Month: June 2020

Sophia Rose: Room to Breathe by Liz Talley

Posted June 29, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 6 Comments

Sophia Rose: Room to Breathe by Liz TalleyRoom to Breathe by Liz Talley
Series: standalone
Published by Montlake Romance on November 1, 2019
Genres: Chick-Lit
Pages: 332
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Prime
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

Bestselling author Liz Talley’s emotional and funny novel about family and forgiveness.
For a good part of Daphne Witt’s life, she was a supportive wife and dutiful mother. Now that she’s divorced and her daughter, Ellery, is all grown up, Daphne’s celebrating the best part of her life, a successful career, and a flirtation with an attentive hunk fifteen years her junior…who happens to be her daughter’s ex-boyfriend.
Ellery is starting over, too. She’s fresh out of college. Her job prospects are dim. And to support her fiancé in med school, she’s returned home as her mother’s new assistant. Ellery never expected her own life plan to take such a detour. With no outlet for her frustration, she lets an online flirtation go a little too far, especially considering her pen pal thinks he’s corresponding with her mother.
As love lives tangle, secrets spill, and indiscretions are betrayed, mother and daughter will have a lot to learn—not only about the mistakes they’ve made but also about the men in their lives and the women they are each hoping to become.

I’ve read a few of the author’s Morning Glory series and enjoyed the Southern sass of her heroines. There is humor, but also the troubles of life and a romance to them. I spotted Room to Breathe when it released, but it was only now that I was able to get a chance at it. I do love multi-generational stories revolving around the women in one family, but I also love a good starting over in middle age story, too.

The blurb says this is funny. I suppose that there are a few funny moments in the book. However, for the most part, it is filled with people being real which wasn’t funny and was wearying. At first, I was ready to put the book down because I couldn’t get behind either mother, Daphne, or daughter, Ellery- particularly the daughter.

Daphne needed a good boot to get her out of her rut. She had a fling with her sexy twenty-five year old contractor I thought she was off to a wild and fun start, but that just sent her into panic and made her a jerk to the guy treating him like her dirty secret and telling him he was a mistake over and over. She cringed with self-disgust and let her daughter flay her with guilt all because she had a one night stand with an available, consenting adult.

Then there is Ellery, Daphne’s adult daughter who took pampered princess and doubled down on that stuff. Daphne and her ex made the mistake of giving Ellery her way and anything she wanted so that the young woman had no coping skills for when the great big world out there didn’t cooperate with her plans. She was a witch to everyone and particularly her mother. She knows she is roiling with ugly feelings and embraces anger, lashing out at others and using then at times to cover the internal mess.

But, for some reason just before I tossed my Kindle down, I hesitated. I wanted to see the journey through with Daphne and Ellery. It got worse and painful, but at the same time, I could see them working things through and slowly climbing out of the hole into a better place as individuals and eventually each other. It was emotion-wrought, but I was glad I stuck it to the end.

Usually, I can embrace a character from the beginning and cheer them on wholeheartedly. That didn’t happen in this one. They weren’t special or especially lovable- they were just people. I think that is the highest compliment I can deliver to an author- she wrote real people with real struggles and made me (eventually) care about them.

That said, my favorite character was Tippy, an older woman who was Daphne’s friend and sounding board. She listened, but she also gave the unvarnished truth. Her sage advice came with a live it up philosophy that had me grinning and anticipating each time she was in a scene.

There are some strong themes in this book- divorce’s effect on the child, gaslighting, infidelity, teen parents, mom vs. career, coming out, accepting and supporting others, and starting over later in life.

While this has two second chances at romance in it, the book is not a romance. Daphne and Ellery have to figure themselves out and repair what is broken between them before they can have good relationships with another person. I understood this, but my romance-loving heart swooned over both the love interests particularly a certain Texas vintner who was fabulous with his patience and understanding.

So, I won’t go so far as to say I loved this one, but I’m definitely glad I read it. It looks like and fun from the cover to the blurb, but it’s an emotional hitter so be prepared if you take the plunge.

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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Sophia Rose Review: The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomo

Posted June 15, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomoThe English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomo
Series: standalone
Published by Rockridge on June 2nd 2020 by Rockridge
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 208
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.

The engaging, self-guided way to learn how to write better in English
Mastering English grammar can be a real challenge. But, with a little practice and patience, you can discover how to communicate better through self-study in your spare time. The English Grammar Workbook for Adults is here to help improve your writing fluency so you can gain confidence while crafting emails, cover letters, conducting daily business, and personal correspondence.
No matter your current skill level, this English grammar workbook has everything you need to learn essential elements, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, tenses, and beyond. Then, you’ll apply what you’ve learned to everyday situations you could encounter at school, at work, social situations, creative writing, online, and more.
The English Grammar Workbook for Adults features:-Fun & functional―This clear, concise book is essential for ESL/EFL and other grammar students who want to work on writing English.-Situational success―Get expert tips on how grammar applies to real-world scenarios.-Easy to use―Find quick answers to your English grammar questions using text boxes and the expanded index in the back of the book.
Learning how to communicate more clearly is a snap with >i>The English Grammar Workbook for Adults.

 

I had it in the back of my mind that I might enjoy volunteering to teach English to English Second Language folks since I have some time to give back and the community budget for such stuff is slender. But, I also figured that I’d probably better hone my rusty English Grammar knowledge first. I spotted The English Grammar Workbook for Adults which was designed to aide ESL teachers and students for working on their functional writing skills and thought it would help me review the rules and also give me a chance to check out a potential ESL teaching source.

The workbook begins with an easy-read, gently-paced course in the parts of speech, punctuation, and the composition of various written communications. It is broken up into doable chapters with self-study assignments after each segment. The layout is easy on the eye with the sections placed on the page in segments that are digestible for a new English user.

Part One is a review of the Parts of Speech and Punctuation. There is the explanation, the definition, and good examples though, man, the rules of English are a bear with all those exceptions. The grand-daddy segment was each type of verb. Gerund, anyone? How about a past perfect progressive? (Okay, I made that up, but that is probably what it feels like to an ESL learner.)

Part Two dives into the practical usage for all those grammar rules. It presents several forms of written communication from term papers to resumes to emails to work presentations. There are formal and informal styles with suggestions about using or not using slang and idioms. The back has some nice cheat sheets for the hairier lessons.

As to how this book shaped up for what I wanted? I thought it was great for helping me dust off my (paltry- I discovered) knowledge of the parts of speech and will likely be helpful for ESL students who have a rudimentary understanding of words and basic speech. What did surprise me was, lo and behold, my education pre-dated some of the rules in this book so I was being ungrammatical according to a few updated rules. The author points these occasions out a couple of times- like he’s warning these poor ESL folks about the old American fogies who aren’t trying to confuse them with archaic usage.

I can recommend it to others who want to review their English Grammar for Writing, for those who want a workbook to help them teach ESL classes, and for ESL students or students who struggle with English Grammar and need outside the classroom study help.

My thanks to Callisto Publishing 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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Sophia Rose Review: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and the Soldier’s Portion by Don Jacobson, Narrated by Amanda Berry

Posted June 8, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and the Soldier’s Portion by Don Jacobson, Narrated by Amanda BerryThe Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (Bennet Wardrobe #7) by Don Jacobson
Narrator: Amanda Berry
Length: 16 hours 24 minutes
Series: The Bennet Wardrobe #7
Published by Don Jacobson on September 10th 2019
Genres: Time Travel Romance
Format: Audiobook
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.

“My life has been very much like an unfinished painting. The artist comes to the portrait day-after-day to splash daubs of color onto bare canvas, filling in the blanks of my story. Thus grows the likeness, imperfect as it may be, which you see today.” Lydia Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock, letter to her sister Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, March 14, 1831.

Does it matter how a man fills out his regimentals? Miss Austen never considered that query. Yet, this question marks the beginning of an education…and the longest life…in the Bennet Wardrobe saga.

Lydia Bennet, Longbourn’s most wayward daughter, embarks on her quest in The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. This biography reveals how the Wardrobe helps young Mrs. Wickham learn that honor and bravery grow not from the color of the uniform—or the gender of its wearer—but rather from the contents of the heart.

In the process, she realizes that she must be broken and repaired, as if by a kintsugi master potter, to become the most useful player in the Bennet Wardrobe’s great drama.

The Pilgrim explores questions of love, loss, pain, worry, and perseverance. All of these are brought to bear as one of the silliest girls in England grows into the Dowager Countess.

 

From the first book, the youngest Bennet sister has been sparkling in the shadows and readying to plunge into the open of center stage for her story- a story of a young girl who made youthful mistakes, but time and circumstances put the heroine through a refining fire to forge her into a strong, capable woman who loved and lost more than once. I gladly took up my ear buds and listened to the delectable voice of Amanda Berry tell me the story I was long anticipating.

The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion is the seventh of the Bennet Wardrobe series which is interwoven tightly and must be read in order.

The Pilgrim begins with Lydia’s life after running off and marrying the rakish George Wickham. What brought her from a flitting selfish girl of a small English town to become the powerful and wise Countess? When reading Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet is a character that I can appreciate as a nuisance and then I just pitied her for her final fate. After all, she made a youthful, albeit huge mistake, and she’ll pay for it for a long time. So, I was well pleased to see that in this magical time traveling Wardrobe universe, this Lydia gets a reset. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. In fact, her story is quite a doozy- tissue warning for you emotional readers/listeners like myself. But, beyond this second chance, I found I really liked and admired this young woman. She knows she screwed up and that others aren’t going to buy her about face all at once- it takes action not just words. So, she bucks up and listens and learns from her sisters and friends- even her parents- like she never did before.

Beyond Lydia’s transformation, there is a fabulous universe the author created that includes a magical and mysterious time traveling Wardrobe that will take the members of the Bennet family where they are needed most. In this one, Lydia’s journey took her from Regency England to WWII Occupied France where she is truly tested. Nazis, French Resistance, and a surprise await her. But, most of all, she gets the chance to reconnect with her beloved sister, Kitty, whom she thought was lost to her. Kitty has taught herself much about the Wardrobe and with each book more has been revealed about how it works.

Outside of the time travel element, the author does a fabulous job of historical setting both Regency and WWII. It was fun to spot real life figures and events, literary figures cameo-ing, and the attention to how the characters would behave and speak at the time. Even with the time travel, it was neat to see characters true to what they knew. Lydia enjoyed the changes that were allowed to her sex by the 1940’s, but some things were really shocking like getting to wear trousers or ladies smoking and drinking in mixed company.

Lydia gets to experience romance in several ways throughout her colorful life. I don’t want to spoiler the story so I won’t go into this element, but for all the romance readers- you will get your fill. You will also get to feel deeply.

Amanda Berry is the fabulous series narrator and, as with past entries in the series, she was masterful at delivering the storyline, enacting each of the large cast so that each was unique no matter their gender, age, class, or nationality. It is a tricky job and she does it so well. I get caught up each time I listened and didn’t want to pause even when I must.

In summary, the series stays strong and I was oh so well pleased with Lydia’s story. I saw a few hints as to what is to come next and I’m eager to see how that teases out. It is a complex series and a large cast of characters at this point, but I love it. Those who enjoy a unique style of time travel romance with a fair share of intrigue and worldbuilding should definitely give this series a go.

My thanks to the author 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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Sophia Rose Review: The Banty House by Carolyn Brown

Posted June 5, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Banty House by Carolyn BrownThe Banty House by Carolyn Brown
Series: Standalone
Published by Montlake Romance on May 26, 2020
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 287
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.

In the fading town of Rooster, Texas, all that’s really left is a service station, a church…and the Banty House, a long-ago Depression-era brothel. For more than seventy-five years, Betsy, Connie, and Kate Carson have called their mama’s house a home. The three eccentric sisters get by just fine with their homemade jams and jellies, a little moonshine on the side, and big hearts always open to strangers. Like Ginger Andrews.
An abandoned teen with a baby on the way and nowhere to go, she’s given a room to call her own for as long as she wants. The kind invitation is made all the sweeter when Ginger meets the sisters’ young handyman, Sloan Baker. But with a past as broken as Ginger’s, he’s vowed never to get close to anyone again. As a season of change unfolds, Ginger and Sloan might discover a warm haven to heal in the Banty House, a place to finally belong, where hope and dreams never fade.

This book feels like a porch swing with a friend, a cold drink, and a summer night with stars above and fireflies out on the lawn. Carolyn Brown stories are full of country charm and down home storytelling. The Banty House is no exception.

The story focuses on three elderly sisters who have lived a full life and still do (Oh lawd, do they!) as they remain one of the chief sources of their small town’s gossip. They are the daughters of a former brothel owner and their mama never married. But, their mama gave them a set of rules to live by and the first about caring for strangers and the second about helping others brings a homeless, pregnant young Ginger to them so they can show her what family and home are and she, in turn, can show a former soldier who lost his team that he was meant to survive and live.

The Banty House was heartwarming and gently paced, but those feisty gals can be so unexpected that there was never a dull moment. I love the cross generational cast of characters and how they worked well together.

The history of the Carson sisters, their home, and the town was interesting and set the background. I also felt so touched for Ginger who had a truly tough row to hoe as a foster kid who had no one ever and then got tricked by a slick guy before finding her way to Rooster, Texas and the Banty House and Sloan.

The romance is background for much of the book as the story is mostly about the Carson sisters and Ginger. Plus, Ginger is planning to move on when she gets on her feet and Sloan has stopped living and is even suspicious of Ginger at first. They both have painful pasts that they need to address and then there is the fact that she’s pregnant and worried that no man would take on her situation and someone else’s child. Sloan was a bit lost himself so caring for Ginger anchored him and he had a huge, generous heart that had room for her, her complications, and a baby.

There were a few exciting moments, but for the most part this was a character-driven comfort read that left me smiling and feeling lighter. Oh, and needing piles of home-cooked food after the descriptions of what Betsy and Ginger made. Those who enjoy women’s fiction crossing over with contemporary small town romance should definitely give this one a try.

I rec’d this book from Montlake Publishing via Net Galley to read 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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