Month: April 2017

Review: I Hate Summer by Michelle Franklin

Posted April 13, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 22 Comments

Good morning guys, Sophia is here today. This time she is reviewing a non-fiction. What a brave soul 🙂 – just kidding. Still, it’s a biography of what it is like for the author to deal with mental illness and social disabilities and how she learned to cope with it. I think it sounds interesting already, hope you enjoy Sophia’s review.

Review:  I Hate Summer by Michelle FranklinI Hate Summer by Michelle Franklin
Series: standalone
Published by Self-published on January 29th 2017
Genres: Non-Fiction, Biography
Pages: 230
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

This is a compendium about my daily battle with depression, anxiety, hot weather, and militant introversion. It is also about plumbers, spiders, loud neighbours, video games, books, and cats.
This book is not a therapy book for those who suffer with depression or anxiety, nor is this book intended as a disparagement or a glorification of my mental and social difficulties; it merely a record of how I have learned to cope with them, and is intended as a comedy not a tragedy. I invite everyone to laugh along with me through one of the worst years of my life, and hope that by reading about my tribulations, you will come to understand why I hate summer.

There is something to be said for putting a positive spin on life and living. I’ve always appreciated when someone is more than capable of doing that. This is why, though I’m not one who picks up non-fiction very often when it comes to current events or lives, I was well-pleased to click through the pages of this delightful rendering of the ups and downs in another fellow sufferer’s life. With wit, sass, and a smidge of the eccentric, the reader is brought along for the dreaded season of summer, life in an apartment building, and city dwelling.

I say ‘fellow sufferer’ because the main title and even some of the subtitle might be my own story. I also confess that I was already a fan of the author’s writing already. I was all kinds of curious to see her pull together a series of postings friends, followers, and fans were privy to recently into a cohesive piece.

The tone and style of the work is in the way of drawing the reader in like a conversation or journal piece. Snippets of life following a few recognizable themes that make the reader sympathize and laugh in turn. I connected well to the ‘storytelling’ and the language style that delights in employing a classical and unique word choice and form.

I was well aware the author was discussing true and serious issues that can befall one, but it was done in such a way that could amuse and draw a sympathetic ear. I cheered her on as she sent rude people away who would interrupt a reader choosing to enjoy a coffee in a cafe, I rallied to her cause as she got the better of a negligent mail carrier, and I snorted my way through the dynamics of apartment living between loud neighbors and chary maintenance staff.

It was a delightful and refreshing experience for me, the fiction reader, to get lost in the world of someone else’s reality that also happened to strike a chord on several levels. I invite others to share in the whimsy of this poor sufferer’s tales.

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: Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller

Posted April 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael MillerShadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller
Series: Kaitan Chronicles #1
Published by Delacorte Press on March 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
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.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can't resist her, even if her ship is an antique.
As for Nev, he's a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.
But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they're more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.
Nev's mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she'll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power--and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

I always enjoy experiencing new authors and since this was a science fiction book compared to Firefly, why not give it a shot?

I enjoyed the book for the most part. I really liked Qole, Arjan, Eton, Basra and Telu. I thought they were an interesting cast of characters all with their own special gifts and I loved how close knit they were.

I struggled with Nev at times, who is basically the male lead as this book is told from his and Qole’s POV. For someone so smart, he could be a bit thick at times when it comes to reality. I guess it isn’t completely his fault as it was how he was raised, but even in the end I still struggled with him a bit.

I think I am struggling with this review a bit also.

It’s about this world where they use Shadow to run things. There is a group of people that go out of their way and Shadow fish. Unfortunately, because of what the shadow does it eventually drives people mad and it’s a bit unstable when it comes to running everything so Nev believes his family can fix that. He needs Qole to submit to some testing, but all of it is for the greater good of everyone, as he assures.

I found the world building lacking at times. I did not understand how they used Shadow to run the things they did. (Maybe I fell asleep during the explanation?) I get it’s science fiction, but I found the explanation lacking. Interesting concept, but it felt a little weak without a supporting argument or explanation.

I wanted to know more about the world.

I felt the book was also a bit too long. The chapters weren’t quick and I found myself bored or falling asleep half the time. The pacing was way too slow at times. It picked up at the end, but I found myself not really caring. I also had a hard time with the ending because it did not seem plausible to me that 5 people can take on that many people.

Overall. I thought it was a decent read. A little long. The pacing a little too slow at times. But, Qole and her team were fun at times and the loyalty between them was heartwarming.

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Review: My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch

Posted April 9, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 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:  My One True Highlander by Suzanne EnochMy One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch
Series: No Ordinary Hero #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on April 4th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance, Scotland
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:three-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.

Rugged highlander Graeme has one thing on his mind—take a stand against the horrible Englishman Lattimer and he will be rewarded with enough money to be set for life. But when his reckless younger brothers take it one step too far and kidnaps a young woman on her way to see Lattimer, Graeme has to intervene. He cannot send the lady back without his kin getting in trouble. And when a damsel this beautiful is dropped into your lap, it’s hard to let her go...
Marjorie should be terrified she’s been captured by highland scoundrels, but it’s hard to live in terror when your captor is a devilishly handsome and sinfully tempting as Graeme is. She cannot stay by his side forever—no matter how her heart may pound at the thought—but Graeme seems to have other plans. This wicked highlander is out to seduce her and doesn’t plan to stop until she’s in his arms...forever...

Lady Marjorie is on her way to the Highlands in order to surprise her older brother and his soon to be wife. What Marjorie did not know was that she was stumbling right into the middle of a clan war, and her brother is involved.

Graeme is a chieftain of clan Maxton. When his chief of Clan Maxton asks him to stand against Lattimer and be rewarded. Graeme finds a lot of trouble on his hands. First, he is unsure if he wants to kill the new Duke, but he is also aware that their money is running low and he has a lot of people relying on him.

Well, when his younger brothers overhear the conversation, they step up in an attempt to help. But, when they kidnap the duke’s sister and dump her under Graeme’s roof, the trio instead, end up causing more trouble for Graeme then good.

This was so much fun. It’s my first book by Enoch and I am super glad I read it. I enjoyed it so much, I really want to go back and read the first book, since the first book kind of sets up the conflict between Lattimer and Maxton.

Graeme and Marjorie were delightful. I love the slow romance that builds between them, despite the conflict that Graeme’s brother’s have caused. But, Graeme was not the one who kidnapped her, nor did he ever intend on doing so. Still, watching the two butt heads was super fun and amusing.

I especially had a fun time when Graeme dug himself such a hole that he had to go out of his way and commit a similar crime by kidnapping Marjorie’s lady companion.

I also loved the family dynamics happening there. Graeme has been taking care of his younger brothers for a long time, on top of taking care of people who live on his land. He is hard working and loyal to a fault. Definitely someone that Marjorie needed by her side, considering his Chief of the clan would love to see her dead in order to get back at her brother.

Gah this was fabulous. It reminds me how much I love historical romances set in Scotland and feel the need to read more. The book started a bit slow for me, as it took me a few pages to get used to the dialect again. But once I was set, it took off and never really let me go. I really, really enjoyed everything about this – including the writing.

I did feel bad for Graeme. He was put in a bad predicament. He didn’t want to give Marjorie up to his Chief because he knew she would get hurt, but he also couldn’t let her go because he had his brothers to worry about.

I think the only thing I did not like about this was Marjorie being so hung up on London and her belonging there even if she never really did. She is a new heiress and is having trouble fitting in. She is lonely and would need to spend a lot of money and a lot of years trying to get people in that society to care and would likely marry a fortune hunter.

She fits right into Graeme’s household and grew on everyone around here and there, people cared.

Also, the ending felt like it wrapped up a little too perfectly.

But, overall, this was a fun read and I really enjoyed this.

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Review: The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward

Posted April 6, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 22 Comments

Afternoon everyone! This feels a little late but better later than never right? I got Sophia Rose back again today on my blog and she will be reviewing the next book in  The Bourbon King’s series. I have to admit, her reviews have left me really curious about it. I haven’t read Ward before nor a lot of family sagas and phew, does this book have a lot going on or what?

Review:  The Angels’ Share by J.R. WardThe Angels' Share by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #2
Published by NAL on July 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 415
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars
Heat:three-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.

#1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward delivers the second novel in her Bourbon Kings series—a sweeping saga of a Southern dynasty struggling to maintain a façade of privilege and prosperity, while secrets and indiscretions threaten its very foundation…   In Charlemont, Kentucky, the Bradford family is the crème de la crème of high society—just like their exclusive brand of bourbon. And their complicated lives and vast estate are run by a discrete staff who inevitably become embroiled in their affairs. This is especially true now, when the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder…   No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.   Everything has consequences; everybody has secrets. And few can be trusted. Then, at the very brink of the family’s demise, someone thought lost to them forever returns to the fold. Maxwell Bradford has come home. But is he a savior...or the worst of all the sinners?

In this sequel to The Bourbon Kings, the story continues for the Bradford family. The first book set the scene, introduced the characters, and dropped a few bombs of surprise that really made things interesting. Right at the end of book one, there was quite the big twist in the plot closing things out on a bang.

At this point, I will be unable to avoid series spoiler stuff from book one so stop here if you plan to catch the series.

Okay, so we had millions of the family fortune vanish then the culprit winds up dead. Money is still gone and this affects the surviving Bradford family members in different ways. This is a true drama and there are many narrative threads for the large cast of characters. The main threads focus on the three adult children involved in the family crisis. This is a fascinating blend of character and action plot with mystery, romance, and more going on.

I am still enjoying how many of the characters are so flawed and not very likeable yet somehow I still care about their story and I want them to make good. Lane is really stepping up in this one and seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulder. Gin- well she starts out still morally bankrupt and weak, but then she surprised me. Poor Edward. I can’t help pitying this guy. He’s the oldest and should be the one holding the reins of it all and married to his wonderful lady love, but instead he’s a broken unstable man who may or may not have committed murder. Though, gotta say, that if he did, I’m pretty sure that justice was served.

So, this was a transition book. It moves the Bradfords story from point B to point C. There are some surprises, reveals, and twists happening, but it is very much a middle piece and it is obvious there is a ton more to come. And like with The Bourbon Kings, I closed this book on an old Kentucky Bourbon Making family and wished there was more.

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: Forever a Hero by Linda Lael Miller

Posted April 5, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review:  Forever a Hero by Linda Lael MillerForever a Hero (The Carsons of Mustang Creek, #3) by Linda Lael Miller
Series: The Carsons of Mustang Creek #3
Published by Harlequin on March 20, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars
Heat:two-flames

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

For the youngest Carson brother, finding—and fixing—trouble seems to be all in a day's work 

Mace Carson is no hero. Back in college, he came upon a woman in trouble and intervened—but he was just one irate Wyoming cowboy with his boots planted firmly on the side of right. Now a successful vintner, Mace is shocked to be reunited with the woman he saved. But it turns out she's in Wyoming on business…a corporate executive representing the company that wants to buy his winery. Only, he's not selling. 
Kelly Wright has never forgotten that horrible night ten years ago when Mace came to her rescue, has never forgotten him. The surprising success of a winery in the middle of ranch country has brought her to Mustang Creek, and she's secretly thrilled to discover Mace at the helm. Reluctant to mix business with pleasure, Kelly vows to keep things professional, until her attacker is released from prison and comes for vengeance…against both of them.

City girl falls for a cowboy.

Kelly has met Mace before back in college when she is attacked after dark while walking back home alone. Mace happens to be around, saves her and with his help lock up the man that almost raped her.

Now years later, their worlds collide again.

Kelly is in Mustang Creek with a business proposition for Mace and his winery, something he apparently wants no part of – but never really stop her from flying from California to Wyoming?

I wanted to like this book. I did. I love my cowboy romances. I even kind of liked Mace and his passion for his winery.

I couldn’t stand Kelly and by the time I came to terms with her it was a bit too late. The whole business side of this story was downright annoying. Like the guy didn’t want it, and she kept pushing and not understand why he didn’t want a corporation taking over basically his passion and something he worked on so hard to build.

The romance itself was a bit flat. I did not feel it at it, could not connect.

Of course, there had to be an unnecessary suspense drama that also was kind of bland.

What I did like is the secondary characters. I absolutely loved Mace’s big and loud family. I loved the banter and I loved how close knit they were. The back and forth had me giggling.

I almost gave this 3.5 stars, but then the whole thing with the condom happened and dear god could it have been anymore predictable? Like I was waiting for something different than the usual to happen and nope wasn’t in favor… Oh well.

Rant below if you really want to know.

View Spoiler »

 

end rant.

 

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Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Posted April 3, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review: Dark Matter by Blake CrouchDark Matter by Blake Crouch
Series: standalone
Published by Crown on July 26th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 342
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

I can’t believe it took me this long to pick this book up. I actually bought this for my dad about a month ago and after he finished, he told me “Lily, you got to read this.” I was a bit busy, had a lot on my plate, and did not get a chance to. I went to the library and behold, they had a copy available and I snatched it up.

Guys! I could NOT, put this book down. It was…Wow.

What is so great about this? Uh… Everything. It’s a science fiction, but it doesn’t completely read like one. I admit, there had been parts that made my head swim a little, but who cares? Crouch is a fabulous writer. The man knows how to suck you in from the very first page and it just never really lets you go. I lost sleep because of this, for reals. But who needs sleep, right?

This book never had a dull moment for me, I was eating up the pages eager for the end, wanting to know how it all turns out. Quite the roller coaster ride.

Don’t ask me to explain what this is about, I might literally explode. Read the blurb, that is the gist of it, the rest you pretty much have to experience on your own.

This book grabbed me from page one and never really let me go. My eyes are burning me, I am tired, but I am so glad I got to finish this. Crouch is really such a great storyteller.

Does most of this book make sense? No, it’s a science fiction. But, it’s interesting, it’s different, it’s compelling and it’s the first book in over a month that has me so damn giddy. I wasn’t coming into this willing it to make sense. I just wanted fun, excitement, something different.

Different it was. I LOVED the concept, the idea of multiverse. How our lives branch out. How there is a possibility of like everything that we could do in a critical moment in our life. The characters were just so raw, so real, the main character especially. I couldn’t help but feel the connection, I felt his love, pain, his loss and the need to come back home.

It was just so good. Crouch to me is a master in storytelling, he succeeded in everything for me. I felt it. I enjoyed it.

I took away half a star because in the end, I felt the ending to be a little weak. A LITTLE BIT. After everything, I felt like maybe it could have used a few more pages. But I get it. The characters were tired.

It is a bit open ended, it is. BUT, but, you guys in this case, given the structure of the book – it does not annoy me. It felt almost perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It totally made sense following the events, so, go read it if you have not yet. The science fiction part of it is light, but it’s science fiction, don’t go into it thinking it has to make sense, just be open and enjoy every moment.

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Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)

Posted April 1, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay
Series: standalone
Published by Candlewick Press on March 12th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 206
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Guys, I am going to be honest here. I picked this book up because a ton of people asked me if I read it, with the movie out, I finally stumbled upon this book in the library and decided to give it a shot.

I went into this blindly. I never read the blurb or asked people what it was about and stayed away from detailed reviews. I was told when it comes to this book, that was the best way to go about it anyway. So I am having a hard time writing the review. I am going to keep it short and sweet and basically tell you that if you had not read it yet, read it. Don’t just pick up the ebook either. Go to your local library if you have to and get the physical book because the drawing in the book really add to the experience.

The actual idea of this book came from Siobhan Dowd, but it was Patrick Ness, who brought her vision to life after she was taken too soon by cancer. Patrick Ness did a beautiful job bringing her beloved characters to life, leaving us with a book that I will think span generations. When I read the book last night, I was rocked with emotion, but it wasn’t until the day after that I got to sit down, let it sink in and truly experience its effect.

The story is about a boy named Conor and his ill mother. It is haunting, it is beautiful, atmospheric and downright emotional. If you have dealt with loss, it’s grief and pain, I strongly suggest you read this. Even if you haven’t experienced loss yet, I strongly suggest you read this. But I think it’s safe to say most of us did at one point or another and this book just captures most of what we go through so well.

I expect this book will have a different experience and effect on everyone. Which is okay. I believe that’s the whole point anyway, as we each experience the monster and its interpretation differently in the moments of weakness and hopelessness.

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