Thursday, May 30, 2019

[Book Review] The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

The Book Charmer (Dove Pond, #1)The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of NetGalley, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins crafts an unforgettable story about a sleepy Southern town, two fiercely independent women, and a truly magical friendship.

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

“A mesmerizing fusion of the mystical and the everyday” (Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author), The Book Charmer is a heartwarming story about the magic of books that feels more than a little magical itself. Prepare to fall under its spell.

Part 2: Recommendation

I love books set in small towns, books about librarians and books about books. The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins has all of that. This is the second book I've read in the magical realism genre and so far, I'm liking this genre.

The plot is not complicated at all. But all the characters in it are so vibrant and realistic, you just can't help but want to hang out with them and get to know them more. The writing flows effortlessly and the magic, once it grips your attention, it never lets go until the last page. So be prepared to wield some self-control if you want to have 10 hours of sleep every night like I do. Just so you know, I lost and ended up sleeping for 6 hours every night until "the end." I tried to relish the words and read slowly but that obviously didn't work. You just want to keep reading.

Just read it especially if you enjoy reading about small towns, librarians and books. Definitely the perfect summer/vacation read.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

[Book Review] The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

The Bookshop of the Broken HeartedThe Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of Penguin's First To Read Program, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Tom Hope doesn’t think he’s much of a farmer, but he’s doing his best. He can’t have been much of a husband to Trudy, either, judging by her sudden departure. It’s only when she returns, pregnant to someone else, that he discovers his surprising talent as a father. So when Trudy finds Jesus and takes little Peter away with her to join the holy rollers, Tom’s heart breaks all over again.

Enter Hannah Babel, quixotic small town bookseller: the second Jew—and the most vivid person—Tom has ever met. He dares to believe they could make each other happy.

But it is 1968: twenty-four years since Hannah and her own little boy arrived at Auschwitz. Tom Hope is taking on a battle with heartbreak he can barely even begin to imagine.

Robert Hillman has written a number of books including his 2004 memoir The Boy in the Green Suit, which won the National Biography Award, and Joyful, published by Text in 2014. He lives in Melbourne.

Part 2: Recommendation

I requested this book mainly because of the word Bookshop in the title and because of the compelling description but this was not at all what I thought it would be. Yes, there is a bookshop but it was mostly mentioned in passing which was disappointing for me because I was hoping that the story would highlight the bookshop as a place where broken hearted people found healing. Such was not the case.

Instead we have all these broken, very sad people linked to each other through Tom Hope, a farmer in a small town in rural Australia. I liked Tom as he's a very reliable, hard-working man with a big heart. While other reviewers of this book look at Tom as being a weak man for having the ability to forgive and take back the women who walked out on him and for having the ability to truly love a child not his own, I find him to be full of strength and virtue. Tom’s character reminds me of how God loves us. No matter how bad we are in this earthly life, God forgives us and takes us back every time we walk away from Him and come back to Him by being repentant.

As for the other characters in this book, it was really hard for me to relate to each of them. But one thing is clear, we are all broken in one way or another and the path to healing is to be with Tom. The same in true with God. He is the only one who can heal our brokenness.

The plot of this book is a bit jarring in the sense that whenever I get settled in the present, the next chapter would be Hannah’s past and then when you get settled in that time frame, you get thrown back into the present time. It makes me wonder if the reading experience would be drastically altered if the reader reads all the Australia chapters first up to the first encounter between Tom & Hannah then read all the flashback chapters then go back to where Tom & Hannah left off. I'm not going to read it again at this point. I have other books to read. I’ll leave it up to future readers to read it in the way I suggested above and see if it makes for a better sense of continuity that way.

This is a hard book to recommend despite the beautiful, well-written words because I had such a beast of a time staying motivated to read through it. It's a very sad book. So, if you are one who enjoys reading historical fiction, maybe you’ll like this but if you're picking this up because of the bookshop factor, forget it. This is not at all about the bookshop.

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Monday, March 18, 2019

[Book Review] The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

The Stationery ShopThe Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of NetGalley, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

From the award-winning author of Together Tea—a debut novel hailed as “compassionate, funny, and wise” by Jill Davis, bestselling author of Girls’ Poker Night—comes a powerful love story exploring loss, reconciliation, and the quirks of fate.

Roya is a dreamy, idealistic teenager living in 1953 Tehran who, amidst the political upheaval of the time, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood book and stationery shop. She always feels safe in his dusty store, overflowing with fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and thick pads of soft writing paper.

When Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—she loses her heart at once. And, as their romance blossoms, the modest little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.

A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square, but suddenly, violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she resigns herself to never seeing him again.

Until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did he leave? Where did he go? How was he able to forget her?

The Stationery Shop is a beautiful and timely exploration of devastating loss, unbreakable family bonds, and the overwhelming power of love.

Part 2: Recommendation

This being the first book I've read from author Marjan Kamali, I really enjoyed how well-written this book is and how the plot just continues to build up, and the characters just comes alive at every scene. I love how this book showed how the Iranian culture is very rich in symbolism and tradition and how this book clearly portrays the patriotism that burns in every young man's heart only to grow disillusioned with age. War, of any kind, is never an easy subject. It tears apart everything in it's path and negatively affects the lives of everyone around it but despite the turmoil, grief and pain, love wins in the end. The heart of this story is about Mr. Ali Fakhri's and Mrs. Badri Aslan's past that affects Roya's & Bahman's future together. Despite how everything else turned out okay, this book has that dark cloud of sadness hovering over each page. The pain of not knowing why and yet continuing to pine for the one person, your first true love, the one who broke your heart is just heart-breaking and utterly sad.

If you are one who enjoys reading about other people's cultures, social classes, history and believe that first love never dies, then this book is for you.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

[Product Review] Water Brushes

image via fangfang Store - Wish.Com
image via fangfang Store - Wish.Com
image via fangfang Store - Wish.Com


L/M/S Plastic Water Storage Soft Brush Drawing Paint Watercolor Calligraphy Pen 
Ship & Sold by fangfang store on 

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Category: Art Supplies, Watercolor water brush

Disclaimer: All prices listed on this review are prices at the time this was written and subject to change 

Part 1: Product Description

100% Brand New and High Quality
Material:Plastic + Nylon Hair
Total Length12cm 
Approx Package include: 3pcs different size pen

Size     Brush Head Length   Brush Head Diameter
L         1.8cm                          6mm
M         1.5cm                          4mm
S         1.5cm                          3mm

Use method:
A.Injection method
Unscrew the pen, put some water into the pen

B.Moisture adjustment tip
Initially, when used, squeeze a pen nib will effluent
You can wipe with the paper, adjust the water

C.Coloring method
Maintaining adequate moisture pen directly stained with paint and began painting

D. How to change color
Need to change color when the pen wipe with a paper towel, you can clear out the color

E.How to preserve
When not in use, the tip clean water, close the lid on it

Part 2: Recommendation

With the growing popularity of water brushes among the watercolor & brush lettering/calligraphy communities, I decided to get a cheap one on (I only had to pay for shipping of USD $2.00) instead of springing for the more expensive Pentel Aquash Water Brush (in the same pack of 3 brushes for USD $15.27 on Amazon) or the Arteza Water Brush Pen (pack of 4 brushes for USD $9.57 on Amazon) or the Sakura Koi Water Brush (pack of 3 brushes for USD $14.99 on Amazon) just to test out whether I'd enjoy painting watercolors with a water brush or not. There are now many water brush brands to choose from and you now can buy a water brush that fits your budget.

Since I started my watercolor journey back in 2004 with a Prang Oval 8-color set, I have only used synthetic watercolor paint brushes because that's all I can afford to spend on a hobby (aka, I'm not a professional watercolorist). Watercolor brushes, whether synthetic or natural sable brushes, have a wide range of sizes and shapes. The more natural your bristles are made out of, the more it can absorb water and pigment but you have less control with your strokes/marks on the page — at least, that's what I've learned from Angela Fehr's YouTube videos. So it doesn't bother me that all water brushes, as of writing, have soft nylon bristles. 

Before water brushes came on the market, traveling and painting with watercolors can be a bit daunting and challenging in the sense that you have to make sure you have a clean supply of water: either you bring it with you or the place you're going to -- like a hiking trail, park, coffee shop, restaurant, or the top of the mountain in the middle of nowhere -- has a clean supply of water (think river, stream, ocean, lake, water fountain, bottled water, etc) and all of your watercolor supplies (paints, brushes, palettes, watercolor papers/notebook, masking tape, pens and pencils, erasers, paper towels/rags, paint water containers for dirty water and clean water, spray bottle) all fit in a travel friendly bag. Yes, you can buy pocket-sized watercolor papers and notebooks and short-handled paint brushes, and if your paints are in a tube, you can easily squeeze them out into empty half pans and fit them in a palette the size of an Altoids tin but you still have the problem of carting around a heavy water bottle with you and what do you do with the dirty paint water? I don't think anyone should be draining paint water into rivers, lakes, streams and the ocean because we don't know if living things and other organisms will react badly to whatever our paints are made of. Well, that problem has been solved by water brushes. 

I haven't traveled anywhere with watercolors yet (unless going from my home office desk to the family room floor can count as such) but like everyone who has tried water brushes whether indoors or outdoors, in the middle of nowhere, I'm really loving them. The set I'm reviewing has a capacity of about 4.4cc/mL (I use a plastic syringe, without the needle, to fill up the water brush with water from a 3.5oz travel shampoo bottle on my desk). It doesn't leak from the barrel like some cheap water brushes I've heard about on YouTube, and like all nylon-bristled water brushes, the bristles will get a permanent paint stain on them. 

Nylon bristles are now permanently stained

It doesn't affect your painting as long as you rinse the bristles by squeezing the barrel and wiping the bristles on a rag or paper towel to clean off the current color/pigment until clean water comes out before you change colors, and you'll be fine. Rinsing these water brushes prior to switching colors was actually not bad. If you already have 2 pots of water set up, you can by all means rinse your water brushes the usual way and use your water brushes like you would a non-water brush paint brush. 

Water flow is good. I found that I do need to squeeze the barrel with a bit more effort especially when doing washes for wet-on-wet techniques and it uses a lot of water. So for painting washes, I found it is better to squeeze a couple or a lot of drops of water from the travel sized water bottle that I have set up as my clean paint water source. For wet-on-dry techniques, these water brushes performed really well despite having water in the barrel, as long as you don't squeeze the barrel and that you maintain a very relaxed hold on the barrel. If you have a tendency to grip hard when doing detailed work, I suggest moving your fingers closer to the bristles and grip the part where the filter is or what would be the equivalent of the ferrule. What I did was I dried the bristles on an old face towel first then dipped the brush into the paint and painted on dry paper. Because the bristles are made of nylon, they snap back into shape and you can easily control the marks or strokes you put on the paper. Definitely no surprise, weird marks from these brushes unless it was your intent to make those weird marks on paper. 

The downside to these particular nylon bristles and probably because of their size, it takes a lot more time to soak up excess paint puddles for medium to large washes on your palette compared to other synthetic paint brushes (I have the Master's Touch synthetic watercolor brushes from Hobby Lobby to compare with). This set I got are round brushes sized small (approx. between brush sizes 5-6), medium (approx. a size 8 brush), and large (approx. a size 12 brush). The points are quite pointy so technically, you can get away with a large or a medium water brush even for very detailed work. The brushes picked up a decent amount of pigment (and here I used a Prang Oval 8-color set because they're cheap, has good pigment compared to other children/student grade watercolor sets, doesn't dry up chalky, and you can buy refill strips on Amazon or once you've used up the Prang colors and you want to upgrade to Daniel Smith or you just want to try paint tubes, you can clean out the empty oval pans and squeeze your paint tubes in it since the Prang Oval pans hold a lot more paint than the regular half pans) when I'm making my puddles for washes or when mixing paints to create blue green or mixing blue and orange to get gray.

For the amount of water in the barrel, I'm quite surprised and happy to share that, they lasted quite a while and they remained clean.  They lasted through 2 watercolor paintings on a 5.5"x8" 140lb.(300gsm), cold press, Strathmore Watercolor Visual Journal. The large water brush, which I used the most and half of one page I did a wet-on-wet technique using the water in the barrel, had very little water left, like maybe 3-5% water whereas the medium water brush was barely used so it probably still had 85% water left and the small brush, which I used to color in the letters, had probably 75% water left. 

I have to say though that having this spill-proof, 3.5oz travel shampoo bottle filled with tap water did save me from using a lot of the water in the barrels especially when I was activating the paints and making puddles in my palette for washes. Since the travel bottle gives out a drop of water at a time, it was really easy to activate the paints with literally just one tiny drop and it was really easy and a lot more controllable to add drops of water for washes instead of using a syringe or your non-water brush paint brush. It is also equally convenient to just use the syringe to refill the water brush barrels from the travel water bottle when you don't have access to a sink. These water brushes in conjunction with a 3.5oz travel water bottle and an old 100% cotton face towel definitely removed my fear of spilling paint water all over my desk and possibly ruining any and all electronics on my desk or spilling paint water all over the carpet in the family room or worse, my dog drinking paint water and getting really sick and/or dying from it. Having these water brushes even if you're not one to paint outdoors or in the middle of nowhere, I think is a must have especially if you don't mind synthetic or nylon bristles or if you're afraid of spilling paint water everywhere or just for the sheer convenience of it.

Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 Update: After a while of solely using these water brushes, I still like them and it hasn't clogged up. I did notice however that the nylon bristles have started looking ragged. It's an easy fix if you're patient. I trimmed the ends of the bristles using a pair of very sharp embroidery scissors and now my brushes are back to looking like new. But I wonder though if the more expensive water brushes have the same issue. Do let me know in the comments box below if you have the other brands mentioned above and how the nylon bristles performed after a year of constant use.

Monday, October 22, 2018

[Book Review] Stuck In Manistique by Dennis Cuesta

Stuck in ManistiqueStuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuesta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of NetGalley, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Near the midpoint of the Upper Peninsula, along a Lake Michigan bend of shore, is the town of Manistique, Michigan. Mark had never heard of Manistique before the death of his estranged aunt, but as sole beneficiary of Vivian’s estate, he travels there to settle her affairs. As Mark tours his aunt’s house for the first time, the doorbell rings.

Days after graduating medical school, Dr. Emily Davis drives north, struggling with her illicit rendezvous on Mackinac Island. She never makes it—on the highway near Manistique, her car collides with a deer, shattering the car’s windshield. Stranded for the night, Emily is directed to a nearby bed and breakfast.

Maybe it’s a heady reaction, the revelation that his aunt, an international aid doctor, ran a bed and breakfast in retirement. Or perhaps he plainly feels pity for the young, helpless doctor. Regardless, Mark decides to play host for one night, telling Emily that he’s merely stepping in temporarily while his aunt is away.

As a one-night stay turns into another and more guests arrive, the ersatz innkeeper steadily loses control of his story. And though Emily opens up to Mark, she has trouble explaining the middle-aged man who unexpectedly arrives at the doorstep looking for her.

Will these two strangers, holding on to unraveling secrets, remain in town long enough to discover the connection between them?

Part 2: Recommendation

I love reading stories set in small towns for a number of reasons and this book delivers: slower pace of the locals vs the hurried pace of visitors, there's only one place to get pies, everybody knows everybody, quaint houses, quiet neighborhoods and the list goes on.

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this book in it's entirety but I gave it 4 stars for the simple fact that I felt as overwhelmed and disorganized as Mark was upon first arriving at the Manistique Victorian and all these people arriving at his doorstep looking for a room to stay the night. That was quite funny to read as the story unfolds, at least until he got his bearings. Mark, Emily and George are easy to connect to but as for Bear Foot, Yvonne, Peter, Dr. Bulcher, and Dr. Olsen were okay as their presence in the book is required to move the story forward.

I like seeing Emily's character grow some back bone as well as seeing Mark try and work through his phobia and seeing a glimpse of Dr. Olsen in one of the last few chapters of the book. Too bad, that conversation wasn't included.

With the way things ended with Laura (George's niece), Dr. Currant, Mark and Emily, I feel like there's going to be a sequel (maybe?). I sure hope so as I would love to come back to Manistique and catch up with Mark, Emily, Laura and Dr. Currant. Definitely worth reading if you enjoy small towns.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

[Book Review] Indie With Ease by Pauline Wiles

Indie With EaseIndie With Ease by Pauline Wiles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this galley from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Are you feeling overwhelmed by all that’s involved in self-publishing your book?

Being an indie author should be a delight, not a drudgery. Indie With Ease demonstrates how a blend of clear purpose and steady pragmatism will enable you to thrive as an independent publisher. Through simple self-care techniques and a few mindset secrets, you’ll maximize motivation and minimize author anxiety.

With a down-to-earth blend of inspiration and practical steps, you will:
~ Know yourself and your unique writing style.
~ Set authentic, long-term writing goals.
~ Nurture your creativity and protect your well-being.
~ Maximize your energy and work at a pace you can sustain.
~ Limit your marketing to what really works.
~ Prioritize key tasks and ignore distractions.
~ Dodge the most common pitfalls for independent authors.

For a little extra inspiration, you will also find:
~ Contributions and advice from over a dozen experienced indie authors.
~ Bonus resources: checklists, templates, and trackers to jump start your daily routine.

Indie with Ease is your essential guide to well-being, productivity and serenity as an indie author.

Part 2: Recommendation

Indie with Ease by Pauline Wiles is such a pleasant, enjoyable read despite it being a nonfiction book. I just love the author's voice throughout the book. She sounds like a really dear friend. Every section of the book, Introduction and Conclusion included, are all very well thought out, well researched and very well-written. This book is quite impressive. I especially love and appreciate how quotes from other writers are very well blended into the text and transitions well. I also truly enjoyed the self-reflection questions as they were well-thought out and I can see these reflections be quite helpful to indie authors especially if they (authors) dig down and honestly answer the questions. These self-reflection questions should prove to be enlightening.

I have to say though that the .Mobi file I received from the author had a few negatives about it in the sense that there was a lot of conversion errors like these: forg.< (for), dp w Toesn't (doesn't), Goop fgle (Google), knor.< knor., Soh f T buying (So buying), new/> < (If), ad C livocates (advocates), a Cournd (and), Fla C"juttering (Flattering), I JJJJp prowould (I would), RRRR dunder (under), [res>I, a ZZZZZ rnd (and), tr ZZZZZy eat (treat), mindful ZZZZZdness (mindfulness), yo jjjjjjme re your f eaur head (your head), yo sso ntuitiur (your), f s un Trom (from), {e ce my, {ts Treading (reading), Decem {capital ber (December), in zzzzzzzz="19" on (andaimidie (indie), webs">ites (websites), reviehas Twed (reviewed), experhey tiencing (experiencing), goin Wh olo, g (going), pl ained (pained), Vanl w gn="derkam (Vanderkam), some T of these (some of these), readerk, e in rs (readers), thefut Ty (they), /div> (fi. Aside from that, there seems to be 3 sections that were missing text particularly in the section titled Your Support Network, first paragraph; as well as in the 5th paragraph of the section titled Rank These Achievements; and another paragraph is missing in the paragraph that starts off as Multiple s ming in the section titled What are Your Financial Expectations.

Despite these conversion errors, my enjoyment and appreciation of the book was greater mainly because this book is full of really good, practical tips and sound advice for the well-being of the indie writer that is easily implemented and has been advocated by numerous other indie authors like Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Nick Stephenson, Derek Murphy, to name a few.

I have to be clear though that this book is not a Writing How-To Guide nor is it a Self-Publishing Step-by-Step Guide. It is also not a book on Creativity though it does lightly touch on the subject. This book is more like a tips and tricks to staying organized, productive, sane, calm, inspired and happy in your indie writing career and by following the author's advice, you can avoid feeling stressed out, overwhelmed and uninspired.

Indie with Ease should definitely be in every writer's reference book shelf that's within reach of their writing desk.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

[Book Review] The Lyons Legacy by Charlie King

The Lyons LegacyThe Lyons Legacy by Charlie King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received this galley from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Ten years on from the events that took place inside The Lyons Orphanage, Sam is still no closer to finding his parents.

Sam takes a job at the Crown Prosecution Service to find clues about the identity of his parents by investigating the case against Howard Lyons, who was sectioned as a result of his actions.

Nicholas Lyons, stricken with illness, pleads with Sam to visit his brother and have him transferred to a prison for his crimes, to save Howard from the indignity of life in a psychiatric hospital.

This sets Sam on a path to learn all he can about the case but clean-cut Sam knows he’ll have to break a few rules to get to the bottom of it.

Part 2: Recommendation

Like the first book, The Lyons Legacy has that same slow, meandering feel to the narrative for about 75% of the book but then it speeds up quite nicely in the last 25% of the book. With this being the 2nd work that I've been exposed to the author, Charlie King, I'm assuming this is just his style of writing. And just like the first book, this book is also written in the POV of Sam Watkins, the orphan who is now a working adult, living in his own flat and still in contact primarily with Natalie, and the twins, Natasha and Gareth.

Majority of this book shows the struggle Sam goes through in finding the identity of his parents and the ways he goes about finding the information which made me think, "Don't do it, Sam. You know better than that," or "What is wrong with you, Sam? Why are you even considering this?" This book made me shake my Kobo eReader several times as if that would help shake Sam right back to his senses, right?

Having Natasha and Gareth back in the second book was a really nice touch as I liked them both. As for Nicholas and Judge Quinn, I don't really know what to think. I feel like they were put there in order to bring Howard back into the picture that would make enough sense to the readers. After all, it wouldn't be that much more interesting without Howard in the book. As for Liv, apparently, another mind reader, I guess having a 4th mind reader in the book evens things out and to have her as Sam's date/girlfriend makes it look and feel like Sam is finally moving on with his life, which it did nicely.

As for Howard, he's just as mean and I think scarier in this book. I can't say anymore about him otherwise, I would be giving the entire book away. I did love seeing how Sam realized a lot of things throughout the book, as it showed how his character developed further now that he's an adult.

I have mixed feelings about the ending because I liked how it neatly closes the entire Lyons/Watkins storyline but at the same time, I'm a bit disappointed because the ending left me hanging. The way the author ended this book makes me wonder if there's a 3rd book in the Lyons series?

The formatting of this book is much better than the first for sure and the cover had a similar theme of the Lion's head door knocker to let readers know that it's part of a series, which is fine but I think it needs improvement.

Overall, if you're looking for a slow, relaxed pace read, this just might be for you or if you happen to enjoy the first book and would like to know what happened to Sam, Natalie and the twins after leaving the orphanage, you'll want to read this book too.

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