Author: Holly

Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

Posted November 13, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. JamesReviewer: Holly
The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Library, Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Gothic, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 319
Length: 9 hours and 58 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-stars

The award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare and Silence for the Dead, presents another mesmerizing gothic story of intrigue...

London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own séances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead—at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can't refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it...

The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James is available for the Audible Escape package. I downloaded it after finishing Silence for the Dead, because I wanted more from St. James and because I enjoyed the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, quite a bit. This gothic romance is perfect for the fall season.

Ellie Winter is a psychic Medium. When a rival Medium, Gloria Sutter, is murdered and her brother shows up asking for Ellie’s help in finding her, Ellie agrees reluctantly. She and Gloria had been friends once upon a time, but Gloria betrayed Ellie in a devastating way and they hadn’t spoken in years. If Gloria hadn’t left a note with her brother “Tell Ellie Winter to find me”, Ellie probably would have told him no. As it is, despite her anger and hurt over Gloria’s betrayal, she can’t walk away.

James Hawley is an investigator for the “New Society”. He, and his colleagues, try to verify or debunk psychics. He was instrumental in declaring Ellie’s mother a fraud, but something about their case has always bothered him. As the only verified true psychic – something he helped prove – Gloria had a lot of notoriety in London. Discovering if his findings are part of the reason she was murdered has James helping Ellie.

This is the second novel by St. James I’ve read. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first, but it was still a creepy, lovely tale. I quite enjoyed the setting – mid 1920s London – and the glimpse into the life of a true Medium who can see and summon spirits. Ellie’s talent in that regard came across well. I enjoyed her as whole, in fact. She was independent and strong, yet had a vein of vulnerability and loneliness running through her that made her easy to connect with.

I enjoyed the mystery of why Gloria Sutter was murdered, and by whom. I had the majority of things figured out, but still there were some twists and turns I didn’t see coming. This was a cozy, atmospheric Gothic novel not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Trade Me by Courtney Milan

Posted November 11, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Trade Me by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Trade Me by Courtney Milan
Narrator: Xe Sands
Series: Cyclone #1
Also in this series: Trade Me, Hold Me
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 19, 2015
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 279
Length: 7 hours and 45 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-half-stars

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart...but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

Trade Me is the first book in Courtney Milan’s Cyclone series. I enjoy her historicals, but mixed reviews put me off reading this series when it was released (not to mention my own misgivings about authors who switch from historical to contemporary coughJulieGarwoodcough). When I saw it in the Audible Escape package, I decided to give it a try. Xe Sands narrated, and though I struggled with it in the beginning, I came to really enjoy the way she read the story.

Tina Chen is a struggling college student who is barely getting by. Between her own needs and trying to help her family out, she’s living under the constant strain of not having enough money. When golden boy Blake Reynolds, the son of a billionaire, makes an offhand comment about the “poor” in one of her classes, Tina snaps back at him. To her surprise, Blake offers her a trade – she can move into his house and live with his money, and he’ll take on her responsibilities. The catch? She’ll have to act as his girlfriend so his father doesn’t find out about their trade. Tina is torn, but the money is hard to turn down.

Blake is dealing with his own struggles, and having money isn’t making them any easier. He hopes this time away from his life will give him the chance to get things back under control. But he’s finding that Tina is better for him than he ever imagined. As they spend time together, they realize some of their secrets are easy to get past..while others may break them.

I really liked both Tina and Blake. The blurb made them sound more hostile than they were. It wasn’t so much “You could NEVER live my life”/”YES I CAN”, but more “you don’t understand”/”let me try”, which I actually appreciated more. I liked that both Blake and Tina had their own struggles. One might say the adage “money can’t buy happiness” applies here, but so does “..but it sure would help.”.

I enjoyed the romance and how these two came to care for each other as they got to know one another as their secrets were slowly revealed. This is where the novel truly shines for me. Tina and Blake were such an unlikely pair, yet their formed a true, strong connection that came across very vividly. They truly became friends, which made their jump into romance easy to believe.

I really liked Adam and Blake’s relationship, and the love/embarrassment struggle Tina had with her parents. Family ties can be both a blessing and a curse, and I think Milan really showcased that here. The love, pressure, guilt and happiness came through so well, I really connected with both Tina and Blake in this area.

Overall this was a great story with flawed, multi-faceted characters. Though I struggled with the ending, I can’t deny this was a smart novel and I really enjoyed the depth of the characters.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Cyclone

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Posted November 10, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

What to do when everyone you’ve always relied on seem to disappear at the moment you need them the most? Look to yourself for the answers. From Stephanie Butland, the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop, THE CURIOUS HEART OF AILSA RAE (St. Martin’s Griffin, October 29, 2019, $17.99), will warm readers from the inside out. An emotional story about love and loss, Butland’s thoughtful imagination will tug at the heartstrings of all readers.

Sunday Spotlight: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie ButlandThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Pages: 397
Add It: Goodreads
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Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She's only a few months past the heart transplant that - just in time - saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point. She knows she needs to find her father. She's missed so much that her friends have left her behind. She's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. And now she's supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .

Excerpt

9 October, 2017

Ailsa is alone when it happens.

‘We think we have your heart.’ Bryony, the transplant coordinator, is smiling from ear to ear, for once. Given that her usual message is No News Yet, that’s hardly surprising.

Ailsa feels her hands fly to her chest, as though to protect what’s in there, hold it before it dies. She makes herself move them to her lap. They are shaking. So is her voice.

‘A new heart?’ And then she feels the patched-up heart she has summon up the life to expand with hope: with permission.

Her head is a scramble of thoughts, the practical and the terrible. She needs to be nil by mouth, so when did she last eat? Where is her mum? If she’s getting a heart, that means someone, somewhere has died.

Ailsa’s mother rushes in behind Bryony, breathless, bringing cold air and cigarette smoke with her. They fight the stuffiness of the room for a second before being absorbed. ‘They told me at the nurses’ station to get along here fast. What’s happened?’ She steps across the room; her hand is in her daughter’s. All Ailsa can do is nod at her, squeeze her fingers, because her throat has tightened and her mouth is drier than usual. She wants to say: I wish you had been here when Bryony came in. You deserved to hear it with me. But that’s silly, and unimportant, and anyway, you don’t get to choose these things. You get to accept them.

‘We need to have you prepped and in theatre in three hours,’ Bryony says. ‘Hold onto your hats.’ She flips open the file in her hand, picks up Ailsa’s notes from the bottom of the bed, and so it begins.

Or ends, depending on which way you look at it.

From The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: November 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Stephanie Butland

Author Photo

Stephanie Butland is a writer, who is thriving after breast cancer. (She used to say she was a survivor, but that was a bit lacking in joie de vivre.)
Although she’d never have chosen it, her dance with cancer has changed her life in many positive ways. Now she is happier, healthier, and more careful with her precious life and the precious people and things in it.

Her writing career began with her dance with cancer, and now she is a novelist.

Aside from writing, she works as a speaker and trainer, and she works with charities to help raise awareness and money in the hope that cancer will soon be about as scary as a wart.

She lives in Northumberland.


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WTF Cover Saturday (334)

Posted November 9, 2019 by Holly in Features | 2 Comments

The photoshop job on this lipstick? Why??

Also, the font… I keep reading this as “Club Menace”. Which, I’m pretty sure, is a different thing entirely.


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What Are You Reading? (505)

Posted November 8, 2019 by Holly in Features | 4 Comments

Casee: I’ve been doing better this month than last month when it comes to reading. I’m reading Into the Dark by Karen Rose. I adore Karen Rose. Her books are always riveting and have me on the edge of my seat. I’ve only read one chapter, but it proves that this book is going to be amazing. I can’t wait to dive into it.

I’m supposed to be listening to Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James. Holly and I started it when I was visiting over the weekend. Alas, I couldn’t stop listening to A.L. Jackson’s Bleeding Stars series. I’m on the last book of the series, which is called Stand. I’m really looking forward to getting further into it. I love the two narrators.

Holly: I’m sick with a head cold, so I haven’t been able to focus on reading much this week. I re-read Alpha & Omega and Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs, and re-listened to Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James (because I forced Casee to listen to it with me while she was in town). Aside from that, I got nothing. I’ve been binge-watching the early seasons of Supernatural instead of reading.

I’m still currently listening to An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James and reading Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep.

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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