Source: Gifted

Review Round up #4

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

Review Round up #4Panic by Lauren Oliver
Series: Standalone
Published by HarperCollins on March 4, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 408
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sophia Rose: Seasons in Time by Cat Gardiner

Posted March 30, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Sophia Rose: Seasons in Time by Cat GardinerSeasons in Time by Cat Gardiner
Series: Time & Again Antique Shop Books #1 #2 #3 #4
Published by Vanity & Pride Press on February 9, 2019
Genres: Historical Romance, Time-Travel
Pages: 230
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

All four Time & Again Antique Shop Series in one fabulous paperback where the 1940s meet the present through a time-slip wormhole. Share the romantic and exciting journey with history's favorite literary couple from Pride and Prejudice.Romance, history, and memories of old are only part of what makes the 130 year old Time & Again antique shop so special.For Lizzy Bennet, what begins as a simple visit to Time & Again turns into so much more than discovering trinkets from the past. An unlikely friendship forms with the elderly shopkeeper who sends her on a journey of a lifetime─through a time portal. Love and lessons await her when she leaves her mobile device behind and finally looks up. Travel with Lizzy back to wartime 1940s─where her heart opens and future changes thanks to one dashing G.I: William Darcy and the magic of an antique shop.

A modern woman, cynical about love, finds herself outside a quaint antique shop when left alone on Valentine’s Day. The magic begins when she enters the shop and discovers the plastic red heart pin in the 1940’s display that whisks her back to a time of warbonds, ration cards, USO dances, and a nation at war for an unforgettable Valentine’s Dance and Kiss.

Seasons in Time is the compilation of the Time and Again Antique Shop novellas. Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, All Hallow’s Eve, and New Year’s Eve are the holiday settings for the ongoing tale of a fated romance, family antics, and the revitalization of a little antique shop and the rundown east end of town.

It had a lovely nostalgic, sweet, and sassy feel. The time travel aspect was magical rather than sci-fi and the Antique Shop setting was fun and whimsical. Doris, the shop keeper, is a lady of mystery and the reader and Lizzy are aware that she knows more than she’s telling as events unfold. She guides Lizzy and Will, Jane and Charles and many others to find their true path in life in a kind, grandmothery way. Her story reveals itself in the background of the stronger story of Lizzy and Will.

Lizzy is the primary character though Will and Doris get their moments of telling the story, too. Lizzy is a vulnerable person who hides a good amount of pain and fear behind the face she shows the world. Her life hasn’t been horrific, but there is a quiet pain that comes from a father who neglects his family and a mother who picks favorites followed by a scumbag ex who cheated on her with her twit of a baby sister. This all starts to change when she enters Doris’ shop and steps back in time to have her eyes opened to the possibility of love and a confidence to reach for it.

Will is a dashing soldier hero who comes from a prestigious wealthy family, but he is no snob and is a natural caregiver and protector. He takes one look at Lizzy and he feels the connection. He is patient with her fears and her vulnerability and he is more than patient with her obnoxious family. He’s a bit wartorn from his tours overseas as an Army Ranger. He has his own vulnerability and it is Lizzy who anchors him. He needs her and it was good to see.

The author did her homework when it came to the 1940’s and war backdrop. The slang was fun as were all the little ways that the scene was drawn behind the characters. The Big Band Era was well repped in songs and dances.

All in all, it was heartwarming and sweet with a pinch of spice. Fans of Jane Austen will spot the tribute to Pride & Prejudice in this engaging, uncomplicated time travel romance that I can see being a pleasure for many readers.

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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Mini Book Reviews

Posted April 25, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Mini Book ReviewsNot That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 27, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, 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.

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.
By Monday morning, one of them is gone.
Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.
As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

Not That I Could Tell is a story about a group of neighborhood women, who one night get together at a campfire and some secrets fly. The next day, one of them disappears with her kids while in the middle of the road and no one seems to remember a chunk of time from that night. This was an okay read, I was honestly wishing for something a bit more. I think in general this book would be much better read in the summer, because there is this whole summer feel of the book which does not work with dreary mood. I was hoping it would be more thrilling, but I am not sure I would consider this a thriller. The ending was definitely surprising, but at the same time giving how the characters reactions are written in the book, felt kind of thrown together. Overall, this is a decent summer read.

Mini Book ReviewsCatacomb by Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #3
Published by HarperTeen on September 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

Sometimes the past is better off buried.
Senior year is finally over. After all they’ve been through, Dan, Abby, and Jordan are excited to take one last road trip together, and they’re just not going to think about what will happen when the summer ends. But on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, the three friends notice that they are apparently being followed.. And Dan starts receiving phone messages from someone he didn’t expect to hear from again—someone who died last Halloween.
As the strange occurrences escalate, Dan is forced to accept that everything that has happened to him in the past year may not be a coincidence, but fate—a fate that ties Dan to a group called the Bone Artists, who have a sinister connection with a notorious killer from the past. Now, Dan’s only hope is that he will make it out of his senior trip alive.
In this finale to the New York Times bestselling Asylum series, found photographs help tell the story of three teens who exist on the line between past and present, genius and insanity.

I finally finished this series. I think? I am not sure if there is supposed to be another book, but the way this one ended, it feels like there should have been another. This series really does have an addictive quality to it, for me, I think, is the format of the book. I really like the mixed format with the pictures thrown in because it adds to the whole experience and the atmosphere of the book. I did struggle with this one. I did not feel like there was any character growth in this series. The kids thought almost on their way to college feel very much younger than their age. Also, it’s repetitive in the way Dan’s friends react to them. Dan is constantly looking into his past and trouble, and his friends get angry at him over it and blame him for it, but in the end always show up to save him. The ending felt open with the possibility of a new book, but I don’t think one is coming. I did enjoy the setting of the book as this one is set in New Orleans.

Mini Book ReviewsLowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
Series: A Liz Talbot Mystery #1
Published by Henery Press on September 13, 2012
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 316
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.

An interesting start to a new to me series. Liz Talbot is a private investigator and she moves back home upon her grandmother’s death. She is not only left with her grandmother’s house, but she was also left with the land it is on. When Liz finds out that her grandmother is murdered, she has no choice but stay home and try to find her killer. On top of, she in roped into more drama than she bargained for. This was a quick, fun read, it has a lot going on, probably a lot more than it should and features an array of different characters. Liz could be a little frustrating at times because of her not telling her cop brother much about the investigation and the ending and whodunit came out of no where. But, it’s full of southern charm, great characters and even a bit of the paranormal. I’ll continue with this series.

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Guest Review: Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry

Posted April 14, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 4 Comments

Guest Review: Twenty-One Days by Anne PerryTwenty-One Days by Anne Perry
Series: Daniel Pitt, #1
Published by Ballantine Books on April 10, 2018
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

In this first book in a new series, Thomas Pitt's son Daniel races to save his client from execution, setting him against London's Special Police Branch.
It's 1910, and Daniel Pitt is a reluctant lawyer who would prefer to follow in the footsteps of his detective father. When the biographer Russell Graves, who Daniel is helping defend, is sentenced to execution for the murder of his wife, Daniel's Pitt-family investigative instincts kick in, and he sets out to find the real killer. With only twenty-one days before Graves is to be executed, Daniel learns that Graves is writing a biography of Victor Narraway, the former head of Special Branch and a close friend of the Pitts. And the stories don't shed a positive light. Is it possible someone is framing Graves to keep him from writing the biography--maybe even someone Daniel knows in Special Branch?
The only answer, it seems, lies in the dead woman's corpse. And so, with the help of some eccentric new acquaintances who don't mind bending the rules, Daniel delves into an underground world of dead bodies and double lives, unearthing scores of lies and conspiracies. As he struggles to balance his duty to the law with his duty to his family, the equal forces of justice and loyalty pull this lawyer-turned-detective in more directions than he imagined possible. And amidst it all, his client's twenty-one days are ticking away.

I love that the author is tackling the next generation with this first book in the Daniel Pitt series. I adored the long running series set in the late Victorian era about Daniel’s parents. This one is during the Edwardian Era and begins perhaps a decade after the last released Thomas and Charlotte Pitt book.

Daniel is fresh out of university with a law degree and his father helps get him in with a prestigious London law firm. Now he must prove himself to his new employer and to his father with his first courtroom case- a big one, since his client is in the dock for murder. No sooner than he finishes this trial than he is put on an even bigger one.

I loved getting to know this adult Daniel who has the best of both his parents in him and lots of promise. He’s vulnerable and also confident, but he has definitely been tossed into the deep end with these cases. I enjoyed getting to know the situation and the surrounding cast of characters.

The author uses her gift for historical setting, social issues of the day and a profound gift for writing complex characters to tell a steadily paced, twisting mystery. Daniel uncovers the clues that will either hang his detestable client or free him, but things get complicated fast leading close to home. The case brings out domestic abuse, the plight of people with disabilities, the issues of responsible writing when it comes to tell-alls, illegitimacy, women’s equality, and so much more. The author teases out these social issues as part of the plot without getting pedantic.

As usual, the mystery is not as easy as it looks from the beginning and the moral dilemma that comes with it is just as challenging for Daniel. The title refers to the fact that he has twenty-one days from the time his client is charged with murder and the hanging date. I started to get an inkling when the clues popped up, but that just made things more knotty instead of easier. I enjoyed how the mystery tied this first of Daniel’s cases back to the earlier series so his parents make an appearance, but also established itself in its own right.

I hope the new cast of characters will end up being regulars because I loved the Blackwoods with their shades of gray quirkiness, Daniel’s kind landlady, Miriam the female forensics scientist who is the daughter of Daniel’s boss.

So yes, this first in the new spin-off series was great. Love this peek at the Edwardian Era, a new main character, and a great twisting mystery plot. While I think a reader could get by starting with this book, it does have strong ties to the earlier Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series- and they are fabulous so why miss them. Definitely a recommend for historical mystery lovers.

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: The Outlandish Companion Volume Two by Diana Gabaldon

Posted May 23, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 19 Comments

Hope everyone is doing well! The weather here is looking like it’s finally starting to turn nice. It’s been so hectic in real life, so not enough time to catch up on blogging. Luckily dear Sophia had a review for me.  I was just thinking I should really start this series myself.

Review: The Outlandish Companion Volume Two by Diana GabaldonThe Outlandish Companion, Volume Two: The Companion to The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on October 27th 2015
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 656
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

More than a decade ago, #1 New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon delighted her legions of fans with The Outlandish Companion, an indispensable guide to all the Outlander books at the time. But that edition was just a taste of things to come. Since that publication, there have been four more Outlander novels, a side series, assorted novellas, and one smash-hit Starz original television series. Now Gabaldon serves up The Outlandish Companion, Volume Two, an all-new guide to the latest books in the series.
Written with Gabaldon’s signature wit and intelligence, this compendium is bursting with generous commentary and juicy insider details, including
• a complete chronology of the series thus far• full synopses of A Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood• recaps of the Lord John Grey novels: Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner• a who’s who of the cast of Outlander characters,

For over a year, I’ve been meandering my way through this one that I got a couple Christmases ago (thanks to Simply Angela’s Outlander challenge I buckled down and finished, LOL). Sometimes treating it like a coffee table flip-through book and sometimes getting riveted to different parts. It really does its job of what I wanted it for by reminding me of what I was starting to get hazy on with some of the older books and also providing some great enrichment materials to better appreciate the books in the Outlander World.

I was one that devoured and used the Outlandish Companion v. 1 so I was tickled to see that a v. 2 happened. The Outlander World of stories is such a huge saga of history, characters, and story threads that I need something like this to help keep me straight. And then let’s add in the TV adaption storylines. Gah! I needed this.

This one does broaden the scope of what it covers now that Outlander is a sensation on the screen and in audio as well as in the written world. I thought this book did a good job of being an all things for all people so that from whichever path the Outlander lover followed to the Companion they received something for it. For instance, I have not followed the show much, but I have read and listened to the books. However, I saw a lot of references that those watching the show could read and appreciate.

It was fun to browse through this, reading summaries of the books large and small, getting the Lord John and stories away from Jamie and Claire, too. I also enjoyed the lovely maps, charts, indexes (yay for that character one). The structure of this Companion was somewhat more relaxed and less of the scholarly reference tool feel you get when there are citations, cross-references and a ton of indexing. I like it either way.

So, this is a great one for the extras and worked well the way I took my time with it. I know I’ll pull it down off the shelf often to continue referencing it from time to time when re-reading and hey, if I need to pursue a historical point non-Outlander related as well.

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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