Category: Reviews

Sophia Rose Review: Darcy in Hollywood by Victoria Kincaid + Giveaway

Posted August 27, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 13 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Darcy in Hollywood by Victoria Kincaid + GiveawayDarcy in Hollywood: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Variation by Victoria Kincaid
Series: standalone
Published by Meadowbrook Press on June 26th 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 235
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Rich and arrogant movie star, William Darcy, was a Hollywood heartthrob until a scandalous incident derailed his career. Now he can only hope that Tom Bennet’s prestigious but low budget indie film will restore his reputation. However, on the first day of filming, he nearly hits Bennet’s daughter, Elizabeth, with his Ferrari, and life will never be the same. Okay, she’s a little sarcastic, but he’s certain she’s concealing a massive crush on him—and it’s growing harder to fight his own attraction….

Elizabeth Bennet has a lot on her plate. She’s applying to medical school and running the studio’s charity project—while hoping her family won’t embarrass her too much. Being Darcy’s on-set personal assistant is infuriating; he’s rude, proud, and difficult. If there’s one thing she dislikes, it’s people who only think about themselves. But then Elizabeth discovers Darcy has been doing a lot of thinking about her.

She might be willing to concede a mutual attraction, but events are conspiring against them and Darcy subject to constant public scrutiny. Can Darcy and Elizabeth have any hope for a happy ending to their Hollywood romance?

Pride and Prejudice meets Hollywood in this slightly edgy, modern adaption of Austen’s original story. The story was part romance, part comedy and was infused with elements that reached deeply making this not just a pale shadow, but a solid tribute to the classic tale.

Darcy in Hollywood begins on a cringeworthy scene when an A-List actor, Will Darcy, arriving on set in his Ferrari nearly runs over a beautiful young woman, Lizzy Bennet. Naturally, he doesn’t apologize and blames her a little even though he knows that he was in the wrong by fiddling with his radio and nearly hitting her. This starts the beginning of an acrimonious enemies to lovers romance where he slowly sees himself- as in he is egotistically oblivious at first- through Lizzy’s eyes and doesn’t like what he sees. She has no idea that he has been challenged by her to be a better man and can’t stand him- well other than pretending not to notice his amazing good looks or being puzzled when he doesn’t act like an arrogant jerk.

Meanwhile, Lizzy’s Hollywood family are all involved in the new indie film her dad is producing from her gorgeous sister Jane who has the lead role opposite Darcy to her silly, starstruck youngest sister, Lydia. The movie is the story of a trans teen kicked out for being trans and, from homelessness, finds a way to his dream and the film is helping to generate support for a local shelter that take in LGBTQA teens when they found themselves on the street and destitute.

I was engaged with the characters from the beginning even when Darcy was a real piece of work. He grew so much throughout the story and I enjoyed being on that journey of discovery with him. Lizzy was right about him, but, not completely. Her family, other than Jane, have been awful to her since she wants to be a doctor and not involved in the movie world so she has a jaundiced view of actors already which has her getting the wrong end of the stick about Darcy, especially when she believes charming Wickham’s lies and sees the plastic people Darcy is surrounded by.

The surrounding cast of characters offered some good layers to the story with some of the secondary plot threads particularly the Jane-Charlie-Ricky story and young Garrett’s story wth Darcy mentoring him.

There are some of the author’s fun over the top screwball moments when she plays around with the characters of Darcy’s insufferably proud aunt and her groveling assistant along with Mrs. Bennet, former starlet and eager promoter of her favorite child, Lydia. They are funny even while being awful and annoying.

I found the couple of surprise twists about the screenwriter and about the scandal that sidetracked Darcy’s career were great and I didn’t see them coming. I thought both offered defining moments in Darcy’s life to show Lizzy who he really was when the Hollywood veneer is peeled back and Wickham’s lies revealed.

The romance had a goodly level of conflict and had some angst, but nothing over the top. I liked seeing them get past the surface issues and enjoyed the moderate level of attraction buzzing between them even when they were on the outs or thought they were, at times.

All in all, it was an engaging slightly spicy contemporary romance giving a strong nod to Austen’s classic. It’s a recommendable romance for those who enjoys a movie set background and an enemies to lovers trope.

In addition to my review, author, Victoria Kincaid has sent along a few extras…

Hi Night Owl Book Café Readers,

Thank you for having me as a guest!

Darcy in Hollywood starts with a bang: movie star Darcy almost hits Elizabeth, an aspiring medical student and production assistant, on a studio lot. Here is an excerpt from the beginning—right after Darcy nearly hits Elizabeth with his car.

Enjoy!

Victoria

Darcy stomped on the momentary flare of irritation. “Is the sarcasm really necessary?”

She regarded him through narrowed eyes. “Yeah, I think it is. What’s the alternative? That I should be honored to be knocked over by your car? Because I don’t think your identity would have been much comfort to my parents. ‘We don’t have a daughter anymore, but at least she was killed by a celebrity. Maybe he can autograph her coffin.’”

Why did she have to be so difficult? He was already putting up with so much doing an indie film. “That’s not what I meant. You don’t have to put it that way—”

I almost got hit by a car. I can put it however the fuck I want to!”

Darcy was so over this woman. She wasn’t nearly as pretty as he had initially thought. If only he could leave. But he needed to make sure she wouldn’t talk to the media; another car-related incident would be a disaster for his career. From now on, I only travel by train or boat. Pity about her personality; she had fine eyes.

Darcy helped the woman limp to a nearby bench and gently lowered her to the seat. “Maybe I should call for an ambulance,” he suggested. He would have preferred to discuss having her sign a nondisclosure agreement, but it seemed a little insensitive.

Let me sit for a minute.” Leaning forward, she cradled her head in her hands, providing a good view of the blood matting the hair on the back of her head. Huh, maybe she wasn’t wrong about the possible concussion.

Darcy settled on the bench beside her despite a desperate desire to cross the street and slip into Building 4, where they were holding the table read. They won’t start without me, he reminded himself. But being late wouldn’t impress them with his professionalism.

He took the opportunity to check her for other injuries. She had a scrape on her right arm and favored her left ankle. Of course, her clothes were disheveled—and a fashion disaster. The sleeve of her t-shirt was ripped where she had fallen.

I can get you a new t-shirt.”

Huh?”

He gestured to the rip.

Her mouth hung open. “I don’t give a shit about the t-shirt!”

I don’t think that kind of language is called for.”

That kind of language?” she echoed and then squinted at him. “Are you drunk?”

It’s 7 a.m.”

Yes, it is. Are you drunk? Or high?”

Damn, you have one scandal…

No,” he said sharply.

The car was moving rather erratically.”

I was…trying to work the stereo. It’s complicated.”

You almost killed me because you couldn’t work the radio?”

To be fair, it’s satellite radio. And I didn’t almost kill you!”

To-may-to, to-mah-to.”

His jaw clenched so tightly he could grind glass. “This isn’t a matter of opinion! You would have been fine if you hadn’t fallen.”

I also would have been fine if your Ferrari hadn’t come hurtling toward me.”

Darcy didn’t respond; arguing was futile. After a moment she gave him a sidelong glance. “You don’t need to babysit me; I can call myself an ambulance if I need one.”

I shouldn’t leave you alone.”

Oh! You don’t want me talking to the press. Don’t worry.”

That’s not what I’m worried about,” he lied. “My primary concern is your well-being.”

I bet you say that to all the girls you almost run over.”

Darcy stifled a smile. Under other circumstances, he’d think she was funny. “I assure you that you’re the first.”

The woman examined the scrape on her arm. “I accept your apology, by the way.”

I didn’t apologize.”

Now she turned her blue-green gaze on him. “I noticed that. Why didn’t you? Do you think this is my fault? That your car had the right of way on the sidewalk?”

Darcy would have apologized—if he had thought of it—but now he couldn’t without losing face. “I didn’t hit you. You agreed I didn’t hit you!” I sound like an idiot insisting on that point.

You. Are. Unbelievable.”

Darcy had heard that before but usually in a more complimentary tone.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY

Victoria has graciously offered up an e-book of Darcy in Hollywood for one (1) lucky winner. International entries welcome. To enter, leave a comment with your email and the winner will be randomly drawn one week from the post date. Winner will be notified by email and the author will be given confirmed winner’s name and email so she can distribute of the prize. Good Luck!

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: Brave the Tempest by Karen Chance, Narrated by Jorjeana Marie

Posted August 15, 2019 by Lily B in Audio, Guest Post, Reviews / 8 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Brave the Tempest by Karen Chance, Narrated by Jorjeana MarieBrave the Tempest by Karen Chance, Jorjeana Marie
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Length: 20.5 hours
Series: Cassandra Palmer #9
Published by Tantor Audio on August 6, 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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.

Cassie Palmer, chief seer of the supernatural world, faces her biggest challenge yet-her own allies! Everything's on the line in the latest thrilling entry in the New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series. Cassie Palmer has been chief seer of the supernatural world for a little over four months. In that time, she's battled two gods, fallen in love with two men, and confronted the two sides of her own nature, both god and human. So it's not surprising that she currently finds herself facing two adversaries, although they have a single purpose: to wipe out the supernatural community's newest fighting force, leaving it vulnerable to enemies in this world and beyond. To prevent catastrophe, the vamps, mages, and demons will have to do the one thing they've never managed before and come together as allies. Cassie has the difficult task of keeping the uneasy coalition intact, and of persuading her own two opposing forces, a powerful mage with a secret and a master vampire with a growing obsession, to fight at her side. She just hopes they can do it without tearing each other apart. Contains mature themes.

Can’t a gal catch a break? Or, you know, get a time out for a breather? This fast-paced, original, and oh-so action-packed Urban Fantasy series just keeps up a hammering plot pace with a heroine at the core of matters who is faking it until she makes it even as she slowly comes into her own. I’ve had a blast with each book in this series and this one was no exception.

Brave the Tempest is book nine in the Cassandra Palmer series and would probably be utterly crazy reading if taken out of order. Also, if you’re considering jumping in, I would recommend including the Dorina Basarab side series where they fit by release date as if they were one united series for best reading/listening experience.

The last few books were all about getting John Pritkin, a powerful War Mage (aka Merlin), back while defeating a god and fighting a war with faery and the mages of the Dark Circle to keep the gods from returning. Cassie, the new Pythia (able to wield some magic including time itself), feels she has been through so much and done so much and yet more keeps coming at her. She has separated herself from Mircea and the Vampires after learning the whole truth about why they courted her, she’s held off the Silver Circle mages who want to control her and her power, she’s showed the demons what she can do, and she’s made the powerful enemies of Dark Circle Mages and fey sit up and take notice.

But, for all that, she feels she, her Pythia Court, and her love life are one hot mess. And, she wouldn’t be wrong. Cassie is confronted by several friends and allies that force her to stop long enough to consider what makes her tick, change what is necessary, and consider what she really wants and go for it.

It is make or break time for Cassie and she has to dig deep and learn some important lessons even while surviving long enough to help save the world.

As I said, the series arc for the last several books is complete and now Cassie is back to figuring out how to get all the allies working together and taking her seriously as Pythia. There is a lot more soul-searching in this one. At times, it felt like Cassie got a bit whiny as she took the pointed remarks about how she was doing stuff (or, in some cases, in denial and avoiding stuff). But, I’m pretty sure most of us would get whiny if we had her life so I’ll cut her some slack.

At last, the love triangle was finally dealt with and Cassie is firmly with Pritkin though still smarting and missing what could have been with Mircea. I loved that Cassie had some good ‘come to Jesus’ moments that will set some stuff straight including how she thought and felt about Dory/Dorina. (Now that was a fab encounter that I have been anticipating forever) Some old enemies that were still out there and trouble were front and center once again and I enjoyed how that all panned out so that plot threads that confused me or I felt needed more attention were getting them. And, for those who wanted more attention given to the romance? You got it.

I was only able to pick up one other from the Cassie Palmer World that was on audio, but I loved my first time with narrator, Jorjeana Marie. She captured the tone, pace, and voices of the characters so well. This was my first time hearing her voice Cassie (the other story was a Dory one), but I quickly adjusted from the voice in my head of her to Jorjeana Marie’s voice and her voice for other characters. I can’t get over how great she does with the blow by blow aspect of the action scenes so I didn’t get lost. Definitely worth picking up more of her work.

All in all, this was a solid entry in the series and I flew through it even if it was a longer one. Urban Fantasy fans who enjoy the usual paranormal suspects and some creature ones as well not to mention incredible magical settings and situations should give this series a go.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this one 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: Passage From Nuala by Harriet Steel

Posted July 4, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 5 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Passage From Nuala by Harriet SteelPassage from Nuala by Harriet Steel
Series: The Inspector de Silva Mysteries #6
Published by Self-published on March 6, 2019
Genres: Historical, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 230
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Inspector de Silva and Jane embark on a cruise to Egypt to visit the pyramids, excited at the prospect of two weeks of sun, sea and relaxation. With Nuala, and de Silva’s duties as a police officer, far behind them, what can possibly spoil their plans? Then a writer is found dead in his cabin, suffocated by newspaper thrust down his throat. Once again, de Silva must swing into action.The Inspector de Silva Mysteriesis a colourful and absorbing series, spiced with humour. Set in Ceylon in the 1930s, it will appeal to fans of traditional and cozy mysteries.

A detective mystery series set in 1930’s Ceylon (Sri Lanka) with a Singalese detective during the British Colonial period has produced a series of engaging, clever mysteries and characters. I was thrilled that this latest took our dear Inspector Shanti de Silva and his beloved wife Jane to sea where even a holiday trip can be murder.

Passage From Nuala is the sixth book in the series. Each book could be read standalone though the players and situation are introduced more thoroughly in book one and expanded upon through each book. For instance, the de Silvas are joined by the Petries in this one and it was fun to get to know a different side of that couple from their earlier introductions.

Much of the book was a fun story of Shanti and Jane’s travel adventures aboard ship, a stop in Bombay, and shipboard life. They are in tourist class, but join the Petries now and then for the first class. Then, of course there is a murder and Shanti and Mr. Petrie are kept busy investigating while keeping it all hush hush. They have to solve it before the cruise ship reaches Port Said and the guilty party can slip away.

As always, the author dots her stories with fascinating people of all walks of life from the below decks international serving crew to the upper crust who are traveling in exotic ports of call. Shanti and Jane meet with some reservations, but also some acceptance for their interracial marriage. It was fun to see Shanti get a surprise as to just who falls into which group.

The murder was a seeming perfect one at first with few easy clues, motives, or opportunities, but slowly Shanti, Petrie and their wives untangle the threads. There were a few good red herrings to put me off the scent. I’ll be honest. I had the obvious suspect and knew there was a second one, but no idea who so I found out when Shanti did.

The 1930’s setting was played forward even with life aboard the cruise ship. The author isn’t heavy handed with historical description, but it is there in the background so the reader is well aware of the surroundings of the story.

Another solid entry in the series that continues to be a favorite. Definitely recommend to historical cozy mystery fans.

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: Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

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

Sophia Rose Review: Lifel1k3 by Jay KristoffLIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff
Series: Lifelike #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on May 29, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 398
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

From the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Illuminae Files comes the first book in a new series that's part Romeo and Juliet, part Terminator, and all adrenaline.
On an island junkyard beneath a sky that glows with radiation, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Seventeen-year-old Eve isn't looking for trouble--she's too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she spent months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, she's on the local gangster's wanted list, and the only thing keeping her grandpa alive is the money she just lost to the bookies. Worst of all, she's discovered she can somehow destroy machines with the power of her mind, and a bunch of puritanical fanatics are building a coffin her size because of it. If she's ever had a worse day, Eve can't remember it. The problem is, Eve has had a worse day--one that lingers in her nightmares and the cybernetic implant where her memories used to be. Her discovery of a handsome android named Ezekiel--called a "Lifelike" because they resemble humans--will bring her world crashing down and make her question whether her entire life is a lie. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic sidekick Cricket in tow, Eve will trek across deserts of glass, battle unkillable bots, and infiltrate towering megacities to save the ones she loves...and learn the truth about the bloody secrets of her past.

Dystopian future, old family secrets coming to light, and a quest journey with a band of misfits. I am all in for that adventure.

Lifel1k3 set the scene of a scorched earth future after nukes leveled the planet, big corporations replaced governments, and the remaining humans are simply scrounging to survive on the trash heap that is now their world. In the midst of this, lives a teen girl, her sick grandfather, her best friend, her bot buddy and her bot dog. Eve Carpenter scavenges and fights her impressive bot fighters in the coliseum for the money to pay for her grandpa’s treatments. But, the loss of her bot fighter and the exposure of her deviance to a huge crowd makes her life come unraveling fast. Truths come out and a past she never knew about expose even more secrets. In the middle of trying to survive everyone who comes after her and her friends, she must save her grandfather and figure out what to do with the truth of her past.

The author wrote a raw, gritty, and dark future where survival is the name of the game. The descriptions of settings is so apt that I could not just see the places and the people, but taste and smell it all, too. There is a constant sense of danger and desperation.

The action was tense, hard-hitting and pulse-pounding. There were moments for reflection, but always back to the action so there was never a dull moment. Even when the action wasn’t physical, the author told this story in layers allowing the reveals and twists to peel back with many aha moments. Though none of those were as big as the one this book ended on.

The heart of this story was the friendship of the motley crew of characters. Eve is the main character, but getting much page time is her sassy best friend, Lemon Fresh, the wry little service bot, Cricket, her faithful bot hound, and a mysterious boy from her past.

Eve and the others encounter many colorful types along the way to rescue Grandfather Silas including some formidable antagonists. Some of those remained even in the end so I can’t wait to see what comes next, especially after that jaw-drop ending. Be prepared to want the next book ASAP and fortunately it is available.

All in all, this was fabulous and I’m itching to dive right back into book two. If you like a blend of futuristic sci-fi set in a dystopian world, you won’t want to miss this one.

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 #8

Posted June 20, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review Round Up #8Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsay
Series: Last Chance #1
Published by Forever on April 30, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 423
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

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

WELCOME TO LAST CHANCE, SOUTH CAROLINA
Dear Reader,
Yes, our town is way off the beaten path, but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here.
I've owned the Cut 'n' Curl beauty shop for years, and I've seen folks come for a visit, then stay for a lifetime. Take Jane-that pretty firecracker of a girl who just arrived in town. I would swear she's running from something. She came with only five dollars in her pocket but she's worked real hard to make a fresh start. She's turned my son Clay's life upside down without even realizing it.
And thank goodness for that! Ever since Clay left his country western band, he's played everything too safe. He needs to take a chance on Jane. Besides, the more he tries to keep his distance, the more he'll realize that he and Jane are singing the same tune.
But I should quit ramblin' and go check on Millie's permanent wave. Next time you're in Last Chance, be sure to swing by. We've got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.
See you real soon,Ruby Rhodes

I love small town books and Welcome to Last Chance gave me all the small town cozy feels that I’ve been looking for. Jane is a new girl in town that arrived on a bus with nothing but five dollars in her pocket, she definitely has secrets, but she is scared that someone might uncover them. Until she runs to the town local Clay and they spend the night together. Clay thinks Jane is wrong for him and a bit too young. He wants a wife, and while he does everything he can to keep Jane out of his heart, he can’t help but play with her hero and allow her in.

This was cute. I didn’t mind the small age gap in this it worked. Last Chance is riddled with local town characters that bring a lot of heart to the book and pack those small-town vibes.

It was a good read. The only thing that bothered me the ending got super dramatic and a bit over the top and maybe a little far fetched. But overall, I’d like to read more of this series.

Review Round Up #8The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston
Series: Found Things #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 16, 2018
Genres: Time-Travel, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 307
Format: Hardcover
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.

A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander
New York Times bestselling author of The Witch's Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more.
Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.
It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she's confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.
While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.
With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, The Little Shop of Found Things is poised to be a strong start to this new series.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind when they buy a little shop in the town of Marlborough, ready for a fresh start. Xanthe and her mother collect antiques, and Xanthe has a special gift. Special finds ‘sing’ to her, and she finds herself, especially drawn to them in uncovering their story and secrets. When a singing silver chatelaine drops into her hands, the ghost that resides in her house urges Xanthe to unearth the secrets of the chatelaine and help her daughter that was wrongfully prosecuted in the past. Now Xanthe must travel back in time to help the daughter of the ghost, or her, own mother’s life might be in danger.

This was an interesting concept, I enjoyed the experience. It was a bit slow moving at times and the mystery a bit confusing. I don’t think I ever grasped fully why her daughter took the chatelaine from her mistress. Also, there was a bit of the past that Flora and Xanthe left behind that I thought could have used more background.

I liked the romance, it was cute, a bit heartbreaking.

I am curious what the second book has in store for us.

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Sophia Rose Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Posted June 4, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma JalaluddinAyesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on June 4, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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 modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

This modern Pride and Prejudice retelling did Jane Austen proud. It heartwarmingly portrayed family, love, and life in a Toronto Muslim community. The writing was engaging and the characters well drawn. Grab your cup of chai and settle in to be entertained.

The story starts out slowly and gently as it introduces the backdrop of the main players, their community of family, work, friends, and religious life. The author added in explanations so that I was never lost as a reader. She also hit on some serious issues that Muslim people face in their changing communities and even in the workplace. Arranged marriage was discussed from both Ayesha and Khalid’s perspectives, but also the older generations. Family and religious values were given due consideration. Khalid’s issue at work shocked me because of how over the top his boss acted. I don’t doubt it can and does happen, but I’m shocked it went as far as it did without anyone catching her out. But then again, it read like a Shakespearean comedy which were mentioned several times in the book by Ayesha’s grandfather and several of the characters in this one were extreme in their behavior. I didn’t mind the extra drama and found it amusing most of the time because it didn’t carry on too long.

The early conflict for Ayesha and Khalid was based on misunderstanding, but then, when it starts to iron out as they get to know one another, their friendship and budding romance gets seriously sabotaged by others who have their own agendas. The second half of the book gets into the deeper drama and the pace picked up and had me intent to know how it would all untangle. I confess that I had hoped to see a bit stronger retribution for one of the players who was thoroughly narcissistic (our Lydia figure) though the others definitely got a good dose of revenge served up and I was happy to see those comeuppances after all the mess they stirred up.

A great deal of this book had Ayesha and Khalid on the wrong foot with each other and the romance was slow burn and had its stops and starts as a result. Khalid stuck that foot in his mouth once or twice, but so did Ayesha in her own way. She calls him judgmental when he dismissed her after seeing her sitting in a bar with a cocktail in front of her pulling out a pack of cigarettes (cocktail was virgin and cigs weren’t hers). It gets her back up, but she had just gotten finished judging him for his conservative dress and appearance and later takes the word of a stranger she doesn’t even like with lies about Khalid and his family.

They sit in opposite opinions about arranged marriage and she constantly calls him a mama’s boy for respecting and obeying his mother’s wishes not knowing that he does it due to a family tragedy that still wounds him. Khalid apologizes profusely when he learns his error and he struggles to change where he feels he was in the wrong after listening to Ayesha, Clara, and others. He was such a sweetie and, for all his awkward blundering, he was a very romantic figure. I loved that pivotal scene in Ayesha’s home with her grandmother teaching them both how to make a traditional dish, paratha, and dispensing sage advice over chai and the food. And, his relationship with his older sister and how he tried to take care of her as best he could left me swooning.

But, for all the enjoyment I took from this story, I had one niggle. I never saw Ayesha more than mildly remorseful when her mistakes came out and Khalil seemed to do all the changing. I don’t mean to say that she’s bad or I didn’t like her- in fact I did and I could relate on some levels as she searched to figure out what she wanted and understand more about love. But I felt that she owed Khalid words of apology in a candid conversation since she had no trouble delivering words of condemnation on more than one occasion and half the time she was wrong particularly in the painful way her lie about who she was hurt Khalid deeply.

There were some good twists and big scenes in the last half that had been building for a while. I had to chuckle over some of it and yes, I was cheering hard to see Khalid shine as the hero in the end. The ending had me smiling and sorry not to be able to stick around to see what came next to get the gossiping and matchmaking aunties chattering over the chai tea and desserts.

All in all, is was an engaging story and a fabulous tribute to Austen, Shakespeare, and the Muslim community. Whether you’re an Austen fan or not, if you enjoy stories about family, friends, and a colorful romance pair, give this one a go.

My thanks to Berkley 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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Blog Tour: All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker

Posted May 30, 2019 by Lily B in Blog Tour, Reviews / 13 Comments

Blog Tour: All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura TuckerAll the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker
Illustrator: Kelly Murphy
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on June 4, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

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

SoHo, 1981. Twelve-year-old Olympia is an artist—and in her neighborhood, that's normal. Her dad and his business partner Apollo bring antique paintings back to life, while her mother makes intricate sculptures in a corner of their loft, leaving Ollie to roam the streets of New York with her best friends Richard and Alex, drawing everything that catches her eye.
Then everything falls apart. Ollie's dad disappears in the middle of the night, leaving her only a cryptic note and instructions to destroy it. Her mom has gone to bed, and she's not getting up. Apollo is hiding something, Alex is acting strange, and Richard has questions about the mysterious stranger he saw outside. And someone keeps calling, looking for a missing piece of art. . . .
Olympia knows her dad is the key--but first, she has to find him, and time is running out.

12-year-old Olympia is an artist living in SoHo in 1981, which isn’t all that uncommon in her neighborhood. Her father and his friend Apollo bring antique paintings back to life, while her mother sees the beauty in everything and makes intricate sculptures out of everyday ordinary items. But one morning she wakes up and her father has left the country, leaving her and her mom alone and now her mom won’t get out of bed. The only thing he left behind was a cryptic note that he asked for it to be destroyed. Apollo is acting strange and someone keeps calling for missing artwork.

This was a quiet, well-written book that circles around family, friendship, art, and mystery. It touches on the subject of depression and what it means living with a parent who suffers from depression. It was easy to forget at times that Olympia was only 12-year-old girl that did not know how to deal with her mother unable to get out of bed and some of the scenes tugged on my heartstrings for the little girl that held out hope. But it was nice to see that when she finally let them, Olympia did have a great support network behind her back that ended up being there for when she needed them most. I liked that it revolved around art and there was even a bit of a mystery thrown into the mix.

Laura Tucker’s writing overall is quiet and beautiful. Tucker really knows how to flesh out her characters and make them appear human. I found myself sympathizing with her.

That being said, however, I struggled with the pacing of the book. I felt like the story started out and ended strong, but it meandered a bit in the middle. It could have been a bit shorter. The subject matter for middle grade was a little hard, but depression can hit an adult any point in child life, even if it is something hard to read. I also do wish the time period was used a bit more in the writing. The story is definitely very character and art driven, but it was set in 1981 in SoHo and I found the time and setting interesting choice.

Overall. I thought this was a lovely written debut that makes me extremely excited for future works from this author. It touched on tough subjects, but very important ones. I thought in general, the author handled it really well and I cannot wait to see what she does next.

AUTHOR BIO

Laura Tucker has coauthored more than twenty books, including two New York Times bestselling memoirs. She grew up in New York City around the same time as Olympia, and now lives in Brooklyn with her daughter and husband; on Sunday mornings, you can find her at the door of Buttermilk Channel, one of their two restaurants. She is a cat person who cheats with dogs. All the Greys on Greene Street is her first novel.

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Review: The Night Before by Wendy Walker

Posted May 25, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review: The Night Before  by Wendy WalkerThe Night Before by Wendy Walker
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 14, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
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.

First dates can be murder.
Riveting and compulsive, national bestselling author Wendy Walker’s The Night Before “takes you to deep, dark places few thrillers dare to go” as two sisters uncover long-buried secrets when an internet date spirals out of control.

Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site.
Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date.
When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him…

Laura Lochner has had her share of bad luck when it comes to love. She always seems to pick the wrong men. Men that aren’t good for her. Men that eventually leave her. Mistakes she can’t seem to shake, nor the night years ago from her teenage years. A dark past that seems to haunt her.

After her latest bad relationship, Laura finally moves back into her hometown that she hoped to stay away, to live with her sister Rosie and her husband Joe. Laura is ready to move on, ready to stop making mistakes and give dating another shot with a man she meets online, who she hopes won’t know her past history.

But when Laura fails to come home the morning after, her sister Rosie starts to wonder what happened the night before.

I thought this was an interesting read that kept me mostly guessing through half of the book. I liked the premise and I liked the writing and I was curious to see how the revelations would come to light and paint the bigger picture about what happened that one night years ago with Laura.

Though I enjoyed the book, I also found that not much happens in the middle of it. A lot of the book is focused on rehashing and Laura’s date trying to get her to reveal her past. I was curious about why this was happening and was hoping for more of a nail-biting revelation. Thought that never happened, I did find that I generally enjoyed the ending. I found the book to be misleading and entertaining. It was a solid read, but I think I wanted a little more from this book. In the end, it just felt like there was something missing to make this a great thriller, but nevertheless, it was good and I am looking forward to more of this authors writing.

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Review Round Up #7

Posted May 23, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 6 Comments

Review Round Up #7Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant, Cris Dukehart
Narrator: Cris Dukehart
Length: 3 hours and 3 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Tantor Audio on April 30, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 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.

3 hours and 3 minutes
We live in an age of wonders.
Modern medicine has conquered or contained many of the diseases that used to carry children away before their time, reducing mortality and improving health. Vaccination and treatment are widely available, not held in reserve for the chosen few. There are still monsters left to fight, but the old ones, the simple ones, trouble us no more.
Or so we thought. For with the reduction in danger comes the erosion of memory, as pandemics fade from memory into story into fairy tale. Those old diseases can’t have been so bad, people say, or we wouldn’t be here to talk about them. They don’t matter. They’re never coming back.
How wrong we could be.
It begins with a fever. By the time the spots appear, it’s too late: Morris’s disease is loose on the world, and the bodies of the dead begin to pile high in the streets. When its terrible side consequences for the survivors become clear, something must be done, or the dying will never stop. For Dr. Isabella Gauley, whose niece was the first confirmed victim, the route forward is neither clear nor strictly ethical, but it may be the only way to save a world already in crisis. It may be the only way to atone for her part in everything that’s happened.
She will never be forgiven, not by herself, and not by anyone else. But she can, perhaps, do the right thing.
We live in an age of monsters.

It started with little Lisa Morris, an eight-year-old niece of Dr. Isabella Gauley as patient zero to fall to a new disease that would soon be known as the Morris disease. It didn’t take long for the disease that humankind believed to be eradicated to spread. They didn’t know that it was the first wave, or what it would do to the human body until it was too late. As Dr. Isabella Gauley scrambles to help the survivors that were left untouched, the rest of the world scrambles to beat a virus that is proving itself impossible to beat.

This was…

The concept of the book I found to be interesting. It’s a take on what could happen if people choose not to vaccinate their kids and how herd immunity as a whole helps the world. I think the concept would have been so good if the book was more developed and not a novella. It’s told in a third person and while the narrator did a good job with the story, I think maybe it was because I was listening to it, the story sounded like a preachy opinion piece. I found this style made me very disconnected with the characters because we never really get to know them or their emotions.

I thought this could have been done so much better. Instead, it was so repetitive and heavy-handed. I get that the author might have strong opinions on what’s going on in the world today and it’s fine, I just thought she could have used that idea and made this into an edge of your seat novel with stronger characters. Instead, it was subpar, preachy piece of writing with a lack of character development that leaves you kind of detached the entire time.

And the thing that pissed me off the most was the ending. What in the f- was that ending? If you’re going to go the lengths to point out how herd immunity is important to the world, why would you insert an ending like that in there? And then it ends so abruptly, it made no sense.

This was my first Mira Grant novel, and I found myself largely disappointed by lack of development, substance, and storytelling. She had something really interesting here, but the execution failed. I’d hope this is just a set up for future books.

Review Round Up #7Eighteen Below by Stefan Ahnhem
Series: Fabian Risk,
Published by Minotaur Books on December 4, 2018
Genres: Thriller, Crime
Pages: 560
Format: Hardcover
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.

The third book in the internationally bestselling Fabian Risk series, a terrifying story of stolen identity and serial murder.
ON A HOT SUMMER'S DAY
The police chase a speeding car through the streets of Helsingborg. When they reach the bridge, the driver keeps going straight into the cold, dark waters of the Öresund strait.
A TRAGIC ACCIDENT
The body recovered from the wreck is that of Peter Brise, one of the city's richest tech entrepreneurs. Fabian Risk and his team are confident this is suicide. Young, rich, successful—Brise just didn't know how to ask for help.
TURNS EVERTHING A LITTLE BIT COLDER...
But then the autopsy reveals something unexpected. Brise was already dead when his car crashed. He'd been brutally murdered two months ago. His body frozen in perfect condition, at eighteen degrees below zero...Something doesn't match up. And when a string of other odd murders and unusual behavior come to light in the area, Fabian Risk takes the case.

I don’t have a lot to say about this book. It’s a dark Nordic noir that follows an Inspector Fabian Risk. The book was a chunker with two separate mysteries that didn’t connect. I felt like there was probably enough material from both to create two separate books instead of jamming everything into one dense book.

I thought it was okay and that’s about it. The writing is good. The character development was there. Maybe it’s because I’ve started it with book three, and not one, I found myself detached from the characters and never really caring.

There are some really dark and twisted themes in this that made me cringe at times. The book meandered a bit and I found myself losing interest at times. But the dark mysterious in this book were interesting enough to hold my attention, I found them very unique.

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Sophia Rose Review: Fatal Finds in Nuala by Harriet Steel

Posted May 20, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Fatal Finds in Nuala by Harriet SteelFatal Finds in Nuala by Harriet Steel
Series: The Inspector de Silva Mysteries #4
Published by Stane Street Press on July 11th 2018
Genres: Historical Mystery, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 212
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

In this fourth instalment of the Inspector de Silva mysteries, it is monsoon season in the Hill Country. One stormy night, a ghostly encounter on a lonely road leads de Silva into a case of murder, and a mystery that stretches back to Ceylon’s distant past. To uncover the truth, he will have to face death and his inner demons. Fatal Finds in Nuala is another absorbing and colourful mystery in this series that vividly portrays Sri Lanka’s Colonial past.

I have come to really enjoy this engaging historical cozy mystery series set in Ceylon of the 1930’s. In this installment, Shanti, Jane, and Archie Clutterbuck engage in an archeological mystery in the jungle outside Nuala that involves murder during the height of the Monsoon season.

Fatal Finds in Nuala is the fourth of the Inspector de Silva mysteries. This is a series that is enjoyed best when read in order, but is versatile so it can easily be treated as a series of standalones, too.

There is a lovely blend of exotic location, time period, engaging characters, and a clever mystery. I love that the detective is non British and a native Singalese of middle-age. Shanti is thoughtful and clever. He respects others and struggles to be patient when he isn’t accorded the same and it interferes with his work.

A chance breakdown begins the chain of events that leads him to investigating a villager’s murder that seems to be connected with curious, but not necessarily priceless coins from the Kandy empire era. Or are they worthless? Shanti’s instincts are aroused even with few facts. His boss, Archie, is in an expansive mood, so he pursues thread-like leads.

Unlike some cozies, this series have some pretty exciting moments of danger and action. I do enjoy seeing Shanti get himself out of some tight situations and the setting of jungle and the poor weather adds to the suspense. And, it’s fun when the lightbulb comes on and he nails the villain. This was one where there is some foreshadowing that puts the reader onto some of the truth before the facts got there for the reveal. That said, I didn’t have it all figured out.

There were a few sweet moments when Jane comes along with Shanti to find clues in the jungle and a trip on the train to visit the city where they met.

So, it was another solid entry in the series and leaves me eager for more. Definitely a recommended series.

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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