Month: December 2019

Sophia Rose Review: Caught Red-Handed by Denise Domning

Posted December 23, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Caught Red-Handed by Denise DomningCaught Red-Handed by Denise Domning
Series: Servant of the Crown Mystery, #5
Published by Self-published on October 26th 2019
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 192
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

THE DEAD WALK! It’s the time of year when the immortal army of the ancient king rides Watling Street and the dead become uneasy in their graves. Indeed, in the far north of Warwickshire, the villagers insist that one dead man returned to kill his only son. Now it’s up to Sir Faucon de Ramis, the shire’s new Crowner, to run the walking corpse to ground and put him back where he belongs.

Servant of the Crown Mystery series is one I discovered earlier this year and I binged on the four currently released installments thinking I would have a long wait until next year for the fifth. However, I timed it well and Caught Red-Handed released this past fall right. Imagine my delight to see the fun spooky twist the author wove into her medieval-era murder mysteries making it perfect for the seasonal release.

Sir Faucon is settling into his royally-appointed task as Keeper of the Pleas or King’s Coronarius for Warwickshire while watching his back because the sheriff of the shire wants him dead since the truth Faucon knows after a certain murder investigation is a danger to the man. Not to mention the fact that Faucon’s new duties remove investigating murders and levying fines from the sheriff and thus depriving him of charging extra fines or bribe money to look the other way.

Sir Faucon is assisted by a sharp-tongued and bookishly clever Benedictine monk, Brother Edmund, his man at arms, Alf, and, of recent date, his own older brother in a shaky new peace between them.

They are about to stay at a Cistercian Monastery overnight on their way to perform a task in the area when a common villager and the village priest from a place to the north beg help to prevent a sacrilege. The villager, Wattard, says his step-son was killed that morning by his deceased father. A father, who has been a member of the walking dead for several years, but has become more active of late. While Faucon is digesting the news that a corpse is animated and ambling around a village, the father pleas with the abbot to protect the body of his step-son from getting chopped up for fear it will also walk.

Faucon’s hunter instincts rise and he suspects this is a task that falls into his bailiwick more than the abbot’s and goes hunting murder and shambling corpses even while Brother Edmund beguiles him with tales of the Wild Hunt who charge down Watling Street not far off and Harlequin and his wicked army of the dead.

Yep, Medieval Zombies! I chuckled with glee when Faucon had to investigate that one. I was also thrilled that the ongoing series thread about the serial killer of little girls was come to a tension-filled head in this one.

What I’ve always enjoyed about these is the attention to the historical setting, to the developing of the characters and their personal backgrounds, and to the clever mysteries. I enjoy the camaraderie Faucon shares with his group as they all work together to solve the crimes. This one was easier than most to work out, but it was still entertaining and exciting.

In the end, Faucon figures out the truth on both matters. I am left looking forward to the next installment. Those who enjoy the medieval era and love a good murder mystery should definitely pick these 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 Round Up #12

Posted December 20, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review Round Up #1210 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Series: standalone
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 1, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.
Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.
When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.
This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever... or is it?

Sophie has been looking forward to spending some private time with her long term boyfriend, Griffin, and now with her parents on the way to South Louisiana to take care of her pregnant sister, it looks like Sophie will get just that. Except, she overheard Griffin talking about needing space from Sophie, so instead she flees to her grandmother’s house early to nurse her heartbreak. Her family has a wild idea to bring back the fun for Sophie when her grandmother decides it would be fun to set Sophie up on 10 Blind Dates, and aunts, uncles, friends, and cousins are all eager to join in.

This was such a cute read. I absolutely adored it and devoured it in two sittings. This YA book had everything I always want in YA. A fun storyline, a wonderful family relationship. I absolutely adored the relationship between Sophie and her grandmother as well as Sophie and her older sister. It was just so positive and something I root for in YA books.

The romance was adorable, so cute and slow and just absolutely perfect.

This book is a must-read for Christmas. It gave me all the feels, it was just a cute, fun, positive YA book that has left me looking forward to more from this author.

Review Round Up #12Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer
Series: Two Love Lane #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 3, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:2 Stars
Heat:one-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.

The best gift of all is the one you share with someone else. . .
From the moment he strode through the iron gate and into the offices of Two Love Lane on a crisp December day, it was obvious that Deacon Banks was something different. He wasn't a Charleston native, not with that adorable Yankee accent. And unlike the usual client at the elegant matchmaking agency, he had no interest in finding a woman to marry--just a few no-strings dates while he was in town.
Macy Frost takes her professional services very seriously--how could she not, when she's rumored to be a direct descendant of Cupid? Tech entrepreneur Deacon says he's just trying to make his social-climbing aunt happy by being seen out and about with a few prominent beauties, but Macy insists she can make her client fall in love...for real. And Deacon can't help but think she might be right. As charming as the palmetto trees and magnificent harbor may be, it's the beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air Macy who's become Deacon's favorite part of the scenery. But can the hopelessly romantic Southern belle stop trying to fix him up and just let Cupid do his work on her own heart?

Macy Frost works as a matchmaker in her own company with her three other friends in Charleston. They run a very successful business and have had amazing results in putting people together. So when Deacon Banks arrives in town and only comes to visit Macy to satisfy his aunt’s demands, Macy isn’t going to let him go that easily, when a woman who believes in finding true love wants Deacon to give her girls a fair chance, because she feels she can find him the right match.

Until she realizes that match is her.

And everything seems to go downhill from there…

Macy believes in finding love for others, but not herself. That to me is a bit awkward, especially when matchmaking is literally her job, but she pushes back if it’s her.

I had a super hard time with the characters in general and didn’t really feel connected to them, nor did I like them.

The girl’s try to set Deacon up with Macy, when they realize he has feelings for her and Macy is avoiding him, by conveniently ditching him on dates. When Macy catches on to what’s happening, she gets butthurt and feels betrayed like he had hurt her somehow and she can never trust him again. She says this, and then literally in the next moment does the exact same thing to Deacon’s Aunt, by going behind her back to set her up with a man and is so proud that she had thought of that plan.

Wait?

What?

Seriously?

God.

That made my head hurt. I didn’t enjoy it. I skimmed the last part. Deacon didn’t even want a serious relationship till like the last two pages of the book. It was weird, it was boring.. It just didn’t work for me and the characters just all felt two-faced, and flat.

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Review Round Up #11

Posted December 17, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review Round Up #11A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Wallflowers, #4.5, #4.5, #4.5
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 14, 2008
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday
Pages: 213
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

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

It’s Christmas time in London and Rafe Bowman has arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie Blandford, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady-in-waiting, and if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed.
Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallfowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen. And winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants.
However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.
A Wallflower Christmas takes a trip to Victorian London, under the mistletoe, and on a journey of the heart.

It’s Christmas time and Rafe Bowman has finally arrived in London from America to arrange a meeting and a proposal to Natalie Blandford. Even though Rafe has the money and the good looks, Natalie’s cousin Hannah is less than impressed with his behavior and doesn’t believe that Rafe and Natalie are a good match. While Hannah tries her best to protect her cousin, she leaves her own heart vulnerable to Rafe Bowman himself.

This was a quick Christmasy read that I wanted. I think fans of the first four books would probably enjoy this a lot more as it follows the four wallflowers from the previous books and kind of gives readers a glimpse into their life after their happily ever after. I liked the setting of Christmas and the writing was good. That being said, I was eh on the romance. I found Rafe’s actions a bit forceful and sometimes downright uncomfortable. Thought I liked the back and forth between him and Hannah, I just wasn’t impressed with the hero himself, whose actions sometimes borderlines on assault and made me feel a bit wary about the romance in general as well as left me cringing several times.

Overall, not too bad and left me interested in previous books. I think I liked the setting and the women in this book the most.

Review Round Up #11The Christmas Dare by Lori Wilde
Series: Twilight, Texas #10
Published by Avon on October 22, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

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

A jilted-at-the-altar bride reunites with her high school sweetheart in Lori Wilde’s sensational new Twilight, Texas Christmas novel.
Kelsey James always played by the rules and look where it got her—dumped and half-drunk in a poofy white dress, her Christmas wedding ruined. Then her best friend talks her into going on her “honeymoon” anyway, daring her to a “Christmas of Yes.” It’s about time she lets loose a little, so Kelsey agrees to say “yes” to fun, to romance, and to adventure! And adventure leads her right smack into the arms of sexy Noah MacGregor.
Noah’s never one to say no to a risk—from leading his NBA team to victory to making Christmas cookies in Twilight, he’s up to the challenge! But a lot has gone on since they were teenagers, and he knows he has to take his time to make Kelsey dare to believe that what they feel is more than just the holiday magic that’s in the air . . .

Kelsey is jilted at the altar, what a time to find out that not only is she not getting married, but that her husband has run off with his best friend.

So instead, her best friend Tasha whisks her away to Twilight, Texas. A town that Kelsey is all too familiar with, and where she left behind the boy she was in love with.

But the boy is now a man, a divorced man and there are a lot of unresolved feelings between them. So while Kelsey tries to figure out how to live her life independently from her mother, she must also find out what truly makes her happy.

I find that this series is a hit or miss for me and the past two books that I read have definitely felt more like a miss. The romance was okay, I really like Noah and Tasha, but I wasn’t overly warm to Kelsey. Her character was lackluster and annoying and the conflict and her choice of Noah, in the end, was more frustration added to the book. I didn’t find her all that believable and honestly could have done with the whole my groom-dumps-me-at-the-altar-because-his-gay-trope.

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Sophia Rose Review: The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton

Posted December 10, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 34 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass GraftonThe Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen (Austen Adventures Book 2) by Ada Bright, Cass Grafton
Series: Austen Adventures #2
Published by Canelo Escape on November 7th 2019
Genres: Time-Travel, Romance
Pages: 322
Format: Kindle Edition, Paperback
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 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.

Rose Wallace thought her time-travelling adventures were over. Jane Austen is about to prove her wrong.
After becoming trapped in present-day Bath due to a mishap with her time-travelling charm, Jane Austen is safe and sound back in the 1800s thanks to Rose’s help. Now, Rose is ready to focus on her fledgling romance with dreamy Dr Aiden Trevellyan.
But when Jane reappears in the present, it looks like Rose and Aiden have no choice but to follow her back to 1813…
Staying in the Austen household, Rose and Aiden are introduced to a number of interesting figures from the past, including Jane’s eccentric – and surprisingly modern – neighbour. Suddenly Rose’s life is in need of a re-write as she discovers some unexpected ties to Jane Austen's world and her past.

After adoring The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen and getting that tantalizing teaser there at the end while needing to get more time with Rose and Aidan, I was primed and ready when this sequel arrived. Another engaging installment in the Austen Adventures series.

The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen is a follow up sequel and works best when read in order.

Rose and Aidan have just come to a tentative understanding to start seeing each other when who should appear back in Rose’s day, but Jane Austen herself requiring Rose to come with her back into the past because Jane needs her. Rose is pretty sure telling Aidan the truth and dragging him into this latest time-traveling venture will scotch her chances with him for good when he runs from the crazy woman who thinks her friend is the real Jane Austen and that she can travel through time. But, Aidan surprises her and stands fast even when forced into Regency gentleman’s attire and the inconveniences and mode of the past. She is not able to turn her focus to the mysterious mission Jane feels she needs to be there for in the past.

In my mind, it was only to be expected that after traveling into alternate reality and being such an Austen fan that Rose would get an adventure into Jane Austen’s past. I already thought this pair of authors treated well the situation of Rose, an Austen fan, and later Jane Austen’s arrival on scenee with their meticulous attention to all the important details. This was even more so when Rose and Aidan go into the past and see it all first person. Life in Regency Era Chawton Cottage and the Great House were brought vividly to life.

The characters were nicely fleshed out. Aidan’s enthusiasm for seeing his archeology projects two centuries before and exploring Regency life with a historian’s eye as he mingled with the Austen men and quietly strengthened his relationship with Rose. Then with Rose being troubled by the time travel, by a vulnerability where Aidan was concerned, and then of course her mixed feelings on the matter Jane wishes her to believe in. Later, there is the tension about being in the past or going back to the present. I felt Rose was come into her own and more confident in herself even with all the precarious situations she had to navigate.

The neatest part, as an Austen fan, was seeing Jane in the setting of her family that included her beloved sister Cassandra, her mother, and two of her brothers, Charles and Edward. They were all in on Jane’s secret and had varying responses to a time traveling, novel-writing family member. I was as jazzed as Rose’s bestie Morgan to see a literary rock star right where she lived.

But, probably the most poignant story thread wasn’t even the romance though I did love the deepening of that. It was a surprise reunion for Rose. I teared up a few times over it and particularly in the end.

This wasn’t a dramatic book, though there are most definitely tense moments, heartwarming scenes, and times of excitement. It was gentle and paced out slowly. There were lag moments for me when I was antsy for faster progress, but for the most part, I was content to relax into the world and characters’ lives the authors painted.

The catalyst for the story and the reason there was so much tension was Jane Austen’s charm. I loved getting the story behind it at last and seeing the charm necklace as a book character in itself.

Things ended on a high note, but I felt there was the opportunity for more story if the authors wished it. Because, yes, there was another tantalizing bit at the end that could lead to further adventures in time for Rose and Aidan.

All in all, this was a heartwarming, gentle story of time travel, love and friendship, family reunion, and a dream come true for a Jane Austen fan due to a dash of whimsy brought by a certain charm. Those who enjoy women’s fiction with a spot of magical realism and cozy time travel stories particularly if they are Jane Austen lovers should give this one a chance.

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 #10

Posted December 3, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review Round Up #10Thin Ice by Paige Shelton
Series: Alaska Wild Mysteries #1
Published by Minotaur Books on December 3, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 288
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.

First in a new series set in Alaska from beloved author Paige Shelton, Thin Ice will chill your bones.
Beth Rivers is on the run – she’s doing the only thing she could think of to keep herself safe. Known to the world as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild, she had become the subject of a fanatic’s obsession. After being held in a van for three days by her kidnapper, Levi Brooks, Beth managed to escape, and until he is captured, she's got to get away. Cold and remote, Alaska seems tailor-made for her to hideout.
Beth’s new home in Alaska is sparsely populated with people who all seem to be running or hiding from something, and though she accidentally booked a room at a halfway house, she feels safer than she’s felt since Levi took her. That is, until she’s told about a local death that’s a suspected murder. Could the death of Linda Rafferty have anything to do with her horror at the hands of Levi Brooks?
As Beth navigates her way through the wilds of her new home, her memories of her time in the van are coming back, replaying the terror and the fear—and threatening to keep her from healing, from reclaiming her old life again. Can she get back to normal, will she ever truly feel safe, and can she help solve the local mystery, if only so she doesn’t have to think about her own?

Beth Rivers is a thriller author better known as Elizabeth Fairchild, and Beth Rivers is on the run. After being kidnapped and held in a van for three days by her kidnapper Levi Brooks, Beth manages to escape but not unscathed. So she does the only thing she knows to do, she runs away and a cold, remote place in Alaska seems like a perfect hideaway.

The town is scarcely populated and the townspeople all seem to be there running and hiding from something. So when Beth arrives and a murder happens, she can’t help but wonder if it’s somehow related to her.

This was a perfect read for this time of year. I loved the atmosphere of an isolated village in Alaska, with a small population and cold. The characters were fantastic and I enjoyed following all of them as well as getting to know them.

By accident, Beth ends up staying in a halfway house, where she meets an interesting cast of characters and get involved in a police investigation. Beth also has a few issues. She’s scared that Levi Brooks will find her. She has very little memory of the man himself since she hurt her head and needed surgery after jumping out of the van, and both her mother and an investigator are trying to find him.

This was a great read and I am looking forward to more from this town and characters in the future.

Review Round Up #10Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
Series: standalone
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on June 12, 2018
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Pages: 312
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:2.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

From the international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.
On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.
For fans of Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn, this novel is a “seductively sinister story. The twists come together in a superbly scary denouncement, which delivers a final sting in the tail. Brilliantly macabre” (Sunday Mirror).

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

With an opening like that, this book seems to have the making of a great thriller, does it?

We follow three characters in this book, Lydia, the wife of a respectful, successful judge – a mother to a beloved son Laurence and a mistress to a grand house in Dublin. We follow Laurence, the son who discovers the deep dark secret earthed in the backyard of his sanctuary and Karen, the sister of Annie Doyle that is desperate to find her.

This book is twisted on a level of twisted. If you love a twisted psychological thriller, you might enjoy this one. And while a lot found this enjoyable with how twisted it was, I found this book irritating.

All of the characters in this book are unlikable. Lydia is a psychopath with a dark past and she is completely off her rocker. She’s an overbearing mother who wants to keep her son from leaving her alone in the house, and goes through extreme measures to do so. Laurance is troubled in his own way and I found his sexual fantasies about the possible missing dead girl a little weird, especially when the author decided to take the route she did with him and Annie.

This entire book was just completely screwed up. I had a hard time believing the ending a bit, but even that was as shocking as it was messed up.

Overall, I just wanted to finish this.  It was okay. If you like really messed up characters, 2/3 in this book will fit the bill. It does drag at times, and I had a hard time wanting to pick it up once I put it down. But overall, okay.

 

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