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#BookReview : Esme’s Gift (Esme Series #2) by Elizabeth Foster @e_foster3 @OdysseyBooks

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Esme’s Gift (Esme Series #2) by Elizabeth Foster
Publication Date: November 30th 2019
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy
Pages: 266
Stars: ★★★★★

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver is faced with her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift – the power to observe the past – and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends – old and new – travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must confront their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places. Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is an enthralling fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

*** Note: I received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Elizabeth Foster. ***

Previous Book in Series:

Esme’s Gift was fantastic middle grade fantasy, set in the parallel magical world and revolved around Esme’s efforts in saving her mother. It was about resilience, righteousness, good vs evil, friendship, greed of power, and using gift wisely.

I loved this book more than first one. Writing was better, fabulous, gripping and as magical as its setting. Book was written in third person narrative from Esme’s perspective. It felt so good to read Esme and her adventure in Aeolia once again.

Book started with Esme returning back to her home in Picton Island to let her dad know about her mom and convince him to come with her to Aeolia. But that didn’t turn out well, he didn’t believe a word she said and forced her to run off to Aeolia once again. She wanted to be beside her mother who needed her more. Meanwhile she joined school at Aeolia, made new friends, met mysterious boy and found a lot about Aeolian history and myth.

Through her history project she found out important thing related to her mother. She knew what could save her and rouse her from her comma, a magical elixir. But its recipe was incomplete and ingredients were rare and illegal. For that she needed to master her gift first and travel far and dangerous places to get ingredients.

It was interesting to find out if Esme will succeed in helping her mother or get in trouble once again, what will happen to her and her mother if she failed and if her father will try to believe her and come to Aeolia.

Esme was great throughout the book. Her enthusiasm, optimism and curiosity was infectious. She dug deep to get all the answers, to find out the truth with her history project and her mother’s condition. She was developed character, kind, and compassionate with conscience mind. She knew how to fight unfairness and voice her opinion whenever necessary. What I like about her most was she wasn’t week, or reckless or grumpy teenage. She cared for her friends, helped them when needed and understood the gravity of danger.

Both Daniel and Lillian were amazing friends. They never retreated or hesitated from danger or left Esme alone. Their gift were amazing. This time Lillian’s gift surfaced and she could sing song-spell well. One time it did went wrong and it was fun to read.

New characters Vince, Meera and Seth were interesting and so were their gifts. Seth was mysterious one. I had my doubts like Esme but I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t guess who he was and what he did in the book.

What I loved most about the book was world and adventure. There was hell lot of things in this world. Aeolia and its history was well described. Its origin, some history, and people of Aeolia was covered in first book but here there was a small part of it that helped to get the idea as there was 2 years gap between this and first book. I loved the history part and stories of ghosts.

Most of the people in this picturesque world had gift- fire breather and fire repellent, Songstress (like sirens), enchanters, healing, muting (I love that one, I wish I could mute people), Ice animation, and water walker, creating portals through painting, passing though solid objects… you name it. Esme’s gift was rare and fascinating. She could time travel in history by touch of water. I liked the concept behind it which was well explained. I usually don’t like time travel but in here with a touch of magic and gift, it sounded good and interesting. Adventure was exciting and dangerous. There were dragons and all sort of creatures, oracle and her cruel truth, annoying ghost, and deadly curse.

I loved Esme’s experience in school of Aeolia, ongoing political campaign and the part when Esme interacted with dragon. I liked the way author represented horrors human can create and its consequences through political scheming, abusive parents, madness of scientist, greed for power and misuse of gifts.

Mystery was well written. I couldn’t guess how Esme will save her mother or find ingredients and what was to come next. Climax was uncertain and nail biting. I was holding my breath in that scene at hospital after the climax. End was great. I still wanted to know the result of political campaign. But I’m sure it will be revealed in next book. There might be a love story or love triangle in next book, I hope not love triangle.

Overall, it was fun and wonderful fantasy with lots of adventure and magical gifts, interesting characters and broad world. I definitely recommend this book to all middle grade readers and fantasy lovers, but read it in order.

Book Links: Goodreads
Affiliate Link: | | Book Depository

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Have you read this books or any book by the same author?
Are you going to add it to TBR?
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#BlogTour #Spotlight : Cupidity by Lucinda Lamont #Cupidity @lucindalamont7 @NextChapterPB #NextChapterPub @damppebbles #dampebblesblogtours

Hello readers! I totally forgot to change the date later on my calendar and again I’m posting it on different day than I was assigned to. But better late than not posting at all. I’m sharing spotlight as part of blog tour for Cupidity by Lucinda Lamont, organized by damppebbles blog tours. Check out the book details in this post.

Cupidity by Lucinda Lamont
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by Next Chapter Publishing in paperback, audio and ebook formats on 18th May 2019.

Book Blurb:

Britain, World War Two. After newly widowed Martha is invited to live with her wealthy confidante, Mae, she finds herself attracted to her husband.

Meanwhile, an escaped convict is targeting women close to Martha’s new home. After several women are murdered, they realize the danger is closer than they could have ever thought.

As Martha’s passion threatens to unravel her friendships, paths cross with devastating consequences.

About Lucinda Lamont:

Lucinda is 31 years old in lives in Hampshire. Born in Aberdeenshire, she spent the early years of her life in a small fishing town before relocating with her mother to the South Coast.

She is the middle child and only girl with four brothers.

Lucinda began her higher education in studying Performing Arts and then began a degree in Law (but dropped out). She is a qualified hairdresser but the arts always drew her back in and she took up an interest in writing which she now plans to continue to make a career out of.
Mother of one, a baby boy, she works part time for a Business publication and spends her spare time soaking up the Hampshire countryside and plotting her next stories.

Social Media: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Have you read this books or any book by the same author?
Are you going to add it to TBR?


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#BookReview : A Cosy Christmas in Cornwall by Jane Linfoot @janelinfoot @0neMoreChapter_

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A Cosy Christmas in Cornwall by Jane Linfoot
Publication Date: October 19th 2019
Publisher: One More Chapter
Genre: Chick-Lit / Holiday read
Pages: 400
Stars: ★★★★★

A December to remember…

Christmas in a Cornish castle? Sign Ivy Starforth up! Hired to kit out the holiday rental as the world’s most Instagramable festive dreamland, there’s only one thing standing in the way of her hefty paycheque – the lord of the manor.

Bill Markham could give Scrooge a run for his money but Ivy is firmly #TeamChristmas…even if her handsome host seems to be doing everything he can to sabotage her staging. Maybe she shouldn’t have stumbled in on him starkers in the hot tub?

As the temperature outside cools, things inside the castle heat up. It’s been a long time since Ivy allowed herself to give in to temptation…surely one little kiss under the mistletoe won’t hurt?

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to publisher and Rachel. ***

A Cozy Christmas in Cornwall was sweet and delicious Chick-Lit that revolved around Ivy and her very dramatic but cozy Christmas in a Cornish castle. It was about living life at fullest no matter how many times life throws you down, standing up and kicking the troubles in back, take control of life and move on; not to settle for something or someone that makes you unhappy and turn into something that you’re not comfortable with; about Christmas, a holiday of good thing and good luck; and of course romance.

Writing was amazing, smooth, and detailed. The setting was extra amazing. This was perfect Christmas read and I’m kicking myself for not reading it in December. But I love Christmas books I can read them any time of the year. Story was first person narrative in Ivy’s lovely and cheering voice.

It started with Ivy arriving at castle in Cornwall two days earlier her boss arrives. She was given a job by her best friend’s sister, Libby who rented castle for fortnight. Her job was to decorate castle for Christmas and make it Instagram worthy.  But when she arrived last thing she was expecting was a hot and gorgeous Bill, the caretaker of castle, skinny dipping in hot tub. Moreover, she knew him and was day dreaming about him since they met 7 years ago. To make things even worse castle was nothing like advert Libby had seen. Clearly Bill duped them and he was so stingy with money he would make uncle scrooge look a lot better. Only thing that could save Ivy’s job and herself from Libby’s apoplectic wrath was take things in her hand and make castle worthy enough to Libby’s standard and her Instagram pictures.  For that she needed to work with Bill who was being hard and uncooperative.

I was curious to see how Ivy was going to make castle beautiful and Christmassy, how she would bend Bill to her will, make him spend some money for decorations, and if she would let go her past and give herself and love a second chance.

Ivy was amazing character and I could feel her cheery and exuberant nature exuding out of kindle into atmosphere. Nobody could say how much broken and low she felt inside. It was terrible what she had gone though in past year. Even though what she felt, she lived for others and for Christmas. It was her nature but after what happened to her, it turned into her need. I loved how she came out of her grief and sadness and healed over this two week and the way she found peace and happiness in Christmas. But of course that didn’t come easily.

Bill/Will– Yup there was two name for same character, but I will call him Bill- was great in the story too. It was so easy to dislike him even with his good luck which were marred by that permanent scowl on his face. He wouldn’t spend a penny even though he tricked Libby by putting false advert and moreover he was putting so many rules for Ivy and other guests. But as Ivy took control over him and situation, I could see his different side. It was easy to guess something was wrong with this guy and when it was revealed, oh my, he was carrying so much burden and was drowning in sadness and heartache. That revelations was surprising turn. Totally unexpected and I felt so sorry for him. But Ivy star helped him gather his pieces, face his problems.

Both Bill and Ivy’s friendship was great. I enjoyed their banter, loved the way they found middle ground, put aside their differences and worked as perfect #TeamChristmas. I loved reading their slowly developing friendship and love. They both deserved happiness.

I loved Fliss (Ivy’s best friend) and Libby’s family. I must tell Miranda (their mother) was most amazing and attracted most attention. Theirs was quirky family and to top that quirkiness there was Twiglets (Libby’s friend Willow and her family). There were many characters and many kids but they were all introduced perfectly, I didn’t ever confused with who was who and I loved their characteristics. Each were different from other and had their own problems. At first I thought I wouldn’t want to spend Christmas with these lot but they all developed as Christmas arrived.

There was so much drama and hilarious moments. Falling with Christmas needles poking in face, ghostly orgasm, donkey dung shower, grumpy and wailing kids who refused to enjoy Wi-Fi-less Christmas, breakfast baking wars between Bill and Milo and some more… It was fun to read all disasters and amazing to see how much Ivy worked to make things better and Christmas a cheerful time.

Food alert- this book made me craving for cakes and pastries and whatever is called baked and sweet. I really wondered how characters could eat so many delicious baked sweets every day. Even I got imaginary diabetes and extra fats after reading this.

After many hilarious and some sad turns finally mistletoe and Christmas waved its magical charm on all the characters and they all found their happy ending. I felt the story was a bit slow but it was not a big issue for me and Ivy Star needs all stars.

Overall, it was sweet, lovely, entertaining and cozy chick-lit that I highly recommend.

Book Links: Goodreads
Affiliate Link: | | Book Depository

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What do you think about the book and my review?
Have you read this book already?
Are you going to add it to your TBR?
Which holiday reads you love to read at any time of the year?


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#BookReview : A Woman to Blame by Vincent Panettiere


A Woman to Blame by Vincent Panettiere
Publication Date: October 14th 2019
Publisher: BookBaby
Pages: 400
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
Stars: ★★★★☆

Hours after a thoroughbred racehorse collapses and dies after finishing last in a race he was favored to win, his trainer—a young woman with a promising career—is found dead on a suburban Chicago beach. To the police, it’s a simple case of murder-suicide. But Mike Hegan, veteran police detective, refuses to believe the official story. Instead of retiring like they want him to, he embarks upon a search for the truth, and finds himself on a Caribbean island where scores are settled—and lives are lost.Fans of James Patterson and other crime fiction writers will find a new hero in Mike Hegan—a detective who defies convention to make sure that justice is served.

*** Note: I received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author. ***

Books I read by the same author:

A woman To Blame was first in Mike Hegan mystery series. This book was packed with murder, drama, horse race gambling, mafia feud, exploitation and swindling along with grief, loss, guilt, and romance.

As I read the second book in this series I was familiar with the writing style. Like second book in this too, it was third person narrative from multiple perspective. The plot was interesting and suspenseful.

It started with wedding bell ringing over Hegan’s head, he was trying to take leap of faith and marry Lucy in 6 months. 6 months later, he was returning back to Chicago from Caribbean with dead bodies, one of it was of woman’s for which he would feel guilty forever. Timeline was not mentioned and so it was confusing in the beginning but I could make connection later. It made me curious to know what happened to marriage and how and why he went to Caribbean. It peddles back taking readers to present and to the case mentioned in the synopsis and how it all started with a burnt fish. Yes, you heard it right and it was quite funny. That burnt fish and huge misunderstanding leads to mafia feud, a dead body of loan shark, vendetta and to the death of thoroughbred race horse and its trainer.

Lots of things happened with many turns and some shocking twist that involved long list of characters and many suspects. All characters were introduced one by one- some with their story and what was going on in their life and some indirectly related to them- and how they all, directly or indirectly, were connected to the death of a young woman with promising carrier as horse trainer. It was clear very early how that woman died. The story was about who killed her and why and how it leads Hegan to Caribbean. As I read more, new questions were added to the mystery and it made me doubt to my theory and my guesses.

Along with this complicated but really interesting mystery there were glimpse of Hegan’s life, his girlfriend, his family drama and tragedy in his life (which was so very movie like, that made me shake my head in disbelief). His emotions, frustration and anger was palpable. It was really unfair the way his department was treating him, I’m sure there could be alternative to the situation Hegan was into, but I guess a departmental politics was involved here or more like keeping control of unruly officer and I could later case was more predominant. As the story developed, Hegan also developed, he learned to accept his situation eventually. His drive to get justice for dead woman was admirable and at the same time crazy. But his this madness unrevealed the complicated mystery and also helped him to move on in his life. I loved his sense of responsibility and protectiveness towards his loved ones.

All the secondary characters were great, even villain or villains. My favorite character was Clay and Portia. Clay was Hegan’s florist friend. I liked this big guy who made this tense story light. Portia was fierce, kickass artist, determined to find out who killed her sister. It was horrible to read what she and her sister gone through and after reading it, I felt they deserved happiness. I could understand Portia’s mistrust towards men and her extreme reactions.

Suspense was great that kept me guessing who real culprit was until climax. So much happened in last few ages. Climax was shocking, tense and tragic. Even after so much loss in short time, I liked how Hegan kept moving in life at the end.

Why 4 stars-

Though story was interesting and engaging, it moved slowly, maybe because of length. I didn’t like that dramatic turn at his sister’s house. Couldn’t Hegan shoot in defense, why being such hero and doing all that! And that scene around climax at cliff with Hegan’s taxi driver. It was eye roll moment. Both these scenes felt so Bollywood like.

Overall, it was interesting, cleverly written, complicated mystery with many characters and twist and turns.

Book Links: Goodreads
Affiliate Link: | | Book depository

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What do you think about the book and review?
Have you read this book already or any book by the same author?
Which is your favorite crime mystery/fiction?

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#BookReview: Dreams of Fire by Christian Cura

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Dreams of Fire (#1) by Christian Cura
Publication Date: December 5th 2019
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal
pages: 265

Meet Kara Hartman, a young painter living and working in D.C. She would love to let you believe she is just an ordinary young woman with a dream of sharing her art with the world. But she is hiding an astonishing secret: Kara can wield magic, the most powerful force in the universe. Traumatized by the loss of her brother, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But when an old foe resurfaces, hellbent on destroying all that she loves, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.

*** Note: I received e-copy this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author. ***

Dreams of Fire was interesting paranormal, urban fantasy that revolved around Kara Hartman who forsaken her magic after tragedy. It was bout loss, vengeance, friendship, love and magic.

I have mixed feeling for this. Some things were good while some I didn’t like. But first let me tell you what was in the book and what I liked.

The book started with Kara visiting her ex-best friend, Charlotte, at Canadian prison stronghold for rogue mystic looking for closure after the tragedy too painful to bear. But Charlotte was drowned in rage, threatened Kara and vowed to exert vengeance by killing her and all her loved ones. After a year, Kara was living a normal non-magical life living her dream of famous painter. Life was peaceful and filled with love after she met a charming demon hunter- Selene. But when premeditated plan freed all rogue mystics and Charlotte along with them from Canadian prison, she found herself forced back to life of magic and Selene and her loved ones’ life was at stake.

What happened between charlotte and Kara all those years ago, why Charlotte wanted to destroy her, would Kara embrace her power and magic to save her loved one and world from the madness of Charlotte?

It was interesting to find answers. Book was third person narrative. Long chapters were broken by multiple POV and scenes alternating from Kara’s life at DC and Canadian Prison.

Kara’s life at DC told about her routine, her paints and how world and people inspired her, how she met Selene and how their relationship evolved. While John (Kara’s elder brother who was warden at prison) and narration by different characters at Canadian prison told about how prison worked, how they trained new enforcers (mystic police) and how prism stripping rouge mystics’ magic worked. This also narrated how the plan that freed prisoners was executed, by who and why.

I liked the introduction to characters. Kara was smart and developed character. She had her inner conflict due to loss and tragedy but on meeting Selene she saw the magic from her view and started to come out of the shell she formed around her. Selene was my most favorite character in the book. She was fiery, fierce and kick-ass demon hunter. She too had hard life and past but it was not revealed much in this book.

I loved bond and relationship between this two. This was my first book with F/F romance. I liked it and would love to read books featuring F/F relationship. This duo was fantastic in battle. I wouldn’t mess with them. Their getting-to-know-each-other conversations was not that extraordinary but it revealed more about their family, childhood and their past.

John was interesting character. I wish I could know him better. We get to know him and his friends Amelia, Rachel, and Marcus in pieces but not that much detail.

The world was filled with necromancers, magic wielders, demons, spells, and demon slayers. Magic was no secret, both paranormal and non-paranormal lived together. Action scenes were well written. I liked all of them and quite enjoyed them. I liked the turns in the story but I could see most of them quite early. I was just waiting for when and how. What I loved most was magic, and powers of characters, magical technology at prison and Kara and Charlotte’s back story.

Climax was filled with tension and action. End was also good. Despite some issues that needed improvement, I found myself wanting to know what happens next.

Why 3 Stars-

First, I don’t like unnecessary sentences and there were many here, like, “They finished their lunch with full stomach and collected their plates.” You get what I’m talking about. 2 or 3 sentences can be cut short to 1. It just dragged the story.

There are two kind of fantasy descriptive world and get to know the world as you read the story. Here we are just plunged into the story and figure the world yourself with surface information. It was not deep or described and because of that I kept questioning ‘Am I reading first book in series or second!’

Around 50% writing and plot got little better but then there came another issue. After the prison break, Selene was telling about her demon hunting adventure to Kara over dinner that she said happened ‘today’, but that scene actually happened and was described in detail before prison break. So I got confused here. All the events were titled under ‘present’ so the timeline was not aligning nicely and this chat and repeated adventure just confused me and kept me thinking what was happening when. It would have make sense, if the day or date were mentioned in the titled.

Concept was really good and promising, no doubt there, but I didn’t like the execution.

Overall, it was interesting, enjoyable and really promising urban fantasy but I had some issue that kept me from enjoying it completely.

Book Links: Gooreads
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Have you read this book already?
Have read a book where normal and paranormal being lived together without fearing the powers of other?

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