Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Innocent One, by Lisa Ballantyne {ends 12/6}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

As he approached the bar and restaurant where Rene had asked to meet him, Daniel slowed his pace, trying to shake off his mood. He thought about Sebastian locked inside his terraced house on this beautiful summer evening, with his panic button and the police officer outside. He thought of the woman who’d carried a bag of pig’s blood to central London in the hope of dousing a lawyer she’d never even met.

Named and shamed. Societal disapproval was no longer something it was possible to ignore. That disapproval could cost a job, a livelihood, even a life. Sebastian was still a young man, just twenty-one years old, yet he was being asked to atone for the child he had once been. It felt harsh to Daniel. He wouldn’t like to be held to account for the child he had once been. 

Daniel thought he was more or less satisfied with his life, but within a week, his wife asks for space, and a high-profile client from before his marriage returns. His wife’s accusations and the requests of his client have him re-examining everything.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Innocent One, by Lisa Ballentyne {ends 12/6}
Ten years have passed, but everyone remembers The Angel Killer. Sebastian Croll was just eleven years old when accused of murdering his playmate.

Criminal attorney Daniel Hunter helped prove Sebastian's innocence in a trial that gripped the nation—and now the past is being unearthed when he gets a call from his old client.

Or guilty?
Sebastian's university professor has been brutally murdered—and everyone who knew her is in the frame of suspicion. As Daniel steps in to represent Sebastian for a second time, news about the boy's past spreads like wildfire, instantly branding Sebastian as guilty.

With tensions around the country rising, can Daniel prove once again that Sebastian is the innocent one? Especially when he realizes that it's not just Sebastian who is in danger, but himself . . .

Daniel worries that his past influences everything. He was a foster kid without the advantages of his wife or others in his life now, and he wonders if that makes him different from everyone else in a potentially very bad way. When his wife suggests he hasn’t been emotionally there for her, he’s devastated. He desperately wants to do better, but his life has recently gotten quite complicated.

Sebastian is back. When Sebastian was 11 years old, he was accused of murdering another child. Daniel and his now-wife both worked on the case, and through their meeting, eventually married and had a child of their own. While Daniel isn’t sure he really wants to work with Sebastian on the new case he seems to be entangled with, a client is a client. Everyone deserves a defense, right?

Like the author’s previous works, this was well-written and compelling - what happens next?? Toward the end, there were a couple different directions hinted at for the story’s conclusion. I gave this 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it for those who enjoy a good psychological thriller. 

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who likes feta cheese with olives, Cherry Coke with Southern Comfort, and a good book with a warm blanket. She also posts reviews on her own blog, SweetlyBSquared.com.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Innocent One!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, December 6th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted the next day via email and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Innocent One, by Lisa Ballentyne

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Witch Hunt, by Sasha Peyton Smith {ends 11/5}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

The rest of the day passes quietly. Finn joins the family for dinner against Maxine’s will. Her mother set a place for him, insisting on meeting her daughter’s mysterious guest. Finn, never one to turn down a dinner party, borrows a jacket from Maxine’s stepfather and is seated directly between Maxine and Nina.

Maxine’s mother and stepfather do not seem to be particularly concerned with Finn, who has taken up indefinite residence in one of their many guest rooms. This is something I’m learning about the wealthy: when you don’t do your own housework, houseguests mean very little.

Finn breaks Maxine’s fourth rule and delights Nina by pulling a quarter from behind her ear. Maxine levitates her steak knife just slightly off the table. It hovers there as a threat. Finn just laughs as if it’s all one massive joke. It makes me lose what little appetite I had left.

This group of charming teenage witches, primarily described by Frances, seem to have more than their share of trouble, but being great friends as well as awesome witches is the secret to their success.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Witch Hunt, by Sasha Peyton Smith {ends 11/5}
Months after the devastating battle between the Sons of St. Druon and the witches of Haxahaven, Frances has built a quiet, safe life for herself, teaching young witches and tending the garden within the walls of Haxahaven Academy. But one thing nags; her magic has begun to act strangely. When an opportunity to visit Paris arises, Frances jumps at the chance to go, longing for adventure and seeking answers about her own power.

Once she and her classmates Maxine and Lena reach the vibrant streets of France, Frances learns that the spell she used to speak to her dead brother has had terrible consequences—the veil between the living and the dead has been torn by her recklessness, and a group of magicians are using the rift for their own gain at a horrifying cost.

To right this wrong, and save lives and her own magical powers, Frances must hunt down answers in the parlors of Parisian secret societies, the halls of the Louvre, and the tunnels of the catacombs. Her only choice is to team up with the person she swore she’d never trust again, risking further betrayal and her own life in the process.

This second book in The Witch Haven duology starts with Frances and her closest girlfriends on a ship crossing the ocean from New York to Paris. While the trip is certainly one they’ve been looking forward to, and they’re definitely enjoying each others’ company, Frances is a bit distracted because her magic isn’t working right. She doesn’t want anyone to really know about her struggles, and she isn’t entirely sure what has messed up the magical abilities she always took for granted.  

Soon enough, Frances and her friends have found themselves in a potentially epic confrontation between good and evil. Having not read the first book in the duology, the previous "devastating battle" wasn’t really clear. They have to work with a former friend-turned-enemy from their previous conflict, and learn a little more about Frances’ past along the way.

Overall, the characters were charming and engaging, and this book earned 3 out of 5 stars from this reader. Something seemed to be missing by not knowing the story of the first book, but this story was also entertaining with just a bit of the backstory unknown. I’d recommend this book and the first in the duology to be read in order by those who enjoy contemporary witch stories with strong female characters.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley loves all witchy stories. She’s a Gemini who enjoys staying cozy, reading, and snuggling with her black cats. She shares a few other book reviews on her own blog, SweetlyBSquared.com.


One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Witch Hunt!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Saturday, November 5th, at 11:59pm ET, and winner will be notified the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Witch Hunt, by Sasha Peyton Smith

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