Category: Reviews

Guest Review: How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

Posted July 19, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Guest Review: How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica HenryHow to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Series: standalone
Published by Penguin Books on July 10, 2018
Genres: General Fiction
Pages: 352
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.

"Absolutely delightful." --People
The enchanting story of a bookshop, its grieving owner, a supportive literary community, and the extraordinary power of books to heal the heart
Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers--a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father's death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia's loyal customers have become like family, and she can't imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.
There's Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there's a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage--she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.
Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future--and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish.

As the cover quote says, this is a love story to a bookshop and its late owner. However, there is something magical in the air of this shop because love in many forms makes its way into the lives of those who come to the shop and for a woman who finds her way back home.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop starts out on a low melancholy note and gently meanders its way through the lives of some the people living in the small village of Peasebrook. Julien opened the shop and now his daughter, Emilia, has his big shoes to fill when the shop comes to her. Everyone loved him and his friendly, non-judgmental yet wise ways.

The narrative switches between the handful of people most affected by the magical pull of Nightingale bookshop. There is Sarah with her secrets and life as lady of the manor, Dillon who has a hidden unrequited crush, Theodora too shy to go for it with her attraction to Jem, two couples on the verge of splitting for good, an older woman getting a second chance, and young Emilia struggling with the shop, grief, and an attraction to a man who sees her as a friend.

The book transfers between the stories, but they aren’t disconnected. I loved how the author wove them separately, but brought them together with the bookshop at the heart. And, what a lovely place it is. The old shop on the High street near the stone bridge with lovely old atmosphere inside with its wooden floors, showcase windows, mezzanine upstairs, stone fireplace and nooks- every booklover’s dream place.

The conflict is mostly within the character’s relationships and keeping the shop open. I liked the drowsy way the story pulled me along. It was not one that kept me riveted and I could put it down, but I was always eager when I could pick it back up again. I only had one niggle. In Dillon’s story, I loved how that turned out, but I do wish that the jerk who lied had gotten a stronger comeuppance for the trouble he caused.

So, this was lovely and full of depth and richness. I think those who want an easy-reading gently paced low-key story with love on the side would enjoy this one.

My thanks to Penguin-Random House 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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Review: The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne

Posted July 10, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne ThayneThe Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #8
Published by HQN Books on June 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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.

Years after betraying her, he's back in Haven Point…and ready to learn the truth.
Megan Hamilton never really liked Elliot Bailey. He turned his back on her family when they needed him the most and it almost tore them all apart. So she's shocked when Elliot arrives at her family's inn, needing a place to stay and asking questions that dredge up the past. Megan will rent him a cottage, but that's where it ends-no matter how gorgeous Elliot has become.
Coming back home to Haven Point was the last thing bestselling writer Elliot Bailey thought he'd ever do. But the book he's writing now is his most personal one yet and it's drawn him back to the woman he can't get out of his mind. Seeing Megan again is harder than he expected and it brings up feelings he'd thought were long buried. Could this be his chance to win over his first love?

Elliot Bailey has always had some sort of feelings for Megan Hamilton, but wasn’t unable to do anything about it due to the fact that he came home one day to her dating her brother. Now, Megan Hamilton is not his biggest fan when Elliot turned his back on her family when her brother’s wife went missing because Elliot thought he was responsible for the disappearance. Now, year’s later, Megan’s brother is still living with the stigma as a walking criminal and Elliot Bailey is back in town, working on a new book, digging up old dirt, and causing all kinds of mixed feelings.
This was a cute read, I enjoyed Thayne’s easy writing a lot. She has a way that really makes me feel invested in the story and all the characters. A lot of the characters from the previous books make an appearance here because it’s just part of one big happy family.
The characters were easy to like and the romance was sweet. The story engaging and it really makes me want to know what is going to happen in the next book after the secret’s that Elliot has uncovered and how they will effect Megan’s brother.

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Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Posted July 5, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill ShalvisRainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone #2
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on June 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:two-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.

Following the USA Today bestselling author of Lost and Found Sisters comes Jill Shalvis' moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship
Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. 
Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?
Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.
Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Oh my heart guys, I almost forgot how much I like Jill Shalvis romance.

I’ve struggled with some of the books in her Heartbreaker Bay series due to my disliking some of the characters in there that keep popping up, but Rainy Day Friends hit all the marks for me.

We follow Lanie Jacob’s whose husband’s death brought on a deep sense of pain and loss, until she discovers that she isn’t the only one grieving his death and that her husband apparently had an addiction to marrying a lot of women, four in fact.

Lanie takes a job to reinvent all the packaging for a very successful winery, where she meets the owner’s son, Mark an Air Force veteran turned sheriff who gave up his military career for his two twin daughters.

My heart. I adored this book. It was funny, it was charming, the romance was just right and awesome. I was a bit worried because I have completely struggled with romances lately and this just hit all the marks and pulled me out of the slump long enough to really enjoy it.

Now I know there is a mention that a lot of the jokes in here came from meme’s, I don’t follow meme’s enough to distinguish that fact, so I guess it did not bother me, but I can see how it can bother other people.

Overall, I think despite that little tidbit, I absolutely ended up adoring this. I adored the romance and how Mark’s daughters chipped down her walls. I loved the setting of the winery and the family. I struggled with the character of River and felt for Lanie with what she went through, it was unfortunate so it was awesome to see her find happiness.

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Review: The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

Posted July 4, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 3 Comments

Review: The Endless Beach by Jenny ColganThe Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan
Series: The Summer Seaside Kitchen #2
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on May 22, 2018
Genres: Chick-Lit
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 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.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop on the Corner and The Cafe by the Sea comes another enchanting, unforgettable novel of a woman who makes a fresh start on the beautiful Scottish Island of Mure—only to discover life has more surprises in store for her.
When Flora MacKenzie traded her glum career in London for the remote Scottish island of Mure, she never dreamed that Joel—her difficult, adorable boss—would follow. Yet now, not only has Flora been reunited with her family and opened a charming café by the sea, but she and Joel are taking their first faltering steps into romance.
With Joel away on business in New York, Flora is preparing for the next stage in her life. And that would be…? Love? She’s feeling it. Security? In Joel’s arms, sure. Marriage? Not open to discussion.
In the meanwhile, Flora is finding pleasure in a magnificent sight: whales breaking waves off the beaches of Mure. But it also signals something less joyful. According to local superstition, it’s an omen—and a warning that Flora’s future could be as fleeting as the sea-spray…
A bracing season on the shore sets the stage for Jenny Colgan’s delightful novel that’s as funny, heartwarming, and unpredictable as love itself.

A character driven book that takes place on a Scottish Island of Mure.

The book follows Flora MacKenzie, who moved to Mure for a fresh start and opened up Cafe by the Sea. She never dreamt that her difficult but adorable boss would follow her. Joel is fed up with city life and is tired of sleeping with supermodels and is now looking for some peace and quiet and Mure seems to bring that peace to his soul. Joels walls are still pretty high due to his past and he is now harboring a secret that causes him to feel sick.

The book also follows Saif, a refugee doctor who is awaiting news of being reunited back with his wife and children. This storyline to me was my favorite, I really liked Saif’s, character and it just felt emotional and more interesting. It really hit me in the feels. There is a schoolteacher named Lorna who is absolutely in love with him, but things are complicated for Saif so it be interesting to see if there is another book.

The ending was kind of sad and happy at the same time, there is a bit of heartbreak added to the end of the story and as I did not read book one, it felt a bit like it was added for a shock factor or to add more substance to the story.

The book is character driven, so you kind of have to like the characters in order to enjoy the book. It follows these people in their life so not much happens for a while in the story and it can feel a little slow at points. I had a difficult time with Flora to be completely honest, she just could not seem to respect Joel’s wishes. I understand why she did it, but she felt pushy. Also, she was a complete push over and I wish should would stand up for herself in the end, and I was waiting for it to happen but it never did. What happened with her Cafe and the wedding, she should have used her voice.

Going to end this review on that note because at this point I am rambling. Overall, it’s a really great beach read.

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Divorced, Desperate and Dead by Christie Craig

Posted June 29, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 11 Comments

Divorced, Desperate and Dead by Christie CraigDivorced, Desperate and Dead by Christie Craig
Narrator: Wendy Tremont King
Length: 11 hrs 8 min
Series: Divorced and Desperate #4
Published by Tantor Audio on May 29, 2018
Genres: Romance, Chick-Lit, Romantic Suspense
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

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

After a disastrous marriage and divorce, Detective Cary Stevens vowed he'd never let another woman into his heart. But when his latest investigation puts him in the way of a bullet, his bachelor days-and one-night stands-may be numbered. On the brink of death, he finds himself in Room Six, a waiting room in the hereafter where in-betweeners' fates are truly decided. He resigns himself to dying of boredom, if nothing else, in the lineup of senior citizens with their AARP magazines, when in walks the one woman who could make him want a second chance at life . . . and love. Chloe Sanders learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished when she pushes a little girl out of the way of a moving car and wakes up in some type of purgatory. Or maybe it's heaven, because she couldn't have asked for a hotter guy with whom to await her final judgment. The sweeping glances of his bedroom eyes and sharp-tongued flirtatiousness tell her Cary's certainly no angel, but is he real? When she finally wakes up, Chloe's determined to find out if he's truly a man of magnificent flesh and blood or just a figment of her imagination. But before she can track him down, will the murderer that first put them both in Room Six come back to finish the job?

Detective Cary Stevens has vowed to never let another woman into his life after his disastrous marriage, until he get’s shot and meets Chloe Sanders in Room Six, a waiting in the hereafter where they wait for their fates to be decided.

Chloe had just lost her fiance and isn’t looking for anything series, but she also does not believe that Cary Stevens can possibly be real until the detectives own partner shows up on her doorsteps (who also happens to be the man that her friend is trying to set her up with)

Sparks fly, tension thickens as the two are unable to keep away from each other, both with broken hearts and might be just what each of them needs.

This was a fun read. I really liked the supernatural aspect of the book, I thought it was different, refreshing and honestly what truly hooked me. I loved the humor in the story, the author is really great with that, I couldn’t help but laugh and I’ve been really needing that lately. The character worked together well and to top it all off, the author also threw in a bit of a suspense involving gangs and I loved the way she handled the troubled kid in this book.

I listened to this on audiobook and really enjoyed it. The narrator had a southern twang that really fit with the book and the characters and I liked the lazy drawl. Of course I did speed up and that made it even better, but I think she did a wonderful job and it just really worked for the book.

Overall, this was a fun, sexy, entertaining romance and just what I needed to brighten my week.

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Two Books That Just Did Not Work For Me

Posted June 21, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

This is going to kind of a lose review of the books below, I don’t really have much inspiration to write reviews for them because I really did not enjoy them, so I’ll just quickly ramble and move on with my life.
  This book was like everywhere and I’ve seen it all over YouTube last year especially. I bought it, because it sounded amazing and it looked gripping from the very first sentence. This book is about a young girl that is discovered dead, not a spoiler, it’s literally the opening sentence of the book and it follows her family and how this death affects them and how they deal with it. It also follows the events leading up to the death. I, really wanted to enjoy this a lot more than I did. First of all, this book is super short but it felt like an eternity when I was reading it. I loved the fact that it featured an interracial couple, I loved the diversity, and it was interesting to see the challenges that the family faced living in the town they did being an interracial couple and having mixed race children. The writing and that alone, were a big plus for me in this book, so where did I hit the wall? I struggled with the family. I thought the book had some emotional moments, but I could not connect to the characters. It’s been a while since I read a book with characters that were so detached from one another and didn’t seem to care about anyone else’s feelings by their own.
There are a lot of examples of it in the book, so if you feel like it will spoil the book for you, feel free to stop reading now.
When the mother just drops everything and takes off to go back to school because she feels like she missed her calling and ends up leaving both of her young children with their father. The father ending up in a funk after she leaves, unable to really stop moping long enough to be an adult and a parent and take care of his children. The mother projecting her failures on her daughter, when she comes back, in order to make up for her own shortcomings. Just a whole lot of disregard for Lydia’s feelings and rather or not she is happy, or wants what her mother wants for her. Lydia hiding her brother’s acceptance letter’s to school for her own benefits. Everyone, and I mean everyone ignores the youngest child. That bothered me a lot. The father’s actions after his daughter’s death, is a complete example of just not caring for anyone’s feelings.
It bothered me a lot. I understand that families are not perfect and people will want to do things that benefit themselves over other people’s feelings, but this is a family and as a family you should have some sort of awareness of how your actions affect other people. I just cannot even go understand how a mother can bail on her own children and the father’s actions, ugh.
Moving on…
Not much to say about this one at all. I was bored to tears. Not much happens in this book.
The main character is middle aged, but completely clueless. She hates her job, despite the fact that she always wanted to be a librarian because she didn’t want to work in a small library in a small town. She is completely rude to everyone.
Her husband cheated on her, so because she was so burned by that she decided to break ties without any kind of settlement. Then, she ends up living with her mother and get’s tired of that, but has no money so she calls him to meet her alone in a hotel room and is offended when he thinks she wanted a romp between the sheets. I mean, come on?
Everyone is just completely rude to each other again, no real storyline outside of eventually trying to save the library, it was a meh read.

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Review: All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother by Danielle Teller

Posted June 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother by Danielle TellerAll the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother by Danielle Teller
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow on May 22, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Fairy Tales
Pages: 384
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.

In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.
We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?
As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .
A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.
Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

In general, I enjoy Fairy Tale retellings, so when I saw that this book is a take on the Stepmother from Cinderella, I was even more curious.
Let’s get this out of the way, people say this book is pretty bogged down and dense. It is, it is very character driven and very much focuses on building Agnes’ character. It is a fantasy book, that can also read almost like a historical fiction with its setting, but it does take you from watching Agnes grow as a child, to present day Agnes.
I felt like a lot of the things Agnes went through was very character shaping and as we see Agnes struggle through the life she was given, we can see where her attitude forms from. I really enjoyed how the author wrote relationships in this book and that not everything is black and white and not everything is what it seems.
Could this have been cut short? Maybe, but I personally really enjoyed following Agnes and her struggles and why she did the things she did. Her story was difficult, at times heartbreaking. At times I found myself rooting for her, at times against her.
I also enjoyed the take on Cinderella’s character and why she is the way she is in the book and her relationship with Agnes and how it unfolds.
Overall, I powered through it and ended up really enjoying the character development and the story. Also, the writing in this book I thought was really well done. But, I can acknowledge why this might not be for everyone, it is pretty slow paced but I enjoyed every moment of it.

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Guest Review: A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn, Narrated by Angele Masters

Posted June 19, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Guest Post, Reviews / 15 Comments

Guest Review: A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn, Narrated by Angele MastersA Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn, Angèle Masters
Narrator: Angele Masters
Length: 11 hours and 48 minutes
Series: Veronica Speedwell #3
Published by Recorded Books on January 18, 2018
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 12
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.

Members of an Egyptian expedition fall victim to an ancient mummy's curse in a thrilling Veronica Speedwell novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries.  
London, 1888.
As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.   But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .

After starting to make a name for themselves when it comes to landing themselves in the middle of murder investigation adventures, Veronica and Stoker are faced with something a bit more in an Egyptian curse, a missing crown of jewels and a case that brings thing too close to home for Stoker. I was thrilled to get back into the series with this sparkling intrepid pair.

A Treacherous Curse is book three in the Veronica Speedwell series. This series works best when the reader/listener gets them in order as the world and the characters develop throughout the series.

Veronica and Stoker have spent the time since their last case restoring items for their patron’s private museum and mourning the loss of an exploration trip since the earl tripped and broke his leg and the trip was cancelled. But, before things get too blasé, the pair are called in by Special Branch and handed a new case. Unfortunately, the pressure to solve it comes from the fact that Stoker might be implicated in the trouble.

I found this one fascinating on a few different levels. First of all, I love books that involve Egyptian antiquities and excavation work by an archeological team. Although, the story takes place entirely in England, the focus is the Egyptology world. Secondly, the case handed to Veronica and Stoker involves a dark part of Stoker’s past and I loved learning of that time and seeing him finally confront his past. No, I fibbed. I relished seeing Veronica confront Stoker’s past when the past reared up and tried to come over ugly. And, lastly, I am always up for more interaction between Veronica and Stoker. She’s irascible, highly intelligent, strong-willed and he’s probably the only man in the world who can match her wit for wit and step for step. But… the pair of them are not quite to the point where they understand this. So… the sparks and sizzle of understated attraction are fun.

The mystery of the missing man and missing artifact was an interesting twisty one, but not half as interesting as getting to know all the players in the piece. So much byplay and goings on among those involved. I love the way it all fits together and balances well into one coherent story.

I experienced A Treacherous Curse on audio with Angele Masters as narrator. She is a superb Veronica. It’s like she harnesses her spirit with each book in the series. What I find a weakness is her male voices. There is some distinction with some curmudgeonly like Stoker, stuffy like the baronet, or flirty like Stoker’s brother, but the trouble is that she goes with a froggy sounding deep voice. I thought she did great with all the female characters from sophisticated upper class British, teen girl, peevish woman, Brit with an Egyptian accent and caught the rhythm and emotions well.

All in all, this is one of the best historical mystery series out there and I can’t wait for each new installment. Veronica maybe a Renaissance woman as unique as her family history, but she is personable and a fabulous heroine. The Victorian era comes alive and the mysteries are satisfyingly twisting.

My thanks to Recorded Books for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: Obscura by Joe Hart

Posted June 15, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: Obscura by Joe HartObscura by Joe Hart
Series: standalone
Published by Thomas & Mercer on May 8, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 340
Format: Hardcover
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.

She’s felt it before…the fear of losing control. And it’s happening again.
In the near future, an aggressive and terrifying new form of dementia is affecting victims of all ages. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms are disturbing. Dr. Gillian Ryan is on the cutting edge of research and desperately determined to find a cure. She’s already lost her husband to the disease, and now her young daughter is slowly succumbing as well. After losing her funding, she is given the unique opportunity to expand her research. She will travel with a NASA team to a space station where the crew has been stricken with symptoms of a similar inexplicable psychosis—memory loss, trances, and violent, uncontrollable impulses.
Crippled by a secret addiction and suffering from creeping paranoia, Gillian finds her journey becoming a nightmare as unexplainable and violent events plague the mission. With her grip weakening on reality, she starts to doubt her own innocence. And she’s beginning to question so much more—like the true nature of the mission, the motivations of the crew, and every deadly new secret space has to offer.
Merging thrilling science-fiction adventure with mind-bending psychological suspense, Wall Street Journal bestselling author Joe Hart explores both the vast mysteries of outer space and the even darker unknown that lies within ourselves.

Phew, this book was quite the ride. Joe Hart just really throws you right into the heart of the story. We follow Dr Gillian Ryan, who has lost her husband to a new form of dementia that eats away at the memories until the person completely loses themselves and become violent and unhinged. Now, years later her daughter is suffering from the same disease and Gillian is very close to a breakthrough. Problem, is that her funding is now cut and the only person who can help her is a blast from the past that shows up on her doorsteps asking for help. Carson is now part of NASA and they need Gillian to go up to the space station with them and investigate the crew, who seem to be exhibiting similar symptoms of that dementia.

Unfortunately for Gillian nothing is as it seems and she is soon thrown into lies and deceptions as this mission is so important to NASA and they are banking on keeping it a secret.

This was a great combination of science fiction and thrilling. This book definitely kept me on the edge of my seat flipping through the pages. Joe Hart really knows how to weave a story that pulls you in and keeps you excited. It wasn’t always an easy read and at times it was a bit brutal. The characters were wonderful, but the ending was so heartbreaking.

That ending though, Joe Hart if you are listening, that was unfair. It definitely made me want more, but I don’t see this as anything but a standalone at the moment.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and it reminded me why I liked reading science fiction so much.

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Guest Review: Al Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko, Narrated by Kirby Heyborne

Posted June 13, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Guest Review: Al Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko, Narrated by Kirby HeyborneAl Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko, Kirby Heyborne
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne
Length: 6 hours and 4 minutes
Series: Al Capone at Alcatraz #4
Published by Listening Library on May 8, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 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.

6 Hours and 4 Minutes
Newbery Honor-winning author Gennifer Choldenko returns to Al Capone's Alcatraz in this winning addition to the beloved series. Moose and his sister Natalie are growing up, and the stakes on the prison island are higher than ever.
Moose Flanagan lives on a famous island in California: Alcatraz, home to some of the most dangerous prisoners in the US in the 1930s. His dad works there. It's the summer before starting high school and Moose is going to play a lot of baseball, and win a spot on the high school team. But he still needs to watch his special older sister Natalie, and now, the warden asks Moose to look after his two-faced, danger-loving daughter, Piper. In the cell house there are rumors of a strike, and that Moose's father might step up to new job. Moose is worried: what will this mean for their family, especially for Natalie, who's had some scary run-ins with prisoners? Then the unthinkable happens: Natalie winds up someplace she should never, ever go. And Moose has to rescue her.

It was the title. I saw that title and just had to check this one out. The rest of the blurb had me even more eager to snatch up this middle grade historical fiction. A teen growing up in the mid-thirties… wait for it… on Alcatraz. Yeah, had to give this one a go.

Al Capone Throws Me a Curve is book four in the Al Capone at Alcatraz series. I had no trouble jumping in with this book though I wish I had discovered the series at the get go so I could get them in order. Definitely going back to the beginning for the other three.

I really enjoyed this story told from young thirteen or fourteen year old Moose’s perspective. He’s all boy, but has been forced to grow up fast and be responsible with an older autistic sibling and a delicate mother. He just wants to spend his summer playing baseball and being with his friends when first the Warden saddles him with keeping an eye on the Warden’s precocious daughter who’s around his age and he ends up keeping an eye on Natalie when his parents get preoccupied with a prisoner strike.

A strong element in this book is Natalie and how Moose interacts with her as a sibling. Moose is protective of his sister and struggles with embarrassment and frustration because she might have a disability, but she is also very much a young woman and not a child. He has to keep her out of trouble and it’s tough on him when he’s around his friends and has to bring Natalie along. I also loved how he took responsibility for things she did even if it meant feeling the crushing disapproval of the adults around him. He’s very conscious of how to help her with navigating her needs whether it is sticking to her routine, helping her with calm down methods, not putting her in situations where she’ll melt down, and also respecting that she is older and not stupid so her choices and happiness are important to him. He’s a good guy and works hard to help people and he strives to be a good man like his dad. I totally would have had a crush on Moose if I was a teen girl.

The historical backdrop of Alcatraz in itshey day was not skimped on. I thought the life of the families living there below the actual prison and of the inmates who had some contact with the families through those who worked service jobs was vividly sketched out and felt authentic. Moose has a dangerous situation that was not probable in some ways, but it took things to the heart of the prison and how dangerous it was inside. I thought the baseball, people with special needs, and family life in that era was also nice touches. Oh, and let’s not forget the presence of the celebrity prisoner himself. It was neat to see some interaction with Al Capone. Moose is wary and has a healthy fear of the prisoners, but can’t help being curious about some famous ones.

I experienced this book on audio and really enjoyed Kirby Heyborne’s rendition of Moose and the others. He handled Natalie’s awkward vocal parts in a respectful way just as he masterfully handled a cast that included kids to adults of both genders and had a nice way of capturing the era in his voice somehow (maybe I was imagining that). I had no trouble feeling I was right there and that a young teenager was telling the story without an annoying voice. I liked the way he handled the really tense moments so that I felt my heart race with anticipation or suspense. Definitely want to listen to more of his work.

All in all, this was a hit out of the park and I want more of Moose’s adventures and life on Alcatraz. This is a book for young teens, but I think adults who like historical fiction would enjoy this one, too.

My thanks to Penguin Random House Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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