Book review

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell book review

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell book review @ Chocolate and Chapters

The Last MagicianThe Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars ★★★★
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical
Source: Purchased, received in July LitJoy box

When Esta was just a toddler, she was found in a park by a man called “The Professor.” Esta has magical abilities and was raised in a place with other magical people (“Mageus”) where she developed those abilities to perfection. She can bend time; so effectively that with the help of a magical item, she can time travel. She uses this ability specifically as a master thief.

Magic like Esta’s is all but extinct in her modern-day New York City. There is a magical force around the city called “The Brink” which allows the Mageus to come in, but never to leave. They are trapped. The Professor sends Esta back in time to 1902, when The Brink was just put in place.

All in an attempt to destroy it once and for all.

I’ve discovered something about myself recently: If I enjoy a fantasy book, it’s almost always because it’s based in the real world. My real world. I personally need stories based in a world I can relate to because world-building bores me, plain and simple. So the fact that this book was set in New York City was a plus on my list.

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Book review

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee book review

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and VirtueThe Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars ★★★★
Genre: Historical, Young Adult
Source: Purchased, received in SpearCraft book box

Eighteen year old Henry “Monty” Montague is the privileged and very badly behaved son of an English Duke. After being kicked out of his last boarding school, his father is allowing him to go on one last “Tour” across Europe in the hopes that he’ll grow out of his lewd and outrageous ways and come home to manage the family estate. Monty has no intentions of any such thing. He’s interested primarily in partying it up as much as he can, and he’s not thinking beyond that.

Along for the ride is Monty’s best friend Percy and his younger sister, Felicity. After Monty makes some silly and impulsive decisions, the three of them are thrown onto a wild ride that carries them all across Europe.

This book is essentially a mash-up of two things we know and love: Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. (I’ve been reading a lot of if-these-two-things-were-mixed books lately. At least this one was successful.)

Anyway, I’ll explain:

Let’s pretend that Harry Potter was actually set in 18th century, non-magical England. Hermione is exactly the same, but Ron is less goofy and Harry is very sexually promiscuous. Through no plan of their own, they are thrown into a wild adventure that takes them to many different places, meeting interesting people and coming into harm’s way more often than they’d like. Oh, and Harry and Ron have the hots for each other.

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Book review

The Saturday Evening Girls Club by Jane Healey book review

The Saturday Evening Girls Club: A NovelThe Saturday Evening Girls Club: A Novel by Jane Healey

My rating: 2 of 5 stars ★★
Genre: Historical
Source: Purchased, received in Once Upon a Book Club box

Caprice is the daughter of Italian immigrants who dreams of opening her own hat shop. She attends the Saturday Evening Girls Club with three of her best friends, all of whom also come from immigrant families. As the four girls try to make their way and discover who they are in an ever-changing America, they find that the tradition of their families is difficult to escape. They navigate love, education, family, and dreams, all while attending the Club and supporting each other through it all.

Sigh. This book is essentially the less-good version of what you’d get if you took a huge pot and mixed together the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the book The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

And if you’re like me, naming those two (My Big Fat Greek Wedding and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) as “similar” might give you hope. But unfortunately, this book is missing all of the fun and relatability of those two stories. It’s actually quite dull.

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Book review

If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss book review

If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss book review @ Chocolate and Chapters

If The Creek Don't  RiseIf The Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars ★★★★
Genre: Historical
Source: e-ARC from NetGalley/publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark Publishing

Sadie Blue is pregnant and newly married to an mean, abusive moonshiner. Life is undoubtedly hard. Not only for her, but for all the people who live in the North Carolina mountain town of Baines Creek. Everyone in the town, from Sadie’s grandmother to the new schoolteacher, have secrets to keep and a past that won’t stop following them.

If you’re not familiar with the North Carolina mountains, you should be. I’ve had the privilege of visiting them over the past few years and have a profound love for them. I only wish I could call those mountains “Home.”

If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss book review @ Chocolate and Chapters

The Appalachians are remarkably beautiful, but even I know that they have seen a sad and painful history.

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Book review

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt book review

See What I Have DoneSee What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars ★★
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Crime
Source: e-ARC from NetGalley/publisher, Grove Atlantic Publishing

On a hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to their maid, “Someone has cut Father.” Both Andrew Borden and his wife have been brutally murdered with an ax, but there is a baffling lack of evidence. Was there a stranger near the house? Was it Lizzie herself? In this book, the reader sees into the minds of four of the main players in the still-unsolved Borden murders.

When I was young, I was the kid who vegged in front of the TV, watching shows with titles like, “America’s Creepiest Destinations,” “America’s Most Haunted,” and so on.

And trust me, the Borden house was featured on most of those lists. I knew plenty about the Borden murders before beginning this book, which made me very excited to be swept away by the story.

Because like I did, maybe you’re asking yourself, “Could a book about an unsolved double murder be anything but riveting?”

And I’m here to tell you that unfortunately: YES. It can be. 

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Book review

The Last to See Me by M. Dressler book review

The Last to See MeThe Last to See Me by M. Dressler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars ★★★★★
Genre: Mystery
Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss/the publisher, SkyHorse Publishing

In a small logging town along the coast of Northern California, there stands a beautiful historic home. A ghost named Emma Finnis haunts it, growing with each new member of the family for about a hundred years now. She has been around long enough to know how to stay “alive” in this semi-alternate universe, where hauntings are frightening, but regular, occurrences and ghost hunting is a profession.

Emma has seen many ghost hunters come through her pretty mansion before. She’s smart and knows how to handle herself to avoid detection. But the newest hunter is the best at what he does and Emma isn’t planning on going anywhere without a fight.

As we get to know Emma and her hunter better, we learn that maybe people (including the seemingly innocent Emma herself) aren’t always what they seem.

The Last to See Me by M. Dressler book review @ Chocolate and Chapters

I wasn’t expecting this book to be so perfectly eerie. There is an ethereal, ominous feeling throughout the entire story. Will Emma last through the cleaning? Do we really want her to?

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Book review

Remember When by Lindsay Detwiler book review + Giveaway!

remember when

Remember WhenRemember When by Lindsay Detwiler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars ★★★★
Genre: Contemporary, Romance (PG-rated)
Source: Author

Jessica and Todd get into a major car accident on a frigidly cold, snowy night. They’re stranded in the backwoods with increasingly slim chances of rescue. Todd is injured and they don’t know how to begin getting out of their dangerous situation. While they wait out the days-long snow storm, they think back on their lives. Both the joy and the pain. And come to terms with the fact that they might not make it out alive.

I was surprised by this book. I really was.

Todd and Jess are realistic, lovable characters. When people pine and daydream about finding love, they should daydream about finding a relationship like Todd and Jess’s. It’s romantic, but most of all, it’s a deep friendship. They love each other in every way, in spite of and because of each other’s imperfections.

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