Format: Kindle Edition

Sophia Rose Review: Fatal Finds in Nuala by Harriet Steel

Posted May 20, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 10 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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Review: The Summer House by Jenny Hale

Posted May 15, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Summer House by Jenny HaleThe Summer House by Jenny Hale
Series: standalone
Published by Forever, Bookouture on May 7, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback, 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.

From this USA Today bestselling author comes a delightful summer read about friendship, family, and the healing power of love.
Callie Weaver and her best friend, Olivia Dixon, have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina's Outer Banks. They're going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed-and-breakfast. Callie's too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He's heir to his father's real estate empire, and the papers say he's just another playboy. But as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there's more to this man than money and good looks. Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets . . . secrets that stretch across the island and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor. Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm the diary unleashes, or can true love save them?

Callie Weaver with her best friend, Olivia Dixon, have finally done what they always wanted. They bought the beach house they have admired through their childhood summers, and they are going to turn the lovely house on the sands of North Carolina’s Outer Banks into a bed and breakfast. With everything to focus on the last thing Callie has in mind is falling in love, until she catches the attention of the very local heartthrob Luke Sullivan. With his easy smiles and charming personality, it’s hard to say no. The paper’s all splash him as an entitled playboy, but as Callie spends more time with Luke, she realizes that he is nothing that the media is trying to paint him to be. Underneath all the expectations, his struggles and generosity are just as real. But when Callie discovers an old journal in the house, she finds secrets that can shake an entire family.

I enjoyed this so much. This was just a lovely, quiet summer read. I adored the wonderful group of characters and how much this made me wish for warmer weather during this very cold and dreary spring.

Jenny Hale really has a way to bring her characters to live with flaws and all and make them easy to relate to and very human. Both Callie and Olivia give you the girl next door vibes that, have you rooting for them and their success with the beach house. The romance was super sweet and cute and I really enjoyed watching Luke and Callie grow close. I liked that Luke was just a bit out of touch because of money, but not to the point where it made him completely superficial. It made him that much more endearing in a way.

There is a bit of a secret in the story that leads to some revelations and complications, but I found that it worked and I enjoyed it.

Overall, I really loved how Jenny Hale writes her romances and her characters that just have a way of endearing themselves to you. Charming, with a lot of heart, and wonderful writing, The Summer House by Jenny Hale is just the book you need for the summer nights.

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Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Posted May 10, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew WhalenOnly Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Series: standalone
Published by Lake Union Publishing on May 7th 2019
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 279
Format: Kindle Edition
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.

It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared.
Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?
Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?
As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?
While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.

Annie’s wedding is only four days away and it’s a big event for the small town. Such a big event that the local reporter Laurel is doing her best to try and get the scoop. The wedding isn’t the only big event that happens. Annie is contacted by a lawyer about the man that went to prison for her mother’s murder, one that after all these years might be innocent and is serving a sentence he wasn’t meant to. Now Annie is missing, and her friends and family are trying to find her. While the search for Annie is moved into actions, the characters must come to terms with their own regrets and what it means to finally let them go.

I enjoyed this story. I thought it was a fast read. I loved the last book by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen. So while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I thought it was a good, quick read. That being said.  The book is classified as a thriller on goodreads and I don’t believe that this is a thriller but more of a general fiction.

The story mostly follows Clary, Annie’s cousin. Faye her aunt who raised her. Kenney, a kid that admired Annie since school and Laurel a reporter. It follows their lives as this situation unfolds and how they deal with Annie’s disappears as well as some major milestones in their lives.

I really wanted more character development. I think this had a lot more potential that it just did not seem to reach. While I liked the premise and the characters, I just really wanted more.

I was confused about how a town that took the testimony of a three-year-old and jailed an innocent man. She was three… How does that even happen?

Also, the revelation, in the end, felt completely out of the blue and perhaps added for shock value?

But I saw what the author mostly wanted to do with this. I appreciated that. I thought some of it was really sad and emotional and I do enjoy her writing. Overall, I am looking forward to see what she does next.

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Sophia Rose Review: The Mint Julep Murders by Angie Fox

Posted April 20, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Mint Julep Murders by Angie FoxThe Mint Julep Murders by Angie Fox
Series: Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #8
Published by Moose Island Books on April 25th 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 331
Format: Kindle Edition
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.

For Southern girl Verity Long, friendship means sitting down to stories and sweet tea on the front porch. For her gangster ghost housemate, it means dragging Verity out to a remote haunted asylum during a raging thunderstorm to do a favor for a long-dead mob boss.
But Verity is always ready to help out a friend, even one as eternally eccentric as Frankie. And in the case of Mint Julep Manor, the stakes are too high to refuse. The criminally insane mob boss holds a secret to Frankie’s past, one that might set Frankie free. Do the favor—survive the favor—and they might change Frankie’s afterlife for good. Fail, and they might never leave the asylum.

In this latest ghost hunting adventure for Verity and Frankie, they must brave an old haunted insane asylum if they want to get answers that might help Frankie.  Not long after their arrival, they are up to their necks in murder and trapped inside with a bunch of insane ghosts and a killer.

 

The Mint Julep Murders is the eighth installment of the Southern Ghost Hunter mysteries.  These fun blend of paranormal and cozy mysteries work well read/listened to in order as the reader gets to see how it all began with Verity and Frankie and Verity’s relationship with cop boyfriend, Ellis.  But, that said, they are all standalone mysteries so could be gotten out of order in a pinch.

 

Most of the time, these get a little bit creepy with a nice ghostly, scary setting, but this one took the cake.  A decrepit insane asylum where the traumatic old-style treatments took place and every room more chilling than the last with a bunch of ghosts and odd people was a perfect spooky read.  I was more into the description of the setting and the situations for all those poor haunts than the murder mystery.

 

Verity was her usual Pollyanna naive self that gets on more by luck than anything else which gives her a bravado that had me rolling my eyes along with Frankie and feeling sympathetic to Ellis’ worry that she’s in over her head.  The trouble is that she has a tender, giving heart and blithely ignores danger because she thinks she’s Mother Theresa to all those ghosts. She manages to fumble and bumble her way through each case including this one. When she ends up in a tight spot and the death is knocking, she admits that maybe Ellis and Frankie have a point, but then later, she’s back to offended that they ever doubt her.  She’s a sweetheart and funny. I admire her for doing as well as she is after all that has happened to change her life and I’m not just referring to all the ghost adventures.

 

Verity can be a trip at times, but I have a pretty good time with each story in this series and this one was no exception.  Frankie was his usual gangster wise-cracking self, reluctantly at her side, and comes through when it counts. Verity poo-poos Ellis’ worry, but she’s actually got it pretty good that she has a man who stalwartly believes in her ghost business and in the ghosts, who isn’t scared off, but only struggles because he cares about her safety.  I sure hope she figures out how to compromise instead of the path she’s on insisting he do all the bending.

 

The murder mystery wasn’t hard for me to figure out even when the twists happened, but I enjoyed trailing along behind Verity as she worked to get to the truth.

 

All in all, I zipped through this one enjoying it thoroughly.  It was the first cozy mystery series I liked and remains a firm favorite that I can gladly recommend to those who enjoy spooky-style cozy mysteries that focus on old historical settings around a small town in Tennessee.

 

I rec’d this book from Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Sophia Rose

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

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Review Round up #4

Posted April 11, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review Round up #4Panic by Lauren Oliver
Series: Standalone
Published by HarperCollins on March 4, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 408
Format: Kindle Edition
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.

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.
Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.
Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.
For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Carp is a dead-end town of about 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere. Carp is also a very poor town. Every year seniors who graduate from High School play this dangerous legendary game called Panic and the winner of the game takes the big pot of money that awaited them in the end.

This follows Heather and Dodge two teenagers that enter the game of Panic each for their own reasons and how they will do everything to stay in it, even when the stakes begin to rise and the game is starting to spiral out of control.

This was an entertaining read. I liked that I never found a dull moment in this and I really enjoyed Lauren Oliver’s writing in the past, so it was nice to revisit her work again.

I was a little confused about some of the stuff in the book, including that it felt a little dystopian? The game of panic sounds like it’s been around for a while (though no mention of how long) and I am confused by how some of the adults that participated in it did not try to stop what was happening.

Also, the entire book felt like the adults were just missing from the scene, I did not feel like any adults, even made an attempt to stop it with the exception of the local police that kept getting outsmarted by the local teenagers.

It wasn’t bad, it was a fun ride I enjoyed most of it, some predictable, some lacking cohesiveness I was a little frustrated at the beginning of the reason Heather entered the game, due to a boy, but the author made up for it by adding depth to the character later on. Again, this is where shitty adults come into play as that excuse in YA.

Review Round up #4Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Series: The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy,
Published by Berkley on October 29, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 342
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.
Ireland.
County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.
Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.
When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.
Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive…

Follows three cousins O’Dwyer and the historical evil that haunts them.

Iona Sheehan makes a move to Ireland because that is where her roots are as well as her cousins. She knows she is special, but does not know how to use the power inside her.  The three together make a very powerful combination, especially against Cabhan, the evil that should have been destroyed by the dark witch Sorcha their ancestor.

This was a good read. I like the basic plot line and I liked the setting. I could not stand the romance. I think romance just did not work for me in this book.

It felt a bit juvenile and I was confused by these people’s ages because they acted so young when it came to love. There was also a big dramatic moment that, of course, drove the characters apart because Boyle couldn’t stop running his mouth and said some nasty things that he shouldn’t have and there was also a bit of insta-love tied into it.

Overall, I think this would have been really enjoyable if you cut out all the romance, that part just did not work for me. Otherwise, the running storyline was actually really interesting.

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Sophia Rose Review: Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Posted April 4, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Holy Sister by Mark LawrenceHoly Sister by Mark Lawrence
Series: Book of the Ancestor, #3
Published by Ace on April 9, 2019
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle Edition
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.

The third installment in a brilliant fantasy series from the international bestselling author of Prince of Thorns.
As a young girl, Nona Grey was saved from the noose by the Abbess of Sweet Mercy. But behind the convent’s walls she learned not a life of prayer and isolation, but one of the blade and the fist. Now she will serve as the convent’s fiercest protector as the emperor moves to destroy the last bastion that stands against him.

I wouldn’t have missed this one for the world. The thrilling conclusion to Nona Grey’s story and the grand finale for the story of all the people living on a planet facing a dying sun.

In the face of the end, people learn what truly matters to them. Holy Sister paints a beyond desperate situation for everyone living. Some seek to grab up power and will slaughter as many as it takes to have this. Some will do anything to survive on the winner’s side even if it means betrayal. And, for the strongest, it means doing whatever it takes to benefit the all.

The trilogy is all one story broken into three parts and must be taken in order. It starts with the focus on one girl with Red Sister. Then, the reader starts to realize that a whole chess board is in play by deft hands in Grey Sister. But, Holy Sister? It takes the machinations of a great mind orchestrating the events that occur to a new level. I found it an interesting blend of guided future with free choice playing a role, too.

I’m not trying to be mysterious, but that was how I felt as I was reading this one. Plus, there is only so much that I can say without running into spoiler territory. I’ll say what I feel that I can.

The setup is simple. The Durn are pushing in and raiding from one side and the Scithrowl are mowing down all in their path from the east. As the sun continues to die, the narrow corridor of land not covered by ice grows smaller and makes people fight to hold or take. Between the two others is the weakening empire where Nona and her fellow Sisters of Mercy live and do their work. The Emperor’s sister planned to betray him and her people to take up with the Scithrowl Queen. People are being forced to take sides and watch their backs even within the walls of the abbey.

Holy Sister tells its story in split time line of present day and three years before. The three years before follows the direct events of book two, Grey Sister, while the present drops one into the desperate times of a kingdom on the verge of annihilation from all sides. Nona and the efforts of her small band are the key. The reader is led through a complex series of missions and close, intense situations. It is twisting and turning and keeps the reader wondering constantly. The promised buildup to confrontations do come and it was breathtaking. War is costly so there is that, too. It was an interesting finish that left me pondering several things after the last page. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I can’t deny that it doesn’t fit.

So, all in all, I am sorry to be looking back on the end. It was one exciting and engaging ride from page one and I can highly recommend this book and the whole trilogy to those who enjoy intrigue, character growth, a good feel for setting, and gritty action in their fantasy reading.

I rec’d this book through Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

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

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Review Round Up #3

Posted April 3, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review Round Up #3River Queen Rose by Shirley Kennedy
Series: In Old California, #1, #1
Published by Lyrical Press on December 26, 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 210
Format: Kindle Edition
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 ramshackle River Queen Hotel is home to vagabonds, gamblers, and heathens—and now, to new widow Rose Peterson. The rundown Gold Rush establishment is the only thing her late husband, Emmet, left her. Despite its raucous saloon and ladies of the evening, Rose can see the hotel’s potential. Her late husband’s family claim that sheltered Rose isn’t capable of running the Sacramento inn herself. But she is determined to make a new life for herself and her young daughter, even if it means flying in the face of custom and propriety. She feels as if she hasn’t a friend in the world.
Except, perhaps, one. Decatur “Deke” Fleming, a tall, lanky Australian who once served as Emmet’s farmhand. Pride prevents Deke from revealing his moneyed past; conscience keeps him from confessing his feelings for the still grieving widow. But when Rose is tempted by wealthy civic leader and hotel owner Mason Talbot, Deke may be the only person who can save her—and the one man capable of reviving her bruised and battered heart.

Rose Peterson finally arrives in California after a long journey only to discover her husband Emmet is dead, shot in an illegal duel. He left her behind his hotel the River Queen, home to the vagabond, gamblers, and ladies of the night. The man who dueled her husband desperately wants to buy it, but to prove herself Rose decides to keep the hotel because no one outside of Deke believes she is capable of handling it.

I liked the setting. I liked that it took around the time of the gold rush. I liked the storyline enough, it kept me interested.

I hated the characters. None of them outside of Deke were really all that likable.

Rose was annoying. She ends up, allowing her husband’s killer to try to swoon her despite having some reservations about him and not understanding some of his anger when she mentions the hotel. She also allowed her in-laws to push her around way too much even when she ended with some power to throw them out.

Deke is on crutches at the beginning of the book so Rose treats him as if he is missing his leg forever and that just downright bothered me. She keeps calling him a cripple like he is no longer a man.

The romance was okay. It was okay. Went by quickly.

Review Round Up #3When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Series: Standalone
Published by Vintage on January 5, 2017
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 225
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.
When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.
--back cover

Beautiful, heartbreaking, powerful. Is a few words that I feel do sum up this book as a whole.

When I first heard about this book. I knew I wanted to read it. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to read it.

Written by Paul Kalanithi himself, this memoir covers his story. About how he found out at the age of 36 that he has inoperable lung cancer while being on the verge of a turning point in his career as a neurosurgeon. How he went from being a doctor himself to a patient and how ultimately he came to face the reality of impending death. His decisions and his family.

This book was hard to rate. The writing was wonderful. The loss of such a life full of potential was devastating. The ending written by his wife was moving, emotional, heartbreaking and brought me to tears.

The honesty of his words and how he viewed life and death as a surgeon working with patients versus how he is viewed as a patient was both poignant and real.

This was his journey. His story to tell. Finding light in moments of bleakness and living your life to the fullest, as to what that fullest means to you as a person.

I’m glad I read this book.

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Review: The Looking Glass by Janet McNally

Posted March 29, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Looking Glass by Janet McNallyThe Looking Glass by Janet McNally
Series: Standalone
Published by HarperTeen on August 14, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle Edition
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.

GIRLS IN TROUBLE.
That’s what Sylvie Blake’s older sister Julia renamed their favorite fairy tale book, way back when they were just girls themselves. Now, Julia has disappeared—and no one knows if she’s in trouble.
Sylvie is trying to carry on Julia’s impressive legacy at the prestigious National Ballet Theatre Academy, but Julia, ever the star of the show, can’t stay hidden forever. And when she sends Sylvie a copy of their old storybook with a mysterious list inside, Sylvie begins to see signs of her sister everywhere she goes. She may be losing her grip on reality, but Sylvie has to find out if the strange, almost magical things she’s been seeing have anything to do with Julia’s whereabouts.
With the help of her best friend’s enigmatic brother and his beat-up car, Sylvie sets out to the beat of a Fleetwood Mac playlist, determined to return to New York with her sister in tow. But what Sylvie doesn’t expect to learn is that trouble comes in lots of forms—and that the damsel in distress is often the only one who can save herself.

The Looking Glass was a book that I found hard to put down. It was a beautifully written story weaved with magical realism to handle some difficult topics.

Sylvie always idolized her older sister Julia, until she broke her leg dancing and spiraled into addiction. After nearly losing her life, Julia disappears, leaving behind Sylvie to pick up the mess she left behind and some big shoes to fill. When Julia sends Sylvie a book with a mysterious message, Sylvie thinks Julia is in trouble and is on the mission to find her sister. Along the way, she learns a little more about Julia, who she was, how she dealt with it and a lot more about herself as a person.

I enjoyed most of this book. It kept me hooked. McNally is a wonderful writer, there is something really beautiful about the way she tells her story. But where I found this book well written and beautiful, it lacked in depth and ultimately felt a little lacking.

As always, there were the absentee parents present in a YA novel.

I kept waiting for something to happen and the conclusion of the book was lackluster, unsatisfying and ultimately pointless and abrupt.

I didn’t understand how the names in the back linked to anything in the story, especially how the ending was handled with Julia’s reaction.

I think the ultimate aspect of this story was about everyone working through Julia’s addiction and the destruction she left behind after almost dying and how these people move on from it. I thought that part was well done, but some things just fell short and didn’t connect well. There was a lot more potential to this book and it just scratched the surface.

I like how working through it Sylvie digs into herself and becomes her own person as she uncovers what is important to her instead of living in her sisters’ shadows.

The romance was cute. I enjoyed it. I was glad it wasn’t the main point of the book.

Overall. I liked how the author managed to keep the book light despite such a heavy subject. I am looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

 

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Sophia Rose Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White

Posted March 23, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 20 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. WhiteDecluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White
Series: Standalone
Published by Thomas Nelson on February 27th 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction, Self Help
Pages: 240
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

You don't have to live overwhelmed by stuff--you can get rid of clutter for good!
While the world seems to be in love with the idea of tiny houses and minimalism, many of us simply can't purge it all and start from nothing. Yet a home with too much stuff is a home that is difficult to maintain, so where do we begin? Add in paralyzing emotional attachments and constant life challenges, and it can feel almost impossible to make real decluttering progress.
In Decluttering at the Speed of Life, decluttering expert and author Dana White identifies the mind-sets and emotional challenges that make it difficult to declutter. Then, in her signature humorous approach, she provides workable solutions to break through these struggles and get clutter out--for good!
But more than simply offering strategies, Dana dives deep into how to implement them, no matter the reader's clutter level or emotional resistance to decluttering. She helps identify procrasticlutter--the stuff that will get done eventually so it doesn't seem urgent--as well as how to make progress when there's no time to declutter.
Sections of the book include
Why You Need This Book (You Know Why)Your Unique HomeDecluttering in the Midst of Real LifeChange Your Mind, Change Your HomeBreaking Through Your Decluttering DelusionsWorking It Out Room by RoomHelping Others DeclutterReal Life Goes On (and On)As long as we're living and breathing, new clutter will appear. The good news is that decluttering can get easier, become more natural, and require significantly fewer hours, less emotional bandwidth, and little to no sweat to keep going.

For the last few years, I’ve been on a mission that I call ‘Simplify’. This generic term covers all aspects of my life, but one of the primary ways has been a decluttering of my living space. I came across this title in my Prime Free reading options this month and I thought I’d see if there was more I could be doing or do it more efficiently in my ongoing pursuit of simplification through decluttering.

I really enjoyed the author’s approach to the subject matter. She approaches this as a mental state of being- a decision that change must take place- and warns of the hardships ahead of parting company with ‘treasures’, but then she leaves the esoteric behind to provide a solid winning formula.

How do I know it’s solid? Well, (pats self on the back) I was already doing most of that without the snazzy labels and steps and it was working. Okay, so I was doing a lot of it, but yes! Yippee! Woohoo! There were indeed some additional, practical steps and tips that I had not considered incorporating or that made some of the agony go away.

Without giving away the spoilery stuff (the actual formula- Decluttering at the Speed of Life), I’ll say that she approaches her house in a layer approach: Daily Stuff, Clutter, and Cleaning. This book addresses that second layer of Clutter. Her formula involves a four-step process and is designed for any space and any amount of time frame so it’s flexible for each person’s unique situation.

She suggests starting with the ‘visible’ and ‘living areas’ of the home first. This means where guests will see and where people do most of their living and are hampered by clutter. Her approach is simple- deal with the least agonizing (like trash or daily drop pile stuff) and working up to the big decision stuff. It’s easiest in the living space rooms that guests see. Then progress to bedrooms, closets, and storage. Hobby or Craft or game rooms that are the most likely to be turned into dumping areas.

Incidentally, I thought a tip that was helpful about decluttering a space is to first determine its function like in those guest/office/hobby rooms that end up catch-alls because the space hasn’t been defined (and this makes it hard to oust the clutter because it has no set primary purpose).

She also carefully says not to deal with ‘dream’ clutter until the last. I thought this was interesting because I figured it would be best to clear a space and move to the next space. But, then I got it. Dream clutter is the toughest to let go of. It’s best to start with the easiest to toss or donate and then get used to the idea and get used to the wonderful feel of functional space before heading into emotional attachment territory.

That leads me to say that she deals with our struggles with guilt when it comes to holding onto stuff. This can be pantry items because we feel guilty tossing food or clothes when someone may be going without. She kept bringing it back to ‘will you eat it or wear it NOW?’ No? Then get rid of it. Leaving it on your shelf or in your closet is not doing that nameless needing person any good. Use the guilt to shop to intentionally meet actual needs and bring home less next time.

She also covers the guilt of keeping something put away that was gifted by a good friend or relation when you don’t really like it and/or don’t ever use it. Aunt Susie made those pot holders to be used. Grandma Anna is gone and won’t know that you passed on her turkey platter because you prefer the one you bought. And, I saw myself doing ‘x, y, z’ rather than what your true reality is. Yep! This area was my big epiphany one.

She also addressed the Useful vs Actually Using issue which is another weak spot for me. If there isn’t space and it isn’t in immediate use then it must be donated. Freeing the space to use the things you actually use is more important than keeping tons of extra on the outside chance it will someday find use. This also led to the understanding of cutting clutter off before it even comes inside the door by not buying bulk or because it’s on sale for future potential use, but only if it will, in fact, be used.

Then, after going over her method and steps and how to address different types of household spaces, she went over how to deal with other’s clutter. This was: friends, kids, older family, spouses, moving, and clearing out the home of someone gone. I found the reminders of how to navigate the complications of helping others to be where I hit pay dirt because I do share my living space with others and I have been asked to come help others or help clear out for others.

Through and through, this was practical and helpful. She has another book about getting organized around the house that sounded like it was a good pairing to go with this one. She also has a blog that might also be helpful. My takeaway is a sense of renewed motivation and plans for working at my goal smarter and not harder.

 

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 #2

Posted March 16, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review Round Up #2Cooper's Charm by Lori Foster
Series: Summer Resort, #1, #1
Published by HQN Books on July 24, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

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

One summer, two sisters and a chance to start over…
Before the burglary that shattered her confidence, Phoenix Rose had a fiancé, a successful store and a busy, happy existence. After months spent adrift, she takes a job at the lakeside resort of Cooper’s Charm. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, friendly colleagues and a charismatic, widowed boss, Phoenix is slowly inching her way back into the world.
Visiting Cooper’s Charm to check up on her little sister, Ridley Rose impulsively agrees to fill in as housekeeper. Still reeling from an ego-bruising divorce, she finds satisfaction in a job well done—and in the attention of the resort’s handsome scuba instructor.
For Phoenix and Ridley, Cooper’s Charm is supposed to be merely temporary. But this detour may lead to the place they most need to be, where the future is as satisfying as it is surprising…

Pheonix rose hopes to take a job at a lakeside resort in order to get a fresh start and move on from her past. Before the burglary happened, Pheonix had everything, a great job, a fiance, and overall a happy existence. There she meets Cooper, the owner of the resort and who is just as broken after his wife dies in a tragic accident.

I thought the story was cute for the most part. I really loved Pheonix and Cooper, though I struggled with the attraction at first due to the reasons that Cooper felt the attraction and why he hired her. It felt like he was compensating for his past. I love Sugar the dog, she bought some heart into the story. Many of the secondary characters really made Cooper’s Charm and I couldn’t help but feel invested in most of them, especially Maris. I am really looking forward to her book and her attraction to one of the staff members.

The part that really broke this book for me was the unnecessary Ridley storyline. I ended up downright hating her character. She was so unrefined, shallow and undeveloped. I get that she had a “rough” break with her ex-husband, but in the end, somehow ended up super rich. She then buys a trailer to seduce Baxter one of the staff members, just for that reason alone to taunt him. The part that sealed the deal for me with her was the author’s use of the world snarled towards the end of the book when Ridley continued to interact with Baxter, specifically when she drops some unexpected news and misunderstands his silence for the worse. I really did not care for her character, she was unnecessary to the story and I could have done without her.

Also was the brief suspense that was added to the last 5% of the book. I thought that was unrealistic and again, unnecessary.

Review Round Up #2From This Moment by Melanie Harlow
Series: After We Fall,
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on October 5, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

It was like seeing a ghost.
When my late husband’s twin brother moves back to our small town, I want to avoid him. Everything about Wes reminds me of the man I lost and the life we’d planned together, and after eighteen long months struggling just to get out of bed, I’m finally doing okay. I have a new job, an amazing support group, and a beautiful five-year-old daughter to parent. I don’t want to go backward.
But I’m drawn to him, too. He understands my grief and anger and guilt like no one else — and I understand his. Before long, that understanding becomes desire, and that desire becomes uncontrollable.
He says he doesn't care what people think, and love can never be wrong. But life has taught me its cruelest lesson — love doesn't always win.
If only my heart would believe it.

A story about loss, love, and two people trying to heal when the odds are stacked against them. Hannah lost her husband. His twin brother moves back into town and she feels like she sees a ghost. Wes has been in love with Hannah since before his twin brother made a move on her and because he believed that Hannah and Drew were better off with each other, he never told his brother how he felt about her.

This was such a sweet story with a subject that’s a bit taboo, really well done. I like how Hannah and Wes had a connection before Drew stormed in like a hurricane and swept her away. I loved Wes, sweet, caring, shy Wes with a heart of gold who gave up a girl he was in love with because of his love for his brother and his inadequacy with women.

I think Melanie Harlow is a wonderful writer, who makes believable characters and handles touchy subjects with respect to weave a story that uncovers layers of complication and showed their struggles and the wall they had to climb to overcome. I really liked both characters, it was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I love their connection and how deep it ran. I like the struggle and how real it seemed. I thought Melanie Harlow did a fantastic job showing the very realistic bumps of unconventional love.

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