Format: Kindle Edition

Sophia Rose Review: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant

Posted November 16, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 32 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn BrantThe Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant
Series: standalone
Published by Twelfth Night Publishing on November 27th 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 219
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

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

THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is a light contemporary romance by New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Marilyn Brant, who also penned the award-winning and Jane Austen-inspired novels ACCORDING TO JANE and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH.
When successful building contractor Austin Knightley returns to his hometown of Crystal Corners, Minnesota after a decade away, he vows to avoid pampered and popular types like his old high-school crush Emma Westwood—the town's biggest queen bee and self-appointed matchmaker—only to get swept into a community Christmas project she's now organizing.
With nods to Jane Austen's classic novel EMMA, this modern heroine may be a little "clueless" in the Midwest, but she's got gifts to share and plenty to learn from the boy next door, who's all grown up and handsomer than ever. Even when a snowstorm threatens to derail her plans, she's determined to figure out how to set things right and save THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.
This sweet and heartwarming holiday romance is a story that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

The Knight Before Christmas is a standalone that gives a flirty nod toward the classic tale of Emma the matchmaker and her gentleman Knightley with the clash of opposites in an adorable family and friends small town romance decked out for the holidays. Oh how I love a good small town, heartwarming holiday romance and it was no hardship picking up the latest from an author I trust to bring me the feels and the sweet goodies.

He thinks she’s a meddling busybody and she thinks he’s a crank when Austin comes home for Christmas and Emma finds he’s the only one who can help save her community kids’ project. Austin’s dad just had a serious heart surgery and his latest girlfriend is behind him. He wanted to make it big in the city with his building contract business. Now that he has, he’s ready to settle near home and spend time with his family. It would have been nice to find love and start a family, but the right woman just hasn’t come along and she is certainly nothing like his childhood frustration, chatty social butterfly rich girl Emma Westwood. Or can opposites really attract?

Emma has never understood why introverted Austin Knightley has always seemed to detest her and especially now that he’s gone away and returned taciturn as ever when it comes to her. He’s kind and generous to everyone else, but she always manages to get his scowls or silence. All her life, she’s had loving generous parents who gave her the best of everything including the heart to give back and do for others which includes taking charge of some community projects and steering others toward their special someone, but Austin sees her as a bossy meddler. Glimpses of the boisterous Knightley clan of adult kids and their parents leave her feeling hollow and envious. But, then her big Christmas project for the kids is in jeopardy and she has to approach Austin Knightley to help save the day. She sees a side of him that she never imagined and opens herself up like she never has to he can see the real Emma. She hopes he won’t reject this person because she most certainly has lost her breezy confidence and friendly distance when it comes to this knight with power tools and the ability to get her to step outside the box.

This was a warm, feel-good sweet romance that was perfect for getting one in the mood for the holidays. It starts as something of an opposites situation that ends up being more the childhood crush- boy next door sort of story which I found engaging and fun especially when surrounded by family, friends, and a small town setting. It’s an easy low-angst even paced story. The Austin and Emma at the beginning were a bad first impressions sort of thing, but then their real personalities and motives came out and I liked them a lot. I had a lot of sugary swoony moments and now I’m eager to press forward and get the other two Knightley brothers stories. I caught a quick glimpse of the next brother’s story in that epilogue and I think it’s going to be good times in Crystal Corners.

Sweet small town holiday romance lovers don’t hesitate to grab this one up.

 

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 Keeper by J.L. Bryan

Posted November 12, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 33 Comments

Review: The Keeper by J.L. BryanThe Keeper by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #8
Published by J.L. Bryan on December 27, 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Ghosts, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 302
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

The South Channel lighthouse is a crumbling antique at the mouth of the Savannah River, abandoned and forgotten for generations. Local stories still tell of a mysterious woman in white who often stood at the old lighthouse, watching the sailors come into port...even long after she died.
Now the property by the lighthouse is owned by a famous movie star in search of a remote beach getaway on sleepy Tybee Island. Unfortunately, old ghosts haunt her new retreat, stirred up by the construction of a luxurious new mansion. Ellie, Stacey, and their team must remove the ghosts, who grow more dangerous and aggressive every night, threatening the lives of the client and her family and personal staff.
The lighthouse has a dark history, with many ghosts, and mysteries to unravel before Ellie can send them on to the other side.

If there is one book series that I can count on to pull me out of my slump, that’s Ellie Jordan by J.L Bryan and like the past few books in this series, this one does not disappoint.

Ellie is back, still trying to deal with the events of the last book as she struggles with the new management that took over her agency and finding the ghost that haunts her dreams.

In this one, we follow Ellie and Stacy to an island with a lighthouse, currently owned by an actress. As Ellie and Stacy scramble to capture the ghosts that haunt the house of the actress before her family comes to town, they are also trying to uncover the mysterious magician that haunts one of the theaters they believe might be connected to Anton Clay.

Chilling, entertaining and always fun, J.L Bryan delivers in another fantastic Ellie Jordan installment that held me captive and chewing through the pages.

I can’t get enough of Ellie and Stacy and how far they have come now and how close they seem to be getting what Ellie truly wants. There were a few good surprises in this book, the character development was great and I found myself enjoying this as much as the others. It also wraps up some loose connections from the previous installment.

I cannot wait to see what’s in store for Ellie and Stacy next, especially after that kind of an ending.

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

Posted August 27, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 24 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi Night Owl Book Café Readers,

Thank you for having me as a guest!

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

Enjoy!

Victoria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can get you a new t-shirt.”

Huh?”

He gestured to the rip.

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

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

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

It’s 7 a.m.”

Yes, it is. Are you drunk? Or high?”

Damn, you have one scandal…

No,” he said sharply.

The car was moving rather erratically.”

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

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

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

To-may-to, to-mah-to.”

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

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

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

I shouldn’t leave you alone.”

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

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

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

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

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

I didn’t apologize.”

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

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

You. Are. Unbelievable.”

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

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY

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

About Sophia Rose

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

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Sophia Rose Review: Passage From Nuala by Harriet Steel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Sophia Rose

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

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Sophia Rose Review: Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Sophia Rose

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

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Sophia Rose Review: Fatal Finds in Nuala by Harriet Steel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Sophia Rose

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

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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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