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review 2019-01-19 11:49
The Magnolia Inn by Carolyn Brown
The Magnolia Inn - Carolyn Brown

 

 

Life is not about the mistakes made, but the lessons learned. For Tucker and Jolene fate is about to teach them the beauty of a second chance. Knocked down by life, crippled by heartache and wishing for something more, the lonely widower and the determined thorn in his side are about to discover that even a bruised heart can heal. The Magnolia Inn is a restoration project for the soul.

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review 2019-01-19 08:45
Illegally Yours (Laws of Attraction, #2) by Kate Meader
Illegally Yours - Kate Meader

 

An instant attraction at the worst possible time. Illegally Yours takes mixing business with pleasure to a whole new level. Lucas is about to break his number one rule and lose his heart in the process. Kate Meader is back to steam up bookshelves while charming her way into your heart. Lawyer, Lucas is about to get schooled in matters of the heart and Trinity Jones is happy to teach him a lesson he won't soon forget. Let the laughter commence and the good times roll. A laugh out loud, can't put down, piece of fun.

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review 2019-01-17 19:57
Fawkes
Fawkes - Nadine Brandes

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Gorgeous cover (I admit the cover + the title are what drew me to the book in the first place), and also an interesting take on historical events by showing them under the colours (see what I did there) of magic rather than religion. In this alternate early 17th-century world, people are able to bond with a specific colour, and exert control over items of this colour through the wearing of a mask. The conflict arises from how people view the use of colours: Keepers (the ‘Protestants’) believe that a person should only master one colour and not give in to the ‘White Light’ that governs them all, lest greed devours them and twists their powers to nefarious ends; while Igniters (the ‘Catholics’) believe that listening to the White Light, and controlling more than one colour, is the way to go. Both factions are in conflict not only because of these views, but because of a plague that turns people to stone, with each camp blaming the other for the advent of this mysterious illness.

Enters our protagonist and point of view character, Thomas Fawkes, son of the (now) infamous Guy Fawkes, who’s been struck by this very Stone Plague and can’t wait until he gets a mask of his own, learns to master a colour, and hopefully manages to heal himself, or at least make sure the plague will stay dormant in him and never spread further than his eye. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and as he finds himself reunited with his father, the latter offers him a place in a plot meant to blow up the King and Parliament (as in, literally blow up, re: Guy Fawkes, Bonfire Night, and all that).

So. Very, very interesting premise, and I really loved reading about the London that is the backdrop in this novel—not least because I actually go very often in the areas depicted here, and I enjoy retracing in my mind the characters’ steps in streets that I know well enough. Little winks are found here and there, too, such as Emma’s favourite bakery on Pudding Lane, or a stroll to the Globe. It may not seem much, but it always makes me smile.

The story was a slow development, more focused on the characters than on a quick unfolding of the plot. I don’t know if the latter is a strong or a weak point, because I feel it hinges on the reader’s knowledge of the actual Gunpowder Plot: if you know about it, then I think what matters more is not its outcome, but the journey to it, so to speak. If you don’t know it, though, the novel may in turn feel weak in that regard, by not covering it enough. I didn’t mind this slow development, since it allowed for room for the side plot with Emma and the Baron’s household, and I liked Emma well enough. I still can’t decide whether her secret felt genuine or somewhat contrived, but in the end, it didn’t matter so much, because she was a kickass person, with goals of her own, and actually more interesting than Thomas.

As a side note: yes, there is romance here. Fortunately, no gratuitous kiss and sex scenes that don’t bring anything to the story and only waste pages. In spite of the blurb that mentions how Thomas will have to choose between the plot and his love (= usually, a sure recipe for catastrophe in YA, with characters basically forgetting the meaning of things like “priorities” or “sense of responsibility”), it is more subtle than that. Thomas at least also starts considering other people being involved, such as, well, the three hundred Members of Parliament meant to go up in flames along with the King. Casualties, and all that…

Bonus points for White Light, who we don’t see much of, but was overall engaging and somewhat funny in a quirky way. I just liked its interventions, period.

Where I had more trouble with the story was Thomas himself, who was mostly whiny and obsessed with getting his mask. All the time. You’d get to wonder why his father trusted him and invited him to be part of the plot in the first place. Often enough, he came as self-centered and constantly wavering in his beliefs. While I can totally understand that the prospect of his plague suddenly spreading left him in a state of constant, nagging fear, and therefore prone to focus on this more than on other people’s interests, the way he hesitated between which way to pursue (stay faithful to the plot, or listen to the White Light, or shouldn’t he listen to his father, but then are his father’s beliefs really his own as well, etc.) was a bit tedious to go through. Good thing Emma was here to set his sight straights, and by this, I don’t mean showing him the light (OK, OK, I should stop with the puns now), but making him aware that her circumstances are more complicated than he thinks, in his own ‘privileged’ way, even though his being plagued does contribute to a common understanding of being immediately rejected because of what one looks like.

Also, let’s be honest, Guy wasn’t exactly Father of the Year either, and the story didn’t focus much on developing his ties with Thomas. They were united through the plot, but that was pretty much all, when this could’ve been a wonderful opportunity to reunite them differently, in deeper ways, too. There just wasn’t enough about him, about his personality, and in turn, this lessened the impact of Thomas’ decisions when it came to him.

Another issue for me was the magic system. I got the broad lines, and the reason for the Keepers/Igniters divide, but apart from that, we weren’t shown how exactly this magic works. It is, I’m sure, more subtle than simply voicing an order to a specific colour, and there seems to be a whole undercurrent of rules to it, that aren’t really explained. For instance, why can the masks only be carved by the biological father or mother of a person, and not by an adoptive parent (or even by anyone else)?

Mention in passing as well to language: sometimes, it veered into too modern territory (I mean 20/21st-century modern English specifically, not ‘but Shakespeare’s English was technically Modern English, too’ ;)). I think it was especially prevalent in Thomas’ discussions with White Light, and I found this jarring.

Conclusion: 3 stars, as I still liked the story overall, as well as the world depicted in it, despite the questions I still have about it. I was hoping for a stronger story, though.

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review 2019-01-17 15:48
loved the humor, honesty, and steamy scenes
Game On - Kelly Jamieson

I loved this book! It was full of humor, steam, and honesty (except with themselves). Olivia learned to believe what others said about her because of Cam's directness. He was a sweet but mixed up man. By the end of the book, there were tears and smiles. I did not want to stop reading this story. I highly recommend this story. It was sort of sad to end this series, but I look forward to the next one.

I received an ARC through Netgalley, and this is my unsolicited review.

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review 2019-01-17 13:59
ARC REVIEW One Night Gamble by Katherine Garbera
One Night Gamble (Joker's Wild, #1)Jokers Wild #1, Jokers Wild is a new Casino in Las Vegas it's owned by three friends who have been by each other's side since they were kids and they have in their each way made it big. Casey the gambler, Nicholas the magician, and Darien the dare devil; all three of them invested their money together to create a new experience for those coming to Vegas. Talia has spent the last seven years of her life cleaning up her father's mess, an inept gambler, if it wasn't for Talia her grandmother would have lost the house to a loan shark because he used it as collateral. Talia has sworn off gamblers she's concentrating on her job and taking care of her Gran.

Talia has the opportunity to get a really good job managing the social media for the new Jokers Wild casino if she gets this no more working two jobs. Casey isn't looking for anything more than a good time but a chance encounter with a woman not once but three times in one day has him thinking differently. One wild and hot night was all it was supposed to be until the next day when they realize Casey is Talia's new boss.

Talia and Casey's sexual attraction is very strong the chemistry is there, but Talia focus so much on the fact that Casey is a gambler and that is basically the epitome of everything she hates that as the reader I had a hard time seeing anything else in the way of Casey's redeeming qualities besides the sexual attraction. Whereas Casey loved everything about Talia you could tell even when she was being obstinate he still loved her and he was trying very hard to get her to see a future for them. Told in the third person POV you get a omniscient view of both sides of their story.

Overall, it was a very smokin' hot story. I enjoyed the characters and their story and I look forward to Nick and Darien's books.     

 

 

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