Source: Publisher

Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

Posted April 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 1 Comment

Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna GoodmanThe Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
Series: standalone
Published by Harper Paperbacks on April 17, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

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

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

Trigger warning for rape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Sleep Train by Jonathan London

Posted April 19, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 6 Comments

Review: Sleep Train by Jonathan LondonSleep Train by Jonathan London
Illustrator: Lauren Eldridge
Series: standalone
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on April 3, 2018
Genres: Childrens, Picture Books
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
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.

A perfectly pitched bedtime story and counting book for sleepy train lovers, illustrated in dramatic 3D sculptures!
A little boy climbs into bed with a book and starts counting the train cars in it, between the engine and caboose. "Ten sleepy cars going clickety-clack," reads the refrain. But as the boy counts cars and gets sleepier and sleepier, his room looks more and more like one of the train cars from his book--the sleeping car, of course!
Rhythmically told by the author of the Froggy books, Sleep Train is also stunning to look at. 3D illustrator, Lauren Eldridge, has sculpted an entire train full of intricate details. Part bedtime story, part counting book, part children's fantasy, Sleep Train is a magical ride to dreamland.

When your little one is ready to sleep, and loves trains, Sleep Train is a great book to pull out during those night time hours.

It’s a quick story about a sleep train making its way through the night with a little boy on the train who counts the box cars to sleep instead of sheep.

My son really enjoyed the story, but he is also really in love with trains so it was perfect. He loves the part where the little boy in the book starts counting the train cars and has even remembered some of the names.

I do believe both girls and boys will enjoy the story. I like that it does rhyme for the most part, but it tends to end up a little choppy at times. My son obviously did not mind it, as he enjoyed the story overall.

The illustrations are pretty, I like the night time setting, it’s very catchy. I do wish that the little boy in this book was a bit better done, I found him myself to be a little on a creepy side as he looked like a wooden boy that belongs in Pinoccio.

Overall, this was a great addition to our nighttime routine and my son enjoy the train.

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Review: All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church

Posted April 17, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. ChurchAll the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church
Series: standalone
Published by Ballantine Books on March 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 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.

A powerful novel about a gutsy showgirl who tries to conquer her past amongst the glamour of 1960s Las Vegas--and finds unexpected fortune, friendship, and love.
It was unimaginable. When she was eight years old, Lily Decker somehow survived the auto accident that killed her parents and sister, but neither her emotionally distant aunt nor her all-too-attentive uncle could ease her grief. Dancing proves to be Lily's only solace, and eventually, she receives a "scholarship" to a local dance academy--courtesy of a mysterious benefactor.
Grown and ready to leave home for good, Lily changes her name to Ruby Wilde and heads to Las Vegas to be a troupe dancer, but her sensual beauty and voluptuous figure land her work instead as a showgirl performing everywhere from Les Folies Bergere at the Tropicana to the Stardust's Lido de Paris. Wearing costumes dripping with feathers and rhinestones, five-inch heels, and sky-high headdresses, Ruby may have all the looks of a Sin City success story, but she still must learn to navigate the world of men--and figure out what real love looks like.
With her uncanny knack for understanding the hidden lives of women, Elizabeth J. Church captures both the iconic extravagance of an era and the bravery of a young woman who dances through her sadness to find connection, freedom, and, most important, herself.

TRIGGER WARNING for Child Abuse/Sexual Assult.

 

I wish I knew about the trigger warnings in this book before I started reading this. I love historical fiction and have read quite a bit of it in the past, so needless to say when the author dwells into parts of child sexual abuse as part of her story, it took me a bit by surprise. I never expected it to be so in my face and in a way, graphic. I would have appreciated it if the author had implied the fact, but this felt like it crossed a line when a scene between the main character and her uncle takes a very disturbing turn. Was it meant to shock people or make them aware of such incidents?

The story follows a young girl named Lily, she is the sole survivor after her family ends up in a car crash. She ends up living with her Aunt and Uncle and as a little girl, she always craves for her aunts love and approval. Only problem is? Her aunt never had children and does not really know how to give love in the way Lily craves it. Her uncle on the other hand, is a disgusting pig who visits Lily at night time and takes advantage of her. I found these parts really hard to read, but I have this bad habit of not finishing a book so I somehow managed to plow on through all the stomach rolling scenes. To top it off, the frustration mounted when Lily, as a teenager finally lets the secret slip in front of her Aunt and she does not believe her despite the shock that rolls through her.

I felt as a reader, I am aware of certain things and that the author wrote some of the scenes between Lily and her uncle as a shock value. If it’s meant to educate, I guess I can understand that, but I felt that implied would have been enough in the case that this is a historical fiction.

Moving on, Lily is in Vegas and is struggling. She is now going by the name of Ruby Wilde. She really wants to be a dancer, but is not cut out to be the type of dancer she wants. She is approached by a man asking her to reconsider being a showgirl and upon attending a show, Ruby Wilde changes her mind about how distasteful it is and becomes a showgirl.

This book started out rocky, it got a lot more interesting in the middle. I loved the entire part about her being the showgirl and her struggles with her past that she had to overcome in order to be comfortable around men and in her own skin. I have never read anything about Vegas in this era before so it was fascinating to learn about the type of bubble they lived, the glitz and the glamour while the rest of the world was going through reality and struggles.

I really loved how Ruby got close to her girlfriends and there was a struggle with drug use, but she managed to get past that with the help of her friend Rose.

It felt like it was going great, until Ruby meets a man and the book takes a disturbing turn into abuse category again. To top it off, it also proved that there was no character growth for Ruby until the last few chapters of the book. It was both infuriating and frustrating, especially since so many people who she trusts tried to warn her and help her.

I do have to say, the writing itself in this book was actually really well done. The author is a gifted writer, that is for certain, it’s just the story in general did not work for me.

Overall, once you bypass the first part that wasn’t just hard, but disturbing and disgusting to read – the Vegas parts of this book were informative – and then it takes a turn with the love interest I did not care for. I can’t say I recommend this book, but if your interested, a library is a great way to go.

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

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

Review: The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan PaquetteThe Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette
Series: standalone
Published by Philomel Books on March 20, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Wife by Alafair Burke

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

Review: The Wife by Alafair BurkeThe Wife by Alafair Burke
Series: standalone
Published by Harper on January 23, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
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.

His scandal. Her secret.
When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.
Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look at the man she married. And when she is asked to defend Jason in court, she realizes that her loyalty to her husband could unearth old secrets.

The Wife is a type of thriller that starts out with a bang, hooks you and never lets you go.

Angela is married to Jason Powell, they live with her son in a charming carriage house in Manhattan. When Jason wrote his book, his career exploded, and he became the center of the media – a place Angela was careful to avoid. Now, charges are being filed against Jason for inappropriate behavior, by one his current intern and another by a woman claiming rape.

I thought this was interesting, but I thought it could always have been a bit better.

I went into this book completely blind and it was definitely a way to do it. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time wondering what was really happening with Jason and the women who accused him of such terrible actions.

I did struggle a bit with this. First, I wasn’t a big fan of Angela. At the beginning she felt like a big pushover, until we learn more about her past and why she is the way she is. It started to shed some light on her actions and demeanor.

This book digs into the rape “culture” in America. I don’t like to call it that, but I wasn’t sure if there was a politically correct term for it. Thought this plays a huge role in the story, I felt like such an important topic could have been handled a little differently in this book. Needless to say I wasn’t sure I was a fan of how it turned out or was used in this case and when the unraveling came, I found myself a bit upset about it. I don’t think I can say much without spoiling the book, but it just feeds into certain misconceptions.

The ending, I did not see coming. I was trying to put together what was happening, but it ended up being nothing like what I thought it was going to be. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I completely bought it due to the actions throughout the book – at times it felt like it was just thrown there at the end as a shock factor because the original might not have been strong enough.

Overall, despite certain issues with the book, I did find myself enjoying it. I do like endings that are unpredictable, so I cannot complain too much about it and the story flowed and was fast paced. If you are a fan of twisted endings and psychological thriller’s this is definitely worth checking out.

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

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

Review: Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back? by Jory John, Liz Climo (illustrator)Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back? by Jory John, Liz Climo
Series: standalone
Published by Dial Books on March 20th 2018
Genres: Childrens, Picture Books
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

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

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

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

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

I did not understand the end…

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

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

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Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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

Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn BennettStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest Review: Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

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

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

Guest Review: Other People’s Houses by Abbi WaxmanOther People's Houses by Abbi Waxman
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on April 3rd 2018
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Sophia Rose

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

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Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra ChristoTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Series: standalone
Published by Feiwel & Friends on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 342
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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

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

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

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

A few points about An Enchantment of Raven

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

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