Format: Kindle Edition

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.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

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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Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

Posted March 5, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: The Reader by Traci CheeThe Reader by Traci Chee
Series: Sea of Ink and Gold, #1
Published by Putnam on September 13th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 442
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars

Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.

The Reader follows a girl named Sefia, who lives her life on the run. After she watched her father get murdered, she flees her home with her aunt Nin. Unfortunately, the very people who came for her father have finally caught up with them and now they have aunt Nin. What do they want? The book that Sefia and her aunt Nin are protecting. In this world, reading is unheard of, but not only can Sefia read she also knows how to write. Now she must save her aunt Nin and find out why the people who are hunting her, want the book so badly.

This was… Interesting. I am struggling with writing this review. I loved the writing, I thought the author’s writing was really beautiful and you could just picture the world so vividly with her descriptions, it was a pleasure reading this book as well as experiencing it on audio.

That being said, I found the book to be confusing and a little weird. I wasn’t sure what was going on for half of the book and we get randomly thrown around for a while trying to figure out what is going on because we don’t just follow Sefia, we also follow Reed in real life and his stories, and we also follow a librarian named Lan and how he ties into all of this.

My husband and I did have a discussion about the world in the book being advance, but not knowing how to read or write. We both wondered if such a thing was possible. He seemed to think it was, but not likely. Also, I could not think of recent civilizations in history who did not have record keeping that managed to thrive without having to research a lot of it.

I liked Archer, the boy that Sefia finds on her journey and who then follows her as she tries to find Nan. She saves him from people who raised him basically to be a killing machine. Of course Sefia tells Archer that he never has to fight or kill again, yet there are times that it was almost like she expected that of him without much of an argument.

I never felt like there was a real plan revolving around rescuing Nin. Sefia does not know how to fight and towards the end of the book, they don’t really have a plan when they find themselves in a dangerous situation. No plan, just walk in there and expect everything to work itself out. Maybe they planned on talking themselves out of the situation? I mean, these people killed her father, but Sefia was just like “okay no plan, let’s just waltz in there and see what happens…” umm, okay?

Overall, the writing was beautiful and this had so much potential, but I felt the execution was lost somewhere and the plot at points felt undeveloped. I will finish the series eventually because I do feel invested, but I do not feel in the hurry to do so.

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Review: The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

Posted March 2, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: The Warded Man by Peter V. BrettThe Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
Series: Demon Cycle, #1
Published by Del Rey on March 10th 2009
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 434
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

Why I enjoyed The Warded Man by Peter V Brett

It’s been a long time since I read an adult fantasy. I introduced my husband to the book because I figured it was something he would like and then he pressured me into reading it. My relationship with The Warded Man started out slow. The book, like any adult fantasy is awfully dense and since it’s been a while since I read an Adult Fantasy, I almost forgot how dense the books can get. I was pleasantly surprised that it did only take me a week to finish the first book.

So let’s explore a few points of why I thought this was interesting.

The World

The world set in Peter V Bretts books is super different. It’s dark, it’s riddled with demons called Corelings that come from The Core. The corelings can come in different shapes and forms. There are wood demons, fire demons, wind demons, sand demons, etc. Mankind, fear them because they destroy towns, kill people without mercy and they seldom have a way of fighting them. They do only come out at night, and the only protections, most people have, that choose not to fight them, is warding. People ward symbols into their homes, or the walls of their town or posts in order to keep the demons out and from destroying their lives. If the wards fail, it creates a breach and the demons can come through without mercy and rain havoc on the town and its inhabitants.

There are stories of people who choose to fight the corelings, but most have succumbed to what they think is their fate and hide behind the wards. Those people choose to believe that their main job is to survive by populating humanity the world as fast as they can since their numbers are getting smaller.

The world is dark, it’s gritty, its cruel and at times it was really hard to read. Parts of the book made me cringe. I can’t say I enjoyed the parts about women thinking their only goal left in life is to make babies as soon as possible. It was both disturbing and hard to digest. I did enjoy the world as a whole and the different places that it was broken down into and how everything worked together. There was definitely a difference in people depending on where they came from.

The Characters

There are three major characters in the first book. We follow Arlen, Leesha and Rojer. Like all adult books, we start their journey from when they are very young and the events that unfold around them to make them into the type of people they become at the end of the book. All are cruel, all are not easy to read, but the world that they live in is dark and scary and molds them as people. I found them all really interesting and enjoyed how each chapter was devoted to a specific character as they grew, what was happening up until the point that their lives intertwined.

 

The Plot/Pacing/Writing

The plot was enjoyable, the stage is set and I cannot wait to see what happens next on their journey.

The pacing was slow at first, there is a lot of information, there is a lot of character growth at the beginning of the book. I started enjoying the book more the last 60% because the characters were grown and their life has taken a critical turn. There was more action and adventure, so the movement of the book was better.

The writing is good, Brett definitely knows how to weave a story that is unlike anything I have yet read. It’s interesting and I am looking forward to see how it unfolds.

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Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

Posted February 26, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan SpoonerUnearthed by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Unearthed, #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 9th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.
For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.
In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

The Plot

Earth intercepts a message from an ancient Alien race that is supposed to be extinct, about the technology on their planet Gaia and how it can be an earths doom or salvation. I was super excited for this because space, aliens, another planet, sounds fun right? I found myself a bit confused. This book had some science fiction notes to it, but a large part of it felt like it took place on earth. Most of the book follows these two teenagers, each other on Gaia on their own accord to save one of their family members back home. Mia is a scavenger and wants to bring back a power cell in hopes to buy back her sister from a contract she locked herself in. Jules wants to save his father by unlocking the secret behind the second message that they uncovered, warning the earth about possible dangers. They enter a temple and together they must solve puzzles in order to uncover what this alien race is hiding. But everything is set in this rock temple that feels more like they are back on earth than anything. I really LIKED the concept of this book, I thought it had a lot of potential, but the plot in book one felt a little odd until the end. Most of the book we follow these kids solving these puzzles which can feel tedious reading about.

The characters

I had no issues with the characters for the most part. I like Mia and I liked Jules and I liked that the author kept them true to their nature most of the book. Jules is book smart, Mia is street smart. She knows how to lie and deceive in order to stay alive and ends up throwing Jules under the bus several times in hopes of keeping them alive when danger started nipping at their heels. The characters weren’t always likable for me, but I think that’s what drew me to them. They felt human, they both had a bit of a selfish reason to be there and both lied to each other in order to try and benefit themselves. But it was also nice to see them evolve as characters by the end of the book and realize that they are going to have to set their differences aside in order to save humanity.

Romance

The romance was awkward. Did not work for me at all. I would have been fine without it in this book. I don’t generally like relationships that are built on lies and both of these characters lied and deceived each other at the beginning of the book. Also, it was awkward with all the goo goo eyes the two were throwing at each other and felt a bit of instalove for me really.

Pacing

Oh gosh the pacing felt terribly off for most of the book. It was awkwardly slow. I didn’t care to read about the puzzles because I found that I was rereading what they needed to do in order to understand how they were solved. It’s different when you are watching a movie, over your brain trying to scramble to make sense of what is happening. Also, because this was from two POVS, Amelia’s and Jules there was a lot of stuff that kept being super repetitive and I felt like the author kept rehashing things we already knew over and over again, it got boring up until like 70% of the book when it finally started to pick up. I enjoyed the last 70% of the book, the pacing picked up, it got exciting, and I found myself pushing more to finish it.

The ending

I don’t even know where to go with this. It confused me. I can kind of guess what is going on in general, but the big reveal at the end was a bit odd and I am not too entirely sure if I care for it. Remember, I was really looking forward to the whole alien, science fiction part of this book and I am not really getting much from it yet. Hopefully the conclusion will be so much better, because I am looking forward to see how it ends.

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Review: At the Stroke of Midnight by Tara Sivec

Posted February 24, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 6 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: At the Stroke of Midnight by Tara SivecAt the Stroke of Midnight by Tara Sivec
Series: The Naughty Princess Club, #1
Published by Swerve on February 27th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 261
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

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

Meet the Naughty Princess Club: a brand new series from USA Today bestselling author Tara Sivec that introduces readers to Fairytale Lane and the hilarity—and romance—that ensue when three women start a new business to make it rain.
Once upon a time Cynthia was the perfect housewife. Between being the President of the PTA and keeping her home spotless without a hair (or her pearls) out of place, her life was a dream come true. Her husband was once her knight in shining armor, but now he’s run off with all their money…and the babysitter.
Dressed as a princess at the annual Halloween block party on Fairytale Lane, she meets two other “princesses” also facing money troubles: antique store owner Ariel and librarian Isabelle. When the women are invited to wear their costumes to a party where they’re mistaken for strippers, Cindy, Ariel, and Belle realize that a career change could be the best way to make their money problems go bippity-boppity-boo.
But can structured Cindy approach a stripper pole without sanitizing wipes? And could the blue-eyed anti-prince that has been crossing her path become Cindy’s happily ever after? At the Stroke of Midnight is a hilarious, empowering story where princesses can save themselves while slaying in stilettos.

Cynthia was the perfect housewife, the perfect mother, the perfect member of the Fairytale Lane community – until the day her husband ran off with the babysitter, took all their money, served her divorce papers and left her with a house to pay for.

Cynthia tries desperately to keep her image up, until she goes to a community block party dressed as a princess and meets two other “Princess” with financial problems.

When the trio gets invited to a party with a request of wearing those customs, they show up thinking they are entertaining children, when in fact it is a birth of a grown man and they are mistaken for strippers. A grown man PJ Charming, that both infuriates Cindy as well as making her feel something more.

Oh, this was great. It’s been a while since I have read anything by this author, so I was going into this book blindly. Yup, I totally just wanted to read this because of the author. I knew I was going to get crude humor, great characters, and some steaminess.

I loved the trio, I loved the way Ariel bought out Cindy out of her shell so she could be an independent woman again instead of living under her husband’s life. With Ariel’s and PJ’s help, Cindy gets her independents back, takes control of her life, listens to things she wants and rebuilds the relationship with her daughter.

I loved Ariel the best, she had the mouth of a sailor, but she was also such a great supportive friend and the reason Cindy was able to break out of her shell.

The housewife to an exotic dance was an interesting trope that I myself have never explored before, but watching them navigate how this new experience and building their business around it was amusing and laugh out loud funny.

It’s a story of self-discovery, independence, growth and strong female relationships. It was just the kind of light book I needed in my life right now.

The only issue I feel like I had in this is the way PJ treated Cindy at the beginning was a bit annoying. I did not feel like she deserved it. Also, when her ex-husband shows up in the end, that whole scene I felt, could have been resolved much quicker.

I wouldn’t say that this is for everything. This book has a lot of cursing humor in it, with some steamy scenes in the end. If you are uncomfortable with it, it’s a warning in advance. Otherwise, if you are looking for something that will leave you in stitches, this is definitely a fast paced, fun ride and I cannot wait for the other two stories.

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Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Posted February 15, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel CleetonNext Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley on February 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 394
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.

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...
Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...
Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.
Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Elisa Perez has always dreamt of returning to Cuba after the revolution. Her and many others who have left for exile in America were waiting for the day that Castro would no longer have control of their beautiful country so they could make their way home. The day has finally arrived, but Elisa Perez never had the chance to witness it.

Finally making it onto Cuban soil after many years of her grandmother’s stories, Marisol Ferrera is both excited and saddened that she does not get to experience Cuba with her grandmother as Elisa passed away recently. But she wants to fulfill her grandmother’s dying wish and that is to spread her ashes in Cuba. One problem, Elisa never told Marisol where she wants her ashes spread and as Marisol debates where would be the best place to lay her grandmother to rest, she comes to discover a lot of hidden family secrets since the revolution.

Oh gosh, this book. My first dive into this authors work and I do not regret it. This. Was. Fantastic. Slow moving at first yes, this book took a bit to get into, but once I was fully invested, I absolutely adored it!

This is told in two different time lines. We get to see how Marisol fairs in modern day Cuba, uncovering secrets about her grandmother that she was never told as well as possibly falling in love. Plus, we get to experience Cuba in the 1958 and how the revolution happened as well as Elisa Perez beautifully poignant story.

I loved Elisa’s story, it was beautiful and heartbreaking and I found myself more invested in her romance over Marisols. As Elisa accidentally falls in love with a revolutionary called Pablo, her family is sitting pretty, but scared of what will happen to their country. Coming from a wealthy family, Elisa is a daughter of a sugar baron and her father a huge supporter of Batista. When Batista escapes Cuba after losing the war to the revolutionaries, Elisa’s world is completely shaken and thrown upside down.

The twist in the end totally shattered my heart. I felt that it was coming as everything started to unravel, but I still felt unprepared. Cleeton is such a fantastic writer and storyteller and does such a wonderful job at weaving Cuban history into the storyline. I felt like I learned a bit more about Cuba and what the country was before the revolution. I also felt sad that it isn’t what it use to be after years under Castro’s rule.

The way Cleeton writes about the passion Cuban’s feel for their country in this book is both overwhelming and emotional as evident in the current timeline with Marisol and Luis. Luis is Ana’s grandson. Ana is Elisa’s best friend who stayed in Cuba despite the revolution and it is through their families hardships and passion due we witness the struggle and perseverance of families in Cuba.

There isn’t much negatives about this book. The slow pace aside at points, I do feel like the book could have been shortened just a tad bit at some spots. Also, I wasn’t sure how I felt about such a clean ending with Luis and Marisol, it just felt a tad bit too convenient for me to be believable.

Overall though, this was a great historical fiction with a mix of romance. The story that was told was interesting and the romance between Elisa and Pablo was just so heartbreaking.

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Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

Posted February 14, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan MeissnerAs Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on February 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

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

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.
In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters--Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa--a chance at a better life.
But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without--and what they are willing to do about it.
As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world, not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Pauline and Thomas Bright drop everything behind Quakertown when they make the move to Philadelphia in 1918 because the city is the heart of new beginnings and promises.

Thomas has been asked by his uncle to come help him at the funeral home, because his uncle is getting old and does not have any children of his own, with Thomas being his favorite.

Now Pauline and her three daughters, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa have a chance at a better life as they navigate their ways around the new series and adapt to life in a funeral home. But then the ‘Spanish’ flu sweeps across the globe and as Pauline and the girls watch loved ones die around them, they take in a baby that had been orphaned by the disease and he becomes the source of their hope.

This was a story told in two parts. The first part deals with Pauline and her three girls as they move into the funeral home and how there is just so much hope in that move. Hope for a better life for herself and for her daughters, better schooling. That hope ends up being briefly crushed when Thomas, the father, get’s called by draft into serving at war and Pauline stays at the funeral home with the children as the flu sweeps across Philadelphia, claiming many lives.

It was interesting and engrossing following their lives in the funeral home as well as learning more about the events during this time, not matter how difficult it may have been. The flu ended up claiming a lot of lives of people they knew and the war changed the lives closest to them.

It is a story of family, hardships, lost, love and triumphs with the second half, a strong focus on the years following the events that drastically changed their lives.

I adored following the sister’s chapters separately because I adored how the author handled each of their stories, and how each sister grew with the events affecting their lives. It was wonderful, the writing was amazing. There is always something about Meissner’s writing that simply enthralls me and has me craving for more. I never wanted the book to come to an end. I liked the setting, I liked learning a bit about what happened in the American history during that time. The amount of death and from a funeral homes perspective was both cringe worthy and fascinating at the same time.

The characters were well fleshed out, each sister standing out on her own within their own chapter. Each sister affected not only by the flu, the death, but also by the war and the people around them.

The twist in the end that Meissner delivers about how their actions have also influenced others had been both brilliant and heartbreaking.

The story was beautiful and well told, though at times not easy to read just proves how well the author can get you so invested in the characters and the feelings that it something that stayed with me long after I was done with the pages.

I adore this author and cannot wait to see what she has to tell us next.

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Guest Review: Pride & Prometheus by John Kessel

Posted February 12, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 16 Comments

Happy Monday everyone! Hope everyone had a great weekend. We are starting off this week with Sophia Rose and her review of a Historical Fiction Novel/Classic Retelling. Enjoy!

Guest Review: Pride & Prometheus by John KesselPride and Prometheus by John Kessel
Series: standalone
Published by Saga Press on February 13th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror, Classic Retellings
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.

“Dark and gripping and tense and beautiful.” —Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club and Pulitzer Prize finalist for We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves
Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.
Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?
Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.
Pride and Prometheus fuses the gothic horror of Mary Shelley with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way.

One glimpse of the blurb telling me that this was a mash-up of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and I had to read it. Two powerhouse classics with vastly different settings and atmosphere had me so curious about how the author would pull it off.

I confess to a little trepidation, as well. Both are powerful stories with different themes so I was crossing my fingers that one would not suffer at the expense to the other.

Well, never fear, the author had a different approach that really worked to blend the stories. This ended up being more of a P&P sequel mashed with the Frankenstein story. A person who has read or watched the movie adaption for Pride & Prejudice and Frankenstein would get more out of this, but I think someone only slightly familiar would get by just fine. Instead of the main Austen heroine, the author plucked out a secondary character from P&P to become his female lead across from the male leads of Frankenstein. A story swirling around Mary Bennet and Victor Frankenstein and his monster actually had even greater appeal. Mary suited the tragic heroine role more than any other of Austen’s Bennet sisters.

The atmosphere of this story is not light and it’s not a romance though it has romantic overtones. The atmosphere is toward the romantic tragedy side with a bittersweet flavor. Mary is a middle-aged spinster who is the odd-(wo)man out in her family. She’s changed and grown and become a better person though very much the Mary people will recognize, but everyone in her life is so busy about their own affairs that this goes unnoticed. She’s ripe for something new in her life- an adventure. The plight of Victor Frankenstein and his monster bring that.

Victor is nearly at the breaking point. He didn’t set out to play God and pay the price, but he did and now he has a monster threatening to kill after having already killed if he doesn’t provide the creature with a wife like him. Victor encounters the rare Mary Bennet and her family and spies his opportunity. Meanwhile, his creature watches with impatience and loneliness. He is angry at Victor’s rejection and leaving him to fend for himself in a world that is disgusted by him and reviles him.

The pace is mostly slower with a few spikes of excitement. It’s not true horror, but more gothic in air. Much of the story is more embedded in the Frankenstein tale and, as I did when I read that the first time, I sympathized with the creature more than his creator. I’m not a Victor Frankenstein fan.

I really only had one niggle and that was that I found the ending abrupt. This was probably on me because I was reeling from the last revelation that came just before that and perhaps wanted something more or different. That said, the ending was consistent with the story itself.

So, all in all, I thought this was a moving story- more thought-provoking than anything else- and definitely one I was glad to have read. I think it will have niche audience appeal toward those who enjoy the classics particularly those of a brooding, darker tragic tone.

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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