Source: Publisher

Review: The Summer House by Jenny Hale

Posted May 15, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Summer House by Jenny HaleThe Summer House by Jenny Hale
Series: standalone
Published by Forever, Bookouture on May 7, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback, 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.

From this USA Today bestselling author comes a delightful summer read about friendship, family, and the healing power of love.
Callie Weaver and her best friend, Olivia Dixon, have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina's Outer Banks. They're going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed-and-breakfast. Callie's too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He's heir to his father's real estate empire, and the papers say he's just another playboy. But as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there's more to this man than money and good looks. Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets . . . secrets that stretch across the island and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor. Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm the diary unleashes, or can true love save them?

Callie Weaver with her best friend, Olivia Dixon, have finally done what they always wanted. They bought the beach house they have admired through their childhood summers, and they are going to turn the lovely house on the sands of North Carolina’s Outer Banks into a bed and breakfast. With everything to focus on the last thing Callie has in mind is falling in love, until she catches the attention of the very local heartthrob Luke Sullivan. With his easy smiles and charming personality, it’s hard to say no. The paper’s all splash him as an entitled playboy, but as Callie spends more time with Luke, she realizes that he is nothing that the media is trying to paint him to be. Underneath all the expectations, his struggles and generosity are just as real. But when Callie discovers an old journal in the house, she finds secrets that can shake an entire family.

I enjoyed this so much. This was just a lovely, quiet summer read. I adored the wonderful group of characters and how much this made me wish for warmer weather during this very cold and dreary spring.

Jenny Hale really has a way to bring her characters to live with flaws and all and make them easy to relate to and very human. Both Callie and Olivia give you the girl next door vibes that, have you rooting for them and their success with the beach house. The romance was super sweet and cute and I really enjoyed watching Luke and Callie grow close. I liked that Luke was just a bit out of touch because of money, but not to the point where it made him completely superficial. It made him that much more endearing in a way.

There is a bit of a secret in the story that leads to some revelations and complications, but I found that it worked and I enjoyed it.

Overall, I really loved how Jenny Hale writes her romances and her characters that just have a way of endearing themselves to you. Charming, with a lot of heart, and wonderful writing, The Summer House by Jenny Hale is just the book you need for the summer nights.

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Review Round Up #6

Posted May 12, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 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 Round Up #6Deadly Obsession by April Hunt
Series: Steele Ops, #1
Published by Forever on April 30, 2019
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
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.

“April Hunt’s romantic suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat.”—New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster
Someone is watching their every move.
After a lifetime spent in and out of hospitals, Zoey Wright is tired of playing it safe. She’s ready to take charge of her own life and get out of her comfort zone, starting with a new job as a CSI agent. But when her childhood crush Knox Steele gets pulled onto her case, Zoey needs to put her feelings for him aside or more women will die at the hands of the serial killer preying on her hometown.
Former Army Ranger Knox Steele is back in Washington to help his brothers open an elite private security firm. He never expected to stumble onto a crime scene, or see his best friend’s little sister working it. Zoey is all grown up now, and the attraction between them is electric, despite his best efforts to resist it. But all that changes for Knox when he realizes the victims have one thing in common . . . and Zoey might be next.

After spending most of her life in and out of the hospital Zoey Wright is done playing it safe. She is ready to get out of her comfort zone and take charge of her own life, starting with her new job as a CSI agent. All of that is easier said than done when you have an overprotective, overbearing brother Cade and his friends the Steele brothers. All to whom Zoey has been nothing but a little sister, including Cade’s best friend Knox. But Zoey does not want Knox to see her as a little sister. Knox is just “passing” through and the last thing he wants is to get attached, too bad that Zoey is ready to meet that challenge. Meanwhile, there is a serial killer on the loose called the Cupid Killer who has the tendency to murder his victims and leaving them with a cut the shape of a heart on their chest, and Zoey fits the profile.

I really enjoyed this one more than I expected. I loved all the Steele brothers, especially Roman and Knox and this book was a great start to what is promising to be an enjoyable series.

I thoroughly loved Knox and Zoey. Zoey with her spunky go get them personality, that has undergone so much in her life and Knox with his protectiveness over Zoey as well as his search to find where he belongs. These two made such a cute couple with their touch and go relationship, I found myself really rooting for them.

I did find that the book meandered a bit at times. The action with the serial killer mostly happens in the end, this is mostly a romance novel first and suspense second. Which is fine and works, and it works for what the Steele brothers are trying to do. It wasn’t hard to figure out who the Cupid Killer was, but I still found myself racing through the pages at the end.

I am really looking forward to more books in the series. I am especially looking forward to Cade and Grace’s story that left me wanting more and Roman, who I think at this moment is becoming my favorite.

Review Round Up #6Fire Season by Stephen Blackmoore
Published by Daw Books on April 16th 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 294
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 fourth book of this dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.
Los Angeles is burning.
During one of the hottest summers the city has ever seen, someone is murdering mages with fires that burn when they shouldn't, that don't stop when they should. Necromancer Eric Carter is being framed for the killings and hunted by his own people.
To Carter, everything points to the god Quetzalcoatl coming after him, after he defied the mad wind god in the Aztec land of the dead. But too many things aren't adding up, and Carter knows there's more going on.
If he doesn't figure out what it is and put a stop to it fast, Quetzalcoatl won't just kill him, he'll burn the whole damn city down with him.

Los Angeles is burning and someone is out there blaming Eric Carter for all the mages that are dropping dead. Now he is being hunted by his own people. With a help of a few friends, he might just have enough to find who is responsible for the death of the mages and how it’s linked to the fires that are breaking out throughout the city.

Everything points to the god Quetzalcoatl a mad Aztec wind god, who Carter defied in the Land of the Dead. But things aren’t adding up and it’s up to Eric to put a stop to it, even if it means making a bargain he managed to avoid so far.

I really, really enjoyed this. I forgot how much I love Urban fantasy and this one was great. I liked the use of the Aztec gods, to me personally, that’s a new encounter in Urban fantasy and I found it different and refreshing. I liked Eric, I loved his personality, it was witty and a bit out there, and I found myself giggling more than once.

The world was also great. I thought following a necromancer was different and just a great spin in general.

There is a warning for drug use if it might be triggering.

Overall, I thought the world that Stephen Blackmoore created here is fantastic. This was my first book from this author, so yes, I was starting kind of four books into the series, but I found that I was able to follow everything regardless. Eric has a lot going on. Being married to the Death Goddess is just one of those things. This book has a great cast of side characters as well as some really brave female characters that made my day.  The story was fast paced, it was fun and I enjoyed the writing. I will be looking for more.

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Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Posted May 10, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew WhalenOnly Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Series: standalone
Published by Lake Union Publishing on May 7th 2019
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 279
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.

It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared.
Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?
Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?
As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?
While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.

Annie’s wedding is only four days away and it’s a big event for the small town. Such a big event that the local reporter Laurel is doing her best to try and get the scoop. The wedding isn’t the only big event that happens. Annie is contacted by a lawyer about the man that went to prison for her mother’s murder, one that after all these years might be innocent and is serving a sentence he wasn’t meant to. Now Annie is missing, and her friends and family are trying to find her. While the search for Annie is moved into actions, the characters must come to terms with their own regrets and what it means to finally let them go.

I enjoyed this story. I thought it was a fast read. I loved the last book by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen. So while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I thought it was a good, quick read. That being said.  The book is classified as a thriller on goodreads and I don’t believe that this is a thriller but more of a general fiction.

The story mostly follows Clary, Annie’s cousin. Faye her aunt who raised her. Kenney, a kid that admired Annie since school and Laurel a reporter. It follows their lives as this situation unfolds and how they deal with Annie’s disappears as well as some major milestones in their lives.

I really wanted more character development. I think this had a lot more potential that it just did not seem to reach. While I liked the premise and the characters, I just really wanted more.

I was confused about how a town that took the testimony of a three-year-old and jailed an innocent man. She was three… How does that even happen?

Also, the revelation, in the end, felt completely out of the blue and perhaps added for shock value?

But I saw what the author mostly wanted to do with this. I appreciated that. I thought some of it was really sad and emotional and I do enjoy her writing. Overall, I am looking forward to see what she does next.

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Review: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Posted May 3, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review: Lost Roses by Martha Hall KellyLost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
Series: Lilac Girls
Published by Ballantine Books on April 9, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover
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.

The runaway bestseller Lilac Girls introduced the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday. This sweeping new novel, set a generation earlier and also inspired by true events, features Caroline's mother, Eliza, and follows three equally indomitable women from St. Petersburg to Paris under the shadow of World War I.
It is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so many times, many New Yorker's treat the subject with only passing interest. Eliza Ferriday is thrilled to be traveling to St. Petersburg with Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Romanov's. The two met years ago one summer in Paris and became close confidantes. Now Eliza embarks on the trip of a lifetime, home with Sofya to see the splendors of Russia. But when Austria declares war on Serbia and Russia's Imperial dynasty begins to fall, Eliza escapes back to America, while Sofya and her family flee to their country estate. In need of domestic help, they hire the local fortuneteller's daughter, Varinka, unknowingly bringing intense danger into their household. On the other side of the Atlantic, Eliza is doing her part to help the White Russian families find safety as they escape the revolution. But when Sofya's letters suddenly stop coming she fears the worst for her best friend.
From the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg to the avenues of Paris and the society of fallen Russian emigre's who live there, the lives of Eliza, Sofya, and Varinka will intersect in profound ways, taking readers on a breathtaking ride through a momentous time in history.

The year is 1914 and the world has been on the brink of war so often, that most people have started to disregard it. Eliza Ferriday is happy to be traveling to St. Petersburg with her friend Sofya Streshnayva, who is the cousin of the Romanovs. As the Russian Whites and the Monarchy continue to enjoy their wealth and privilege with fancy balls, the turmoil on the streets continues to spin out of control as the red coats continue to gain power. Until the day that the Russian monarchy is overthrown finally comes, and Russia is left in peril.

The story follows three women. Eliza Ferriday, a socialite that lives in Manhattan, married to Henry Ferriday, mother of Caroline Ferriday. Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin to the Romanovs, the current reigning family of Russia and Varinka Kozlov a poor village girl that gets hired as a nanny to Max by Sofya. A decision that comes back to haunt Sofya when Varinka brings something dangerous back into her home that causes Sofya to part with Max and finds herself on the run for her life in hopes of getting her son back.

This story was, wow. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I adored Martha Hall Kelly’s writing. I have not read the Lilac Girls and I found that it was okay. This book actually happens before Lilac Girls and to me seemed like a good place to start not only with the story but also with Martha Hall Kelly’s writing. I wasn’t disappointed. The writing and the storytelling were woven so beautifully that I found myself savoring as much of the book as I could. I didn’t want to part with it, I didn’t want to say goodbye to these characters that Martha Hall Kelly has managed to capture. Both compelling, strong and realistic, the three women really drove the book and I was happy for the slow pace.

The ending had me on the edge of my seat biting my nails, waiting for resolution, wanting to see how the story wraps up for these women. The author left some threads loose, making it a possible consideration for future books. The writing was really lovely, I really enjoyed the authors writing style, I thought it was just so beautiful.

The story itself seems well researched and I have to admit I don’t recall reading many historical books set during WWI in Russia. I found the story itself, the fall of the Russian monarchy fascinating and heartbreaking. It was just such a dark time during the Russian revolution and I was glad to learn a bit more about it through the eyes of these characters.

There wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy. The ending felt super fast-paced as far as how it wrapped up and despite being slow-paced, to begin with, I found I wouldn’t have minded a bit of a slower ending, yet it worked. My general nit-pickiness comes to the Russian terminology in the book, but as someone who has a general understanding of the language, some sentences with Russian words thrown into them had me pack paddling a little bit. The Russian language uses congregations and every time they appeared wrong in the book my brain automatically found it a bit awkward to read. Like for instance, the word Zala appears throughout the book, which I assume refers to like the grand ballroom type room for gatherings and I’m pretty sure it should have been Zalo. But those are just minor details and don’t affect people that wouldn’t know otherwise.

I do love that the author has made a distinction between Ukrainian people and Russian when at one point the White Russian women were told they are going to be sent back to Ukraine and Eliza acknowledged that they are Russian.

Overall. I loved this book like I knew I would the moment I saw it. With that, I am really looking forward to getting my hands on the Lilac Girls because I absolutely am in love with this authors beautiful writing style, there is just something about the way she weaves her words that completely draw me in. I really enjoyed the characters and their flaws, I also enjoyed that time and place this book took place because to me it was a whole new experience that I would love to farther explore.

I will be looking forward to more works from this author in the future.

 

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Review: The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

Posted April 25, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: The Summer Retreat by Sheila RobertsThe Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts
Series: Moonlight Harbor #3
Published by Mira on April 23, 2019
Genres: Womens Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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.

Join USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts for a seaside escape to the beaches of Moonlight Harbor
Celeste Jones has plans for a perfect summer with her boyfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé)—until he dumps her to be with the woman he’s had on the side for months. Heartbroken and furious, Celeste resolves to move on. When the going gets tough, the tough…okay, the not-so-tough go to the beach.
As soon as school lets out for the summer, she waves goodbye to her first-graders, packs up her bikini and heads for Moonlight Harbor, where she knows her big sister, Jenna, will receive her with open arms. Jenna could probably use some help at the Driftwood Inn, and Celeste is happy to do chores around the place in exchange for a relaxing summer escape. She just needs something—or someone—to distract her from her troubles.
Finding The One can be tricky, and Jenna is determined to make sure Celeste gets it right this time around. Not that Jenna’s an expert. She’s still trying to sort out her own love life. But if both sisters listen to their hearts, eventually they’re bound to discover that life—and love—is good at the beach.

After finding out that her boyfriend cheated on her Celeste Jones joins her sister Jenna at Moonlight Harbor, where she helps her take care of the Driftwood Inn. Celeste is more than happy to do the chores in exchange for a summer escape.

Finding The One isn’t easy and her sister Jenna of all people should know that. Still, Jenna is determined to help her sister out by introducing her to Pastor Paul in hopes that her sister would make the right connection and choice. All Celeste wants is to find the perfect man, one that isn’t reminiscent with her ex-boyfriend who did her wrong. Pastor Paul definitely checks out in that department, he definitely wouldn’t cause her the heartache. But while Paul is sweet and comfortable, maybe being the Pastor’s wife is not something Celeste is all cut out to be and what about Henry the writer in room number 12?

This was a cute summer read. I found that I really enjoyed it and flew through the pages. I liked how it felt like a good beach read and I really enjoyed the characters and the small town life, despite having a few issues.

I had a hard time believing Celeste age in her late 30s. She acted a lot younger, especially when it came to love and men and she continued to make some wickedly bad decisions. I could see why she did it though, I think she was truly afraid of being hurt again but settling down with a family appealed to her. I wish it didn’t take her till the very last minute to see where she went wrong, but it was still a fluffy entertaining story. I really loved the interaction between Celeste and Henry and wished there was more of them over Paul.

There was a lot going on and I’d normally have a hard time with the character’s actions, but I found that I was just thoroughly enjoying it despite her decisions and it was an awesome fast phased palate cleanser.

I really want to see where Jenna’s storyline goes. From what little I got from Seth here I already found myself taking his side and hope she comes to a decision. While  I really enjoyed this, I do find that Celeste’s actions are probably not for everyone. But with it’s fast-paced writing, a charming small town and a wonderful cast of characters, this book makes a lovely summer read.

Overall, I will be coming back for more of the small town drama because I really enjoyed this book, despite some issues.

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Review Round Up #5

Posted April 24, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review Round Up #5The Highland Chieftain by Amy Jarecki
Series: Lords of the Highlands, #4, #4
Published by Forever on July 31, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

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

He is the last man she would ever marry…After being unceremoniously jilted by her betrothed, Lady Mairi MacKenzie is humiliated and heartbroken – but she’s not desperate. As the daughter of an earl, she won’t give her hand to just anyone, and she definitely isn’t swayed by a last-minute proposal from Laird Duncan MacRae. The powerful clan chieftain may be disarmingly handsome and charming, but he’s not a nobleman. Mairi doesn’t want his pity or his charity – even though his dark smoldering gaze makes her melt with desire.
She is the only woman he could ever love…Dunn may be a battle-hardened clansman, but he’s always had a soft spot for Mairi. For years, she tormented him with flirtation – only to reject him. But he’s not giving up. When Mairi is attacked by redcoats, Dunn goes after the woman he loves. Through brute strength and fierce action, he will protect her life at any cost. But to win her heart, he will have to show her the tenderness in his own.

Lady Mairi MacKenzie has been left humiliated and heartbroken when she is jilted by her betrothed, but she is not desperate enough to accept a last-minute proposal from Laird Duncan MacRae. When Mairi is attacked by redcoats in the forest, Dunn rides to her rescue. But rescuing Lady Mairi seemed to come with a cost because now her father wants Dunns head for “kidnapping” his daughter.

This was a good Highlander read. I really enjoyed Amy Jarecki writing, I think she is a really good author. Although I liked Mairi and Dunn well enough, I found the plot to be a little lacking. I did enjoy the two characters together, the romance was really sweet. I found Mairi’s father to be completely unreasonable in his assumptions and what he did to Dunn. I am still interested in the next book in this series, because it features what looks like a forbidden romance.

Review Round Up #5Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane,
Published by Grand Central Publishing on October 17, 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 308
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

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

A LADY OF LIGHT
Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him . . . only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.
A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS
Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.
CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER . . . AND DESIRE
Much to Raphael's irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involves herself in his life-and bed. Soon he's drawn both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael's past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael's own demons?

Elizabeth Hoyt reminds me time and time again, how much I enjoy her writing and how easy it is to immerse yourself in her world. This book was no different. I love her witty writing style, I also love the humor she weaves into her stories that can at times be a bit on the dark side.

Duke of Desire, thought was an interesting read, wasn’t always an easy read for me. I loved Raphael and Lady Iris. I love how the characters were crafted. How much depth she bought into Raphael’s character through his past. He was such a damaged character and it took him a while to come out as Iris continue to try and break down his barriers.

I really loved these two characters, I thought they were really well crafted. That being said, this wasn’t my favorite background storyline. The chapters with Lords of Chaos went to some disturbing areas and sometimes were a bit hard to read. Despite that, I really enjoyed most of this book and it’s making me want to revisit the books I’ve missed. I really adore her writing.

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Sophia Rose Review: The Mint Julep Murders by Angie Fox

Posted April 20, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Mint Julep Murders by Angie FoxThe Mint Julep Murders by Angie Fox
Series: Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #8
Published by Moose Island Books on April 25th 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 331
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.

For Southern girl Verity Long, friendship means sitting down to stories and sweet tea on the front porch. For her gangster ghost housemate, it means dragging Verity out to a remote haunted asylum during a raging thunderstorm to do a favor for a long-dead mob boss.
But Verity is always ready to help out a friend, even one as eternally eccentric as Frankie. And in the case of Mint Julep Manor, the stakes are too high to refuse. The criminally insane mob boss holds a secret to Frankie’s past, one that might set Frankie free. Do the favor—survive the favor—and they might change Frankie’s afterlife for good. Fail, and they might never leave the asylum.

In this latest ghost hunting adventure for Verity and Frankie, they must brave an old haunted insane asylum if they want to get answers that might help Frankie.  Not long after their arrival, they are up to their necks in murder and trapped inside with a bunch of insane ghosts and a killer.

 

The Mint Julep Murders is the eighth installment of the Southern Ghost Hunter mysteries.  These fun blend of paranormal and cozy mysteries work well read/listened to in order as the reader gets to see how it all began with Verity and Frankie and Verity’s relationship with cop boyfriend, Ellis.  But, that said, they are all standalone mysteries so could be gotten out of order in a pinch.

 

Most of the time, these get a little bit creepy with a nice ghostly, scary setting, but this one took the cake.  A decrepit insane asylum where the traumatic old-style treatments took place and every room more chilling than the last with a bunch of ghosts and odd people was a perfect spooky read.  I was more into the description of the setting and the situations for all those poor haunts than the murder mystery.

 

Verity was her usual Pollyanna naive self that gets on more by luck than anything else which gives her a bravado that had me rolling my eyes along with Frankie and feeling sympathetic to Ellis’ worry that she’s in over her head.  The trouble is that she has a tender, giving heart and blithely ignores danger because she thinks she’s Mother Theresa to all those ghosts. She manages to fumble and bumble her way through each case including this one. When she ends up in a tight spot and the death is knocking, she admits that maybe Ellis and Frankie have a point, but then later, she’s back to offended that they ever doubt her.  She’s a sweetheart and funny. I admire her for doing as well as she is after all that has happened to change her life and I’m not just referring to all the ghost adventures.

 

Verity can be a trip at times, but I have a pretty good time with each story in this series and this one was no exception.  Frankie was his usual gangster wise-cracking self, reluctantly at her side, and comes through when it counts. Verity poo-poos Ellis’ worry, but she’s actually got it pretty good that she has a man who stalwartly believes in her ghost business and in the ghosts, who isn’t scared off, but only struggles because he cares about her safety.  I sure hope she figures out how to compromise instead of the path she’s on insisting he do all the bending.

 

The murder mystery wasn’t hard for me to figure out even when the twists happened, but I enjoyed trailing along behind Verity as she worked to get to the truth.

 

All in all, I zipped through this one enjoying it thoroughly.  It was the first cozy mystery series I liked and remains a firm favorite that I can gladly recommend to those who enjoy spooky-style cozy mysteries that focus on old historical settings around a small town in Tennessee.

 

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

 

About Sophia Rose

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

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Review: We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

Posted April 12, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: We Must Be Brave by Frances LiardetWe Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet
Series: Standalone
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on February 26, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 464
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 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
Spanning the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself.
"This stirring debut will work its way indelibly into your heart." --Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones
One woman. One little girl. The war that changed everything.
December 1940. In the disorderly evacuation of Southampton, England, newly married Ellen Parr finds a small child asleep on the backseat of an empty bus. No one knows who little Pamela is.
Ellen professed not to want children with her older husband, and when she takes Pamela into her home and rapidly into her heart, she discovers that this is true: Ellen doesn't want children. She wants only Pamela. Three golden years pass as the Second World War rages on. Then one day Pamela is taken away, screaming. Ellen is no stranger to sorrow, but when she returns to the quiet village life she's long lived, she finds herself asking: In a world changed by war, is it fair to wish for an unchanged heart?
In the spirit of We Were the Lucky Ones and The Nightingale, here is a novel about courage and kindness, hardship and friendship, and the astonishing power of love.

December  1940 during a rushed evacuation of  Southampton, England, Ellen Parr finds a young child asleep on the back of the bus and no one knows who this child, Pamela is.

Ellen Parr has professed not to want any children with her older husband, Mr.Parr and she finds that she does not, the only one she wants is Pamela.  It’s a rocky start for the two of them, especially for a little girl who longs for her mother and does not know her father. But after three glorious years, Pamela is taken away, leaving behind a broken heart filled with sorrow.

This book. This book took me a while to get into, I will be honest here. It’s dense and long and had parts that I felt could have been edited, but once I started pushing myself through it I grew to enjoy it. Really enjoy it.

The writing was something to get used to, but as the story unfolded, we got to learn about Ellen through her timeline and her childhood and I think that made me appreciate her a little more and everything she went through to become a strong, resilient woman. This book had some really emotionally heartbreaking parts that brought me to near tears, especially centering around young Pamela and Ellen Parr. I loved how the author emphasized that love for a child can span countless decades, and that was evident with how Ellen felt for Pamela years after the two were forced apart.

I love the way the author crafted the characters and took time to allow us not only to enjoy them but also get to know them.

I didn’t particularly liked the way Ellen handled things when Pamela was leaving, it was a bit cruel given everything that they went through, but I grew to realize it was the only way at that time she thought was necessary.

I also felt that maybe their reunion at the end seemed like it could have come sooner than it did, but even so, no matter how long it took I felt like it was still emotional and tear-inducing.

I wish the author did not forget to mention all the letters that Ellen had written to Pamela over the years and maybe mentioned that they were given to Pamela?

Either way, this story was beautifully heartbreaking, and I really enjoyed the characters so much so that I grew attached to them to the point where the end was just absolutely sad. It was hard to let go and brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

Wonderful debut novel and I cannot wait to see what the author will have in store for us in the future.

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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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Review: Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline

Posted April 10, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review: Someone Knows by Lisa ScottolineSomeone Knows by Lisa Scottoline
Series: Standalone
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on April 9, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 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.

From the New York Times-bestselling author comes a pulse-pounding domestic thriller about a group of friends who have been bound for twenty years by a single secret—and will now be undone by it. Someone Knows is an emotional exploration of friendship and family, as well as a psychological exploration of guilt and memory.
Twenty years ago, in an upscale suburb of Philadelphia, four teenagers spent a summer as closest friends: drinking, sharing secrets, testing boundaries. When a new boy looked to join them, they decided to pull a prank on him, convincing him to play Russian roulette as an initiation into their group. They secretly planned to leave the gun unloaded—but what happened next would change each of them forever.
Now three of the four reunite for the first time since that horrible summer. The guilt—and the lingering question about who loaded the gun—drove them apart. But after one of the group apparently commits suicide with a gun, their old secrets come roaring back. One of them is going to figure out if the new suicide is what it seems, and if it connects to the events of that long-ago summer. Someone knows exactly what happened—but who? And how far will they go to keep their secrets buried?

Allie is headed home for the funeral of a childhood friend when she runs into two other people that share a terrible secret that they kept for twenty years.

Twenty years ago a terrible accident happened. No one was supposed to be hurt. The gun was never supposed to be loaded. But someone died, and four other people were there to witness and each carried the secret for years

This was my first foray into Lisa Scottoline’s writing, although I have collected several books from her over the years, I picked this one because it sounded exciting.

I thought this book had a lot of potentials and I liked how it was entertaining enough to keep me flipping through the pages and engaged. Ultimately, it just missed the mark.

The book is riddled with unlikable characters and the book alternates between these characters in chapters, which to me just happened to be one of its downfalls because I really did not like or care for most of these characters. I think there were only one or two characters I really liked and they just did not have enough spotlight in the story.

Even if you skip reading the blurb, it’s easy to predict who dies in the book. The book ends up being kind of split into two sections, one before the ‘accident’ and then the after.

I wish the actual twist in the book was who dies instead of the ‘twist’ that the author decides to throw at us in the end.

The last couple of chapters in the book I think is what ultimately spoiled the book for me. I thought it was just a mess. A completely freaken mess. It was clunky, a bunch of stuff thrown together for shock value that did not make sense to the overall story.

I don’t even know how to explain the stuff that just pissed me off without spoiling the book.

One of those things is the stupid direction it goes with one of the characters that just made my head hurt and honestly felt like it was added to make this book into a thriller. I think this book would have been better off focusing on how the event that occurred shaped the character’s lives.

Then this ultimate twist occurs at the end of the book and I almost threw the damn thing out the window because I was sooooo livid. IT DID NOT MAKE SENSE. I’m sorry. If it was added for shock value. Congrats. I am shocked. Shocked that it was even put in the book.

To break it down without spoiling it to the best of my ability. Knowing what we did from the book, this character’s actions did not make sense to me, especially if the character knew what was going to already happen the following day at that moment in time. Also, the behavior of the character in the epilogue after learning this horrible twist did not coincide with the character’s behavior from just witnessing the event. How it affected the character’s life, then and how it affected life after just did not make sense to me. It felt like it would have affected them worse, instead it felt like they basically said “oh well, we know now… we move on”

It just…

No.

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