Thursday, July 19, 2018

0 @audiobookSYNC gets adventurous with this week's #free #audiobook titles #ILoveAudiobooks

Summer has flown by, and this is the final week for Sync's Summer of Free Audiobooks for Teens. Thank you to Sync for putting on this fantastic event, as well as the publishers for making these titles available for a free download. Remember these titles are available to download for free 07/19 - 07/26  only. Everything you need to know about downloading this week's titles can be found at

by Elizabeth Fama | Read by Katherine Kellgren
Published by Macmillan Audio

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra's help, Hester investigates her family's strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Read by Glen McCready
Published by Naxos Audiobooks

The Lost World was written fairly late in Conan Doyle’s career (1912), and stands as a work of early science fiction, fitting comfortably next to the likes of Wells, Haggard, Verne and Burroughs. It is also a book that uses Darwinian evolutionary theory as a thread in the narrative (although there are occasions where the science dips into early 20th-century prejudice). It was the inspiration for many other books and films that took its central premise as their starting point. And it is peopled with characters that are as brimful of energy and determination as Doyle himself – as well as some surprising political references and far more humor than readers of the Sherlock Holmes stories have much right to expect. The basis of the story is the possibility that there might be dinosaurs still living on the earth, unaffected by the usual evolutionary forces at work elsewhere. Dinosaurs have long exercised a peculiar fascination for the public, from those who still hunt Loch Ness monsters to those who finance huge-budget (and huge audience) films, but this was one of the first books to use them as a central part of the story. The other factor gripping the public of the time was the very existence of unknown parts of the globe and what they might contain – travelers were returning from previously unknown places (especially Africa and South America, where The Lost World is set) with astonishing stories. At the same time, paleontology was becoming extremely popular – Doyle himself found some dinosaur footprints in Sussex, something that may well have inspired the book. Uniting these popular themes (and using his own scientific understanding and his many contacts in the world of science and exploration to give them credibility), Doyle then introduced his cast of characters – the love-struck journalist Edward Malone, who does what any self-respecting Edwardian would do to impress his beloved: ask to go on a life-threatening assignment. This is exactly the kind of get-up-and-go that Doyle himself possessed, and he seems to think any lack of it is indicative of a failing of moral fiber. Then there is Professor Summerlee, a rather meticulous scientist; Lord John Roxton, an adventurer; and finally, the simply extraordinary Professor Challenger – vast, booming, powerful, utterly convinced of his own rightness, and prepared to take on the establishment with his fists if need be. All of these characters are drawn with a freshness and brio that suggests Doyle was enjoying himself; but he was also making a few veiled political statements. While Challenger was (loosely) based on William Rutherford, and Summerlee on another professor Doyle had studied with at Edinburgh, the people who inspired Roxton and Malone were based on more contentious figures, two of whom ended up being arrested for treason during WWI, and one of whom went missing searching for a lost city in Brazil. Edmund Morel was one of the bases for Malone. Morel had campaigned against the appalling treatment of the people in the Congo, and Doyle had lectured with him on the slavery that resulted from colonial trading. But he was a pacifist (which Doyle was not), and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment after the publication of some leaflets. One of Roxton’s originals was the British diplomat, Roger Casement. Again, Doyle approved of Casement’s work against the slavery associated with rubber plantations; but Casement was also an Irish nationalist, and his attempts to get the Germans to free any Irish prisoners of war in return for German assistance to fight the British were discovered, and Casement was executed. Colonel Percy Fawcett, a surveyor, archaeologist and explorer, was also an inspiration for Roxton – and he and his son both disappeared in 1925 (The Lost City of Z). But the fact that such people existed and were public figures, the science underlying the Boy’s Own adventure genre, the thrill of the unknown being discovered - all these fueled the public passion for such adventurous imaginings. And if there was ever a man to feed a passion for adventurous imaginings, Arthur Conan Doyle was he. ~ Roy McMillan

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

0 Review: City of Bastards

City of Bastards (Royal Bastards #2)
by Andrew Shvarts
377 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion


Tilla, bastard of House Kent, has it made. Safe from her murderous father in the dazzling capital of Lightspire, she lives a life of luxury under the protection of the Volaris King, alongside her boyfriend Zell and best friend, Princess Lyriana.

So why isn’t she happy? Maybe it’s the whispers and stares that follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Or maybe it’s the memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave even as she tries to settle into a life in the city's prestigious University.

Then, Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate, a friend. The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide and sweep it under the rug, but when Tilla herself is attacked by a mysterious man with terrifying powers, she’s convinced of a conspiracy. Her friends beg her to stay silent; what she's suggesting is impossible... and treasonous.

But Tilla can't, won't, let it go. And the deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. How is the West beating the supposedly invincible Lightspire Mages in battle? Is it connected to the shadowy cult wreaking havoc in Lightspire? Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame. 

My Thoughts

Before I discuss my thoughts there's a few things to go over. 

First, City of Bastards is the second book in the Royal Bastards series, so be advised, there are spoilers ahead for for book 1.

Second, in my review of the first book I refereed to the group of bastards as the Fellowship of Bastards or FoB and will continue to do so in this review. 

Third, I received an e-arc copy of this book via NetGalley. All my opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by that fact. 

Royal Bastards is a light fantasy that has all the classic elements that you would expect in that genre. It's an epic adventure that surrounds mostly bastards that so desperately want their parents acceptance. Five teens were lead on a journey to help save Princess Lyriana from a rebellion lead by their parents. The FoB had to learn to trust each other, despite their differences, and band together for survival. But like any fantasy there are causalities. Tilla's half-brother, Jax, died in the battle and they were betrayed by Miles, who let his jealousy of Zell overcome any good sense that he ever had.

So the FoB dwindled down to just three members and here's where City of Bastards picks up.

Zell, Lyriana, and Tilla finally make it to the safety of Lightspire, home of Princess Lyriana, They are accepted and protected within its walls. Zell goes to work for the palace guard. Tilla and Lyriana go to the local university. And here's where my first and foremost problem with this book lies. Even though the setting is a magical realm and technically there's no time period, I always had the feeling when I was reading, based on the context, that it was somehow medieval of sorts. But this book threw me because it felt so modern. It was as if you could take these characters out of their world and put them at any university today during a frat party and nothing would change, and because of this, it jarred my reading experience.

However, I did continue to enjoy the main story line. Even though Tilla has been accepted by the royal family, she still gets the sense, and for good reason, that she's still thought of as the traitor's daughter. That the people of Lightspire would rather see her head on a pike. Meanwhile Zell is growing distant, and Lyriana is coping rather badly with the loss of Jax. But then things start to go from bad to worse.

Tilla's roommate if found dead. It's ruled a suicide, but she doesn't buy it. Then Tilla is attacked by a mysterious figure and when she tells her friends, they tell her to shut her trap because that's treasonous talk. And they're already treading on dangerous ground. And the glorious ideal that Tilla held of Lightspire starts to look mighty shady, and she realizes that all that glitters is not gold. And with that, the FoB starts to drift apart.

Besides my previous grievance, my only other complaint is that it's a bit predictable at times. Or maybe I'm becoming a master sleuth because of all the mysteries I read. But that's beside the point. The characters are growing and the story is moving in an exciting direction. The final chapters have me eagerly awaiting for the next book, which doesn't come out until next year. Overall, I like this series. It's a light fantasy that deals with teens trying to overcome the failures of their parents and forge a new future. It's the perfect read for a lazy weekend. 



Tuesday, July 17, 2018

0 J.R. Ward's Ebook The Wedding From Hell Pt. 1 Is Out Today And It's FREE

The Wedding from Hell
Part 1: The Rehearsal Dinner
by J. R. Ward
Available: July 17, 2018
Gallery Books | E-book Original
ISBN: 9781982105365 | Free

Don’t miss #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward’s three-part ebook serialization: The Wedding From Hell. This exclusive prequel to her upcoming standalone suspense Consumed (available in Fall 2018) takes us back to where it all started between arson investigator Anne Ashburn and ‘bad boy’ firefighter Danny Maguire. The Wedding From Hell is a sexy standalone novella that sets up Consumed’s storyline, leaving fans hungry for more and dying to snatch it up.

About the Book:

It’s a classic recipe for disaster: Take one bridesmaid who thinks pink is the root of all evil, mix with a best man who’s hotter than a four-alarm fire, add in their explosive sexual attraction, a nightmare bridezilla, two cat fights, and an emergency call, and you have the wedding from hell.

Experience the sizzling start of Anne and Danny’s intense relationship. Is this the start of something good...or just an erotic one-night stand that rocks their world, but must never be repeated?

About the Author:
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.

Purchase Link:

Video from J.R. Ward:


Thursday, October 29
T minus 48 hours ’til blastoff
College Row, New Brunswick, Massachusetts

Because women are not frickin’ groomsmen! That’s why she can’t be in the goddamn wedding!”
As Anne Ashburn walked in the back door of the shotgun apartment, that happy little explosion was not only what she’d expected all along, it also offered her the out she’d been praying for. And it was probably the one and only time she was ever going to agree with the bride.
Not about the role of females in bridal parties, but that Anne wasn’t going to be in the “goddamn wedding.”
Everyone standing in the kitchen turned and looked at her: Deandra Cox, the impending wearer of the white dress; Robert “Moose” Miller, her exhausted fiancé and Anne’s fellow crew member down at the 499 fi rehouse; and . . . Dannyboy Maguire.
Who was the only one she really noticed and, for that reason, the person she refused to look at.
Too bad Danny always made an impression. Like most firefighters, he was in great physical shape, his big body thickly muscled and ready to snap into motion in an instant. With his heavy arms linked over that chest and his long legs crossed at the boots, he was leaning back against the chipped countertop, his too-blue stare missing nothing. He was fresh from a shower, his glossy black hair wet, and Anne tried not to picture him naked under the spray, his tattooed torso arching as he rinsed the shampoo out of his—
She put her hands up to stop herself as much as the argument. “Look, I don’t want to cause any problems. I’m happy to step aside—”
“And now I have one too many bridesmaids.” The bride-to-be refocused on her intended. “My count is wrong. You wait until two days before the wedding to tell me this when you know I’m not going to like it, and now my count is off!”
As the groom focused on the linoleum floor, it was impossible not to picture a wax version of the couple on a multi-tiered cake: Deandra in skinny jeans and that tight cashmere sweater, her dark hair streaked blond, her body cocked forward like she was going to throat-punch the man she was going to marry; Moose in his New Brunswick Fire Department T-shirt, all broad-shouldered and bearded around the face, easing back like someone with the flu was about to sneeze in his face.
Ah, true love.
“I didn’t think it was a big deal,” Moose muttered. “Anne’s a member of the four-nine-nine crew, and everyone else is with me.”
“She’s a girl.” Deandra pointed at Anne. “It throws off everything.”
“I really don’t want to cause any problems.” Anne put her hands up again. “So I’ll just be in the congregation. It’s perfectly fine—”
Deandra’s glare swung Anne’s way. “The count is still wrong. And my friends have already paid for their dresses. They were a hundred and twenty dollars apiece.”
And that’s my cue to go, Anne thought. Moose may have volunteered for this, but no one else had or needed to—
“I think women can be whatever they want.”
As Danny spoke up, everyone looked at him—including Anne, who suddenly felt shades of what Deandra was throwing out.
Don’t you dare, she mouthed at him behind the bride’s back.
Danny just shrugged like he’d thrown on a pantsuit and was channeling Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton all at once. “I mean, Deandra, you’re above all that sexism, aren’t you? No one’s going to tell you what’s right and wrong for your own wedding. You’re more secure than that.”
I am going to kill you, Anne vowed. “I think Deandra wants things done properly for her only wedding.”
Danny frowned in pseudo-confusion. “So you’re saying it’s okay to have a double standard for men and women? That’s a shocker given how you are at the station. I thought you believed in equality.”
“I do,” Anne snapped. “But this isn’t about equality.”
“You sure? I don’t know how you can support traditional gender roles when it comes to a wedding ceremony at the same time you defend the right for women to be firefighters, cops, and on the front lines in the military.”
“Spare me someone who’s never been in a dress having an opinion about women’s issues, okay?”
“I’m just pointing out that you don’t want women out of dresses.”
“It’s her wedding.” Anne jabbed a finger at Deandra. “She’s the bride. She gets to say what’s right and wrong for her, and she does not need some man telling her what to do.”
“Even if I’m defending the rights of women?”
“Until you grow a set of ovaries, you can shut the hell up about our rights!”
As Anne’s voice ricocheted around the kitchen, she realized that she’d marched right up to Danny—and that Deandra and Moose were watching the two of them in total stillness.
She cleared her throat and took a step back. “Anyway, Deandra’s made up her mind. And I support her decision.”
Deandra’s eyes narrowed on Danny, and something about the way the woman looked at him didn’t seem right.
“Actually,” the bride said, “maybe she should be in the wedding party.”
Anne prayed her expression stayed neutral. “Don’t compromise your vision on my account.”
“I won’t.” The woman stared at Danny. “Fine. Let’s put her in a tuxedo like the rest of the men. She can walk my sister down the aisle, just like a man should. Her shoulders are too big for a gown, anyway, and that way my count stays the way it should.”
Anne rolled her eyes. Let’s hear it for girl power.
“So it’s settled,” Deandra said with a tight smile. “You need a tux. Unless you already own one.”
For a moment, Anne waited for somebody to argue with the woman. Like Moose. But he was clearly done falling on swords over the wedding details, and Danny had just gotten what he wanted so he wasn’t going to say a damn thing.
And the truth was, after how many years of fighting fires with these men, they were her brothers in all but blood. Even though she thought Moose had lost his ever-loving mind marrying this beautiful but sour woman after knowing her for a matter of months, Anne was still going to stand up for the guy if he wanted her to—and he did. He’d asked her down at the stationhouse specifically.
“Where did you guys rent your suits?” Anne said to him.
“Tuxedoes,” Deandra corrected.
The groom blinked like he’d forgotten how to speak English. Then again, he’d been doing that a lot at the firehouse lately. “You’re actually going to wear one?”
“What the hell do I care?”
“Yes, she is wearing one,” Deandra cut in.
Danny spoke up. “I’ll go with you. I know where the place is.”

Monday, July 16, 2018

0 Review: On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service (Her Royal Spyness #11)
by Rhys Bowen
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Berkley Books


When royal sleuth Georgie Rannoch receives a letter from her dearest friend Belinda, who's in an Italian villa awaiting the birth of her illegitimate baby, she yearns to run to her side. If only she could find a way to get there! But then opportunity presents itself in a most unexpected way--her cousin the queen asks her to attend a house party in the Italian Lake Country. The Prince of Wales and the dreadful Mrs. Simpson have been invited, and Her Majesty is anxious to thwart a possible secret wedding.

What luck! A chance to see Belinda, even if it is under the guise of stopping unwanted nuptials. Only that's as far as Georgie's fortune takes her. She soon discovers that she attended finishing school with the hostess of the party--and the hatred they had for each other then has barely dimmed. Plus, she needs to hide Belinda's delicate condition from the other guests. And her dashing beau, Darcy's (naturally) working undercover on a dangerous mission. Then her actress mother shows up, with a not-so-little task to perform. With all this subterfuge, it seems something is bound to go horribly wrong--and Georgie will no doubt be left to pick up the pieces when it does.

My Thoughts

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service, book 11 in Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen is one of the most charming, delightful, and irresistible mysteries that I've read this year. It's hard not to love the main character Georgie Rannoch. She's everything an amateur sleuth should be: bright, observant, and whip-smart. 

Darcy has left on a secret mission, leaving Georgie with nothing but time on her hands. She decides to go to Italy to visit her friend Belinda, who is awaiting the birth of her illegitimate baby. But before she goes, she stops by to have tea with the Queen and check on the status of her marriage request. The Queen all but hints that if Georgie does some sleuthing for her, she'll make sure it goes through.

The Queen wants her to check in on David, the Prince of Wales because he's involved with the notorious Wallis Simpson. And if you're up-to-date with your history lessons, you know what scandal awaits him. So the Queen gets Georgie invited to a house party where she meets up with an old schoolmate, a new acquaintance, and shockingly of all, her mom. Before Georgie realizes it, she's way over her head in events that could have some very dangerous consequences. 

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service is an absolute delight to read. Once again Rhys Bowen hits it out of the park with these timeless characters. The story takes place during a unsettling time in history. I love that the author brings this time period to life through these characters and story line. Each book in the series only leaves me wanting more. 

This is the perfect book to whittle away the summer with. 

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All my opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by that fact. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

0 Sync's Summer of Free #Audiobooks Week 12 is Live, and This May Be My Favorite Week Yet

Can you believe we're already at week 12 of Sync's Summer of Free Audiobooks for Teens? Next week is the last week. Where did summer go? Remember these titles are available to download for free 07/12 - 07/19 only. We're going to Colonial New England this week with The Scarlet Letter and How to Hang A WitchEverything you need to know about downloading this week's titles can be found at

by Adriana Mather | Read by Adriana Mather
Published by Listening Library

Salem, Massachusetts, is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials—and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were? If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

by Nathaniel Hawthorne | Read by Donada Peters
Published by Listening Library

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s exploration of the dichotomy between the public and private self, internal passion and external convention, gives us the unforgettable Hester Prynne, who discovers strength in the face of ostracism and emerges as a heroine ahead of her time. As Kathryn Harrison points out in her Introduction, Hester is “the herald of the modern heroine."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

0 I read the 4th book in the Poldark saga, and the storyline has taken a dark turn.

Warleggan (Poldark #4) 
*Originally titled The Last Gamble
Paperback, 490 pages
Published September 8th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books


Cornwall, 1792-1793. Ross Poldark plunges into a speculative mining venture which threatens his financial security and his stormy marriage to Demelza. When the old attraction between Ross and Elizabeth begins to rekindle itself, Demelza retaliates by becoming dangerously involved with a Scottish cavalry officer.

My Thoughts

I first became aware of Poldark back in 2015, when PBS brought this remarkable series back to the small screen. I, along with many others, became enraptured by the complexities of characters and plot. And it has been my absolute pleasure to read the books that coincide with the series. The first two books in the series, Ross Poldark and Demelza, go along with season one. Books three and four, Jeremy Poldark and Warleggan, go along with season two. The television series follows the book remarkably well. But of course, you get more details with the books and there are a few differences. I won't point them out so as not to spoil the book for anyone who has not read it yet.

Warleggan is the fourth book in the series. And if you've been keeping up you know that George Warleggan has made it his mission in life to see Ross fail, to bring the Poldark name crashing to the ground. And in this book it looks like he succeeds. 

Francis and Ross have mended their broken relationship and things begin to look up for the Poldark family. Then in a tragic turn of events, Francis dies, leaving Elizabeth and Charles Jeffrey without a protector. Ross wants to take up that role, but this is dangerous ground since he's never really gotten over his love of Elizabeth. Not to mention George Warleggan sees an opportunity to secure Elizabeth for himself. 

Demelza loves her husband, puts her absolute trust in him, but his relationship with Elizabeth has always been a sore spot. She flirts with a charming Scottish officer, I believe, in order to get Ross to notice her. Because for all his heroic qualities, Ross is an idiot when it comes to his relationship with Demelza. Then Ross commits an unforgivable act that hurts both Elizabeth and Demelza, and it forever drives a wedge between himself and Demelza. In retaliation, she ups her flirting game with the officer, and well, you'll have to read the book to find out what happens.

Meanwhile there are smugglers, parties, Caroline and Dr. Enys get a little more serious, trouble in the mines, success in the mines, and George Warleggan always making trouble for the Poldarks. One of the things that I love about these books are the characters are remarkable human. Meaning they aren't completely good and they aren't completely evil. They make tragic mistakes. They are driven by desire and emotion as well as logic and reasoning. 

This really is an extraordinary series. And I'm so glad PBS does it justice. This is a series I highly recommend. There's a total of twelve books, and so far I've only read four. It makes me wonder what other catastrophes Winston Graham has in store for the Poldarks. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

1 THE DAUGHTER OF RIVER VALLEY Book Blast and Giveaway

The Daughter of River Valley by Victoria Cornwell

Publication Date: July 17, 2018
eBook; Choc Lit; 313 Pages
AudioBook; Soundings
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Cornish Tales #3

Beth Jago appears to have the idyllic life, she has a trade to earn a living and a cottage of her own in Cornwall’s beautiful River Valley. Yet appearances can be deceptive …

Beth has a secret. Since inheriting her isolated cottage she has been receiving threats, so when she finds a man in her home she acts on her instincts. One frying pan to the head and she has robbed the handsome stranger of his memory and almost killed him.

Brought together by unknown circumstances, and fearful he may die, she reluctantly nurses the intruder back to health. Yet can she trust the man with no name who has entered her life, or is he as dangerous as his nightmares suggest? As they learn to trust one another, the outside threats worsen. Are they linked to the man with no past? Or is the real danger still outside waiting … and watching them both?

Amazon UK | Amazon USChapters

About the Author 

Victoria Cornwall can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.

Victoria’s writing has been shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction and her debut novel reached the final for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award.

Victoria likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

For more information, please visit Victoria Cornwall's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Wednesday, July 4
100 Pages a Day

Thursday, July 5
Maiden of the Pages

Friday, July 6
Clarissa Reads it All

Saturday, July 7
Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sunday, July 8
The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, July 9

Tuesday, July 10
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, July 11
A Darn Good Read

Thursday, July 12
Passages to the Past

Friday, July 13
Trisha Jenn Reads
History From a Woman's Perspective

Sunday, July 15
Donna's Book Blog


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a signed copy of Victoria Cornwell's previous novel, The Thief's Daughter! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Daughter of River Valley

Monday, July 9, 2018

0 Review: Brightly Burning

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
400 pages Published May 1st 2018 
by HMH Books for Young Readers


Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

My Thoughts

Alexa Donne's debut novel, Brightly Burning, is the retelling of Jane Eyre set in space. The title interested me for two reasons. One, I love retellings. I love seeing beloved characters in a new light. Two, I'm currently in the middle of my To Walk Invisible reading challenge. And this book fits perfectly into my Bronte reading challenge.

Going into this book, I was insanely curious about how Donne would pull off Jane Eyre in space. I went into this book as someone who had read Jane Eyre multiple times, so I had certain expectations. But I was also open to the possibilities and re-imaginings that the author had in store. 

The second ice age has come, and to preserve the human race, humanity retreats to the stars. They live aboard many, many ships in space. Time passes and some of the ships are now failing. Stella Ainsley lives aboard one those vessels. Stella works hard as a teacher and an engineer aboard the Stalwart. She leaves it all behind to work as a governess on the Rochester. Where she meets the handsome Captain Hugo. And their connection is immediate. But while on board strange things happen, secrets come to light, and a conspiracy is uncovered.

While Brightly Burning did pay proper homage to Jane Eyre, it was also a story unto itself. That's what makes this book such a delight to read. There were certain things I expected, but also I was pleasantly surprised by certain turn of events. It's part romance, part mystery. I didn't quite get the Gothic feel that Jane Eyre exhibits and there were parts that were predictable, but I enjoyed reading this book nonetheless.

Whether you've read Jane Eyre or not, this story will stand on its own. Alexa Donne has skills as a storyteller, and I can't wait to see what her next novel will be.

Friday, July 6, 2018

0 Review: Royal Bastards

by Andrew Shvarts
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 30th 2017 by Disney-Hyperion


Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . . 

My Thoughts

The Royal Bastards sat upon my shelf unread for longer than I intended. I was in a fantasy mood recently, so I decided to pull it down and give it a go. I could tell from the summary that this was going to be an action-packed book that would be hard to put down.

Tilla is the main character of the book. She's the bastard of Lord Kent of the Western Province. Like the other bastards in the book, she desperately wants not only her father's love, but also wants to be acknowledged as legitimate. Which, I think, is the most heartbreaking part of this story. 

A visiting dignitary, Princess Lyriana, shakes things up when she decides to sit at the Bastards' table during a feast in her honor. At that table is Tilla; her brother, Jax; her friend, Miles, and a Zitochi warrior named Zell. From henceforth I shall refer to them as the Fellowship of the Bastards or FoB. 

The FoB plans to go to the beach after the feast and it is there where their fates are forever changed. They witness the beginnings of a rebellion that will start a civil war. They flee for their lives pursued by many different groups determined to have their heads. They face many dangers, including giant spiders--which of course is paramount in any good fantasy. The FoB must learn to trust each other and work together or die alone.

This was a quick read for me. Once I got started reading, it was hard to stop. I enjoyed the character dynamics, the bit of magic, and the overall storyline. It was predictable in some parts, but that didn't take away from the story. I would love to see this made into a television series. Jon Snow would have some fierce competition in the bastard category. I'm so glad I finally picked up this book. It was well worth the wait.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

0 Challenge Yourself To See Beyond Assumptions With This Week's Free #Audiobook Titles From #Sync

Week 11 of Sync's Summer of Free Audiobooks for Teens starts today! Only a few more weeks left. These titles are available to download for free 07/05- 07/12 only. Overlooked heroines is this week's theme with The Invisible Girls and Girls Like UsEverything you need to know about downloading this week's titles can be found at

by Sarah Thebarge | Read by Kirsten Potter
Published by Oasis Audio, LLC.

A girl scarred by her past. A refugee mother uncertain of her future. Five little girls who brought them together. After nearly dying of breast cancer in her twenties, Sarah Thebarge fled her successful career, her Ivy League education, and a failed relationship on the East Coast and started over in Portland, Oregon. She was hoping to quietly pick up the pieces of her broken life, but instead she met Hadhi and her daughters, and set out on an adventure she’d never anticipated. Hadhi was fighting battles of her own. A Somali refugee abandoned by her husband, she was struggling to raise five young daughters in a culture she didn’t understand. When their worlds collided, Hadhi and the girls were on the brink of starvation in their own home, “invisible” in a neighborhood of strangers. As Sarah helped Hadhi and the girls navigate American life, her outreach to the family became a source of courage and a lifeline for herself. Poignant, and at times shattering, Sarah Thebarge’s riveting memoir invites listeners into her story, finding connection, love, and redemption in the most unexpected places.

by Gail Giles | Read by Lauren Ezzo, Brittany Pressley
Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Publishing

A 2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner! With gentle humor and unflinching realism, Gail Giles tells the gritty, ultimately hopeful story of two special ed teenagers entering the adult world. We understand stuff. We just learn it slow. And most of what we understand is that people what ain’t Speddies think we too stupid to get out our own way. And that makes me mad. Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in their first “real world” apartment, it initially seems to be an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces a harrowing experience that no one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought—and more important, that they might be able to help each other move forward.


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