Format: Kindle Edition

Guest Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy Reichert

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

Guest Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy ReichertThe Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert
Series: standalone
Published by Gallery Books on May 15th 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 310
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.

1. Get through to your daughter. 2. Buy more cheese. 3. Don't forget to call your mother.
Grilled G's Gourmet Food Truck is where chef, owner, obsessive list-maker, and recent widow Gina Zoberski finds the order and comfort she needs to struggle through each day, especially when confronted with her critical mother Lorraine and sullen daughter May.
Image-conscious Lorraine always knows best and expects her family to live up to her high expectations, no matter what. May just wants to be left alone to mourn her father in her own way. Gina always aims to please, but finds that her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys both her mother and her daughter, no matter how hard she tries.
But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine's kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother's failing health and her daughter's rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go...

Three generations of women in one family have struggled to connect. Until now. An older woman’s stroke brings out a long-held secret and is the catalyst for healing to begin with her daughters and her granddaughter. It was heartwarming, bittersweet, and a family story that left me wanting to call my own mom and hug her.

Gina is a widowed woman of two years running her fantastic Grilled G’s food cart business (seriously, her versions of grilled cheese kept me salivating) and figure out how to get through her daughter May’s teen hormones and angry grief. She copes by making her ever present lists and trying to look on the bright side.

Lorraine is a starched up well preserved woman who is driven and drives her daughters especially Gina until she has a stroke and the family secrets are discovered. Now, when she has no way to verbalize, this is when real communication happens in her family and the healing and understanding can start.

Lastly, there is young May. She grieves for her dad and takes all her loss and anger out on her mom thinking her mom has moved on and seems to want to forget May’s dad. May isolated herself and now is slowly coming out of that and seeing her mother very differently.

I should also mention- mostly because she was my favorite character and made me smile often, giving some of the heavier moments more balance – Lorraine’s second daughter Vicky doesn’t have as large a role, but she is right in the middle of all the new-found family healing and togetherness.

Like many Chick Lits and Women’s Fictions, this one is easy-paced and takes it’s time. The story is told in flashbacks and the present. There are emotional moments and slice of life scattered through the story. Food is an elemental theme around which these women can and do connect. The ending was a little heavy, but still very satisfying.

In summary, this was my first book by the author and now I can see why folks rave about her writing. It talks about every day women, family, and food with a dash of humor and sadness. I will definitely be going back for more and recommend this one to those who enjoy stories that focus on multi-generational women’s stories tied together by family.

I rec’d this book from Net Galley 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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Guest Review: Dead As a Doornail by Tonya Kappes

Posted May 3, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 10 Comments

Guest Review: Dead As a Doornail by Tonya KappesDead As A Doornail by Tonya Kappes
Series: A Kenni Lowry Mystery #5
Published by Henery Press on May 15th 2018
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 177
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.

Beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone. And doesn’t our Sheriff Kenni Lowry know that? Well, she knows a lot of things.
Lucy Lowell takes great pride in writing negative reviews in the local newspaper for anything that does not go her way. When Lucy is found dead, it appears to be from natural causes.
But Sheriff Kenni Lowry knows there is more to it because the ghost of her grandfather, the ex-sheriff, is standing over the body.
His presence can only mean one thing: Murder!
Since Kenni’s relationship with Deputy Finn Vincent has heated up, Kenni is having trouble conducting the investigation without Finn questioning her every move.
Can Kenni unravel the mystery on her own or will she have to tell Finn the real reason she knows it was murder—the ghost of her poppa?
It’s blowin’ up a storm and only Kenni knows how it’ll end.
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DEAD AS A DOORNAIL by Tonya Kappes | A Henery Press mystery

Sophia Rose’s Review…

Small town antics, a wedding nightmare, and an inexplicable murder are Kenni’s challenge in this latest series installment.

Dead As A Doornail is book five in the quirky and light Kenni Lowry paranormal cozy mystery series. The series does flow in a chain when it comes to Kenni getting used to her deceased grandpa’s ghost helping her solve murders along with her growing love interest with Finn. However, the mysteries are all standalone and I had no trouble jumping in at book three and continuing on. Need to go back for the first two at some point.

So, the latest…

Kenni gets set up by, who else, her mother to be a maid of honor in the Mayor’s wedding when she doesn’t really like the mayor or his bride. She also finds herself investigating a death that, at first, only she knows is murder b/c her poppa’s ghost tells her. With each book, she draws closer to Finn and also the growing dilemma of knowing she needs to tell him about Poppa’s ghost. I have no idea how that will go over and it’s an added layer of tension in an otherwise mystery comedy.

These books are over the top and unapologetic about that. Fun and fast reads, but still offer a twisting mystery through all the other small town antics usually led by Kenni’s mother. Oddly, I find this kind of story relaxing and I look forward to each new installment in the series.

If you’re looking for sheer light entertainment in a fast-read mystery then look no further.

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: Wilder by Rebecca Yarros

Posted March 29, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: Wilder by Rebecca YarrosWilder by Rebecca Yarros
Series: The Renegades #1
Published by Entangled: Embrace on September 19th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Pages: 402
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

He’s Paxton Wilder.
Twenty-two-year-old, tattooed, smoking-hot leader of the Renegades.
Five time X Games medalist.
The world is his playground—especially this year—and for the next nine months I’m stuck as his tutor on the Study at Sea program.
He’s too busy staging worldwide stunts for his documentary to get to class.
But if I can’t get him to take academics seriously, I’ll lose my scholarship…if I don’t lose my heart first.
Six unlikely friends on a nine-month cruise with the Study at Sea program will learn that chemistry is more than a subject and the best lessons aren’t taught in the classroom…but in the heart.

Paxton Wilder is a motocross king and an adrenaline junkie, he is also the founder of The Renegades – a group of people who do crazy stunts.

Leah Baxter is his tutor who takes on a summer of semester at sea in return of being a tutor to someone on board. Lead is smart, stubborn and comes with a lot of scars. Paxton is carefree and wild. The only reason Paxton is even on the ship is due to his father’s demand that he finishes college or else the plug on his TV show is pulled and a ton of people lose their job.

Leah did not know exactly what she was getting roped into but soon she is thrown into an adrenaline driven, exciting and scary world of Paxton and The Renegades.

This was, interesting. I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. The story was highly recommended to me by a friend who loves this series and me being in a romance slump, she felt would hopefully help me get past some of it. Though, I still feel stuck, I really liked Leah and Paxton they were very much polar opposite but they were so good together.

The chemistry was sizzling, the romance was slow and wonderful and the setting for all of this was just perfect.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a new adult romance without lots of heat and a mix of drama thrown in at the end, which I felt worked well for this.

I enjoyed the first 30% of the book a lot. It did plateau for me after that for a while, but at the end it did manage to pick right back up again and I found myself very invested and enjoying it.

Wilder was a good character, he had that bad boy streak without being overwhelming. Leah was sweet and it was obvious she cared a lot. I also found her to be really understanding and patient with Paxton despite everything she went through in the past.

I enjoyed this, maybe not as much as I wanted to but it was a great romance, with some heat, a bit of drama and a great overall setting.

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Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Posted March 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra ChristoTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Series: standalone
Published by Feiwel & Friends on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 342
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.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

To Kill a Kingdom is a loosely based Little Mermaid retelling. It follows Princess Lira one of the most dangerous sirens who one time a year, rips a prince’s heart out. Her collection keeps growing with now seventeen Prince’s that she has murdered. But when the Queen decided to punish Lira for taking a heart too soon before her Birthday, she turns her into the thing that Lira hates the most – a human.

Prince Elian loves the ocean and is the only place he calls home despite being an heir to one of the most powerful Kingdoms. He is a pirate that travels on his ship with his crew while hunting Sirens, and has given himself a name as a notorious Siren killer. When he discovers a naked woman in the middle of the ocean, he knows she is far more than what she appears – but she promises him help finding the Eye of Kato – a powerful weapon that can take down the Sea Queen.

As far as as sirens, mermaid books go, I think this is the best one I have read in a long time. The author does a good job with how she handled mermaids and sirens a like and I found it interesting and original. The writing was really good too and for the most part kept me engaged, despite some pacing issues.

That being said, I felt like this book could have made an interesting adult book. Sometimes the character roles make you forget just how old everyone is and when you finally remember, it sometimes felt hard to believe. Like Elian is about 17 to 18 years old and yet he is one of the most feared Pirates and spends his life killing sirens and building his name around it, at times his age felt off. Until, you remember that he was also completely naive when it came to Lira. He found a naked woman in the middle of the ocean, with no ships in sight, and she seems to know a lot about sirens as well as their action – and he couldn’t put that all together?

The pacing was good for the most part, I did love the world and the world building. I did wish there was a bit more, but I get how the story was supposed to flow and be fast paced. Of course, most of the story ends up being about the crew travel to a Kingdom that holds the Eye and the rest 10% or so dedicated to a battle. At that point I found that I was reading the story just to finish it.

In my honest opinion, for me the book sits at between 3.5 and 3.75 stars but because this was one of the better siren, mermaid books out there I did round it up to 4 stars it is definitely worth the read if you enjoy those type of books because thus far it is one of the better ones out there. I did enjoy it and I did find the writing really good and loved the world the author created.

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Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret RogersonAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Series: standalone
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fae
Pages: 300
Format: Kindle Edition, Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

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

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

A few points about An Enchantment of Raven

  • The writing was gorgeous. The world was beautiful, Margaret Rogerson really has her way with words and she weaves together a stunning, vivid, dynamic world that really makes your imagination come alive.
  • Thought, the world and the writing are beautiful, where the book really hurt was the characters and the weak plot line. The story follows a 17 year old girl named Isobel, a human with painting as her Craft. They live in the world where summer does not seem to go away. The Fair ones hunger for human craft, and Isobel’s paintings are highly coveted. When Isobel gets her first prince – Rook of the Autumn lands – she paints sorrow in his eyes and puts Rook in danger. For Isobel did not know that showing emotion is dangerous and can get him killed.
  • Isobel is 17 years old, Rook is hundreds, if not thousands of years old. There is a bit of instalove between Isobel and Rook. I did not get the romance between the two and was quite frankly a bit confused about it. If Fair Folk are not meant to feel, how does Rook fall in love not once but twice? Also, if Rook is as old as he is and in love with a 17 year old, felt a bit off Isobel had moments of maturity but she also had bouts of juvenile tendencies as well. They have this heated kiss scene at which she comments afterwards that sex really turns people into imbeciles. Which I guess just reminds you that she is a 17 year old girl who just got grabbed by a Fair Folk that is hundreds of years old. I couldn’t get past that, mainly because he was so much more mature and experienced as her that the duo was making my head hurt.
  • There were a few other parts that confused me. The Hemlock plot line just felt kind of underdeveloped. At one point it is said Rook is losing his magic, I did not understand if he was going to recover and get it back and the whole conflict just felt a bit confused and one I found I really did not care for. The Ardan King is somehow poisoning the lands, but I did not understand how or why.
  • Isobel is a special snowflake, only she can save Fair Folk lands with her craft.
  • Overall, the writing was magic, stunning in it. But it faltered in characters, romance and a plot line that just didn’t completely work.

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Guest Review: Six Feet Under by Tonya Kappes

Posted March 16, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 26 Comments

Welcome back everybody! Sophia Rose on the blog today with Six Feet Under by Tonya Kappes. Have you read this southern cozy yet?  Read what Sophia Rose thinks below. Kappes writes fun cozies with great characters and ghosts with humor and lots of southern charm.

Guest Review: Six Feet Under by Tonya KappesSix Feet Under by Tonya Kappes
Series: Kenni Lowry #4
Published by Henery Press on March 13th 2018
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 268
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.

Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. And let me tell you, this broth is in trouble. Get ready for a Southern showdown.
The residents of Cottonwood, Kentucky are sent into a tizzy when the Culinary Channel comes to town to film an episode of Southern Home Cookin’ with celebrity chef Frank Von Lee.
Especially Sheriff Kenni Lowry.
Her mama’s award-winning chicken pot pie is what brought Frank to town, and they don’t make hair in the South bigger than her mama’s ego after the news.
When Frank Von Lee is found dead from food poisoning and the most likely culprit is Mama’s chicken pot pie, Kenni’s poppa, the former sheriff, comes back from the Great Beyond to assist in the investigation.
But nothing’s prepared Kenni for such a personal tie to a case, and she finds herself pushing the limits of the laws she’s sworn to protect.
This book’s so delicious it’ll make your mouth water and leave you hankerin’ for more.
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SIX FEET UNDER by Tonya Kappes | A Henery Press mystery

Poppa’s ghost is back and that means someone’s gonna die! But, this time, the suspect is none other than Sheriff Kenni Lowry’s mama with the motive, means, and opportunity.

Six Feet Under is the fourth book in this engaging cozy mystery series with paranormal elements set in small town Kentucky. It’s fun and quirky and delivers an engaging mystery while it’s at it. I find each book works alright standalone, but there are ongoing series elements like Kenni’s romance with Finn and a few other mild relationship and character mentions.

The story focuses on a cooking celebrity coming to town to critique mama’s chicken pot pie only to die of food poisoning when he samples some of the said pie and prepared to deliver a less than flattering review. Others might have a horse in the race, but it’s Kenni’s mother who seems to be suspect number one. Kenni is reeling from the implications and from being too connected to the case to be allowed to work it. Will the fledgling romance with Finn survive him seeing her wrestle with temptation about the evidence and him being placed in the lead investigative role.

There’s not as much angst as one might suspect with such a situation and there is plenty of Mama Lowry’s over the top antics. And, the murder isn’t the only crime going on in town- illegal botox parties, fake handicap hangers, and citizens ready to disturb each other’s peace.

And through it all, Kenni wonders if now is a good time to tell Finn that she is aided in her law work by her deceased poppa’s ghost.

I enjoy these for the sheer entertainment value and I like these quirky, at times crazy people who are also salt of the earth as it comes. The mysteries aren’t terribly complex, but there is a little challenge. So, altogether, I anticipate each new installment in the series and heartily recommend them to those looking for a new small town, slightly paranormal cozy mystery series to try.

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: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Posted March 15, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain NeuvelWaking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
Series: Themis Files, #2
Published by Random House Audio on April 4th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 9
Format: Audiobook, Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.
Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

I listened to Sleeping Giants last year and absolutely fell in love with not only the audiobook but also the story.

Waking Gods picks back up a few years after the events at the end of Sleeping Giants. Now it seems that Themis isn’t the only robot out there as another Giant robot appears on Earth, than another, than another. Soon Kara, Dr Rose, Vincent and their mysterious friend are out there again trying to figure out why the robots are showing up and are they a danger to Earth.

This was a thrilling ride. I love having all the voice actors and the characters right back telling the story. They do such a great job with the book it is both exciting and an interesting listen. There were a few parts that I found myself reading the actual book for (mostly the scientific parts), but overall the audio is my favorite part.

The story itself is exciting as a reader, I was eager to find out what happens to the characters and what do the giant robots want from the Earth. This definitely had some science fiction elements to it, but it was easy enough to get into the story. Sylvain Neuvel really knows how to bring the characters and their personalities to life through simple character dialog and files. This is not written as a traditional book which I think makes it even more exciting.

I did have some gripes about it

First, I didn’t like the voice of Eva. I get that she is suppose to be 10 year old girl, but she was super whiny and listening to it was a bit grating.

The second gripe might be a spoiler so please read at your own discretion below

View Spoiler »

 

That’s all. I am enjoying this series, it’s really well done and I am looking forward to digging into book three and seeing how it wraps up. That ending definitely threw me in for a loop.

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Review: A Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca

Posted March 10, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: A Kiss in the Dark by Gina CioccaA Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 352
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.

When the lights go out at a Georgia high school football game, Macy Atwood finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless – but is gone by the time the lights come back on. All she knows is that there was something special – and oddly familiar – about her mystery kisser.
Noah Granger, Ridgedale’s resident bad boy and newest transfer student, has no problem taking credit for the kiss, but Macy can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying. Especially since a photograph of Macy and former star football player Joel Hargrove resurfaced online moments before the blackout, a not-so random reminder of how hard she fell for Joel last year. And how doing so ultimately sent her lifelong friendships with Meredith Kopala and Ben Collins up in literal smoke.
Soon junior year’s wounds begin to reopen as Macy realizes the events that unfolded are somehow tied to her mystery kisser. Discovering how means finally facing what really went wrong with Meredith, Ben, and Joel – and finding out what Noah is covering up.
But the closer Macy gets to figuring it all out, the more she starts to worry that the boy who kissed her in the dark and the boy who is stealing her heart might be two very different people.

Macy had a rough junior year and is hoping to make the best of her senior year, including mending some relationships that were destroyed last year. When the lights go out at her high school during the football game, Macy finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless. The boy seems to know her and everything about him is familiar, but she can’t quite figure out who is he.

Noah, the resident bad boy has no qualms about taking credit for the kiss and Joel – her junior crush who bailed from taking her to homecoming is acting weird again.

But Macy is also trying to build a bridge between her best friend Meredith and her former friend Ben after something happened during Junior year as she continues to try and find the boy who kissed her in the dark.

Okay, this book was… Okay.

First, I am very confused because the football game happens at night and when the lights go out, well am I the only one who is confused how Macy still did not see this person? Because I did not get an impression that this was a dome setting (maybe I missed the part?) because otherwise, Macy should have been able to see the person who kissed her. Not really up to how she was so blind that moment.

Two, Macy was a sweet character and easy enough to follow, but oh my god I did not understand how she was super oblivious. Like the signs were everywhere and the other characters knew, but no one apparently bothered to tell her what was going on. I found this beyond frustrating and I wanted to throttle her. She was always confused about Ben and Joel and was questioning their behavior and “mysterious” words the entire damn book and somehow could not see what is in front of her? I find it hard to believe. That, or the character herself really was that thick.

This book takes place during senior year, but we get chapters that tell us what unfolded during junior year. I liked Meredith and I felt so sorry for what she went through.

I thought the romance could have been so sweet, but a lot of the book focused on Macy navigating senior year and a lot of it was about homecoming. I couldn’t relate to the obsession of homecoming because when I was in high school about ten years ago, we didn’t have homecoming in my school. The romance kind of happens slowly and by accident, but the focus of the book felt like everyone around Macy were mad at her the entire time because she seemed to just…Not get it.

Overall, I found some of the book cute. It was a fast read. I just found some things to not make sense and the whole case with Macy being completely blind to everything was a little frustrating through the book. But, I did find that I still enjoyed it well enough. Also, I LOVED Macy’s parents and I was glad for positive parent representation in the book.

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Guest Review: Death at the Durbar by Anjun Raj Gaind

Posted March 9, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 18 Comments

Happy Friday everyone! I got Sophia Rose on the blog today with a Historical Mystery set in India , that sounds really fun and interesting. Hope you enjoy her exciting review below.

Guest Review: Death at the Durbar by Anjun Raj GaindDeath at the Durbar by Arjun Raj Gaind
Series: Maharajah Mystery #2
Published by Poisoned Pen Press on March 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery
Pages: 312
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.

December, 1911. All of India is in a tizzy. A vast tent city has sprung up outside the old walled enclave of Mughal Delhi, where the British are hosting a grand durbar to celebrate the coronation of the new King, George V. From across India, all the Maharajas and Nawabs have gathered at the Viceroy's command to pay homage and swear loyalty to the King Emperor, the first monarch of England to travel out to India personally.
Amidst the hullabaloo of the Durbar preparations, Maharaja Sikander Singh of Rajpore is growing increasingly frustrated, cooling his heels at the Cecil Hotel as he awaits the King's imminent arrival. Just as his boredom is about to peak, he is paid a surreptitious visit one night by a pair of British officers, who insist that he accompany them to the British Encampment. His curiosity piqued, Sikander agrees to go with them. Much to his surprise, they take him to the King Emperor's camp, where he an old school friend, Malik Umar Hayat Khan, who is also the Durbar herald, is waiting for him. It turns out that Malik Umar is working for none other than Lord Hardinge himself, the Viceroy of India and the highest-ranked Englishman in the country. He tells Sikander that his services as a sleuth are needed by King and country. After being sworn to secrecy, Sikander is ushered into the King Emperor's personal chambers.
Inside, a most unexpected surprise awaits him - a dead nautch-girl who appears to have been strangled. Lord Hardinge tasks him with uncovering the killer before the King arrives, and Sikander agrees to take the case. Faced with Malik's insistence that one of the British officers accompany Sikander on his investigations, and with far too many suspects and motives, Sikander, an admirer of Sherlock Holmes, puts his skills to work...and in the end, wishes he hadn't.

I was captivated by the fact that this was a historical mystery set in the waning days of the British Colonial era in India and the detective is a maharajah.

Death at the Durbar is the second book in the series and I didn’t realize until after I read this one which worked just fine as a standalone or out of order.

Sikander Singh is the maharajah of the fictitious Indian kingdom of Rajpore. His is one of the less powerful and smaller, but nonetheless he is expected by the Brits to be at their latest Durbar in honor of George V who is the first British monarch to actually visit India. Sikander is not impressed with the hoopla and is bored until he is brought to the Viceroy and practically ordered to look into the death of a dancing girl right in the royal enclosure at the Durbar in Delhi.

I found the strong mix of historical background and setting blended with the mystery was a heady combination. I admit that all the details about each Indian maharajah and their history, general history up to and including the British era could be considered ponder-some to many readers, but because I love history and was lacking when it came to Indian history that I ate it all up with eagerness.

Sikander was an amazing character. He can get autocratic and cranky, but he is also personable and understanding. He is not afraid to say and do what he must though he has the rep of being a hot head and one who speaks his mind. But, he’s also one who takes the time to think. There are moments in the story where other characters challenge him and he gives their words due consideration- will he support the Nationalist movement or British Colonial rule. The time is there when he can no longer stay out of the argument.

His situation is fascinating to me all through this book. I don’t know if it was authentic, but it didn’t ring false to me. This man is a wealthy, educated, traveled King of a minor kingdom and yet, when near anyone British, he is treated like a second class citizen or beneath them. Among his own people he’s king, but among Brit’s he just one of the natives. It was a stunning realization.

The author has an Indian protagonist so this book/series is a frank look at British Colonialism from one who was not a fan. I didn’t feel it went overboard as Sikander is portrayed as being a moderate in word and action though he would prefer the British went away and left India to its own devices. The time period is 1911 so Imperialism and Colonialism are actually on their last wheeze.

The setting was Delhi and the grounds used for the Durbar. It was lavish and I enjoyed the vivid descriptions that took me right there. The diversity of peoples and classes, the opulence of the Maharajahs, the entertainments of the period from balls to wrestling matches to moving pictures was all captured and made the story three dimensional.

The mystery is a little complex. I actually guessed somewhere in the middle of it all as people were being eliminated as viable suspects. It was the motive that I couldn’t fathom. There is a lot of interviewing going on and it was mostly a process of whittling down the suspect list which turned out to be a long one.

I enjoyed Sikander and some of the side characters. I enjoyed getting immersed in historical India so now I want to go back for the first book and press forward as the series continues. This had a feel more of historical fiction, but the mystery element is the catalyst so I think this would appeal to both genre’s lovers and particularly those who enjoy the combo of the two.

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

About Sophia Rose

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

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Review: The Pajama Frame by Diane Vallere

Posted March 8, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: The Pajama Frame by Diane VallereThe Pajama Frame by Diane Vallere
Series: Mad for Mod Mystery #5
Published by Henery Press on February 27th 2018
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 268
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.

Nightie Night!

Interior decorator Madison Night is no stranger to the occasional odd inheritance. But when an octogenarian friend dies and leaves her a pajama factory, the bounty is bittersweet.

Once a thriving business, Sweet Dreams closed decades ago after a tragic accident took the life of a young model. Or was that simply a cover up?

Between her friend’s death and her own stagnant life, Madison is tempted to hide under a blanket of willful ignorance.

But when family members and special interest groups lobby to expose the secrets of the factory, Madison gets caught in a tangle of secrets and lies and discovers that sometimes, the bed you make is not your own.

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THE PAJAMA FRAME by Diane Vallere | A Henery Press Mystery. If you like one, you’ll probably like them all.

When a friend of her’s dies, Madison Night inheritance her pajama factory. Sweet Dreams use to be a thriving business hiring women that needed jobs during the war, but closed decades ago after a tragic accident that had taken the life of one young model. Years later, some of the locals still believe that the entire thing was a cover up and that it was actually murder.

But when Madison and Tex discover the body of the lawyer that contacted her inside Sweet Dreams, things go south really fast. Now Madison is being set up, and it’s up to her and Tex to figure out by whom and why.

I read the last book in this series and really enjoyed it. Madison Nights series is a fun read, it’s fast paced, the writing and the storyline flows and before I knew it I was blowing through the pages. I once again found myself reluctant to part with Madison and her story until the mystery wrapped up. I loved the characters, I really liked the dynamic with Tex and Madison and I am curious to see where the author will take the relationships of the main characters as this series progresses.

If you are looking for a fun, fast paced cozy mystery with a down to earth character – I recommend the Mad for Mod series. I do love Madison and her Doris Day obsession as well as all the trouble that seemed to follow her. I did enjoy Tex in this book because I loved the way the two worked together.

Overall, a great series that I will continue to follow and eagerly await the next book.

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