Month: November 2019

Sophia Rose Review: Wedding Bells and Deadly Spells by Danielle Garrett

Posted November 27, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 27 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Wedding Bells and Deadly Spells by Danielle GarrettWedding Bells and Deadly Spells by Danielle Garrett
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Length: 4 hours 1 minute
Series: A Touch of Magic Mysteries #3
Published by Tantor Audio on April 12, 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

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

A drop of poison is all it takes to bring the biggest wedding of the season to its knees.
Anastasia Winters adheres to the adage that the show must go on, but when the groom of her latest wedding drops dead before “I do,” she’s left with no backup plan.
Things get even stickier when her friend and esteemed caterer, Francois, is named the top suspect.
Ana's loyalties are tested as the investigation turns into a vicious tug-of-war. She believes Francois is innocent, but holding the other side of the rope is the lead detective--her serious boyfriend--and the more she struggles, the more her own chance at happily ever after starts to unravel.
It’s up to Anastasia to find the killer, while gripping tightly to her relationships before they break and leave her with nothing.
***
Wedding Bells and Deadly Spells is the third novel in a new series of paranormal mysteries by Danielle Garrett. Step inside the magical world of the Seattle Haven and see what happens when the magic and wedding worlds collide! Packed full of laughs, magic, mystery, and a little romance, this series is sure to have something for everyone.

Rich, entitled, and very connected makes a jerk groom and his bride, Anastasia’s personal penance for months through planning their nuptials. She dreams of their ‘I do’ moment with happiness more than they do. I have such a good time with this author’s books that I couldn’t wait to jump back in her paranormal cozy mystery world.

Wedding Bells and Deadly Spells was the third of the Touch of Magic series that is a spinoff of the Beechwood Harbor Magic series. This series should be read in order to get the full storyline for main character and recurring characters, but it also works especially best after getting the older series because there is a small crossover with that series main character into this book.

Anastasia is a premier wedding planner for a big well-established agency. She’s at the top of her game with her career and her romantic relationship with Caleb, her Supernatural Police Agency boyfriend. But, when the snobby and annoying groom is murdered and her caterer friend stands accused by Caleb as the investigating officer even as she gets pounced on by a boss always waiting to catch her out, she is on the verge of losing everything. And, what’s with her younger sister sneaking around and lying to her? Can’t a poor witch catch a break?

I loved how this one turned out. Anastasia really got put through the wringer personally. It still had a light and fun feel, but also touched on personal relationships, career dreams, and big changes for her future while offering up a good murder mystery. She hit a low time and had to struggle which made it all the more engaging.

The mystery was good, but, I confess, that I only gave it half a thought because I was more interested in the intrigues of her personal life this go around.

Amanda Ronconi is very familiar and was a welcome sound when I picked this one up in audio edition. She has been the voice of all the author’s books and let me say, that is a good thing. She makes listening to this series and the others an enhanced experience because she captures her characters, the world, and the tone of the author’s writing so well. There is an inter-changeableness in that Ana sounds like Holly and Scarlett and Caleb sounds like the other heroine’s boyfriends, but I didn’t mind nor did it confuse me.

I think this series is getting better with each new release since this was the best yet to me. If you want entertaining cozy mystery set in a paranormal world with a well-developed cast of characters, you need look no further.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to 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: Recursion by Blake Crouch

Posted November 26, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: Recursion by Blake CrouchRecursion by Blake Crouch
Series: standalone
Published by Crown Publishing Group (NY) on June 11, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Time-Travel, Thriller
Pages: 336
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.

Memory makes reality.
That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.
That's what neuroscientist Helena Smith believes. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious memories. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 
As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.
But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?

I think I am at a point where I will read anything that Blake Crouch writes in the future. I love his writing. I love the imagination, and this book delivered it all in a near-perfect package. I knew when I cracked the book open, it will be the only thing consuming my reading time and I was right. From the moment I started it, I had a hard time putting it down until I finished it.

So what is the book about? I’ll try to explain some of it without going too deeply into it because I think it’s best to go into this book with the unknown and an open mind.

This book follows a cop named Barry and a neuroscientist Helena. Barry Sutton is investigating a phenomenon dubbed by the media as a FMS – False Memory Syndrome. People are popping up claiming they remember another life they lived, and that their memories feel so real as if they really did live them out. But how could it be if the life they are currently living in isn’t the same?

Helena Smith has devoted her entire life to create the technology of preserving precious memories, especially since her own mother’s memories are failing due to Alzheimer’s. What she ends up creating is far beyond that. A machine that can send you back into memory and have you relive that life all over again. People who were meant to die, don’t have to die. But what happens if they remember their deaths? In the wrong hands, the piece of technology is terrifying and possibly world ending.

This book was fast-paced, one wildly entertaining ride that is both imaginative, scary, and well written. I had a hard time putting the book down and love every minute of it. Blake Crouch is an amazing author that knows how to hook me from the first sentence until the very end.

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Sophia Rose Review: Newly Wed and Slightly Dead by Danielle Garrett

Posted November 23, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Newly Wed and Slightly Dead by Danielle GarrettNewly Wed and Slightly Dead by Danielle Garrett
Series: A Touch of Magic Mysteries #1
Published by Self-published on February 14, 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 160
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Freebie
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

Nothing ruins a rehearsal dinner quite like a passive-aggressive toast from the unhappy mother of the groom. Things go from bad to yikes when she’s found reduced to a pile of ashes and couture and the bride is pegged as the one wielding the wooden stake.
When a vampire marries a human, things are bound to get messy…

After years spent working the birthday party and baby shower circuit, Anastasia Winters finally has a corner office and a host of supernatural clients all begging her to plan their special day. But following a brush of bad luck, she finds herself on the brink of losing it all. With an ultimatum from her boss on the table, her next wedding has to be perfect.
When the vampy mother of the groom is found dead, the bride goes on the run, and Anastasia is forced head-first into the murder investigation if she has any chance of getting the wedding back on track and keeping her job.
Unfortunately, this is one wedding crisis that requires more than a strategically placed bobby pin or double-sided sticky tape.
Can there be a fairy tale ending, or will it be Happily Ever Never?
***
Newly Wed and Slightly Dead is the first novel in a new series of paranormal mysteries by Danielle Garrett. Step inside the magical world of the Seattle Haven and see what happens when the magic and wedding worlds collide! Packed full of laughs, magic, mystery, and a little romance, this series is sure to have something for everyone.

After blasting my way through the Beechwood Harbor Magic and Beechwood Harbor Ghost mysteries, I was thrilled the author had begun another spinoff series featuring Holly (Beechwood Harbor Magic Mysteries heroine) Boldt’s bestie back in the Seattle Haven, event planner witch, Anastasia Winters.

Newly Wed and Slightly Dead picks up with Anastasia having recently made senior event planner status and working on one of the biggest wedding accounts of the year, a vampire-human wedding for the Vanguard Vampire clan. The groom’s mother has been a beast, but the rest of the wedding plans have gone without a hitch until the future monster in law gets ashed at the rehearsal dinner.

Anastasia has thrown her heart into her career and finally made it to where she wants to be, but her work is her life. She has a premiere condo, a closet full of designer shoes, a fluffy cat companion and a wayward little sister sleeping on her couch, but she doesn’t have a life. So, when the sneering witch she beat out for the job and her own boss put the pressure on, she rises to the occasion until her perfect wedding is in shambles and the bride accused of murder by the supernatural detective hottie who wants to take her out on a date.

It’s an easy quick read, but engaging and fun. Anastasia is easy to like and I enjoyed getting the intro to her world and who will likely be regular series characters. The event business is suspenseful all on its own, but it was fun seeing how the mystery turned out. I’m looking forward to continuing on with the series and can definitely recommend it to current fans of the author and those looking for a light paranormal cozy mystery.

Incidentally, at the time of writing this, the book was free on Amazon. And, if you go to the author’s website, the prequel is free.

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 Round Up #9

Posted November 19, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review Round Up #9Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson
Series: Jessica McClain, #1, #1
Published by Orbit on September 11, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Won
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

Born the only female in an all male race, Jessica McClain isn’t just different—she’s feared.
After living under the radar for the last twenty-six years, Jessica is thrust unexpectedly into her first change, a full ten years late. She wakes up and finds she’s in the middle of a storm. Now that she’s become the only female full-blooded werewolf in town, the supernatural world is already clamoring to take a bite out of her and her new Pack must rise up and protect her.
But not everyone is on board. The werewolf Rights of Laws is missing text and the superstitious werewolves think that Jessica means an end to their race. It doesn’t help when Jessica begins to realize she’s more. She can change partway and hold her form, and speak directly to her wolf. But the biggest complication by far is that her alpha father can't control her like he can the rest of his wolves.
When a mercenary who’s been hired by the vampires shows up to extract information about the newly turned werewolf only days after her change, they find themselves smack in the middle of a war and there's no choice but to run together. When it’s up to Jessica to negotiate her release against her father’s direct orders, she chooses to take an offer for help instead. In exchange, Jessica must now swear an oath she may end up repaying with her life.

Phew. I had this book forever, or what feels like forever. My son picked a wrapped book for me and this was the choice. The book follows a girl named Jessica McClain and she is the world’s only female werewolf and because of that, there is a prophecy that says she will bring some sort of destruction to the wolves and now every werewolf is on edge and there are some out to get here.

I found this book okay. Just okay. It wasn’t great and reminds me of a bit of Bitten, the other only one female werewolf read. I think my issue with this was entirely Jessica. I found her aggravating and falls victim to the trope of too stupid to live. Luckily for Jessica, she is a werewolf so she isn’t killed easily and has a support network of males who would put their life on the line to protect her.

It just drove me nuts with all the stupid decisions she made and flying off the handle without considering how it affects others, and her family and friends screaming at her to get away and it took some time for the repercussions to sink in but even when they do, she still learns very little.

As of right now, I don’t have plans on continuing with this series. I gave it a generous 3 stars.

Review Round Up #9Spellbound by Tricia Drammeh
Series: Spellbringers,
Published by ATW Publishing on August 2, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 263
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Freebie
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars

The Demon Re’Vel stalks his prey in the forest of dreams, slowly gaining control over the mind of his victim. Rachel doesn’t realize the Demon is real. In fact, she doesn’t believe in magic, Demons, Hunters, or any of the other things the Alexanders have warned her about. She resists their protection, but can’t resist her overwhelming feelings for Jace.
Alisa has been drawn to Jace since the day she saved him from a Hunter attack. A mere human in a world of Spellbringers, Alisa has been embraced by the Alexander family as a hero, but not everyone is willing to accept her. Jace’s intimidating older brother, Bryce, keeps his emotions and his secrets hidden. When Bryce confides in Alisa, it puts her relationship with Jace and the entire Alexander family at risk.
Danger, secrets, and betrayal collide, and when the Demon makes his claim, the small, southern town of Oaktree becomes a battleground for Rachel’s life.
Formerly published under the title 'The Claiming Words,' Spellbound is a completely re-written, re-vamped novel featuring added scenes, additional chapters, and a new ending.

A cute YA paranormal that follows two girls. Alisa and Rachel in a dual POV. Rachel is a gifted Spellbringer, Alisa is a normal girl that somehow gets involved with the Alexander family – who are also a family with special powers.

This wasn’t bad. I liked the plot. I thought it was interesting. It did drag a bit at times and it felt repetitive. The girls sounded way younger than their 17 years of age. There was a lot of teenage boy swooning going on and falling madly in love way too quickly and thinking about marriage at such a young age. I don’t know how realistic this is for 17 year olds, maybe fanciful for someone young, like the age of 14 and 15 who don’t have a better understanding, but not many 17 year olds I feel still act like that. I could be wrong, but that’s not how my experience was.

I found Rachel to be an infuriating character. She had these Hunter’s that were looking for her and she was constantly rejecting trained professionals to protect her and kept putting the Alexander boys and her best friend in danger and it kept happening, so you’d think she’d learn? nah..

Like I said. It’s cute for a YA read, but I feel like it should be on a younger side.

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Sophia Rose Review: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant

Posted November 16, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 38 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn BrantThe Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant
Series: standalone
Published by Twelfth Night Publishing on November 27th 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 219
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

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

THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is a light contemporary romance by New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Marilyn Brant, who also penned the award-winning and Jane Austen-inspired novels ACCORDING TO JANE and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH.
When successful building contractor Austin Knightley returns to his hometown of Crystal Corners, Minnesota after a decade away, he vows to avoid pampered and popular types like his old high-school crush Emma Westwood—the town's biggest queen bee and self-appointed matchmaker—only to get swept into a community Christmas project she's now organizing.
With nods to Jane Austen's classic novel EMMA, this modern heroine may be a little "clueless" in the Midwest, but she's got gifts to share and plenty to learn from the boy next door, who's all grown up and handsomer than ever. Even when a snowstorm threatens to derail her plans, she's determined to figure out how to set things right and save THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
This sweet and heartwarming holiday romance is a story that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

The Knight Before Christmas is a standalone that gives a flirty nod toward the classic tale of Emma the matchmaker and her gentleman Knightley with the clash of opposites in an adorable family and friends small town romance decked out for the holidays. Oh how I love a good small town, heartwarming holiday romance and it was no hardship picking up the latest from an author I trust to bring me the feels and the sweet goodies.

He thinks she’s a meddling busybody and she thinks he’s a crank when Austin comes home for Christmas and Emma finds he’s the only one who can help save her community kids’ project. Austin’s dad just had a serious heart surgery and his latest girlfriend is behind him. He wanted to make it big in the city with his building contract business. Now that he has, he’s ready to settle near home and spend time with his family. It would have been nice to find love and start a family, but the right woman just hasn’t come along and she is certainly nothing like his childhood frustration, chatty social butterfly rich girl Emma Westwood. Or can opposites really attract?

Emma has never understood why introverted Austin Knightley has always seemed to detest her and especially now that he’s gone away and returned taciturn as ever when it comes to her. He’s kind and generous to everyone else, but she always manages to get his scowls or silence. All her life, she’s had loving generous parents who gave her the best of everything including the heart to give back and do for others which includes taking charge of some community projects and steering others toward their special someone, but Austin sees her as a bossy meddler. Glimpses of the boisterous Knightley clan of adult kids and their parents leave her feeling hollow and envious. But, then her big Christmas project for the kids is in jeopardy and she has to approach Austin Knightley to help save the day. She sees a side of him that she never imagined and opens herself up like she never has to he can see the real Emma. She hopes he won’t reject this person because she most certainly has lost her breezy confidence and friendly distance when it comes to this knight with power tools and the ability to get her to step outside the box.

This was a warm, feel-good sweet romance that was perfect for getting one in the mood for the holidays. It starts as something of an opposites situation that ends up being more the childhood crush- boy next door sort of story which I found engaging and fun especially when surrounded by family, friends, and a small town setting. It’s an easy low-angst even paced story. The Austin and Emma at the beginning were a bad first impressions sort of thing, but then their real personalities and motives came out and I liked them a lot. I had a lot of sugary swoony moments and now I’m eager to press forward and get the other two Knightley brothers stories. I caught a quick glimpse of the next brother’s story in that epilogue and I think it’s going to be good times in Crystal Corners.

Sweet small town holiday romance lovers don’t hesitate to grab this one up.

 

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: The Keeper by J.L. Bryan

Posted November 12, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 33 Comments

Review: The Keeper by J.L. BryanThe Keeper by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #8
Published by J.L. Bryan on December 27, 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Ghosts, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 302
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

The South Channel lighthouse is a crumbling antique at the mouth of the Savannah River, abandoned and forgotten for generations. Local stories still tell of a mysterious woman in white who often stood at the old lighthouse, watching the sailors come into port...even long after she died.
Now the property by the lighthouse is owned by a famous movie star in search of a remote beach getaway on sleepy Tybee Island. Unfortunately, old ghosts haunt her new retreat, stirred up by the construction of a luxurious new mansion. Ellie, Stacey, and their team must remove the ghosts, who grow more dangerous and aggressive every night, threatening the lives of the client and her family and personal staff.
The lighthouse has a dark history, with many ghosts, and mysteries to unravel before Ellie can send them on to the other side.

If there is one book series that I can count on to pull me out of my slump, that’s Ellie Jordan by J.L Bryan and like the past few books in this series, this one does not disappoint.

Ellie is back, still trying to deal with the events of the last book as she struggles with the new management that took over her agency and finding the ghost that haunts her dreams.

In this one, we follow Ellie and Stacy to an island with a lighthouse, currently owned by an actress. As Ellie and Stacy scramble to capture the ghosts that haunt the house of the actress before her family comes to town, they are also trying to uncover the mysterious magician that haunts one of the theaters they believe might be connected to Anton Clay.

Chilling, entertaining and always fun, J.L Bryan delivers in another fantastic Ellie Jordan installment that held me captive and chewing through the pages.

I can’t get enough of Ellie and Stacy and how far they have come now and how close they seem to be getting what Ellie truly wants. There were a few good surprises in this book, the character development was great and I found myself enjoying this as much as the others. It also wraps up some loose connections from the previous installment.

I cannot wait to see what’s in store for Ellie and Stacy next, especially after that kind of an ending.

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