cringe worthy and fascinating at the same time.

The characters were well fleshed out, each sister standing out on her own within their own chapter. Each sister affected not only by the flu, the death, but also by the war and the people around them.

The twist in the end that Meissner delivers about how their actions have also influenced others had been both brilliant and heartbreaking.

The story was beautiful and well told, though at times not easy to read just proves how well the author can get you so invested in the characters and the feelings that it something that stayed with me long after I was done with the pages.

I adore this author and cannot wait to see what she has to tell us next.

Tags:

Divider

Guest Review: Pride & Prometheus by John Kessel

Posted February 12, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 16 Comments

Happy Monday everyone! Hope everyone had a great weekend. We are starting off this week with Sophia Rose and her review of a Historical Fiction Novel/Classic Retelling. Enjoy!

Guest Review: Pride & Prometheus by John KesselPride and Prometheus by John Kessel
Series: standalone
Published by Saga Press on February 13th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror, Classic Retellings
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.

“Dark and gripping and tense and beautiful.” —Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club and Pulitzer Prize finalist for We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves
Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.
Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?
Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.
Pride and Prometheus fuses the gothic horror of Mary Shelley with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way.

One glimpse of the blurb telling me that this was a mash-up of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and I had to read it. Two powerhouse classics with vastly different settings and atmosphere had me so curious about how the author would pull it off.

I confess to a little trepidation, as well. Both are powerful stories with different themes so I was crossing my fingers that one would not suffer at the expense to the other.

Well, never fear, the author had a different approach that really worked to blend the stories. This ended up being more of a P&P sequel mashed with the Frankenstein story. A person who has read or watched the movie adaption for Pride & Prejudice and Frankenstein would get more out of this, but I think someone only slightly familiar would get by just fine. Instead of the main Austen heroine, the author plucked out a secondary character from P&P to become his female lead across from the male leads of Frankenstein. A story swirling around Mary Bennet and Victor Frankenstein and his monster actually had even greater appeal. Mary suited the tragic heroine role more than any other of Austen’s Bennet sisters.

The atmosphere of this story is not light and it’s not a romance though it has romantic overtones. The atmosphere is toward the romantic tragedy side with a bittersweet flavor. Mary is a middle-aged spinster who is the odd-(wo)man out in her family. She’s changed and grown and become a better person though very much the Mary people will recognize, but everyone in her life is so busy about their own affairs that this goes unnoticed. She’s ripe for something new in her life- an adventure. The plight of Victor Frankenstein and his monster bring that.

Victor is nearly at the breaking point. He didn’t set out to play God and pay the price, but he did and now he has a monster threatening to kill after having already killed if he doesn’t provide the creature with a wife like him. Victor encounters the rare Mary Bennet and her family and spies his opportunity. Meanwhile, his creature watches with impatience and loneliness. He is angry at Victor’s rejection and leaving him to fend for himself in a world that is disgusted by him and reviles him.

The pace is mostly slower with a few spikes of excitement. It’s not true horror, but more gothic in air. Much of the story is more embedded in the Frankenstein tale and, as I did when I read that the first time, I sympathized with the creature more than his creator. I’m not a Victor Frankenstein fan.

I really only had one niggle and that was that I found the ending abrupt. This was probably on me because I was reeling from the last revelation that came just before that and perhaps wanted something more or different. That said, the ending was consistent with the story itself.

So, all in all, I thought this was a moving story- more thought-provoking than anything else- and definitely one I was glad to have read. I think it will have niche audience appeal toward those who enjoy the classics particularly those of a brooding, darker tragic tone.

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.

Tags:

Divider

Review: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted February 5, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Fixer, #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on July 7th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
Pages: 372
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.

This thriller YA is Scandal meets Veronica Mars.
Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather's ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.
And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess's classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.
Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for this compelling teen drama with a political twist.

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is about to have her entire world turned upside down. Having spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch, Tess is suddenly uprooted and moved to D.C by her much older sister Ivy Kendrick, where she is thrown into a world of politics and power.

Tess never knew what Ivy did for a living in D.C. All Tess knows was that Ivy abandoned her after their parents death and the grudge against her sister for bailing and barely calling is strong.

It doesn’t help when Tess learns from the kids at school that Ivy is a Fixer who fixes people’s problems, including a lot of problems for the parents of the teens that go to her school.

When a conspiracy surfaces that might involve more than one family of her new school and Tess’ own classmates, Tess finds herself in a very complicated situation and she doesn’t like being kept in the dark. But what Tess does not realize is just how dangerous power and politics might be.

This was wonderful. My first book by this author and needless to say it will now be my last, I am already on book two and loving it.

Jennifer Lynn Barnes really knows how to write a complicated story that hooks you from the very first page and keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. I had the hardest time parting with this book. I loved the characters, I loved the mystery, I loved how all the lies connected and how everything unfolded.

That shocking moment about Ivy and Tess in the end, I almost did not see coming, but it ended up being such a good twist that only made the book even more compelling.

Tess is a character that is easy to follow. She is still pretty much a teenager in her own way, but it was nice to see that despite her loneliness and grudge against Ivy, she still cares very much.

The writing for this was just great, it kept me interested, the storytelling was well done, how everything connected seemed to be well though out and it ended up being a really engrossing read that I cannot wait for more from this author.

Tags:

Divider

Guest AudioBook Review: Year One by Nora Roberts, Narrated by Julia Whelan

Posted February 2, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Good Morning/Afternoon!! Today on the site I have Sophia Rose back with an Audiobook review of Year One by Nora Roberts, Narrated by Julia Whelan. I’m so excited for Sophia’s lovely review that it has myself eager to pick up this book this month. Hope you enjoy her review and leave your thoughts below, have you read this book yourself yet?

Guest AudioBook Review: Year One by Nora Roberts, Narrated by Julia WhelanYear One by Nora Roberts, Julia Whelan
Series: Chronicles of The One, #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on December 5th 2017
Genres: Post- Apocalyptic, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
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 stunning new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author?an epic of hope and horror, chaos and magic, and a journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives…
It began on New Year’s Eve.
The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed?and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.
Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river?or in the ones you know and love the most.
As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.
In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.
The end has come. The beginning comes next.
Audiobook length: 12 hours and 20 minutes

My mind just reels after finishing this book. My hands twitched to grab for more even when I knew that I would have to wait to see what comes next. One can read the blurb and see the cover and title to form certain expectations and I thought I was spot on when this one got started. But then, I realized it was something so much more. Just an astounding blend of post-apocalyptic, paranormal, mystical, and suspenseful romance.

The book opens with ground zero for what is to come. The reader is introduced to a set of characters and follows them and a plague that oozes and rushes horrendously across the world. The author’s choice in how to open this sets the tone and gives the reader the great, hideous picture of it all. World-wide death, then pandemonium, and then that something more- a darkness and a light.

The book introduces a large cast of characters who slowly start making their way in the same direction. It brings them along in paths full of danger and survival, switches to others, shows the crazed and senseless brutality, but also the hope and joy. There is much to show that no matter if the world gets a reset that humans bring their very natures right along with them.

So much is happening in this book that I can’t really summarize it. And I also don’t want to summarize so that others can experience this riveting book for themselves without losing any of the wonder and surprise, shock, and more. Some things were cut and dry and not a spoiler to say that a few rag-tag groups make it through the plague only to discover that this is just the beginning- government has collapsed, the military is herding survivors into labs and pens, evil people are on the rampage, those who are deemed different are open season, and those who just want to rebuild and start over seem to be the most vulnerable from all sides and can’t seem to catch a break for long. A prophecy promises the coming of the light bringer, but most have not heard it and the few who have are confused and can’t take it seriously. But they will when hope is at it’s lowest.

I experienced Year One as an audio so I was carried along in the talented, capably hands of Julia Whelan. Remember me mentioning a huge cast? Oh, and all those emotions and conflicts? She handled it like a pro that just gave so much more to this story than I would have got reading it for myself. It still would have been good in print, but I definitely am glad for the listening experience.

So, in the end, I was both gutted and immensely eager to press on. So many of these characters became favorites and I need to know what becomes of them and the ones I loathed as well. This will appeal to a wider range of readers since its dystopian and urban fantasy, suspenseful and romantic.

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.

Tags:

Divider

Review: Home for Christmas by Lily Everett

Posted January 18, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: Home for Christmas by Lily EverettHome for Christmas by Lily Everett
Series: Sanctuary Island #4
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on October 6th 2015
Genres: Holiday, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
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.

Tis the season for family and love…
At least it's supposed to be. For Libby Leeds, however, the holiday season is just another reminder of things she'd rather forget. When she left Sanctuary Island as an orphaned child, she never thought she'd go back except in her dreams, dreams she's kept alive by writing monthly column of her fictional small-town life, until her publisher sends her back home for the holidays.
Owen Shepard is a fallen hero, wounded in action rescuing three of his fellow soldiers, but after a whirlwind of media attention, all this charismatic Army Ranger wants is to get back on his feet and make it to Sanctuary Island to be with his daughter in time for Christmas. What he didn't expect was to be put on a crash course with a columnist hiding her past. Will the magic of Sanctuary Island at Christmastime allow them to find healing together?

Libby Leeds has made a name for herself by sharing heartwarming stories of her perfect home life on Sanctuary Island as a world famous cook. Problem is Libby has not set foot on the island since she was a little girl, she Libby definitely isn’t famous, let alone can she cook. Libby needs money for her uncle who took care of her after her parents’ death because he is having an early case of Alzheimer’s and the places that is perfect, is also costly.

Owen Shepard is a wounded war hero who is returning to Sanctuary Island in over to recover from his injury and meet his daughter for the first time. Libby’s editor insists that Libby plays the part of the famous cook and cover the story of Owen Shepards long road back under false pretenses.

This was an odd story. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the premise as a whole. Libby pretends to be someone who she is not in order to get money for her uncle.She writes a letter to Owen saying she wants to host a Christmas dinner for him and his daughter at her home (Owen just happens to be a fan of Libby’s writing), but she doesn’t know how to cook or how she is going to pull this off.

Off the bat their relationship is built on a lie. I can’t understand the extend of damage this lie could really cause, but she was taking advantage of both Owen and his daughter – despite being a good of heart – that left me feeling a little questionable about the romance.

Owen would have been easy to like, but his determination to get back into duty and leave his daughter was again behind a little frustrating at times.

I wish that Nash had his own book, I felt like there was a lot more to his story, but his relationship with Ivy gets resolved fairly quickly in this book.

What I did enjoy is Libby’s grandfather and how misunderstood, he was as a person and who he really is, just an old man that wants his family together on Christmas – and the two do not seem to realize his loneliness for a while.

Overall, this was just okay. I had a hard time getting behind the romances and the characters. I understood that there were good intentions behind both Libby’s lies and Owen’s need to run off and leave everything behind, but it just didn’t completely work for me. It still ended up being a cute story, I just felt like It could have been better. The premise wasn’t my cup of tea.

Tags:

Divider

Review: Winter in Wonderland by J.S. Drangsholt, Tara F. Chace

Posted December 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  Winter in Wonderland by J.S. Drangsholt, Tara F. ChaceWinter in Wonderland by J.S. Drangsholt, Tara F. Chace
Series: Ingrid Winter Misadventure #2
Published by AmazonCrossing on February 1st 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 234
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.

Professor Ingrid Winter seems to have it all. But she can’t help feeling like everything’s crumbling around her—just like the roof on her family home.
Now she and her husband are on the hook for repairs they can barely afford, and lack of funds means her husband must cancel his dream trip to Italy. Their three daughters are growing up too fast, her latest batch of students are more disaffected than ever, and there’s no one that she’s not disappointing. To top it all off, Mr. and Mrs. Perfect have moved in right next door.
Overwhelmed and anxious, Ingrid’s ready to take a hike. And the whole family, including Gramps, is coming along. A staycation in the mountains of Norway may be just what the Winters need. But will tromping through nature help Ingrid find the right path or send her deeper into the woods?

Ingrid Winters is a professor that seems to have it all, until things starts to fall apart around her.

Now Ingrid and her husband are on the fence because of the repairs they can barely afford on their home, and has put a wedge into her husband’s dream vacation to Italy. Her latest batch of students at the university are distracted and disinterested and to top everything off, a new couple Mr and Mrs Perfect move in next door.

This was….

I don’t know how to rate this book.

Ingrid was… An interesting character enough. I know people rated this book poorly in the past because they found Ingrid not very related, and a very unlikable character. I actually did not complete hate her. To me, she seemed real, and very much someone I can relate to. Motherhood isn’t perfect and neither is marriage, we get caught up in things we should not and we deal with things differently, sometimes with just the heat of the moment. I think because of translation, there was probably a bit of cultural disconnect, or people don’t feel comfortable admitting that there is a part of us in someone like Ingrid.

Ingrid wasn’t perfect. She got frustrated with her husband because of the roof incident and him not being able to work on it and she had every right to, especially when he decided to take the project on himself instead of paying for the contractor. There was a definite strain on their relationship to the point where Ingrid was questioning rather the two are going to get a divorce, but their marriage prevailed when both parties realized their short comings and maybe there was some truth in how Ingrid felt about the situation.

The story is simple and basically follows Ingrid as she navigates her life, parenting, and marriage. It’s not always pretty, there is strain, she ignores her middle child at some point because of the amount of stress she is already under. What I mean by ignores is that she forgot about her middle child’s play in school while she tried to deal with the fact that their house has a hole in the roof, her husband refusing to acknowledge the fact that the neighbor who promised to help, isn’t, the school is giving her problems because her rating is low among the teachers, her youngest child is being bullied in school and the list goes on. People did not like that, I found it realistic, especially when you take into the account everything that was going around Ingrid. We all want to be the perfect mothers, but we are also humans and I found her short comings very human, even if they are not favorably viewed and frowned upon.

Overall, I found this a quick read. There is a lot going on at the same time not much happens because the whole book is just about Ingrid navigating her life. There are cultural differences that get lost on anyone not living in the same part of the world.

Also, there is a bit of rambling, but that could be part of how it was translated.

Tags:

Divider

Guest Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

Posted December 13, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Hey Lovelies! Hope you December is going great! Our has been super busy, so reading is a bit slower. Today I have Sophia Rose on the blog with a review, hope you enjoy her opinion on The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living and leave her some love.

Guest Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise MillerThe City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
Series: Standalone
Published by Penguin Books on November 7th 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 352
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.

"Mix in one part Diane Mott -Davidson's delightful culinary adventures with several tablespoons of Jan Karon's country living and quirky characters, bake at 350 degrees for one rich and warm romance." --Library Journal
A full-hearted novel about a big-city baker who discovers the true meaning of home--and that sometimes the best things are found when you didn't even know you were looking
When Olivia Rawlings--pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club--sets not just her flambeed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of--the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country's longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.
Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn's property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired--to help Margaret reclaim the inn's blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.
With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.
But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee--or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected--it could be even better.
From the Hardcover edition.

A gentle nostalgic, heartwarming piece showcasing a woman’s slow transformation from bright lights and big city to country charm. It’s a New England fairytale that brings into play all that a person can imagine of the best and quirky parts of country living.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a combination of women’s fiction and contemporary romance. It focuses on Livvy’s personal growth, her friendships, her adjustments to a new lifestyle, and a bit of a slow burn romance.

I enjoyed the ambience and tone, the pacing and all the little details of this ideal nostalgic country life that teetered on the line of real and fantasy (not in a paranormal sense), but more wishful thinking. It was a Normal Rockwell setting and people come to life, if you will. I think if one goes in expecting this then it will work better. Livvy is snooty about it at first and is always making comparisons until she sees that there is value in both lifestyles after she settles in.

I only had one real niggle with the story. In the beginning, Livvy was ‘the Other Woman’ in an affair with a married man. There were a few other little things, but that one just stuck. I think it set the tone for me and I never completely connected with her even if I could keep reading and appreciate the rest of the book.

This is definitely a foodie’s book, too. I spent most of the book with my mouthwatering as Livvy worked her baking magic in the Inn’s kitchen or talked food with Chef, Margaret, or shopped in the market. Thankfully, her apple pie recipe is included in the back of the book.

I think the highlight for me was Livvy’s friendship with irascible Margaret. At first, they seem at odds, but then slowly Livvy learns more about her and sees the true Margaret and Margaret opens up a little.

It was not a quick reading experience, but one to pick up and curl up under a throw with me tea and appreciate. I found it a lovely reading experience all in all. I would recommend it to light women’s fiction lovers who appreciate a more soft-glow country life, a gentle romance, with a foodie as the main character.

I understand Louise Miller’s second novel, The Late Bloomers’ Club, is forthcoming from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking. My thanks to Penguin-Random House 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.

Tags:

Divider

Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Posted December 11, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review:  Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah MorganMoonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan with Love #6
Published by Hqn on November 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:two-flames

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

She'll risk everything for her own Christmas miracle...
Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list--dealing with Madi's temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.
Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi--how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple--he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there's nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.
Ethan's kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all--letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

Harriet Knight has lived a lifetime in shyness, when she finally decided to conquer her fears, she challenges herself to do one thing a day in December until Christmas that scares her. That includes online dating, which ends in disaster when the man that showed up at a date is much older than he said he was, a climb out the bathroom window to escape, and a hospital visit due to an injured ankle.

Ethan Black is a workaholic, a doctor that is rough around the edges and has already gone through one miserable relationship. He didn’t count on the fact that he will be sitting his sister’s dog, or that the dog will try and destroy his apartment. So he asks his dog sitter to move into his apartment temporarily, not expecting the explosion in chemistry that follows.

This was cute, it was a decent read. I can see why people loved it.

For me? It didn’t get interesting until about 58% into the book. I felt it dragged until then, I was bored, and had a bit of a hard time. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it, I just did not find myself really invested and was really bored. It took me 13 days to read this, ouch.

Harriet was sweet, the relationship, once it got to that point, was cute.

Ethan makes a dumb mistake, realizes he makes the dumb mistake and fixes it… All within a few last pages of the book.

Felt same old.

Also, this takes place in NYC and snows a lot right before Christmas. I lived in NYC for like 15 years and I wish there was this much snow before Christmas…Happens, but not as often and wonderfully as this book made it timing wise.

Overall, romance lovers will enjoy this one. It’s sweet, it’s got winter, good characters and good writing.

Tags:

Divider

Review: Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan by Jonathan W. Stokes

Posted November 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan by Jonathan W. StokesAddison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan by Jonathan W. Stokes
Series: Addison Cooke #2
Published by Philomel Books on November 14th 2017
Genres: Middle Grade
Pages: 464
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.

The Goonies meets Indiana Jones in Addison's second laugh-out-loud adventure! A journey through Asia in pursuit of the legendary tomb of Genghis Khan.
Fresh off of a victorious treasure hunt and rescue mission in South America, Addison Cooke just can't seem to steer clear of rogue bandits, pesky booby traps, and secret treasure troves. But it sure beats sitting around in school all day.
Addison's aunt and uncle, on the other hand, are none too happy about their habit of attracting kidnappers. When they become pawns in a dangerous gang's plan to steal the most prized possession of the notorious Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, Addison and his friends find themselves once again caught in the middle of a multi-million-dollar international heist. Armed with nothing but their wits and thirst for adventure, they travel across Asia in an attempt to rescue Addison's family and stop the treasure from falling into the wrong hands.
Brimming with round-the-clock action and tons of laughter, Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan is perfect for fans of Indiana Jones, ancient history, and James Patterson's Treasure Hunters series.
Praise for Addison Cooke
"Combines the derring-do of Indiana Jones with a genuine archaeological mystery. Stokes brings a cinematic scope to the story. This lively debut promises more seat-of-the-pants thrillsfor readers who love adventure."--Booklist
"Cinematic pacing and action drive the story, but it's Addison and his friends who will keep readers engaged. Humor is never in short supply . . . and Addison's endless optimism and irrepressible confidence in his own abilities are endearing."--School Library Journal
"Addison is often one step ahead of the adults, but his lead is constantly threatened, building steady tension throughout the novel, screenwriter Stokes's debut."--Publishers Weekly

Schools out, summer is in, and Addison and his group of friends are off to Asia!

Trouble seems to follow Addison no matter where he goes, fresh of a treasure hunt and rescue mission in South America – Addison finds himself in a whole new set of trouble out in China.

When Addison and Molly’s Aunt and Uncle get kidnapped in China by the mysterious Madame Feng, they must use their knowledge as survival skills in order to beat Madame Feng to what she really wants – the Golden Whip from the lost grave of Ghenghis Khan.

This was a really fun read. At over 400 pages, the pace was steady and exciting. Addison is a very interesting 13 year old boy, who is witty, but a bit quirky at times. He hates germs, he loves to read and seems to always have the knack of knowing how to get his friends out of trouble.

The story and the progression was kind of interesting for me, because I was always interested in Mongolia and Ghenghis Khan. I actually did not know that his tomb/grave was purposely done so not even the Mongols could find it. I had to google that bit myself and the author did mostly stick to the fact at the beginning of the book about the possible locations and how he was buried.

I thought that was fun because not only does it provide middle grade kids with a fascinating plot, fun characters, great adventure and a strong set of friendships, it also educates quiet a bit.

I did have to take my time time with the rating because I wasn’t sure about a few things. I did have to keep in mind that this was a middle grade adventure novel and a lot of it does seem a bit out there, but that’s okay, because to me, it allows the children to get caught up in the excitement and imagination. That part I am fully aware of and perfectly fine with, despite some scenes. I especially loved how the author took the fact that they are kids into consideration and during a lot of scenes he limited their capabilities of what they can or cannot do. I love how they think it would play out in their head and how it actually happens is completely different because at the end of the day, Addison and his friends are still children. That kind of line of thinking was awesome and I think something that can be related to.

I wasn’t sure how the kids would relate to Addison thought because for a 13 year old, he is witty, he can talk circles around you and get himself out of sticky situations. He is also the type of kid that will read The Art of War. But, despite being a sort of prodigy (?) Addison still uses tactics that are childlike and it just makes you giggle.

This was a great book. It was fast paced. There is action, adventure, a mystery and it is really, really well written you guys. I absolutely loved the writing, Stokes just does a wonderful job that it even makes it really enjoyable for an adult because I forgot at several places that this was a middle grade book.

My favorite character I would have to say is Dax’s (the adult in this book) copilot Mr.Jacobsen a goofy Great Dane.

Tags:

Divider