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review 2020-04-23 04:06
A Love Song for Liars (Rivals #1) by: Piper Lawson
A Love Song for Liars (Rivals #1) - Piper Lawson




The young girl with a sensitive heart has blossomed into a strong-willed woman. Annie is most definitely her father's daughter. She does not suffer fools easily and she keeps her emotions close to the vest. A Love Song for Liars is a tale of firsts. First love has become a first heartache that has quickly blossomed into haunting regrets. For Annie, Tyler is her greatest mistake. For Tyler, Annie is the one that got away. Lawson introduced us to the dream. Young love at it's most fragile has become a painful reminder of what was. Can two lost souls begin again to find out if what was, is worth risking forever after? Sweet and sinful explode into a heartache that lingers like a perfume on the air.

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review 2019-12-16 12:57
A cozy mystery full of Southern charm, wit, and many laughs
Liars & Lunatics in Goose Pimple Junction - Amy Metz

The author provided me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. This in no way influenced my opinion.

I have read and enjoyed some of the books in the collection, but I somehow missed number 4, and that, perhaps helps me tailor my comment also towards readers who might be considering reading this book without having checked the rest. Yes, the story is self-contained, although there are references to events that have taken place in previous books, and a lot of the characters will be familiar to those following the series, who will be in a better position to understand the background to some of the interactions and also the web of relationships and the ins and outs of life at Goose Pimple Junction. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I love the name of the place! So, regarding the issue of reading it as a standalone, I’d say one does not need to have read all the books in the series to enjoy it, but because some of the characters have names and nicknames (witty and funny, I admit), and their relationships are not always evident, it might get a bit confusing to follow the story if you are totally new to it. On the other hand, as I said, I had missed one of the books, and I could pick up the narrative without any problem. I am convinced, though, that reading them all in order enhances the experience, and it’s like visiting a familiar place where you always have fun and renew old friendships every time you go.

The way the story is told is quite interesting, and it adds to the mystery. We start with a murder (a new character, Virgil, who is in the race to become the mayor of the town, is murdered in mysterious circumstances), a confession, and then we go back to several months before the event, counting back to the time of the crime, and then moving forward with the investigation. It works well, because we keep mulling over in our minds how everything we read might relate to the crime (and there are other suspicious deaths as well), and this results in plenty of red herrings, more and more suspects and plenty of possible motives (Virgil is far from a nice man, as we discover. In fact, he is a narcissist who treats women badly, and his business practices and politics aren’t much better either). Although told in third person, the narration follows the points of views of several of the characters, without ever giving us an advantage when it comes to solving the mystery. We might think we know what has happened, and we are privy to some information the sheriff department don’t have, but things are, of course, not as straightforward as they seem to be.

As the mystery part of the plot advances, we also get to learn more about some new arrivals to the town (not totally new, but I’ll avoid spoilers), and also catch up on what has happened to those inhabitants we have come to know and cherish. There are romances developing, a new cupcake shop (if you’re on a diet, I’d take care with the book, as there are many reference to Killer Cupcakes, both the shop and the actual items), there are shady business deals (moonshine liquor, buying land with coercion and under false pretences), there is Oktoberfest to spice up things and bring in the party atmosphere (the fancy dresses, mostly wordplay related, bring in plenty of chuckles), and the ending is very satisfying, and it hints at even better times to come for Goose Pimple Junction. (Yes, I want to move there, or at least go for a very long holiday).

The story flows well, moves at good pace, and the combination of the mystery aspects with the lives of the characters is seamless. I highlighted so many parts of the dialogue, funny repartees, and quotes, that I was unable to choose just a few to add to this review, so my recommendation is to check a sample of the book if you’re trying to decide if you’ll enjoy it or not. I wonder if a list of characters, with their names, nicknames, and relationships might serve as a memory aid for readers visiting the town again, and might also assist readers totally new to the series.

The Southern-style sayings and the dialect of the region (Tennessee), the peculiar lingo and expressions of some of the townspeople, the new characters (I liked Daisy, but her mother, Kaye, must be my favourite new addition), and the quotes at the beginning of the chapter (all about lying and liars), give this book its unique flavour, and people who’ve read previous books in the series and loved them, will have a blast with this one.

I recommend this book to lovers of cozy mysteries, especially those who enjoy stories set in the Southern part of the USA and prefer their crimes laced with plenty of humour, wit, and local flavour. I think the novel works better as part of the series, and I’d recommend people who like the sound of it to start at the beginning, with Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction. I hope to keep on visiting the town in the future, that is, if I don’t manage to move there!

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review 2019-07-23 03:15
A PI, a Horrific Death, and a Magical High School combine for a solid novel
Magic For Liars - Sarah Gailey



But this? A real murder case? This was the kind of thing that private detectives didn’t do anymore. It was what had made me get my PI license in the first place―the possibility that I might get to do something big and real, something nobody else could do. I didn’t know the first thing about solving a murder, but this was my chance to find out if I could really do it. If I could be a real detective, instead of a halfway-there failure. If this part of my life could be different from all the other parts, all the parts where I was only ever almost enough.


I won’t try to pinpoint the first lie I told myself over the course of this case. That’s not a useful thread to pull on. The point is, I really thought I was going to do things right this time. I wasn’t going to fuck it up and lose everything. That’s what I told myself as I stared at the old picture of me and Tabitha.


This time was going to be different. This time was going to be better. This time, I was going to be enough.

I can't describe the book more succicently than the blurb does, so let's use it and save us all some time (if you ignore the 4 drafts of it that I've abandoned):

When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister―without losing herself.

Ivy is a PI (much more on that in a moment), a Muggle (if you will allow me to import a term), who is totally not jealous of her twin sister, Tabitha, a gifted magic user. Except that she's absolutely jealous and angry with her sister for somethings she did and didn't do back in high school. But she knows about the world of magic―at least that it exists―which makes her the best candidate to come in and investigate the murder that has been officially described as an accident.


There's a Hogwarts joke on page one, which was a relief for me―it was going to be that kind of book. Yeah, there's magic and fantasy elements, but there's also SF/F fiction and an awareness of it. So there's a Potter-esque element to this, but there's a very The Magicians feel, too. The magic in it is at once like most Fantasy/Urban Fantasy magic, but Gailey puts a distinctive stamp on it―it's as fantastic as you want it to be, but it's also pretty dull (except in a couple of scenes). Dull's not the right word, but most of the time you see magic, it's not as exciting as it was the first few times you saw it in Hogwarts (or Diagon Alley) or in Brakebills. Which is because the focus isn't on the magic―the focus is on the relationship between Ivy and Tabitha, Ivy coming to terms with her Muggle-ness/place in the world, and events and relationships with the students. Now, when the story calls for magic to take center stage, it does so in a wonderful way―but typically, the magic takes a back seat to other things.


Ironically enough, given the setting, Ivy Gamble might be the most realistic PI that I've read about lately. The types of cases she works, her financial situation, her awareness of her liabilities (as quoted above, she knows the case she's taken on is beyond her grasp―but that doesn't mean she won't try), the way she thinks about life. She screams authentic―at least compared to most fictional counterparts. She's good at what she does, but she's no Spenser, Elvis Cole or Lydia Chin―she's close to Kinsey Millhone, but not quite. I love listening to her talk about being a private detective:

Here's the truth about most detective work: it’s boring, grueling, and monotonous. It involves a lot of being in the right place at the wrong time. But if you spend enough hours being in the right place, eventually, it’ll be the right time. You have to be able to recognize it.


The other active cases were small potatoes-two disability claims, three cheating spouses, one spouse who wasn’t cheating after all but whose husband couldn’t believe that she had really taken up pottery. She was pretty good at it too.


I’ve always had a good memory for names. Someone once told me at a conference that’s all it really takes to be a private detective: a good memory for names and faces, an eyeball for details, and. a halfway decent invoicing system.

And while Ivy may not be the best detective in the world, she's good―and she knows how to put on enough of a show that she can convince everyone else that she's good enough for the task at hand. While she's lying to herself about a lot, she's lying to everyone around her, too. She's not the only one who's gifted at self-delusion/self-deception. The word "Liars" is in the title for a reason, and the attentive reader (even the half-awake reader) will see why.


The book's about a lot more than self-deception, there's a lot about the role of/importance of family to one's identity―and how a lack of communication coupled with poor assumptions can warp that.


Gailey kept the plot moving quickly―even as the emotional and familial aspects of the story took their time to work things out. Which is a pretty neat trick, a lot of authors would've let things slow down so Ivy and Tabitha could rebuild their relationship, so Ivy could do the soul-searching she needed to, to get deeper into some of the high school relationships, etc. And Gailey hits all those beats (and more), but she does it while keeping the pace going, so you're turning the pages as fast as you can even while you want to explore the quieter aspects of the story.


Magic for Liars is well-written, well-paced, with a great solution―both to the main plot and to the other storylines, in a wonderful world told in a creative way. But I wanted a little more from it. I can't put my finger on just where it came up a little short for me, but it did. But make no mistake―I recommend people go read this, because I think most readers will like it more than I did. And I did like the book, I just wanted to like it more. I can't imagine that Gailey will return to this world (or to these characters, anyway)―but if I'm wrong, I'll definitely read a sequel. Either way, I'll definitely be on the lookout for whatever Gailey's got coming next


2019 Library Love Challenge2019 Cloak & Dagger Challenge

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review 2019-05-26 02:12
Magical Murder-A Must Read!!!
Magic For Liars - Sarah Gailey

I read Magic For Liars in one sitting---I couldn't put it down! Halfway through my power went out. No problem. I pulled out my mom's old vanilla spice candles and I finished this book by candlelight!


Ivy Gamble is a Private Investigator who lives a normal, boring, (maybe a little lonely) life until she is hired to investigate a murder at the school where her sister works. 'The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages'. Not only does her distinctly un-magical self now have to deal with a very-magical case, but she also needs to navigate a reunion with her sister whom she hasn't spoken to in years.


This book could have easily fallen into the same rut that so many books about magic schools do nowadays. Often they can become 'counterfeit Harry Potters' but this book didn't. However, neither did it ignore the influence the Boy-Who-Lived would have had on the students either. In the first chapter, it talks about how during the welcome back dinner students would joke about house-elves and pumpkin juice. But this linoleum-floored, blue-lockered magic school is very clearly not Hogwarts. A quote from Marrion Torres, the headmaster at Osthorne, sums the school up best. "At the end of the day, we're just a high school. (...) That means gum, graffiti, cell phones, sex-ed, stupid pranks, students smoking weed behind the bleachers." A refreshing and realistic change.


I do wish we'd been able to meet more of the staff and students, but the characters we did have were fleshed out and amazing. Sarah Gailey also does a great job in making the reader doubt the accuracy of their guesses about who the murderer is. I must have gone back and forth half a dozen times!


Although this is not a Young Adult book, I think readers of YA would enjoy this book as well as older audiences.


I loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the school, I loved the plot. The only problem I have is that I wish there was more.



Thanks to BookishFirst for this copy of Magic for Liars in exchange for an honest review!!!

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review 2019-05-21 19:03
Magic For Liars
Magic For Liars - Sarah Gailey

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

A mystery where Ivy, a private investigator, has to address a potential murder in a magic school, where her own twin sister Tabitha is a teacher—her sister, who was gifted with magic, while herself wasn’t. That’s a recipe for disaster, or at least, for tense relationships and/or resentment.

And I enjoyed, indeed, the out-of-balance relationship between the two sisters, based on a lot of unsaid things, feelings and resent left to simmer for years, with each contending with a difficult event in a way that made the other sister believe they didn’t care, or not so much. Well, it was especially imbalanced when Ivy was concerned, since she was the one at home when the said event occurred, and had to live through it with the feeling that Tabby was too busy with her studies. But this long-festering resentment also came hand in hand with a wistful, half-buried, never fully admitted, desire for magic as well: Ivy telling herself she’s fine as she is, that she doesn’t want magic, can never really hide the regret that magic separated her from her twin. A good chunk of the story deals with this complicated relationship, as well as with Ivy wondering “what if” (what if she had been magic, too?), and seeing herself as the woman she never was, and that she probably wouldn’t have minded being. Along with her investigation, this leads her to spin more and more lies: some appearing as necessary, to throw the potential culprit off-balance while Ivy is fishing for clues, and some that are, let’s say, less justified, if not by her feelings.

On the other hand, there were times when Ivy came off as wallowing in self-pity a little too much for my liking, and when she became unsympathetic rather than touching. So the character development and relationships were interesting in general, though tedious at those times I mentioned.

The magic itself is not all stars and sparkles, and this makes it more interesting than neat spells and wand-waving. First, it can be pretty gross. Healing spells, for instance, are gruesome and difficult, and only the best mages can attempt them without killing themselves or their patient. And there’s also something twisted and petty to the way some of the students use their magic—one of the things Ivy reflect upon: they could do so much with it… but they’re still teenagers wrapped in their own drama, and so use it in a very self-centred and sometimes mean way.

The mystery part was where I think the novel wasn’t as strong as it could’ve been. The crime itself is one of magic (not a spoiler—you see the discovery of the body in the first chapter), and this, of course, throws additional difficulty in the path of our investigator, since she’s not familiar with spells and with what mages can or can’t do. Which is partly why she needs to do so much fishing. Yet at the same time, I felt that it lacked tension, that Ivy wasn’t as threatened as she could have been. And the clues were either something she stumbled upon (so not exactly screaming “investigation” here), or so subtle that they were really difficult for a reader to spot. Not to mention some parts of the ending. Some things were left unfinished, and while I do enjoy an open ending, here something was missing—some closure when it came to certain characters and facts, who/which were in fact sort of… brushed aside as “that was bad and they did a bad thing and oh it’s the end, bye.”

Conclusion: 3 to 3.5 stars? I quite liked this novel, but it’s a like” and not a “love” here.

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