Format: Kindle Edition

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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Review Round Up #1

Posted March 14, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review Round Up #1The Perfect Alibi by Phillip Margolin
Series: Robin Lockwood #2
Published by Minotaur Books on March 5, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
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.

A young woman accuses a prominent local college athlete of rape. Convicted with the help of undisputable DNA evidence, the athlete swears his innocence and threatens both his lawyer and his accuser as he's sent to prison. Not long after, there's another rape and the DNA test shows that the same person committed both rapes—which is seemingly impossible since the man convicted of the first rape was in prison at the time of the second one. Now, the convicted athlete, joined by a new lawyer, is granted a new trial and bail. Shortly thereafter, his original lawyer disappears and his law partner is murdered.
Robin Lockwood is a young lawyer with a prestigious small law firm and a former MMA fighter who helped pay for Yale Law School with her bouts. She is representing the victim of the first rape for her civil lawsuit against her rapist, who is now convinced the rapist is stalking her and trying to intimidate her. At the same time, another client is up on a murder charge—one that should be dismissed as self-defense—but the D.A. trying the case is determined to bring it to trial. Now she has to mastermind two impossible cases, trying to find the hidden truth that links the two of them.

A woman brings her daughter to Robin Lockwood, accusing a college football star of raping her. With the help of DNA evidence, he is easily convicted on rape charges. But then another woman shows up, claiming she was raped and the DNA is pointing to a man already in prison. Meanwhile, someone is killing attorneys, could their murder’s be connected?

This, for me, was a fast-paced read. I found myself invested in the first case enough to be flipping through the pages in order to see how everything was going to play out. I kind of figured things out halfway through, but I still wanted to see where it was going to go. The rape case in this book is a bit of a sensitive subject and I am not at all sure if the story itself was plausible, but I do feel like it could be somewhat realistic. In which case, I don’t know how to feel about it and honestly wasn’t sure if I liked where it went in the end.

The murders kept me guessing, but in the end, I found the reasons and the outcome to be a bit far fetched.

There was nothing wrong with the lining. The story was fine. The characters were fine. The subplots that happened in this book outside of these two cases, felt irrelevant to the story and more like a filler.

Review Round Up #1Even If the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia
Series: Standalone
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 10, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars

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

All she needs is one night to be anyone she wants.
Julie is desperate for a change. So she heads to New Orleans with her youth group to rebuild houses and pretend her life isn’t a total mess. But between her super-clingy team leader and her way-too-chipper companions, Julie feels more trapped than ever.
In a moment of daring, she ditches her work clothes for DIY fairy wings and heads straight into the heart of Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, where she locks eyes with Miles, an utterly irresistible guy with a complicated story of his own. And for once, Julie isn’t looking back. She jumps at the chance to see the real New Orleans, and in one surreal night, they dance under the stars, share their most shameful secrets, and fall in love.
But their adventure takes an unexpected turn when an oncoming hurricane changes course. As the storm gains power and Julie is pulled back into chaos she finds pretending everything is fine is no longer an option.
Mia García’s Even If the Sky Falls is a whirlwind twenty-four-hour romance about discovering what it means to feel alive in the face of life’s greatest danger: love.

Let me start out on the positive note of this book. The author’s writing is absolutely beautiful, Mia Garcia as a writer really has her way with words and can create lively and vivid settings. I loved the setting of New Orleans as a backdrop for this book.

That being said, the rest fell a little flat for me.

I didn’t like Julie. I found her “problem” to be superficial and a bit self-centered. In all of this she never really stopped to consider that her brother was the one that has these problems and took it upon herself to try and force something that even therapists have a hard time fixing. When that did not work out in her favor she almost does something completely stupid and selfish. I hated her character, I found her annoying.

This is one of those books that instant love and takes place in one day where Julie and ‘Miles’ give each other fake names and kind of just get lost in the day. I just found that I could not connect with the characters.

The last 20% of the book thought really well written, was a bit odd. A hurricane hits and the two characters decide to be careless, despite Mile’s living in New Orleans during Katrina some of his actions really made me question his intelligence and of course because of his recklessness Julie gets hurt.

Another thing happens with a doctor at the hospital that was completely unbelievable and the storyline between Julie and Tavis one of the boys that feels irrelevant to the story was super odd and unnecessary.

Thought the writing was beautiful, the story did complete lack of depth and meaning.

 

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Review: The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo

Posted January 29, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: The Deepest Roots by Miranda AsebedoThe Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo
Series: standalone
Published by HarperTeen on September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 320
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.

Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, is a strange place. For the past century, every girl has been born with a special talent, like the ability to Fix any object, Heal any wound, or Find what is missing.
Best friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy all have similar talents, but to them, their abilities often feel like a curse. Rome may be able to Fix anything she touches, but that won’t help her mom pay rent or make it any easier to confide in Lux and Mercy about what’s going on at home. And Rome isn’t the only one. Lux has been hiding bigger, more dangerous secrets.
As Rome struggles to keep her friendships close, she discovers the truth about life in Cottonwood Hollow—that friends are stronger than curses, that trust is worth the risk, and sometimes, what you’ve been looking for has been under your feet the whole time.

I went into this book blindly, but I was given a story that hooked me from a very first page.

Rome, Lux, and Mercy are best friends who live in Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas. Cottonwood Hollow, is a strange place. The women of Cottonwood Hollow have certain special abilities, like Fixing an object, Healing wounds or even finding what is missing.

I thought the book was a quick and enjoyable read. The writing was wonderful. I absolutely loved the idea implemented behind the plot, so much so that I craved more.

The characters were interesting and had depth. I loved their friendship, but hated it at the same time. I loved the closeness of the three girls and how they had come to each other’s aid. My issue with their friendship was the fact that I never quite understood why they kept secrets from each other, or better yet. Why they kept alienating one of the girls from the truth.

The book provided me with everything I wanted. Magical realism, secrets, a bit of action and a cute romance. I enjoyed the fact that this book focused more on the relationship between the three girls and not the romantic interest.

I did struggle with Rome’s mother’s actions. I understand she had Rome when she was young and was doing her best to take care of her, but I feel like her character was at times crossing that annoying line that parents seem to have in YA books.

Overall, this was a pleasant read.

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Guest Review: A Deadly Brew by Lynn Cahoon

Posted October 23, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Guest Review: A Deadly Brew by Lynn CahoonA Deadly Brew by Lynn Cahoon
Series: A Tourist Trap Mystery #9.5
Published by Lyrical Press on August 4, 2018
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 67
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

As Halloween approaches South Cove, California, four couples get into the spirit of the holiday by conjuring up spirits. . .
The house has sat empty for fifteen years, taking up prime real estate along the picturesque coastline. Built by one of the founders of South Cove, its last known owner, Maryanne Demerit, vanished without a trace. Now her home will be demolished for a condo development, but until then, it’s the perfect spot for a Halloween haunted house.
Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More, her boyfriend, and three other couples are spending the weekend in the Demerit home. But what begins as an all-in-good-fun fright fest turns into a mystery begging to be solved as Jill is contacted by the ghost of Maryanne . . .

A light spooky cozy mystery from the Tourist Trap mystery series caught my eye when I was hunting for an Autumn seasonal read. It was my first time with author and series and it was a great experience that has me eager to return for more.

A Deadly Brew is book 9.5 in the A Tourist Trap Mystery series. It probably wasn’t the best place to start as it was obvious that the heroine and those in her circle had prior experiences together, but, that said, I had no trouble diving in because the author gave a brief intro to the characters and setting as it appeared in the story.

This was a quick read novella that falls between the usual novel-length mysteries. It was a lock in haunted house weekend for four couples. They wanted to explore the old house by the sea that would be torn down for developments and have a nice weekend getaway. But, strange things start to happen and Jill Gardner, local bookshop owner and amateur sleuth, begins to wonder if the ghost of the long time missing owner is trying to help her discover the truth of what happened back in the past.

The four couples were a fun group together and I liked the cold case and spooky manifestations. I thought their time at the old spooky place was fun and entertaining. The backstory and descriptions of the world and setting were minimal and things moved along swiftly with the mystery, but it worked just fine for an afternoon quick read. The heroine Jill was engaging enough and I liked the time with her boyfriend the town police detective, her friends and neighbor. It did have a nice twist or two even if it was a light-weight story.

I think those looking for a fun, light cozy mystery that would be perfect for Halloween would find this one a good bet.

About Sophia Rose

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

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Review: The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne

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

Review: The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne ThayneThe Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #8
Published by HQN Books on June 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

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

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

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

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Guest Review: Son of a Preacher Man by Karen M Cox + Interview

Posted July 3, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Interview / 17 Comments

Guest Review: Son of a Preacher Man by Karen M Cox + InterviewSon of a Preacher Man by Karen M. Cox
Series: standalone
Published by Adalia Street Press on July 1, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 274
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 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.

“Love has power we disregard at our peril...”
It’s 1959 — and although the country is poised at the edge of a tidal wave of social change, Billy Ray Davenport anticipates living a traditional, predictable life. Handsome, principled, and keenly observant, he arrives in town to lodge with the Millers, the local doctor’s family. Billy Ray has visited the small Southern town of Orchard Hill several times when he accompanied his father, a widowed traveling minister. But he never bargained for Lizzie Quinlan—a complex, kindred spirit who is beautiful and compassionate, yet scorned by the townsfolk. Could a girl with a reputation be different than she seems? With her quirky wisdom and a spine of steel hidden beneath an effortless sensuality, Lizzie is about to change Billy Ray’s life—and his heart—forever.A realistic look at first love, told by an idealistic young man, Son of a Preacher Man is a heartwarming coming of age tale set in a simpler time.

“He was the only son of a Preacher Man… the only one who could ever move me…”
Yep, it is connected to the old song written by John Hurley and Ronnie Walkins and sung by Dusty Springfield among others. And, it’s also equally influenced by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I love that the author set this one in the late fifties in a rural community area and then moved things to the city as a pair of young star-crossed lovers head out into the big wide world.

This was a tender story of first love, but so much more. There is a coming of age story all told through Billy Ray’s eyes. He’s had to grow up quickly and be responsible because of his mom’s death and knocking about with his dad, but because he’s preacher’s son, he’s also somewhat sheltered and innocent. Lizzy has been limited in her education and knowledge of the world outside her town, but she is wise to worldliness and hard-living with her family on the grub farm. My heart went out for this girl and I teared up at one point as her past was fully revealed. I got quite angry at a few people just like Billy Ray.

This story has one of my favorite settings- small town. But, instead of the romantic nostalgia that can paint a picture of the best side, this shows the uglier side, too. We have a small community set on believing the worst in one of their own even without evidence, what trouble a malice-filled girl can stir up, and Lizzy’s pain and strength needed to make it even years under a bad reputation before getting out to make good on her dreams.

The historical era was there and gave a nice layer of verisimilitude without taking over the engaging, gently-paced story.

The book has a strong faith element because of Billy Ray’s Christian outlook and he leans on his faith to try to help Lizzy through her pain and as his own guidepost, but it isn’t an inspirational fiction and there are no attempts to push his faith on others or on the reader, for that matter. Not that he needs to because it was still an era when the average person in rural America made nominal claims to Christianity. I respect that he lived out what he believed and that part of his struggle was how to reconcile his attraction for Lizzy with his dad’s concerns about falling for ‘that kind of girl’, respecting her need to pursue her own career when he’d been taught that women were to be the homemakers, and his acceptance that Lizzy is his equal not lesser because she is female.

All in all, this was a heartwarming story that had a strong flavor of nostalgia that was tempered with bittersweet reality. The pains and joys of coming of age and first love along with figuring out life while pursuing education. It was a well-written, well-developed story with engaging characters and elements. It had me smiling, laughing, crying, and swooning. Those who enjoy slightly sweet with a little spice, modern historical, and influences from an old song and an even older story should give it a look-see.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Interview with Karen M. Cox

Howdy, Readers!
Today, I get the privilege of hosting an author who I’ve had the pleasure of reading her books over the last few years. Her books have taken me into the near past of America’s South and all the way to Cold War Europe for heartwarming romance and engaging characters. In honor of her latest release, Son of a Preacher Man (which makes a great summer beach ride, by the by), Karen Cox is joining us today.

Hey, Karen!
Hey there! Thanks so much for letting me stop in!
How is your summer treating you?
It has been fabulous so far. I’m a public school speech pathologist in real life, so I have some time to myself in the summers. I’ve just finished a trip to the Pacific Northwest to see some friends, which was fabulous, and I’ll be attending my first Romance Writers of America conference in July. Put that together with swimming, playing with my son’s 3 year-old daughter, going to lunch with my college-aged daughter, and Life Is Good!

Just so you know, I have had that old song stuck in my head off and on for a few months now.
Mua-ha-ha!
Fortunately for you, I happen to like the song. *gives her guest a narrow-eyed look*

I’m going to go out on a limb that the story was inspired by the song, but I’m always curious. How did it come about?
Well, it initially grew out of a discussion with some Jane Austen fans about what would be an analogous Darcy/Lizzy social divide in various times and places. I laughingly proposed that there would be no greater divide than between a girl with a reputation and a minister’s son in a small, Southern town before the Sexual Revolution of the 60s. The “Son of a Preacher Man” song was mentioned by someone, and since “FitzWILLIAM Darcy” was kind of like “BILLY Ray”, that suggested the hero’s name. It just evolved from there until it turned into an original story inspired by Pride and Prejudice.

What are some details you can share to entice our readers? Are we looking at a ‘wrong side of the tracks’ romance plot? I love those.
Yes, I would say that in the book’s time and place, Lizzy would be considered a girl from the “wrong side of the tracks.” But the story has its surprises too. Billy Ray is an unusual young man. He’s naïve and traditional in some ways, but he’s observant and open-minded in others. He has his old-fashioned side, but he thinks his way through his dilemmas and comes to his own conclusions. Lizzie is, to my mind, just delightful—beautiful and sensual, but with a child-like curiosity about the world; wounded but willing to open her heart; and always, always seeking knowledge and answers. (Yeah. I love them. A lot.)

Now, I understand that Son of a Preacher Man is a remake of At the Edge of the Sea. What instigated the re-write and can you share what sort of changes were involved?
I had been considering a rerelease of At the Edge of the Sea for its 5th birthday for a long time. One major change was that I went back to the story’s original title, Son of a Preacher Man. I had changed the title because I wanted to distinguish the story from what might have been considered traditional Christian fiction at that time. Son of a Preacher Man definitely has inspirational themes—that’s somewhat necessary, given who the hero is—but it also has an…I don’t know, an “edgy” side to it too. It’s not a tale that slides neatly into a genre. Over time, I grew to realize that Son of a Preacher Man is the title that represents the story best. So, I retitled, re-edited, and had a new cover designed (shout out to MadHat Books and Joshua Hollis.) And here ya go!

Should those who already read At the Edge of the Sea grab up this latest translation of the story? Maybe treat it as a good opportunity for a re-read?
I would be thrilled if readers wanted to treat themselves to Billy Ray and Lizzie’s story again! The changes I made were minor—a polishing, tightening of the prose, the cover, the title.
In spite of a glowing review from Publishers’ Weekly, winning two categories (Romance and Chick Lit) of the Next Generation Independent Book Awards, and over 4 star rating at Amazon and GoodReads, At the Edge of the Sea wasn’t widely known, either by fans of Austenesque literature or those outside that fanbase. The re-release is my hopeful attempt to share the story with more readers who would enjoy it. Which, for me, is what writing is all about.

Your characters, Billy Ray and Lizzy, are young. Would you describe your story as a Coming of Age? Or does the story stay with them into their adult years?
Yes, I would definitely consider this a coming-of-age story. I think it has a lot to say to young people trying to figure out who they are and how to reconcile their pasts with their futures. But I also think it strikes a nostalgic chord for readers who might remember the 1950s-60s time frame (or heard stories about it from parents, grandparents, etc.), or really, for anyone who likes laid-back stories of small towns and first loves that endure.

I have noted this in the past, but I love how you have focused your stories on what I’ll dub the modern historical eras in America. What appeals to you about writing in this time frame?
I’ll be honest—I don’t know what draws me to 20th Century time periods in my writing. Perhaps it’s that they aren’t usually popular settings for romantic fiction, although I have seen more World War 2 era books recently. I like that the 20th Century isn’t far enough removed to be trendy or cool, but yet it’s a fascinating time. Think how rapidly the world changed in those 100 years. So much happened—why not tell stories with that change as a backdrop?

What do you consider the challenge of writing more modern historicals?
Actually, it’s not that difficult because the historical information is, for the most part, readily accessible. Also, I lived through some of that time and have some personal experience to draw from. I do have an unfortunate tendency to go down a “rabbit hole” when doing 20th Century research. I have to remember to pull myself out and go write periodically!

Do you have a favorite scene you can share with us?
Oh, it would give too much away if I shared my favorite! But how about this one? Billy Ray and Lizzie are both at the small town’s laundromat. I love the interaction between them in this scene:

The door to the laundromat was propped open with a cement block. The dank, soap-perfumed heat of clothes’ dryers poured out into the evening air.
A heavyset woman sat at the counter reading a magazine.
“Need some change, honey?”
“Yes, ma’am. Enough for two loads.” I handed her some bills. “And I need some soap too.” I took a quick look around, but there was no sign of Lizzie. I hoped I hadn’t missed her after all. I wanted to make up for not speaking to her at the library the other day—even though she had no idea I was there. I wanted to prove something to myself.
“Here you go.” The laundry attendant pushed the coins toward me, followed by a small box. I put my clothes in two side-by-side washers, read the directions on the lid, added soap and coins, pushed the button—and just about jumped out of my skin when I heard a blood-curdling shriek behind me. A blur of brown curls and a faded cotton dress raced from the back room toward the front door.
The attendant looked up from her magazine and frowned, grumpy but not irate. “Get that hellion out of here! She’s a menace.”
“Sorry, Miz Turner.”
I knew that voice. It set my stomach to flipping about like a trout on a fishing line. Lizzie Quinlan seemed unsurprised to see me, though.
“Oh hey, Billy Ray. I thought I heard you talking. Fancy meeting you here. Hold on a second.”
She blew by me and rounded the row of washers near the door. “All right, Lily, you little imp! I counted to fifty, and I found you fair and square.”
“Only if you catch me before I get back to base!” A little voice emerged from behind the washers on the next row. Lizzie pointed to the other end near the doorway to the next room and silently mouthed at me. “Head her off down there.”
I walked to the end of the row and stood in the door frame, arms folded, my best scowl in place. Lily came barreling down the aisle, squealing and laughing, looking behind her so she couldn’t see where she was going—and ran right into me.
“Hey you!” I tried to frown, but the shock on her face was so funny, I couldn’t keep it up. She looked up at me with big, brown eyes, her face drained of all color.
Lizzie swept in from behind, put her arms around her sister and twirled her about, laughing. “I got you! I got you! Now you’re It, Lily Lou!”
“No fair!” But now Lily was laughing too.
“Go back and check on our clothes, squirt,” Lizzie said.
Lily ran into the back room, and Lizzie turned to me. “So, Mr. Davenport does his own laundry. Couldn’t get Marlene to wash your undies for ya?” She grinned.
“She offered. I refused—as you see.”
Lizzie looked at me with a thoughtful expression. “Hey, c’mere a sec.” She started walking back to the room where her sister and their clothes were. “You been to college. I wanna ask you something.”
I followed her, my eyes dropping to her blue jean-clad bottom, bouncing up to her ponytail and then down again. She had a man’s shirt tied around her waist, and I wondered how a girl wearing men’s clothes could be so appealing. She stopped beside a couple of brassieres hanging over the side of a basket, feeling of them to see if they were dry.
“I, ah…” Swallowing nervously, I gazed up, down, anywhere but at her underthings.
“Your prissiness tickles me.” Her lighthearted laugh rang out. “No, I didn’t want to ask you about my underwear, College Man.”
I breathed a sigh of relief.
She picked up an old, thick textbook, and flipped back a couple of pages. “There.” She pointed. “How do you say that one?”
“Tanacetum parthenium. It’s feverfew—see here?” I pointed to the next line. “There’s the common name.”
“Then why don’t they just call it ‘feverfew’?” she asked with a touch of exasperation.
I tried to hide my smile. “It’s Latin. All the plants are organized into categories. The first name is called the genus, the group name. The second is the species, the group within the group. Like with animals—all cats belong to one genus, but bobcats are a specific type.”
She was watching me with wide-eyed interest, and it was strangely gratifying to have her hang on my every word.
“I didn’t know you were interested in botany.”
“Oh yes! I like to learn about plants. Mrs. Gardener got me started, but now I read on my own too.”
“Don’t they teach botany at the high school here?”
She shook her head. “Just chemistry and Earth science—not enough teachers.”
“Did you get the book from Mrs. Gardener?” I picked up the thick volume and turned it over in my hands, looking at the spine.
“Nope—the library. It’s an old book, but you gotta start somewhere, right?”
I grinned and handed it back to her. “Right. Botany doesn’t change that much anyway.”
“Plants fascinate me.” She thumbed through the book and shrugged her shoulders. “They seem so common, just your run-of-the-mill greenery growing in the field or beside the road. But hidden inside them is this amazing power. Some of them nourish or heal, but some of them can kill. The deadliest plants can appear so ordinary.”
“See? I’m not the only one that thinks about things real deeply—or looks to find answers in an old book.” I tapped the cover to illustrate my point.

Okay, I’ll wrap things up with my usual ‘what is next from the pen of Karen Cox?’
Well, my next published work is a short story in the Quill Collective’s Rational Creatures anthology. The collection is chock full of Regency-era stories about Austen’s female characters, all with an emphasis on how they were ahead of their time. My story is about the kind and elegant Eleanor Tilney, whose brother is the hero of Northanger Abbey.
After that, I’m torn. I’ve got several projects in my head: a Regency novel, an early 20th Century Western, another coming of age piece from the 1980s, and a women’s fiction piece about a young (late 40s) widow rebuilding her life. What to choose, what to choose? I guess I’ll figure it out along the way!
Glad to have you stop by today, Karen! I’ll just be slipping off now to torture my family while I sing the same lyrics over and over to the chorus of ‘Son of the Preacher Man’ …
“Bein’ good isn’t always easy, no matter how hard I try…”

Book Description:
“I forget that you’re a fella sometimes.”
“Gee, thanks.”
I never forgot that she was a girl. Not for one second…

1959. The long, hot Southern summer bakes the sleepy town of Orchard Hill. Billy Ray Davenport, an aspiring physician and only son of an indomitable traveling minister, is a young man with a plan that starts with working in a small-town doctor’s office before he begins medical school in the fall. Handsome, principled, and keenly observant, he arrives in town to lodge with the Millers, the local doctor’s family. He never bargained for Lizzie Quinlan—a complex, kindred spirit who is beautiful and compassionate, yet scorned by the townsfolk. Could a girl with a reputation be different than she seems? With her quirky wisdom and a spine of steel hidden beneath an effortless sensuality, Lizzie is about to change Billy Ray’s life—and his heart—forever.

A realistic look at first love, told by an idealistic young man, Son of a Preacher Man is a heartwarming coming of age tale set in a simpler time.
Available on Amazon and iBooks, Kobo, Barnes&Noble

Connect with Karen:
www.karenmcox.com
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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 Good Twin by Marti Green

Posted May 24, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Good Twin by Marti GreenThe Good Twin by Marti Green
Series: standalone
Published by Thomas & Mercer on May 15, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 272
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars

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

In Marti Green’s twisting novel of psychological suspense, twin sisters become engaged in a dangerous deception…
Mallory Holcolm is an unfulfilled waitress and aspiring artist living in a Queens boardinghouse when she learns something astonishing about her past: she has an identical twin sister named Charly she never knew existed.
Charly is a Princeton graduate, a respected gallery owner, and an heiress married to her handsome college sweetheart, Ben. Charly got everything she ever wanted. Everything Mallory wanted, too. And now it might be easier than Mallory ever imagined. Because Ben has reasons of his own for wanting to help her.
It begins with his startling proposal. All Mallory has to do is say yes.
But as their devious plan falls into place, piece by piece, Mallory learns more about her sister and herself than she ever meant to—a discovery that comes with an unexpected twist. A chilling deception is about to become a dangerous double cross. And it’s going to change the rules of Ben and Mallory’s game to the very end.

I honestly don’t know where to start with this book, it was a bit of a mess.

Try to suspend your disbelief when reading this because this book definitely requires you to.

We have a young mother that was thrown out of the house because she was pregnant and refused to give up her baby. At the age of 16 a young girl made a hard choice when she found out that she had twins. She gave up her first born in adoption and kept the second twin to raise by herself. One grew up in a very rich family, the other grew up in poverty.

Years later, Mallory is a waitress and stumbles upon a man who confuses her for someone else. Curious, she tracks down the woman he thought she was only to discover, wow, she looks just like her. Too afraid to approach her in person, she decided to visit the woman at her house only to be greeted by her husband and spun a bunch of lies.

Now Mallory thinks her sister is heartless and that Charly (the sister) believes that Mallory only wants to meet her because she wants her money, she believes her husband Ben who is spinning these lies.

Ben offers Mallory a proposal that if all Mallory does is say yes, her life will be changed forever.

I don’t even know how to review this without spoiling everything.

All the things I found wrong and frustrating

1. I could not wrap my head around Mallory and her decision to go along with Ben’s plan and still claim that she is such a good person and is deserving of so much more because what she agreed to do wasn’t simple as blueberry picking. It’s not a decision that a “good” person would step into lightly and quiet frankly, her reasoning made me sick as well.

2. The end was just a mess piled upon a layer of another mess and turned me beyond angry. I wanted to throttle Mallory, who became the world’s BIGGEST freaking hypocrite, trust me guys, it is taking me a lot of self control here not to let out a string of curse words and how much I loathed that ending. I found it unrealistic, I found myself angry at everyone involved and in the end, I honestly just wanted to see them all burn. After everything that went down and how it went down and all the stupid lies and actions these two sisters did not deserve any kind of happiness.

The end kept kind of jumping forward in time quickly over and over again and I just could not wrap my head around who the hell did Mallory think she is, making those kind of decisions after what she herself tried to do and blah just no.

Overall, it was fast paced. Suspend your disbelief and you might enjoy it. For me? This book just made me angry beyond belief.

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Guest Review: The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charleton

Posted May 17, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 7 Comments

Guest Review: The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen CharletonThe Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charlton
Series: Detective Lavender Mysteries #1
Published by Thomas & Mercer on June 9th 2015
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 270
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Northumberland, November 1809: A menacing figure stalks women through Hareshaw Woods and a beautiful, young heiress disappears from her locked bedchamber at Linn Hagh.
The townsfolk cry 'witchcraft' and the local constabulary are baffled.
Fearing for her safety, Helen Carnaby's worried uncle sends out for help from Bow Street magistrates' court in London. Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Woods now face their toughest and most dangerous case. The servants and the local gypsies won’t speak to them, Helen’s siblings are sly and uncooperative and the sullen local farmers are about to take the law into their own hands.
Isolated in this beautiful but remote community, Lavender and Woods find themselves trapped in the middle of a simmering feud and are alarmed to discover a sinister world of madness and violence lurking behind the heavy oak door of the ancient pele tower at Linn Hagh. Helen Carnaby's disappearance is to prove one of the most perplexing mysteries of Lavender's career.
Why did she flee on that wintry October night? How did she get out of her locked bed chamber? And where is she now?
'The Heiress of Linn Hagh' is the first in a series of Regency mysteries featuring Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Edward Woods.
First published as 'The Missing Heiress.' (Knox Robinson Publishing (2012.)

Sophia Roses Review

A Regency era mystery with some Gothic overtones? ’nuff said! I wasn’t familiar with this series, but I was glad for the opportunity to pick up book one and meet Lavender and Woods in a case that took this pair of Bow Street Runners far from London into the Northumberland countryside.

The story opens with the introduction of the main pair of detectives and then drops back a little into the past and introduces the people and situation where the disappearance took place. It ends up going back and forth between the detectives and the family situation so the reader gets both aspects.

The details of historical setting and description of situation were good. The author didn’t skimp on painting in details of the Regency time period and police work in that time.

The characters were not as developed, but I liked how a little more detail was sketched in here and there as it went along. Lavender is something more than he seems and can be brooding while Woods is open and known from the start.

The mystery is a locked room type and relies heavily on atmosphere which was done well. It was not one that was hard to figure out the who or even the why – that is a given, but there are some details that come out later to make things even more interesting about the Carnaby family and how it was done.

I had a sense that I was dropped into an existing series because there were references back to other cases, but it was explained in the author notes at the end that Lavender and Woods were side characters in an unrelated book that she felt needed their own stories s0 this truly was the first of a new series.

There is an introduction to a romance interest for Lavender when he encounters a fiery Spanish woman on his journey north. She is above him in class and has her own secrets so it will be interesting to see where that series thread goes from there.

All in all, I enjoyed this introduction to a new to me historical mystery series and can definitely recommend it.

 

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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