Format: Hardcover

Review: Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

Posted March 1, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura MadeleineWhere the Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine
Series: standalone
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on February 13th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 336
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.

I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was like tasting for the first time. Like discovering colour . . .
In 1919, the cold sweep of the Norfolk fens only holds for Emeline Vane memories of her family, all killed in the war. Whispers in the village say she’s lost her mind as well as her family - and in a moment's madness she boards a train to France and runs from it all.
She keeps running until she reaches a tiny fishing village so far from home it might as well be the end of the world. Transfixed by the endless Mediterranean, Emeline is taken in by Maman and her nineteen-year-old son, and there she is offered a glimpse of a life so different to the one she used to know: golden-green olive oil drizzled over roasted tomatoes, mouth-wateringly smoky red spices, and hot, caramel sweetness.
But it's not just the intense, rich flavours that draw her to the village, and soon a forbidden love affair begins. One that is threatened by the whispers from home that blow in on the winds from the mountains . . .

In 1919 Emeline Vane has lost most of her family to war and her mother to the flu. When her uncle decides the fate of her house, her youngest brother and her, for her, Emmeline unable to cope with it decides to run away.

Now in 1969 Timothy Vane (her youngest brother) is dying and his descendants want to sell the abandoned family home to a developer. Bill Perch a local young solicitor in training is tasked with finding Emeline Vane or find proof that the great aunt was as crazy as they were said to believe.

This was a beautiful, poignant story of self discovery in the face of self perseverance, family and romance, brimming with rich vivid detail of food and French landscape.

I loved the book, I loved the strong willed, driven characters. I loved the setting and the descriptions made me feel like I was in France watching the tale unfold. I felt so wrapped up and invested in Emeline story and how she overcame everything, that I found it difficult to part with.

I found that the story was never dull as we follow the journey of both Bill and Emeline and the pages flew rather quickly. Thought that being said, I did find Emeline story much more richer not only in the setting that the author enveloped us in but also in quality. The love story between her and the boy that discovers her grows slowly despite the stakes that seemed to rise against them.

The ending did feel a little abrupt to me. Bill’s story was left a little open ended, but provided a world of possibilities for the young solicitor. Emeline’s ending thought a happy one, also was a bit sad.

Overall, this was a great book. It didn’t feel long, it didn’t drag and the author was a master at creating a rich atmosphere with vivid details of the landscape and the food described in the book. I adored both the characters and their story and am looking forward to more from this author.

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Review: Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

Posted February 23, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: Letters to the Lost by Iona GreyLetters to the Lost by Iona Grey
Series: standalone
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on May 26th 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 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.

1943, in the ruins of Blitzed London…Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski meet by chance and fall in love by accident. Theirs is a reluctant, unstoppable affair in which all the odds are stacked against them: she is newly married, and he is an American bomber pilot whose chance of survival is just one in five.
… He promised to love her foreverSeventy years later Dan makes one final attempt to find the girl he has never forgotten, and sends a letter to the house where they shared a brief yet perfect happiness. But Stella has gone, and the letter is opened by Jess, a young girl hiding from problems of her own. And as Jess reads Dan's words, she is captivated by the story of a love affair that burned so bright and dimmed too soon. Can she help Dan find Stella before it is too late?
Now forever is finally running out.

Step back into 1943, into a world during World War 2. Set against the backdrop of London, Letter’s to the Lost is a love story that transcends time, that is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

He was an American bomber pilot, whose chance of survival was only one in five. She was newly married. They met by chance, and didn’t mean to fall in love, especially with everything stacked against them.

This story was lovely, so beautiful, emotional and quiet a bit heart breaking.

We follow two time lines. In our main time line, we follow Stella, who is a young woman during World War 2 that comes from the poor school so all she really wants is a family and a roof over her head. She marries Charles the preacher and her marriage is off to a rough start right from the beginning. Stella does not seem to understand why Charles treats her more like a housekeeper instead of a wife, with no physical relationship between them, including during the wedding night.

When her husband volunteers to be a Chaplin during the war, Stella is further confused why her new husband found volunteering and leaving her behind so easily. Plus his friend Peter seems to be a very big influence in Charles’ life.

She meets Dan, an American bomber pilot during his brief break while searching for her bracelet, that she happened to lose during an unfortunate encounter. The attraction is instant, but it takes a bit for them together. It started with a bracelet, which led to letters, to a sort of friendship that morphed into a beautiful but heartbreaking relationship.

I was glued to the pages wanting to know what happened between them and the fate that awaited them in the end.

I do love how the author explored the relationships during this time period, as well as some stereotypes. Stella is pretty shy, quiet, kind of meek. She just wants a family and a home life as oppose to other women during this time that took on much larger roles and filled the shoes of men when they went off to war. So in that respect, that take on her character growth and how she progressed on events that surrounded her was really interesting.

The second couple we follow is Jess and Will. Jess escapes from an abusive relationship and stumbles into an old abandoned house running away from her boyfriend with nothing but 50 pounds in her pocket. While squatting in the old house that seems to be trapped in time, she finds a letter delivered by the postman entitled, Urgant, please forward if possible. Unable to help herself, Jess opens the letter and finds herself invested in its author and finding what happened between Stella and Dan. Through her, we get to see Dan’s side of the letters, as she reads them. With the help of Will, a man who she meets while he is trying to find the owner of the house – together the two investigate Dan and Stella’s story while slowly growing attracted to one another.

I have to say, I adored this book so much. The writing was so wonderful, Stella and Dan were both wonderful. I don’t usually like books with affairs, but once you get the whole picture between Charles and Stella and everything that happens, the pieces fall together and it makes Stella’s and Dan’s story all that much more heartbreaking – especially during this time when Stella felt she had very little rights.

I found Jess’ and Will’s story good enough. They weren’t the main focus of the book and I felt if it wasn’t for the way the book was structured, I would have been fine with Stella’s and Dan’s story alone, seeing as how that was the main focus and my favorite part. The characters were much more fleshed out and I found myself emotionally attached to the two of them. Also, I found parts with Jess and Will a bit slow moving.

I don’t know if I can say that this story has a completely happy ending, but I did like the way things wrapped up, despite a few tears shed at the end of the heartbreak and pain the two had suffered and the unfairness in all of it.

I highly recommend this book to all Historical Fiction readers who love a good story set in two different times and enjoy a timeless romance.

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Guest Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

Posted February 17, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 27 Comments

Happy Friday everyone! I got Sophia Rose on the blog tonight, mostly because I completely forgot to post this lovely review of hers earlier. I read and enjoyed this book myself. Enjoy her review, happy weekend!!

Guest Review: First & Then by Emma MillsFirst & Then by Emma Mills
Series: standalone
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 13th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

I had heard First & Then described pithily as Pride & Prejudice Meets Friday Night Lights, but, as cool as that sounds, I think it was selling the book a little short. For one, Devon Tennyson, the heroine, is no Elizabeth Bennet even if she thinks she has everyone around her pegged particularly the school’s football god, Ezra, into the role of the prideful Mr. Darcy. Devon does have a thing for Jane Austen novels and takes a ‘what would Jane do?’ approach to things just like there is football on every page. However, this story is not about either of those things. It tackles family, friendship, relationships, self, and transitioning to adulthood.

I found this one a delightful mix of typical YA light contemporary romance with some thoughtful and deeper elements to engage me with Devon and the other characters. The story is narrated in Devon’s first person point of view. It’s not a complex piece and it has no deep conflict or action plot, but it was a heartwarming gently-paced character plot.

Many of the issues I have with YA were not present in this book. For one, I loved how the adults are portrayed. They were natural as were the teens when there is interaction between the two.

There is some angst and inner conflict for the teens in the story, but it wasn’t exaggerated. And there were a lot of wonderful and original teen characters who had their flaws, but they were real and not cookie cutters of the usual cliched high school social strata. Now Devon attempted to shove the other kids into these Jell-O molds, but she spent most of the book learning people can surprise you.

There were a few strong secondary plot threads that added a bit of mystery to the story when it comes to a few of the characters have secrets that left me curious to know what they were holding back. One of the secondary threads was Devon’s relationship with her cousin, Foster, who has come to live with them. I loved seeing that side story develop. Foster was a great character.

There is a romance, but I would say the focus of the story is Devon finding her way. For much of the story, Dev has a crush on Cas her best friend who doesn’t see her that way and has a crush of his own going. This of course blinds her to the quiet guy with the poor social skills who does have an interest if she would just pay attention.

So, this was a cute, heartwarming low-angst story that was well worth the read. I definitely want to pick up the associated book, This Adventure Ends.

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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Guest Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Posted November 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 20 Comments

Guest Review: Stars Above by Marissa MeyerStars Above by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4.5
Published by Feiwel & Friends on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

The enchantment continues....
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
--The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The PrincessThe Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century...

Stars Above was a delight. Sheer delight. For a fan of The Lunar Chronicles who just had not gotten enough of the series whenWinter was read and done, this collection of novellas came as a delicious dessert.

Stars Above is a compilation of nine stories. All, but one are prequels of sorts. Several were already released as in-between stories setting up the reader for the newly releasing full-length novel coming behind it while perhaps six were new and never before released.

Each of the stories is a snippet into the lives of many of the characters before they became the older heroes and heroines of the full-length novels. Only two novellas fall outside that. The Littlest Android is a Little Mermaid retelling and is a standalone story parallel to the beginning of Cinder and Something Old Something New is a long epilogue- sequel to Winter.

I loved each and every story for how it enriched the series and I definitely needed that last one, Something Old Something New, because Winter ended in a way that I felt needed just a bit more. But, surprisingly, the story I loved the best was the bittersweet standalone, The Littlest Android.

For the most part, the stories are expansions on shorter references within the novels so that I was familiar with each to a certain extent. It was fascinating getting the stories from the different points of view and feeling like I was right there when it was happening rather than the shorter summaries the characters gave in the later novels.

So, this is great for a nice follow-up to the series, bringing together all the shorter stories from before and adding several new ones. Definite fan gift from the author and worth the read whether the reader reads them in release order with the bigger novels or waits to read them after the series is over.

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: A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

Posted November 3, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review:  A Line in the Dark by Malinda LoA Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
Series: standalone
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on October 17th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Glbt, Mystery, Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.
Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.
As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.
When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.
“It doesn’t even matter that she probably doesn’t understand how much she means to me. It’s purer this way. She can take whatever she wants from me, whenever she wants it, because I’m her best friend.”
A Line in the Dark is a story of love, loyalty, and murder.

A Line in the Dark is a book that came highly recommended to me, and since I was already eyeballing it in the store, I felt like this would be perfect for a November read.

I was right, because I truly enjoyed this book.

The book follows a teenage girl named Jess, who is extremely passionate about drawing. Jess has a best friend named Angie and the two have been thick as thieves for a really long time, until Jess notices a girl approach Angie at the Creamery where she works and it kind of puts a wedge between them.

Margot is gorgeous and has her eye out on Angie, which makes Jess extremely uncomfortable and jealous because of her own feelings towards her best friend that she is unable to express or too scared to. The two start dating and Angie and Jess end up in a fight because Angie notices that Jess doesn’t seem to like Margot but at the same time Angie isn’t aware of Jess’ feelings towards her.

Jess attends an art program at the school that Margot goes to (a boarding school for the wealthy) and that causes her to stumble onto some deep secrets that Margot and her best friend Ryan are hiding.

Well, this secret leads to Ryan’s death after a Christmas party and these kids end up being investigated because they are the last to see Ryan alive.

This book is done in two parts. The beginning throws you into what happened, but the first part is before the incident and the second part is the investigation following the incident. I thought this book was really well done, I really enjoyed the writing, the characters, the plot was interesting. It had diversity, but it also had a plot.

This is not a book that is meant to be spooky, and I know some people felt that way when they saw the cover. This is actually a contemporary young adult with a mystery and a twist. It’s about a girl, who is trying to sort of find herself as well as try to deal with the fact that the girl she is in love with, she cannot have.

This book, I am warning now, does not come with a happy ending. It is not a romance, even if it features a romance.

It also reads as an older Young Adult, it is sex positive, but no there are no explicit sex scenes in it. It does have drinking and some cursing.

I did have a hard time putting this down, I was completely invested in the plot line and the characters and I really wanted to know what happened. The ending threw a real curve ball and it was, I did not expect that but it explained some things.

The only issue I think I have is that, the beginning was not how the rest of the book completely unfolded and I felt that the killer should probably have been more affected maybe by what happened? But all in all, I really enjoyed this, it was an interesting read and I always appreciate a book with diversity and a good, engrossing plot line.

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Halloween and Book Reviews

Posted October 31, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Happy Halloween everyone! If you are into the spooky fun, I hope you have a good day today. It’s exciting for us because we get to take our little man around for a short trick-or-treat so it should be exciting for the whole family. At the moment, I have reviews two spooky reads for you today, enjoy! Let me know what you will be doing tonight!

Halloween and Book ReviewsNightfall by Jake Halpern, Peter Kujawinski
Series: standalone
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
Pages: 346
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours—it comes every twenty-eight years. Now the sun is just a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold and the shadows are growing long.
Because sunset triggers the tide to roll out hundreds of miles, the islanders are frantically preparing to sail south, where they will wait out the long Night.
Marin and her twin brother, Kana, help their anxious parents ready the house for departure. Locks must be taken off doors. Furniture must be arranged. Tables must be set. The rituals are puzzling—bizarre, even—but none of the adults in town will discuss why it has to be done this way.
Just as the ships are about to sail, a teenage boy goes missing—the twins’ friend Line. Marin and Kana are the only ones who know the truth about where Line’s gone, and the only way to rescue him is by doing it themselves. But Night is falling. Their island is changing.
And it may already be too late.

Marin lives on a Northern island where there is 14 years of light and 14 years of night. Every 14 years the people who live on the Island during the day must get on ships that come to pick them up and travel away from the Island, leaving their homes in the dark. Before they leave, they must clean the houses from top to bottom, leaving it spotless and just the way it was when they first arrived on the island.

When the boats arrive to pick people up, Marin realizes that her best friend Line is missing and with the help of her twin brother Kana, Marin hopes to find Line before the boats leave them behind.

But what happens when the worst comes to life?

This was such an interesting read.

I liked the setting, it seemed very creative and unique. 14 years of light, 14 years of darkness? I found myself really hooked wondering what exactly was going on, on the island when the darkness set. That alone had me flipping through the pages to get to the bottom of it.

Kana, Line and Marin were enjoyable enough characters to follow. I had to remember at times that they were pretty young.

That being said, I should also mention that this book is mostly a survival book. Because these three kids basically get left behind, by accident, they have to find their way off the island and avoid this thing that is suddenly hunting them. On top of it, Line is injured and something is going on with Kana that the other two don’t realize for a while. Add it together and it was pretty fast paced, I get through it quickly enough and I found that I was really enjoying it.

Of course, this isn’t without gripes. I wanted more world building, I did not think we got the whole background of the island clear enough. I also failed to understand why there was like 14 years of light/dark and the place they were going be on has like 3 days light/dark, that seems geographically impossible? Or is it just me, thinking the way planets would spin?

Also, it was a little weird how quickly these kids came into doing something violent to survive without like freezing. I guess it’s because you have to do what you got to do in the moment of danger or fear, but I pictured myself in that moment and I honestly felt like I’d just freeze up. My survival instinct isn’t all that great heh.

There was also this background with Kana I did not understand how he came to be because of how the creatures of the island interact, but I can’t get into much of this due to spoilers.

Overall though I am not going to complain too much, I did really enjoy this. It’s a quick paced read and I am looking forward to picking up other books by these authors.

I rounded the rating from 3.75 to 4 because I was in a good mood today.

Halloween and Book ReviewsThe House Next Door: A Ghost Story by Darcy Coates
Series: standalone
Published by Black Owl Books PTY LTD on March 15th 2017
Genres: Horror, Ghosts
Pages: 282
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I live next to a haunted house.

I began to suspect something was wrong with the gothic building when its family fled in the middle of the night, the children screaming, the mother crying. They never came back to pack up their furniture.

No family stays long. Animals avoid the place. Once, I thought I saw a woman’s silhouette pacing through the upstairs room… but that seems impossible; no one was living there at the time.

A new occupant, Anna, has just moved in. I paid her a visit to warn her about the building. I didn’t expect us to become friends, but we did. And now that Marwick House is waking up, she’s asked me to stay with her.

I never intended to become involved with the building or its vengeful, dead inhabitant. But now I have to save Anna… before it’s too late for the both of us.

Jo lives home next to a haunted house. For years she has seen families move in next door and leave in the hurry in the middle of the night shortly after the movie. The entire neighborhood avoids it, including Jo’s own cats. The lights turn on randomly at night, the doors slam on their own, and birds keep flying into it and breaking their neck.

Now a desperate young woman moves in and Jo cannot help but feel protective of her. There is something Anna isn’t telling her about her own past, that she wants to avoid, and the house is the only sanctuary she can afford. Anna is sweet, timid and remakes dolls, a perfect soul for the ghost to cling onto.

This was an interesting read. It was definitely a creepy ghost story, very chilling, very atmospheric, with a few scenes that made my stomach turn. It does have scenes with animals getting hurt in it, and those animals are usually birds that fly into the house. If that disturbs you, just be aware.

I only read this book once in the night and decided not to do that again. It most definitely gave me a nightmare.

The writing was good. It was my first Coates reads and it won’t be my last.

There were a few things that I had a gripe with and one of that was the fact that when Jo googled the house online, she couldn’t find anything about it. When she spoke to her neighbor, the neighbor told Jo that when the store broke it’s all the news spoke about on the TV, so I would have thought something would have been found online.

Second, there was a scene with Anna’s ex, who does not have proof that Anna lives in the house but goes through her trash one night and finds something in it and assumptions fly and the girls end up in danger. The whole thing was just weird for me.

Overall though, if you like ghost stories, this was a very creepy but interesting read.

 

 

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Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Posted October 23, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review:  Asylum by Madeleine RouxAsylum by Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #1
Published by HarperTeen on August 20th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
Pages: 317
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.
As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Asylum follows a sixteen year old boy named Dan Crawford, who is somewhat an outcast in his high school and doesn’t really have any friends. When he arrives at New Hampshire College for Prep, it is more than just a summer program to him, it is everything. He meets a girl named Abby who is an artist and a boy named Jordan who is extremely smart and loves math. It isn’t long into their stay when Dan discovers that the building in the summer program is stationed is an old Asylum, one that was used as the last resort for the criminally insane. Soon the trio is found sneaking away and looking into the dark secrets of their temporary summer home, but soon find more than they bargained for.

I really, really enjoyed this book. I love mixed media type of books, so the fact that the author incorporated pictures into it made me so giddy with excitement. It was wonderful enough that I felt like the book itself was atmospheric, but the pictures added to it, just bought everything together for me and it was everything I could ever ask for.

Does this book have creepy? Oh yes it does. I loved following Dan and his group of friends as they dug deep into the underbelly of what had transpired at the Asylum when it was open and all its dark and creepy secrets. Secrets that might be linked to them. They also start having these creepy dreams and there is a bit of a drama with the group because they don’t seem to want to admit that the Asylum is effecting them. Then they find there is a killer on the loose and someone is trying to contact Dan, and they are trying to link the killer and what had happened in the past, because the two might be connected.

Despite the fact that this book takes place during summer. This is a perfect read for this time of years because of its creepy atmosphere and the dark mystery.

So why not a higher rating if I enjoyed it so much? There was a lot of build up, this book had me flipping through the pages and before long I devoured it. I didn’t rate it higher because of the ending. I feel like things escalated so much but the ending was quiet a bit quick and the resolution left me wanting more. I soon discovered that the ending sets up book two wonderfully though, despite the fact that I felt it all wrapped up a bit too quickly.

Overall I am loving this series so much that if you are looking for something interesting to try this Halloween that also has creepy pictures to guide your curiosity, I definitely recommend giving this book a shot.

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3 Mini Book Reviews

Posted September 14, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

3 Mini Book ReviewsWesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
Series: standalone
Published by Swoon Reads on July 18th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Quinn Hardwick’s having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend—until he ruined her life, that is.
So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score all at once—by getting him fired.
But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to just get over it.

A cute Young Adult Contemporary romance about a girl named Quinn Hardwick, who is having it kind of rough. Her grandmother is having Alzheimer and is put into a home. Her father’s gambling addiction seems worse than ever and she has a trip to London with her band that she needs to afford because it has always been her dream to go there. To top things off, Wesley James is back in town and he has ruined her life.

This was a cute read… I flew through it fast, but it was quite a bit frustrating. First, Quinn is 16 years old and Wesley James had an incident like 5 years ago when he was just a little kid, he said something and Quinn automatically accuses him of ripping apart her family. Uh, she is 16 years old and still blames him for something that happened at like 11? Come on Quinn, grow up. Every time her friend pointed out that there was no way it was Welsey’s fault she wouldn’t hear it.

So attraction grew, but I found Quinn frustrating and immature. There wasn’t much character growth here as she didn’t realize her mistakes till like 90% of the book and it was because her mother finally decided to say something after 5 years? Yea, not very believable.

3 Mini Book ReviewsHello, Sunshine by Leila Howland
Series: standalone
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 11th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

A Prep School Girl with a Hollywood Dream
Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.
Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she's running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?
Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.
Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.

Becca Harrington feels like a reject after being rejected by all the colleges on her list, so she drops everything and moves to LA where she gives herself a year to land a gig as an actress. To make matters worse, Becca ends up being dumped by her high school sweetheart after he drops her off at LA and ends up living in a small one room apartment as she struggles to get an agent to notice her.

Umm… I found this interesting, apparently, because I kept reading it. The book did take me a while to get through. I did not understand how Becca was so naive the entire time.

She shows up in the city and has every door slammed in her face because she does not know what she is doing and has no formal training. They kept saying she was a good actress, but I found it hard to believe. She shows up in LA thinking she can just walk into an office and get an agent to see her. No real history of acting, no head shot, just show up. Right.. no

The romance was weird. There was Raj who was in love with her and lived in her building and befriended her. Becca is still heartbroken over her ex boyfriend, but then she meets a fellow actor during one of her shoes and sleeps with him – thinking they can be the next big Hollywood couple. Ah! But wait, he warned her before they slept that he wasn’t looking for anything with her. So Becca flies off irrationally when he acts like she was just a one night stand the next morning because she was picturing them as a couple already. Raj is put on a second burner.. Not okay, I did not feel she deserved him and honestly wished he sent her packing.

Overall, okay read – but Becca keeps being frustrating the entire time because despite everything she still does not seem to get it even 90% into the book. Same mistakes, just as naive.

3 Mini Book ReviewsThe Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
Series: standalone
Published by Point on August 25th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 329
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…
Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.
But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.
And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.
Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.
But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.
From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.

I think it’s safe to say at this point I have read everything this woman has ever written.

This book was fun and creepy and just what I wanted, ghosts.

Delia inherits her grandmother’s house, and her parents take both her and her sister during the summer to help them fix the house. Delia is also in trouble because she tried to sneak out on a trip without her parents knowing and lied to them, now they don’t trust her.

After finding something strange in the house and trying to get out, Delia’s parent’s don’t believe her, lock her up and she dies.

Now Delia is stuck in the house unable to move on because something is keeping her and the other girls of Hysteria Hall trapped and she must find out who and why.

Interesting story, I was glued to the pages. There is another strange sibling relationship here that is rocky at the beginning (seems to be typical for this author) but ends up being resolved at the end as Delia’s tries to save her sister from the house claiming her as another soul.

Creepy, interesting, atmospheric and perfect for fall. A bit slow going, now much has been happening for a while, but overall, a good read.

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Guest Review: Devil’s Cut by JR Ward

Posted August 25, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 16 Comments

Hi guys!! Is summer going fast or what? I missed this place but I’ve got good news, I am not gone, I am coming back and despite the fact that I have not had time to blog – I have been reading. Oh and to start off this with a bang I have Sophia back from her summer vacation with another lovely review. Make sure to leave this girl some love <3

Guest Review: Devil’s Cut by JR WardDevil's Cut by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #3
Published by Ballantine Books on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 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.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward s thrilling finale of the Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch and a shocking arrest. At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing. Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing. As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing s for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

And now, we come down to it. The final pages of this addicting family saga romance about the wealthy and tumultuous, fast living Baldwines of Western Kentucky where horseracing and bourbon is king. Each book has drawn me into the world, the characters, and of course the tension-laden plot. Devil’s Cut delivered on all the early promise of The Bourbon Kings’ series.

Devil’s Cut is the third and final leg in the trilogy and follows the ongoing storyline began earlier in the series so it is not standalone or good out of order.

As I noted in the opening, this ongoing story follows the Baldwine-Bradford family and those close to them. There are multiple narrators and a few different plot paths that keep the readers on their toes without being utterly confusing. The pace of the story has picked up because of the plot points.

There are so many curious and captivating moving parts to the plot, but with a veteran move, the author controls the reins and ties each thread up neatly by the end. Relationships, character growth, and a few secrets along with the big murder mystery all resolve in what I thought was a satisfying way.

All in all, I loved my time with this series and all, but devoured this last book in a day. I enjoyed all the emotions I felt including being surprised over some twists and sad over a loss. I can highly recommend this book/trilogy for those who enjoy a blend of contemporary romance, family saga and suspense.

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 Outlandish Companion Volume Two by Diana Gabaldon

Posted May 23, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 19 Comments

Hope everyone is doing well! The weather here is looking like it’s finally starting to turn nice. It’s been so hectic in real life, so not enough time to catch up on blogging. Luckily dear Sophia had a review for me.  I was just thinking I should really start this series myself.

Review: The Outlandish Companion Volume Two by Diana GabaldonThe Outlandish Companion, Volume Two: The Companion to The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on October 27th 2015
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 656
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

More than a decade ago, #1 New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon delighted her legions of fans with The Outlandish Companion, an indispensable guide to all the Outlander books at the time. But that edition was just a taste of things to come. Since that publication, there have been four more Outlander novels, a side series, assorted novellas, and one smash-hit Starz original television series. Now Gabaldon serves up The Outlandish Companion, Volume Two, an all-new guide to the latest books in the series.
Written with Gabaldon’s signature wit and intelligence, this compendium is bursting with generous commentary and juicy insider details, including
• a complete chronology of the series thus far• full synopses of A Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood• recaps of the Lord John Grey novels: Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner• a who’s who of the cast of Outlander characters,

For over a year, I’ve been meandering my way through this one that I got a couple Christmases ago (thanks to Simply Angela’s Outlander challenge I buckled down and finished, LOL). Sometimes treating it like a coffee table flip-through book and sometimes getting riveted to different parts. It really does its job of what I wanted it for by reminding me of what I was starting to get hazy on with some of the older books and also providing some great enrichment materials to better appreciate the books in the Outlander World.

I was one that devoured and used the Outlandish Companion v. 1 so I was tickled to see that a v. 2 happened. The Outlander World of stories is such a huge saga of history, characters, and story threads that I need something like this to help keep me straight. And then let’s add in the TV adaption storylines. Gah! I needed this.

This one does broaden the scope of what it covers now that Outlander is a sensation on the screen and in audio as well as in the written world. I thought this book did a good job of being an all things for all people so that from whichever path the Outlander lover followed to the Companion they received something for it. For instance, I have not followed the show much, but I have read and listened to the books. However, I saw a lot of references that those watching the show could read and appreciate.

It was fun to browse through this, reading summaries of the books large and small, getting the Lord John and stories away from Jamie and Claire, too. I also enjoyed the lovely maps, charts, indexes (yay for that character one). The structure of this Companion was somewhat more relaxed and less of the scholarly reference tool feel you get when there are citations, cross-references and a ton of indexing. I like it either way.

So, this is a great one for the extras and worked well the way I took my time with it. I know I’ll pull it down off the shelf often to continue referencing it from time to time when re-reading and hey, if I need to pursue a historical point non-Outlander related as well.

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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