Source: Publisher

Review: The Dragon’s Price by Bethany Wiggins

Posted March 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  The Dragon’s Price by Bethany WigginsThe Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins
Series: Transference #1
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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

Fans of Julie Kagawa’s Talon and Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn will devour this action-packed fantasy adventure about a girl who chooses to surrender herself to a deadly dragon rather than marry an enemy prince.
When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.
Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.
As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .
If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?
There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

I really don’t know where to start or how to feel about this book, so I am going to go ahead and break it down into parts and generalize I guess? I was on a fantasy kick and had got this one for review and despite it not rating high on goodreads, I was like, well it’s here, it’s about dragons? WHY NOT?

Hoo boy, this book and I were just off to a rocky start from the beginning

Lack of World building – Like this book just barely had any of it okay? It’s a fantasy book, set in a world and we don’t know much about it and it just felt like we were told this is how it is and we are supposed to accept it. There is a ton of other races mentioned in this book, but we don’t know much about them or why they are at war and the things we learn feel like bits and pieces of a bigger picture.

So we got these two kingdoms that are bound by a promise a vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon. Apparently it’s because many years ago a war waged and a dragon was released and now to keep the dragon bound by magic, this needs to happen every time there is an heir. There is a clause apparently because the horse lord heir does not have to take one of the Faodaran, they can reject them, feed an animal in place as a sacrifice and move on with their life until the next heir comes along. Or, the princess can reject the proposed marriage – should it come – and be fed to the dragon.

So Sorrowlynn (named because she was predicted to die by her own hand) does not want to marry the savage/barbaric horse tanned skinned horse lord and chooses the dragon instead – because she did not get the memo that ANY of the heirs can propose marriage.

Two things wrong here

One, as you might have figured Sorrowlynn is a white proper princess and the horse lords are tan skinned and are called savage/barbaric people… – sigh- am I the only one who sees racism here? I’m starting to wonder if this is the reason this book got the reviews that it did. I wanted to give it a benefit of the doubt, but every time she spoke of the horse lords, Sorrowlynn had a racism pouring out of her. Barbaric and savage were words used one too many times. Also, I think the author is a fan of game of thrones because this sounds a lot like Daenerys inspired storyline here?

So apparently Sorrowlynn binds herself to being dragons yummy yummy food before the young horse lord Golmarr steps forward and proposes marriage. Oh but when she learns that he can do that – even thought he hinted it prior – she is like oh okay I can live with that? Too late, you are bound and dragon food. Maybe Golmarr shouldn’t have spoken in riddles, since intelligence is not her strongest asset. Oh, but you know what is? Her virginity. If she wasn’t a virgin no one would want her and the royal family would go to war over it…Okay? Even thought the king absolutely does not like her very much, for reasons. So she is lowered into the mountain and Golmarr decides to throw his life on the line and help save the princess who was nothing but vicious towards him.

After a lot of walking and a lot of thoughts of suddenly wanting to kiss Golmarr we get to the special part of the book

Sorrowlynn who has no experience what so ever with combat, get’s lucky and slays the dragon. Not only giving herself the special kind of snowflake status, but inadvertently stealing his thunder and destiny.. Like thanks, you know? I get it, girl power and all that, but it was still kind of blah.

I felt like Sorrowlynn had zero personality. The only thing she was good at for most of the book is looking down at people. This is why I did not understand half the time why people were so willing to sacrifice their lives for her.

Overall, I felt like the writing was lacking a bit. It reads like a younger than Young Adult but there were a lot of subjects that read more adult. Lot’s of mentions of her special her virginity is and how Golmarr could not wait to marry her so he can take her to bed, ugh… Also, I found some inconsistency in the story but I cannot go into it without complete spoilers. Okay moving on.

The only reason I gave it two stars because the ending made me sort of happy, heh.

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Review: I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjørk

Posted March 17, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel BjørkI'm Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjørk
Series: Holger Munch & Mia Kruger #1
Published by Penguin Books on March 14th 2017
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Pages: 400
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.

International bestseller Samuel Bjork makes his US debut, a chilling and fast-paced thriller in which two detectives must hunt down a vengeful killer--and uncover the secret that ties each of them to the crime A six-year-old girl is found in the Norwegian countryside, hanging lifeless from a tree and dressed in strange doll's clothes. Around her neck is a sign that says "I'm traveling alone." A special homicide unit in Oslo re-opens with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. Holger's first step is to persuade the brilliant but haunted investigator Mia Kruger, who has been living on an isolated island, overcome by memories of her past. When Mia views a photograph of the crime scene and spots the number "1" carved into the dead girl's fingernail, she knows this is only the beginning. Could this killer have something to do with a missing child, abducted six years ago and never found, or with the reclusive religious community hidden in the nearby woods? Mia returns to duty to track down a revenge-driven and ruthlessly intelligent killer. But when Munch's own six-year-old granddaughter goes missing, Mia realizes that the killer's sinister game is personal, and I'm Traveling Alone races to an explosive--and shocking--conclusion. "From the Hardcover edition.""

As I am sitting here trying to figure out how to write a review for this book, I think I am slowly coming to terms that I am not positive how to word my feelings.

I’m Traveling Alone is a US debut novel by a Norwegian novelist about two detectives who are in a fight against time to track down a vengeful killer coming after six year old girls. To say that I breezed through this book would be a lie, but not for completely negative reasons.

This book was good. The writing was amazing. Samuel Bjørk is an excellent, creative writer that knows how to pull you in and tell an interesting story that will really pull you right out of your comfort zone.

With the victims in this book being six year old girls, this book was NOT an easy read. It was heart-wrenching, dark and uncomfortable. So even thought the book was completely engrossing, well crafted and a page-turner – I couldn’t finish it in one sitting. I had to take a step back and read something easy in between because being a mother, at times the story was truly terrifying.

I really liked the two main detectives in this story. Mia and Holger grew on me quick and I found myself rooting for them until the very end. Mia comes with a dark past and at the beginning of the book, Mia is in a really dark place. There is mention of alcohol and drug abuse, which can potentially be a bit triggy for some people (thus the content warning). I got to see how being bought back to work on this case with the only other person she cares in the world, pulls Mia back out of this haze she lives in.

There is just so much going on in this book, so much. The killer leaves puzzles for the detectives and it was interesting to see how Mia’s mind works in uncovering these puzzles. It was just so cleverly crafted, which made this book so hard to put down at times – even thought I had to. There are also other storylines that we get a glimpse into and how they end up merging and connecting with the case. There is a church, that’s like a cult and we get to see where that is relevant. It was just so much, but so good and there was just never really a dull moment. The story ran at a steady pace and completely enthralling when not dark and scary. It really did pull me out of my comfort zone as I find stories with children as victims absolutely hard to read. I wasn’t sure if I would like it or would be able to finish it – but I did and I enjoyed it.

My only gripe was I did not understand how Mia came to the conclusion the way she did about the killer. I have to admit, I did not know whodunit. The story follows so much that it could have been any of the people mentioned. Once unveiled, though, I think it was even more frightening. Also the fact that psychopaths like that can exist just really makes you shudder.

Oh, also the writer is Norwegian so the story takes place in Norway, which I think was the best part of this whole experience. I love when books take place outside of the states

Overall, it was gripping, it was intense and compelling. I am glad I read it. These characters really grew on me and I am looking forward to see what’s in store for them next, because they have issues with their own inner demons that they are still battling.

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Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Posted March 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

Review:  A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books on February 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

Well guys, I finally did it. I finally read, A Darker Shade of Magic. It’s kind of embarrassing really. I had this book sitting on my shelf since 2015 and I have not picked it up due to the cover. It’s a terrible thing to judge a book by its cover, but this was one of those instances that I did. But, I was watching a ton of book wrap ups on youtube and this book kept appearing and it just had so many glowing reviews from booktubers, that I decided that I was going to go and give it a chance.

So this story follows Kell, who lives in Red London and is one of a very rare and dying breed of magic user (as far as he could tell). Kell can travel through doors into other Londons, or as he calls them, Gray, White and Red Londons. There is a mention of Black London, but due to its complicated history – no one travels there.

Kell likes to smuggle and collect objects from other Londons, so when he accidentally accepts a job and smuggles something he shouldn’t into Red London, he brings danger right into his back yard.

The story also follows Laila, a cross dressing girl who wants something more out of her life. She wants a ship and she wants an adventure. So when she stumbled into Kell and steals a black stone from him, she ends up attaching herself to him and the danger in hopes of finding something more to her purpose in life.

This book was actually pretty good. It was an interesting read. As far as fantasy books go this was was easy, cozy, page turning and not at all intimidating. If you are the type of person who wants to try fantasy, but find it a bit intimidating I feel like this book is for you. It really was just an easy read.

I liked Kell. I liked him even if he had that special factor to him, but he was just a really good character. He wasn’t perfect, which made me happy and his love for his brother – Rhys just go so deep, it’s fantastic.

I didn’t find myself as attached to it as I wanted to. I didn’t love it. I liked it well enough, but I didn’t love it. It was a good book for me to read, while reading some of the other things that I wasn’t necessarily into. I didn’t read it in one sitting, it did take me a couple of days to get through. I liked the fact that it mostly follows just two people, so your head isn’t swimming with too much information and the author gave us just enough for it to have great world building and great character building. The book was very creative, I really enjoyed the world a lot. There is obviously a lot more that we are still waiting to discover, but book one is solid, the writing was really good and I am looking forward to reading book two – hopefully soon.

I do totally recommend this book because I believe there are people that will love it and I do find it a must read if you like great writing, interesting characters and worlds.

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Review: A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

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

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

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


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



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

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

"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

Posted March 9, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

Review:  The Awakening by Amanda StevensThe Awakening by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen #6
Published by Mira on March 28th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Starting Over on Blackberry Lane by Sheila Roberts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Bastard Billionaire by Jessica Lemmon

Posted March 6, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  The Bastard Billionaire by Jessica LemmonThe Bastard Billionaire by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Billionaire Bad Boys #3
Published by Forever on February 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

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

A BILLIONAIRE BAD BOYS NOVEL
Beauty and the Beastly Billionaire . . . Eli Crane is one tough bastard. After an explosion left him injured and honorably discharged from the Marines, all he wants is to be left alone. Yet his brothers insist he take a greater role in the family business. They've hired him ten personal assistants-and Eli sent each one packing as fast as possible. But when beautiful number eleven walks through the door, Eli will do anything to make her stay. Isabella Sawyer's employment agency can't afford to lose Eli Crane's business. Her plan: to personally take on the role of his PA, and secure her reputation with the wealthy elite in Chicago. But this beauty and her hot billionaire bad boy soon find themselves mixing business with pleasure in the most delicious ways. And passionate, stubborn Isabella won't rest until she tames this wicked beast . . .

Wow, so this one was a doozy. I read and absolutely LOVED the first book in this series, and was naturally curious about Eli the brother serving overseas. I always knew it was coming, since this trilogy features the Crane brothers, so when this one showed up in my mailbox, I had to read it.

Eli is back home from the war after going through a horrific experience. When his two friends die trying to save him from an explosion, Eli not only loses his leg in the incident but himself as well. Now he is back home and Reese, his older brother wants Eli to take over as the COO of Crane hotels – which Eli has no interest in doing.

So Reese hires a company to provide assistants to Eli in hopes of forcing him to do the work, but all the women that show up at his door, go running in terror from the big bad monster holed up in his cave, until of course the owner of the company makes the appearance herself.

Isa doesn’t like that every assistant that she sent over to Eli Crane doesn’t make it past a day or so. Since she has a reputation to uphold the owner decides to do the job herself, if only for a couple of days.

Sparks fly, tempers flare, the two butt heads. Eli has finally met his match.

Guys, let me tell you. I absolutely LOVED the way this book started. I loved Eli and his grumpy bear persona and I loved Isa and her not taking crap attitude. There was a push and pull between them that was so entertaining. I found the entire thing ironic since Isa walked away from her family business and was trying to basically force Eli into his family business. The tension was great and then after they got together everything fell apart for me.

It ended falling flat, a bit boring and overall repetitive. I was expecting more and the way the book started, I thought there would be more. This book had SO much potential, but it almost felt like the author switched gears midway and went back to the comfort of her formula by the end of the book.

There was a plotline in the beginning of the book that was kind of left unexplored. There is a rocky relationship between Isa and her parents, and her parents don’t like the Cranes and how they built their money. Isa’s parents always wanted her to take over the business, but when she didn’t, they gave it to her ex-boyfriend. Well, at the celebration dinner for him, her mother wanted to force the two together, but Isa shows up with Eli to stick it to her parents. I felt like more could have been done here, but there was no more mention of her parents or how disgruntled they are.

I was also surprised where the author decided to take Eli’s future. Eli joined the military and never really had an interest in Crane Hotels, so I didn’t understand nor liked the ending. Eli started his own thing called Refurb and it was a charity for veterans that need help getting around the house. I LOVED that, I was really hoping his future was more focused on that.

And of course, this is where the formula kicked in. Eli doesn’t know what he wants for his future, even though EVERYTHING is going great between him and Isa and like the other book – he ends up hurting her. Big surprise there, I swear I rolled my eyes at that.

I wanted to love this more. The beginning of the book and I started off on a great note, but then it got boring, I started skimming, and some things that actually had potential were left on the sideline and the author went to her safety zone.

Overall, good… Nothing amazing, did not find this mind blowing, but I enjoyed the writing, and the characters and it was a pleasant read for the most part. I enjoyed it well enough to give it 3 stars.

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Review: Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon

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

Review:  Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnonBel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon
Series: Belfast McGrath Mystery #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on March 7th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

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

Review:  I See You by Clare MackintoshI See You by Clare Mackintosh
Series: Standalone
Published by Berkley Books on February 21st 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Double Review:  Starlight Bridge and Christmas with an Angel by Debbie MasonStarlight Bridge by Debbie Mason
Series: Harmony Harbor #2
Published by Forever on February 28th 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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