Source: Publisher

Sophia Rose Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Posted July 25, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel CleetonThe Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Standalone
Published by Berkley on June 16, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: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.

In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton's captivating new novel.
Everyone journeys to Key West searching for something. For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.
The Cuban Revolution of 1933 left Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position. After an arranged wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to the stranger she’s married, her new husband’s illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.
Elizabeth Preston's trip from New York to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles as a result of the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.
Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

 

This latest release leaves the focus of Cuban American history for the most part and settles on a slice of Floridian history of the 1930’s. Three separate women’s lives intertwine over one fateful holiday weekend in the Florida Keys. It was an emotional and engaging story that I easily settled into and read swiftly.

The Last Train to Key West is a standalone. I think one of the heroines, Mirta Perez, might be aunt to the women of the previous books, but I’m not sure. Either way, it was a great story- or should I say stories – since there are three women with their own individual stories that cross paths during the Labor Day weekend.

The first woman introduced is Helen a native of Key West and stuck in a dreary abusive marriage to a local fisherman. She is very pregnant, but works long days at a local diner. A mysterious man from one of the camps comes to her rescue and shows her kindness. He is the spark that she needs to make her bid for freedom during the building storm.

Next, we meet Mirta who agrees to an arranged marriage to help her family back in Cuba. Her husband is a rich, powerful man who has lived a shady past. She is young and wonders how it will be with her husband with only her mother’s advice about duty, pleasing her husband so he will take care of her and remain faithful. Is that how she wants her own marriage to be?

Finally, there is feisty Elizabeth who hides her fears behind a mask. She was once a society girl whose family lost it all in the Crash and then the family crumbled. She is escaping a great deal and hopes to find the one man who might be able to save her. His last postmarked letter was from Key West and she knows he’s in one of the camps. A stranger who doesn’t let her get away with her flirting games to toy with him ends up offering her help in the search even as a hurricane barrels down on them.

All three were so very different and I found myself cheering for all of them especially when the secrets started coming out. This isn’t a mystery, but there are some great twists all the same. And, between the storm and a few suspense moments, it gets intense.

As to the historical background, it was fascinating. I had no idea about the plight of the soldiers who returned from WWI, about their march on Washington to get their promised bonus money or that they were shipped to camps that seemed an awful lot like labor camps down in the Keys. My heart just broke for the suffering even though it is past history. The hurricane was another part of the history that brought the past to life as did the pre-commercial Key West and the Keys.

There is romance though it looks different for each woman. They were strong in their own ways and discovered men who would treat them well after pasts that were full of pain.

So, another stellar book balancing emotion, suspense, history, complex characters, and a riveting plot from an author that is already hit the autobuy mark with me. Those who love colorful historical fiction with a romantic flavor and an authentic backdrop should give this a try.

I rec’d this book from Net Galley via Berkley 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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Sophia Rose Review: The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomo

Posted June 15, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomoThe English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomo
Series: standalone
Published by Rockridge on June 2nd 2020 by Rockridge
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
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.

The engaging, self-guided way to learn how to write better in English
Mastering English grammar can be a real challenge. But, with a little practice and patience, you can discover how to communicate better through self-study in your spare time. The English Grammar Workbook for Adults is here to help improve your writing fluency so you can gain confidence while crafting emails, cover letters, conducting daily business, and personal correspondence.
No matter your current skill level, this English grammar workbook has everything you need to learn essential elements, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, tenses, and beyond. Then, you’ll apply what you’ve learned to everyday situations you could encounter at school, at work, social situations, creative writing, online, and more.
The English Grammar Workbook for Adults features:-Fun & functional―This clear, concise book is essential for ESL/EFL and other grammar students who want to work on writing English.-Situational success―Get expert tips on how grammar applies to real-world scenarios.-Easy to use―Find quick answers to your English grammar questions using text boxes and the expanded index in the back of the book.
Learning how to communicate more clearly is a snap with >i>The English Grammar Workbook for Adults.

 

I had it in the back of my mind that I might enjoy volunteering to teach English to English Second Language folks since I have some time to give back and the community budget for such stuff is slender. But, I also figured that I’d probably better hone my rusty English Grammar knowledge first. I spotted The English Grammar Workbook for Adults which was designed to aide ESL teachers and students for working on their functional writing skills and thought it would help me review the rules and also give me a chance to check out a potential ESL teaching source.

The workbook begins with an easy-read, gently-paced course in the parts of speech, punctuation, and the composition of various written communications. It is broken up into doable chapters with self-study assignments after each segment. The layout is easy on the eye with the sections placed on the page in segments that are digestible for a new English user.

Part One is a review of the Parts of Speech and Punctuation. There is the explanation, the definition, and good examples though, man, the rules of English are a bear with all those exceptions. The grand-daddy segment was each type of verb. Gerund, anyone? How about a past perfect progressive? (Okay, I made that up, but that is probably what it feels like to an ESL learner.)

Part Two dives into the practical usage for all those grammar rules. It presents several forms of written communication from term papers to resumes to emails to work presentations. There are formal and informal styles with suggestions about using or not using slang and idioms. The back has some nice cheat sheets for the hairier lessons.

As to how this book shaped up for what I wanted? I thought it was great for helping me dust off my (paltry- I discovered) knowledge of the parts of speech and will likely be helpful for ESL students who have a rudimentary understanding of words and basic speech. What did surprise me was, lo and behold, my education pre-dated some of the rules in this book so I was being ungrammatical according to a few updated rules. The author points these occasions out a couple of times- like he’s warning these poor ESL folks about the old American fogies who aren’t trying to confuse them with archaic usage.

I can recommend it to others who want to review their English Grammar for Writing, for those who want a workbook to help them teach ESL classes, and for ESL students or students who struggle with English Grammar and need outside the classroom study help.

My thanks to Callisto Publishing for the opportunity to read this book 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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Sophia Rose Review: The Banty House by Carolyn Brown

Posted June 5, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Banty House by Carolyn BrownThe Banty House by Carolyn Brown
Series: Standalone
Published by Montlake Romance on May 26, 2020
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 287
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.

In the fading town of Rooster, Texas, all that’s really left is a service station, a church…and the Banty House, a long-ago Depression-era brothel. For more than seventy-five years, Betsy, Connie, and Kate Carson have called their mama’s house a home. The three eccentric sisters get by just fine with their homemade jams and jellies, a little moonshine on the side, and big hearts always open to strangers. Like Ginger Andrews.
An abandoned teen with a baby on the way and nowhere to go, she’s given a room to call her own for as long as she wants. The kind invitation is made all the sweeter when Ginger meets the sisters’ young handyman, Sloan Baker. But with a past as broken as Ginger’s, he’s vowed never to get close to anyone again. As a season of change unfolds, Ginger and Sloan might discover a warm haven to heal in the Banty House, a place to finally belong, where hope and dreams never fade.

This book feels like a porch swing with a friend, a cold drink, and a summer night with stars above and fireflies out on the lawn. Carolyn Brown stories are full of country charm and down home storytelling. The Banty House is no exception.

The story focuses on three elderly sisters who have lived a full life and still do (Oh lawd, do they!) as they remain one of the chief sources of their small town’s gossip. They are the daughters of a former brothel owner and their mama never married. But, their mama gave them a set of rules to live by and the first about caring for strangers and the second about helping others brings a homeless, pregnant young Ginger to them so they can show her what family and home are and she, in turn, can show a former soldier who lost his team that he was meant to survive and live.

The Banty House was heartwarming and gently paced, but those feisty gals can be so unexpected that there was never a dull moment. I love the cross generational cast of characters and how they worked well together.

The history of the Carson sisters, their home, and the town was interesting and set the background. I also felt so touched for Ginger who had a truly tough row to hoe as a foster kid who had no one ever and then got tricked by a slick guy before finding her way to Rooster, Texas and the Banty House and Sloan.

The romance is background for much of the book as the story is mostly about the Carson sisters and Ginger. Plus, Ginger is planning to move on when she gets on her feet and Sloan has stopped living and is even suspicious of Ginger at first. They both have painful pasts that they need to address and then there is the fact that she’s pregnant and worried that no man would take on her situation and someone else’s child. Sloan was a bit lost himself so caring for Ginger anchored him and he had a huge, generous heart that had room for her, her complications, and a baby.

There were a few exciting moments, but for the most part this was a character-driven comfort read that left me smiling and feeling lighter. Oh, and needing piles of home-cooked food after the descriptions of what Betsy and Ginger made. Those who enjoy women’s fiction crossing over with contemporary small town romance should definitely give this one a try.

I rec’d this book from Montlake Publishing via 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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Sophia Rose Review: A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes, narrated by Tiffany Morgan

Posted May 15, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 36 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes, narrated by Tiffany MorganA Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes
Narrator: Tiffany Morgan
Length: 5 hours 55 minutes
Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries #5
Published by Tantor Audio on December 27, 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
Format: Audiobook
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.

Emma Lee Raines sees dead people
Proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, Emma Lee can see, hear, and talk to ghosts of murdered folks. And when her high school nemesis is found dead, Jade Lee Peel is the same old mean girl—trying to come between Emma Lee and her hot boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, all over again.
There’s only one way for Emma Lee to be free of the trash-talking ghost—solve the murder so the former prom queen can cross over.
But the last thing Jade Lee wants is to leave the town where she had her glory days. And the more Emma Lee investigates on her own, the more complicated Miss Popularity turns out to be. Now Emma Lee will have to work extra closely with her hunky lawman to get to the twisty truth.

Reluctantly chairing the high school reunion, Emma Lee encounters the high school mean girl who becomes her latest ghost client, her granny gets a taste for being a reality TV star, her sister works for a rival funeral home now, and her newspaper pal is framed for the murder. Life in Sleepy Hollow, KY isn’t dull.

A Ghostly Reunion is the fifth installment in this hilarious paranormal cozy mystery series featuring a heroine who runs a funeral home and sees ghosts who have been murdered and need help crossing to the other side.

The Ghostly Southern Mysteries invite the listener to give the over the top, light-weight murder mysteries a chance. Emma Lee is an amusing amateur detective who fumbles and bumbles her way through her ghostly cases with the help of town sheriff and boyfriend, Jack Henry.

Each book provides a good murder mystery, but it is paired with lots of quirky small town, family antics, and a sweet, slow burn romance. In this latest, Emma Lee has to face the desertion of her sister to a posh funeral home and the arrival of a high school mean girl who used to rule the school, date Jack Henry, and make Emma’s life a misery. It’s not so much who would kill her as who didn’t have a reason to murder her.

Tiffany Morgan is a delightful narrator for the series and does a fab job of southern drawl and charm, comedic timing, and a variety of vocal inflections for the large cast of characters. I get lost in her storytelling quite easily.

All in all, I had a great time listening in and find the light and fun quality perfect when I want easy entertainment and a good mystery to puzzle over. It is a good match for those who enjoy paranormal cozy mysteries.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book 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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Sophia Rose Review: The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer, narrated by Susan Duerden

Posted May 13, 2020 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer, narrated by Susan DuerdenThe Outlaw's Tale by Margaret Frazer
Length: 6 hours 33 minutes
Series: Sister Frevisse, #3
Published by Dream Machine Productions, Tantor Audio on December 21, 2010
Genres: Historical Mystery
Format: Audiobook
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.

ACT OF MERCY, ACT OF MURDER

Leaving the safety of her nunnery walls behind, Dame Frevisse is drawn into an unholy web of treachery and deceit. Waylaid on the King's Highway by a band of outlaws, Frevisse is shocked to discover that their leader is her long-lost cousin Nicholas. When he pleads with her to help him obtain a pardon for his crimes, she finds herself trapped between the harsh edicts of the law and the mercy of her vows.

But even as she struggles to restore his fortunes, Frevisse must fight to save his soul... and his life. Before the outlaw's tale can be told, the saintly nun will find herself trapped in a manor house of murder, caught between the holy passions of the heart and the sinful greeds of man.

What a situation for a cloistered medieval nun to find herself in? It could have been a tale straight from the Robin Hood legend when Sister Frevisse’s small party is accosted by outlaws who merrily take them, prisoner. Loved that it was off to an exciting start.

The Outlaw’s Tale is the third of the Sister Frevisse standalone mysteries. Frevisse is along with Master Naylor as chaperone and escort for one of the other sisters in her cloister who must travel for a family obligation. However, near the end of the journey, Frevisse discovers her own family obligation has just caused them to be waylaid so her cousin, branded an outlaw in his youth, can plead his case. Nicholas wants her to approach their powerful uncle, Thomas Chaucer (son of the family Canterbury Tales author, Geoffrey), to use his influence at royal court to achieve this.

While she is still contemplating whether he and his men are truly turned a new leaf, Sister Emma falls ill and they are taken to a nearby manor where a reluctant lord who has had business dealings with Nicholas’ band and his not so reluctant widowed sister take them in. Frevisse observes that the sister, Magdalen, has connections to the outlaw band and her worry grows that Nick is not as repentant as he would have her to believe. There is something of a family feud taking place and the widow is none too interested in a repulsive suitor for her hand- a suitor who is murdered. Frevesse has her hands full now as she is determined to discover if Nicholas or his men did the deed and how to extricate her party from danger.

The Outlaw’s Tale has more exciting elements than the two previous mysteries and it was fun to see her in a new setting outside the cloister and in the ticklish situation of a bad boy charming cousin needing her help.

I most enjoy the attention to detail of the time period and the religious background of the central characters. Frevisse has a complex character that is a part contemplative nun, but also wry humor and a sharp observer. She is respectful and even reverential when needed, but she doesn’t suffer foolishness well and Sister Emma’s chatterbox ways bring this out.

On a side note, I was really taken with Master Naylor who is the steward of their abbey and acts as a smart and able assistant to Frevisse. There is more to him than meets the eye.

The mystery was clever, but not as complicated as previous ones. Or, maybe I just latched onto the person by happenstance and saw no reason to change my mind when some others seemed more obvious. It was still a good mystery and the end still gave me some surprise.

I enjoyed the story in audio with the capable and gifted Susan Duerden narrating. She did great with the large cast of voices and had a good range with gender, class, and personalities. I love the way she does Frevisse particularly when she is contemplating matters. I hope she does the whole series.

In summary, it was another wonderful outing with the series and I can’t wait for the next. Historical mystery lovers should definitely give the Sister Frevisse series a go.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book 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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Sophia Rose Review: 21-Day Arthritis Diet Plan: Nutrition Guide and Recipes to Fight Osteoarthritis Pain and Inflamation by Ana Reisdorf, M.D.

Posted April 20, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 27 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: 21-Day Arthritis Diet Plan: Nutrition Guide and Recipes to Fight Osteoarthritis Pain and Inflamation by Ana Reisdorf, M.D.21-Day Arthritis Diet Plan: Nutrition Guide and Recipes to Fight Osteoarthritis Pain and Inflammation by Ana Reisdorf RD, Karen Frazier
Series: Standalone
Published by Rockridge Press on May 5, 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Health, Nutrition
Pages: 176
Format: Paperback
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.

Managing arthritis inflammation and pain with a diet plan and tasty recipes
Millions of Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, but few understand the link between their diet and their pain and inflammation. The 21-Day Arthritis Diet Plan gives you essential information on the root causes of the condition and high-risk foods to avoid, plus a specialized Mediterranean-style diet plan that’s quick, easy, and delicious.
From Garlic Steak with Warm Spinach Salad to Balsamic-Glazed Pork Tenderloin, this nutritious arthritis diet plan and cookbook can get you on the path to gaining strength and improving your symptoms by eating smarter and healthier every day. It’s not just good for arthritis―it’s also a practical plan for anyone looking to lose weight and feel better.
The 21-Day Arthritis Diet Plan delivers:
All-in-one―This three-week meal plan includes sample menus, meal prep tips, and shopping lists.75 recipes―Savor lots of delicious dishes designed to ease arthritis symptoms.Food facts―Discover helpful information on the best nutrients and daily supplements for managing arthritis.
Get soothing relief from arthritis pain and inflammation―one healthy, tasty recipe at a time.

What foods will help mitigate the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis? The 21-Day Arthritis Diet Plan addresses this in an easy-read easy follow plan that addresses making this a life-long diet change.

The 21-Day Arthritis Diet Plan begins by overviewing osteoarthritis, explaining the connection between arthritis and nutrition along with other influences like sleep and exercise, and then hones in on the nutrients necessary to alieve the effects of arthritis. It goes into superfood and the details of the Mediterranean Diet that works powerfully against pain and inflammation as well as weight loss that will turn the tide on the effects of arthritis and even work toward OA prevention.

The bulk of the book is the three week menu plan, shopping lists, and tips to make the menus work. Then the menu plan is followed by the recipes organized by meal. A helpful detailed index in the back makes it easy to find by ingredient. There is also a helpful bibliography list of resources and references.

I picked this book up because, though I personally do not suffer from arthritis, I have a half dozen older family members who do. Some have OA and others Rheumatoid Arthritis. I thought I would check this out and see if it might supplement what they are already doing and I think it will.

But, I did get something personal out of the book because by following the diet, it indicates that this will help prevent OA. So, why not try it out for myself? Plus, I already participate, moderately, in the Mediterranean diet and so I had the food supplies to make some of the dishes recommended in the menu. I proceeded to did a week of the suggestions. The overnight oats with dried cranberries (I subbed in dried cherries), the Eggs Florentine Omelet with Avocado Hollandaise, Shrimp and Broccoli salad, Rice and Bean burritos, and of course, hummus and veggies. It was good for flavor and variety. I did lose two pounds (though this isn’t meant to be a weight-loss diet) which was great, but I asked myself the list of questions the author posed for a self-eval and didn’t see much of difference after only a week though I did feel a rise in my energy level.

In summary, this helped me understand how diet can affect osteoarthritis prevention and alleviate some of the pain and inflammation that troubles the quality of life for those with osteoarthritis. I have friends and family who struggle with OA and I think this is a good resource to put in their hands. It is also a good book for those concerned they might struggle as they get older with OA. It’s written for anyone even those who know little and I can recommend it even for those who simply want to get a healthier eating regime going.

 

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 Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn

Posted April 18, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Review: The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte NunnThe Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn
Series: Standalone
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on March 3, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

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

A cache of unsent love letters from the 1950s is found in a suitcase on a remote island in this mysterious love story in the tradition of the novels by Kate Morton and Elizabeth Gilbert
.

1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an isolated mental asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther’s prison but soon surprisingly becomes her refuge. 
2018. Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker embarks on a research posting in the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. When a violent storm forces her to take shelter on a far-flung island, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel determines to track down the intended recipient. But she has no idea of the far-reaching consequences her decision will bring.
Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.
With an arresting dual narrative that immediately captivates the reader, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is an inspirational story of the sacrifices made for love.

In 1951, a young mother by the name of Esther Durrant is committed to a mental hospital on an island by her husband, after suffering a tragic loss of her baby.

In 2018, a young, free-spirited marine scientist by the name of Rachel Parker get stranded on an island, after a violent storm that leaves her hurt and without a boat. There, Rachel gets a hold of old hidden love letters that leaves her determined to find the intended recipient of the letters, not realizing the consequences they might bring.

I thought the story was lovely, despite a bit slow-moving. I enjoyed following Rachel’s story and her time on the island, as well as the endearing cast of characters that she encounters during her time there.

I did feel a bit of a disconnect between Rachel and the love interest. Maybe from the lack of development. It all felt a bit rushed, and although I did buy Rachel’s eventual infatuation with the doctor that was helping, I still felt like the story seemed to lack something in context. I did enjoy reading about the time period and couldn’t help but feel a variety of emotions during the story, including anger for what Esther’s husband did to her and sadness over some of the other character outcomes.

The writing and the story weaving was quite lovely and I’m looking forward to more from this author.

This book deals with PTSD, Mental Illness, loss, suicide, self-harm and prejudice.

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Sophia Rose Review: Five French Hens by Judy Leigh

Posted January 16, 2020 by Lily B in Uncategorized / 23 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Five French Hens by Judy LeighFive French Hens by Judy Leigh
Series: Standalone
Published by Boldwood Books on December 10, 2019
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 344
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.

The best days of your life might be still to come…
When 73 year old Jen announces that she is going to marry Eddie, a man she met just a few months previously on a beach on Boxing Day, her four best friends from aqua aerobics are flabbergasted.
The wedding is booked and, when the groom decides to have a stag trip to Las Vegas, the ladies arrange a hen party to beat all others -a week in the city of love, Paris.
From misadventures at the Louvre, outrageous Parisian cabarets, to drinking champagne with a dashing millionaire at the casino, Paris lives up to all their hopes and dreams. But a week can change everything, and the women that come home have very different dreams from the ones who got on the plane just days ago.
Funny, fearless and with a joie de vivre that reminds you to live every day like it’s your last. Judy Leigh has once again written the perfect feel-good novel for all fans of Cathy Hopkins, Dawn French and Fiona Gibson.Praise for Judy Leigh’s books:
‘Brilliantly funny, emotional and uplifting’ Miranda Dickinson
'Lovely . . . a book that assures that life is far from over at seventy' Cathy Hopkins bestselling author of The Kicking the Bucket List
'Brimming with warmth, humour and a love of life… a wonderful escapade’ Fiona Gibson, bestselling author of The Woman Who Upped and Left

When Jen says ‘yes!’, that is the catalyst for five golden girl friends to go on a tour of discovery about themselves and each other in the city of lights. I loved the idea of gals in their seventies finding adventure with their friends, healing, understanding, and even love so I gladly picked this one up and settled in for a coze with the Five French Hens.

Jen is a widow in her seventies who already found love and the good life, but now she is lonely so when proper gentleman Eddie courts her and proposes, she says yes. But, Eddie is headed to Vegas for his bachelor festivities and that decides her that she and her best buds should do something just as spectacular for her hen party. So off they go to Paris.

Jen is accompanied by four friends with their own life struggles and need for this friendship and this trip. Pam, Rose, Tess, and Della. Della is happily married to Sylvester the love of her life, but she worries about him working in that drafty food truck on the coast and looking more worn out each day. Pam is happily single except for Elvis her dog companion, but she is holding in a secret that eats at her and holds her back from life. Rose is a widower and accomplished musician. She was content in her marriage, but not fulfilled when she gave up her career for home and family to a husband who never respected her own talents. And, then there is lively and colorful Tess who is marginalized in her own home behind golf and the golf game on TV. She is determined to live a little and maybe rethink how she has been holding onto something that just isn’t there and never was.

This standalone women’s fiction started out slow as it passed the narration around rapidly between the five women. At first, I got confused as to who was who and it was a struggle to get interested. They all seemed like real people with real life problems, but I wasn’t feeling a spark of connection.

But, I hung in there because I wanted to get to Paris with them and that’s when the book started to come to life. Each woman was distinct now and I grew vested in a few of their stories and then more and more as the book progressed through their lively and fun time in Paris. It was Paris through the eyes of tourists like visiting the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, jazz club, casino, and more. I was loving it.

What I really loved, though, was when the layers were peeled back on these women’s lives and I could get to know their pain and their dreams. It took a while, but the book got there so that when it ended, I wasn’t ready to leave the gals behind. They each had something to face whether from their past, their present, or a decision about their future. I was totally rooting for them just like they were rooting for each other.

I had never heard of this author before, but now I’m interested in reading more of her niche stories about folks with silver hair and most of their life behind them, but still have some adventures left to live. There is a little romance in this, but the focus is definitely on their personal growth and friendship so it’s very much women’s fiction and I’d recommend it as such.

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

About Sophia Rose

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

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Review Round Up #11

Posted December 17, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review Round Up #11A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Wallflowers, #4.5, #4.5, #4.5
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 14, 2008
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday
Pages: 213
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

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

It’s Christmas time in London and Rafe Bowman has arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie Blandford, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady-in-waiting, and if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed.
Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallfowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen. And winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants.
However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.
A Wallflower Christmas takes a trip to Victorian London, under the mistletoe, and on a journey of the heart.

It’s Christmas time and Rafe Bowman has finally arrived in London from America to arrange a meeting and a proposal to Natalie Blandford. Even though Rafe has the money and the good looks, Natalie’s cousin Hannah is less than impressed with his behavior and doesn’t believe that Rafe and Natalie are a good match. While Hannah tries her best to protect her cousin, she leaves her own heart vulnerable to Rafe Bowman himself.

This was a quick Christmasy read that I wanted. I think fans of the first four books would probably enjoy this a lot more as it follows the four wallflowers from the previous books and kind of gives readers a glimpse into their life after their happily ever after. I liked the setting of Christmas and the writing was good. That being said, I was eh on the romance. I found Rafe’s actions a bit forceful and sometimes downright uncomfortable. Thought I liked the back and forth between him and Hannah, I just wasn’t impressed with the hero himself, whose actions sometimes borderlines on assault and made me feel a bit wary about the romance in general as well as left me cringing several times.

Overall, not too bad and left me interested in previous books. I think I liked the setting and the women in this book the most.

Review Round Up #11The Christmas Dare by Lori Wilde
Series: Twilight, Texas #10
Published by Avon on October 22, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

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

A jilted-at-the-altar bride reunites with her high school sweetheart in Lori Wilde’s sensational new Twilight, Texas Christmas novel.
Kelsey James always played by the rules and look where it got her—dumped and half-drunk in a poofy white dress, her Christmas wedding ruined. Then her best friend talks her into going on her “honeymoon” anyway, daring her to a “Christmas of Yes.” It’s about time she lets loose a little, so Kelsey agrees to say “yes” to fun, to romance, and to adventure! And adventure leads her right smack into the arms of sexy Noah MacGregor.
Noah’s never one to say no to a risk—from leading his NBA team to victory to making Christmas cookies in Twilight, he’s up to the challenge! But a lot has gone on since they were teenagers, and he knows he has to take his time to make Kelsey dare to believe that what they feel is more than just the holiday magic that’s in the air . . .

Kelsey is jilted at the altar, what a time to find out that not only is she not getting married, but that her husband has run off with his best friend.

So instead, her best friend Tasha whisks her away to Twilight, Texas. A town that Kelsey is all too familiar with, and where she left behind the boy she was in love with.

But the boy is now a man, a divorced man and there are a lot of unresolved feelings between them. So while Kelsey tries to figure out how to live her life independently from her mother, she must also find out what truly makes her happy.

I find that this series is a hit or miss for me and the past two books that I read have definitely felt more like a miss. The romance was okay, I really like Noah and Tasha, but I wasn’t overly warm to Kelsey. Her character was lackluster and annoying and the conflict and her choice of Noah, in the end, was more frustration added to the book. I didn’t find her all that believable and honestly could have done with the whole my groom-dumps-me-at-the-altar-because-his-gay-trope.

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Review Round Up #10

Posted December 3, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review Round Up #10Thin Ice by Paige Shelton
Series: Alaska Wild Mysteries #1
Published by Minotaur Books on December 3, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
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.

First in a new series set in Alaska from beloved author Paige Shelton, Thin Ice will chill your bones.
Beth Rivers is on the run – she’s doing the only thing she could think of to keep herself safe. Known to the world as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild, she had become the subject of a fanatic’s obsession. After being held in a van for three days by her kidnapper, Levi Brooks, Beth managed to escape, and until he is captured, she's got to get away. Cold and remote, Alaska seems tailor-made for her to hideout.
Beth’s new home in Alaska is sparsely populated with people who all seem to be running or hiding from something, and though she accidentally booked a room at a halfway house, she feels safer than she’s felt since Levi took her. That is, until she’s told about a local death that’s a suspected murder. Could the death of Linda Rafferty have anything to do with her horror at the hands of Levi Brooks?
As Beth navigates her way through the wilds of her new home, her memories of her time in the van are coming back, replaying the terror and the fear—and threatening to keep her from healing, from reclaiming her old life again. Can she get back to normal, will she ever truly feel safe, and can she help solve the local mystery, if only so she doesn’t have to think about her own?

Beth Rivers is a thriller author better known as Elizabeth Fairchild, and Beth Rivers is on the run. After being kidnapped and held in a van for three days by her kidnapper Levi Brooks, Beth manages to escape but not unscathed. So she does the only thing she knows to do, she runs away and a cold, remote place in Alaska seems like a perfect hideaway.

The town is scarcely populated and the townspeople all seem to be there running and hiding from something. So when Beth arrives and a murder happens, she can’t help but wonder if it’s somehow related to her.

This was a perfect read for this time of year. I loved the atmosphere of an isolated village in Alaska, with a small population and cold. The characters were fantastic and I enjoyed following all of them as well as getting to know them.

By accident, Beth ends up staying in a halfway house, where she meets an interesting cast of characters and get involved in a police investigation. Beth also has a few issues. She’s scared that Levi Brooks will find her. She has very little memory of the man himself since she hurt her head and needed surgery after jumping out of the van, and both her mother and an investigator are trying to find him.

This was a great read and I am looking forward to more from this town and characters in the future.

Review Round Up #10Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
Series: standalone
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on June 12, 2018
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Pages: 312
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:2.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

From the international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.
On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.
For fans of Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn, this novel is a “seductively sinister story. The twists come together in a superbly scary denouncement, which delivers a final sting in the tail. Brilliantly macabre” (Sunday Mirror).

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

With an opening like that, this book seems to have the making of a great thriller, does it?

We follow three characters in this book, Lydia, the wife of a respectful, successful judge – a mother to a beloved son Laurence and a mistress to a grand house in Dublin. We follow Laurence, the son who discovers the deep dark secret earthed in the backyard of his sanctuary and Karen, the sister of Annie Doyle that is desperate to find her.

This book is twisted on a level of twisted. If you love a twisted psychological thriller, you might enjoy this one. And while a lot found this enjoyable with how twisted it was, I found this book irritating.

All of the characters in this book are unlikable. Lydia is a psychopath with a dark past and she is completely off her rocker. She’s an overbearing mother who wants to keep her son from leaving her alone in the house, and goes through extreme measures to do so. Laurance is troubled in his own way and I found his sexual fantasies about the possible missing dead girl a little weird, especially when the author decided to take the route she did with him and Annie.

This entire book was just completely screwed up. I had a hard time believing the ending a bit, but even that was as shocking as it was messed up.

Overall, I just wanted to finish this.  It was okay. If you like really messed up characters, 2/3 in this book will fit the bill. It does drag at times, and I had a hard time wanting to pick it up once I put it down. But overall, okay.

 

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