Tuesday, October 15, 2019

0 The Stranger from the Sea and The Miller's Dance by Winston Graham.

The Stranger from the Sea (The Poldark Saga #8)
by Winston Graham

I struggled with reading The Stranger from the Sea now as opposed to after the final season of Poldark aired. But temptation got the better of me. I couldn't wait to read what life after Elizabeth would entail. But to my surprise, this book picks up ten years after The Angry Tide. And while the main characters of the first seven books are still around, it's their children that are brought to the forefront. Jeremy and Clowance are now of age, as is Valentine Warleggan and John Conan Whitworth. It took a minute to get used to this idea, as I love Ross and Demelza, Dwight and Carolyn. However, Graham doesn't disappoint with his epic storytelling. In The Stranger from the Sea, Stephen Carrington makes his way to Nampara where he brings danger and love and temptation to the Poldark estate. This book was not what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I especially love that Verity and Jud are very much still in the mix. Graham found a way to keep this epic series alive by exploring the next generation, and I look forward to it.

The Miller's Dancy (The Poldark Saga #9) by Winston Graham

It feels impossible that I have finished nine books in the Poldark saga. The Stranger from the Sea introduced readers to the Ross and Demelza's adult children embarking on the adventure of life. The Miller's Dance continues with their story. Jeremy and Clowance each nurse a broken heart, while Ross and Demelza have some surprising news. Valentine Warleggan wishes to become better acquainted with the Poldarks, but he's up to something. George finally remarries after all this time. And so much more happens. Three more books to go before I finish this series. I long for it and dread it at the same time. I hope Winston Graham is kind to his characters.

Monday, September 23, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: A Keeper by Graham Norton

A Keeper: A Novel
by Graham Norton
Published August 13th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
Length: 7 hrs and 45 mins


When Elizabeth Keane returns to Ireland after her mother’s death, she’s focused only on saying goodbye to that dark and dismal part of her life. Her childhood home is packed solid with useless junk, her mother’s presence already fading. But within this mess, she discovers a small stash of letters—and ultimately, the truth.

Forty years earlier, a young woman stumbles from a remote stone house, the night quiet except for the constant wind that encircles her as she hurries deeper into the darkness away from the cliffs and the sea. She has no sense of where she is going, only that she must keep on.

My Thoughts

Graham Norton emerged onto the literary scene a few years ago with his first mystery novel Holding, which I enjoyed immensely. I too listened to it on audio. Norton has a pleasant voice full of personality that makes for a wonderful narrator for his novels. After I finished Holding, I eagerly waited for his second novel A Keeper.

Once again, Norton explores another small town in Ireland that holds its secrets dear. The chapters are broken up into "Now" and "Before." Before: chronicling Elizabeth Keane as she returns to Ireland after her mother's death to sort her affairs. While looking through memorabilia, Elizabeth discovers letters revealing a part of her mother's past that lay hidden her whole life. Elizabeth embarks on a journey to discover the secrets of her mother's dark past. Then: chronicles a young women's journey to find love and the terror that follows.

Graham Norton knows how to write a novel with unexpected twists and turns. His characters are as complex as his story. He once again delivers a fascinating story about the ins and outs of families and the length they'll go to to protect the ones they love. A Keeper is a thrilling story that will keep you glued to the pages or, in my case, earbuds.

*I received this audiobook from the publisher for review purposes. It in no way influenced my opinions.

Monday, September 9, 2019

0 Audiobook Roundup

This brand-new audio collection from the iconic Pulitzer and Nobel Prize–winning author is a listener’s delight. The two dozen short stories presented here have never been published on audio; these new recordings of classic stories will remind listeners of Ernest Hemingway’s incomparable mastery of the short story form.

John Beford Lloyd was the perfect choice to narrate this short story collection. Fans of Heminway will love it!

Discover the unforgettable and inspiring true story of Brian Banks—a young man who was wrongfully convicted as a teenager and imprisoned for more than five years, only to emerge with his spirit unbroken and determined to achieve his dream of playing in the NFL.

This is a powerful memoir about a man who was failed by the judicial system--from his lawyers to the broken prison system system. Everybody needs to listen to/read this book. It will change the way you look at the world.

From the author of The Other Boleyn Girl—a book about the devastating consequences of the slave trade in 19th century England.

I really like Gegory's Tudor novels, but I just couldn't get into A Respectable Trade. The narration was good. I have no complaints there. I just couldn't get into this story. I had a hard time connecting to the characters. Still, fans of Gregory might want to give this a go. Hopefully, they'll have a different experience than I did.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

1 Review and Giveaway: The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

The Wallflower Wager (Girl Meets Duke #3)
by Tessa Dare
ebook, 368 pages
Expected publication: August 13th 2019 by Avon


They call him the Duke of Ruin.

To an undaunted wallflower, he's just the beast next door. 

Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.

Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.

When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.

Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?

And a two-legged dog.

And a foul-mouthed parrot.

And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .

Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.

Not if he ruins her first. 

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes only. It has in no way influenced my opinion of the book.

My Thoughts

Tessa Dare deals with some tough issues in her latest novel, The Wallflower Wager. But she handles these issues with the care they deserve. The storyline was intriguing. The characters are delightful. Even the supporting characters are great. There's also a scandalous parrot, which I didn't know I needed until now.

Lady Penelope Campion is an animal enthusiast. She rescues the downtrodden beasties to restore them to health. But they're not just animals to her, they're family. How can you not love a character who loves animals so much? But when it's demanded that she get rid of them, she agrees, but only if she can find them loving homes. She enlists the help of her notorious neighbor known as the Duke of Ruin.

Gabriel Duke has bought a house next to the lovely Penelope. After all, living next to the lady has some advantages. The horde of animals not being one of them. He's got a reputation for being a ruthless bastard. However, he's soon under the spell of Penelope and offers to help find good homes for her furry charges. But can she trust him?

The Wallflower Wager is a bit steamer than the other romances I've read this year. So you might want to read this directly under some cool ventilation. The humor in this book was outstanding, especially the delivery scene. Many LOL moments. As I mentioned before, this book deals with some tough issues, but Dare balanced both the romance and the heavier issues well. 

The Wallflower Wager is a great addition to the Girl Meets Duke series. Penelope and Gabriel do not disappoint. 

Thanks to the publisher, I have a copy of this book to give away to a lucky reader. To enter, please fill out the form below. Please read our giveaway rules before entering. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

4 Review and Giveaway: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

Brazen and the Beast (The Bareknuckle Bastards #2)
by Sarah MacLean
ebook, 400 pages
Expected publication: July 30th 2019 by Avon


The Lady’s Plan

When Lady Henrietta Sedley declares her twenty-ninth year her own, she has plans to inherit her father’s business, to make her own fortune, and to live her own life. But first, she intends to experience a taste of the pleasure she’ll forgo as a confirmed spinster. Everything is going perfectly…until she discovers the most beautiful man she’s ever seen tied up in her carriage and threatening to ruin the Year of Hattie before it’s even begun.

The Bastard’s Proposal

When he wakes in a carriage at Hattie’s feet, Whit, a king of Covent Garden known to all the world as Beast, can’t help but wonder about the strange woman who frees him—especially when he discovers she’s headed for a night of pleasure . . . on his turf. He is more than happy to offer Hattie all she desires…for a price.

An Unexpected Passion

Soon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure. She won’t give up her plans; he won’t give up his power . . . and neither of them sees that if they’re not careful, they’ll have no choice but to give up everything . . . including their hearts.

My Thoughts

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes only. It has in no way influenced my opinions.

Sarah MacClean's latest book, Brazen and the Beast, is a historical romance that will leave fans swooning. Once again, her characters are independent and strong and full of life. Once you pick up this novel, you'll have a hard time putting it down.

Lady Henrietta (Hattie) Sedley is what is called a spinster. However, she declares that this will be The Year of Hattie and sets forth to make her dreams come true. Her main dream is to run her father's shipping business, which is frowned upon because she's a woman. But she has a plan. And that plan doesn't include Whit, king of Covent Garden, also known as the Beast.

Beast had to work his way up from the gutter. He runs a successful business venture that has been compromised, and he thinks Hattie may be the key to finding out who is behind it. Hattie and Beast strike a deal to benefit both of them. However, as their attraction to each other grows, so does the danger of losing everything each holds dear.

The plot, the characters, the romance--basically everything--was on point. Hattie and the Beast's sparring was so much fun to read. Hattie is everything we want in a heroine. I think everybody that reads this book will be behind The Year of Hattie! Also, I loved Nora. I hope she gets her own book.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a copy of this book to give away to a lucky reader. To enter, please fill out the form below. Please read our giveaway rules before entering. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. Giveaway is open to US addresses only.

Monday, August 5, 2019

0 Audiobook Review Sorcery of Thorns

Sorcery of Thorns
by Margaret Rogerson
Narrated by Emily Ellet
Published June 4th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
Length: 14 hrs and 20 mins


All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined. 

My Thoughts

*I received this audiobook from the publisher for review purposes. This is no way influenced my opinion.

I couldn't resist a book about a girl who grows up in a library guarding grimoires. Not to mention these grimoires have personalities of sorts. And of course the mystery and magic that surround the library.

Elisabeth was taken in at one of Austermeer's Great Libraries as a baby. She's grown up among the tools of sorcery, even though sorcerer's are considered dangerous. Especially their grimoires, which can turn into leathery monsters filled with ink. Elisabeth's goal is to one day be a warden that will protect the kingdom from their power.

Her dream is shattered when she awakes to find a grimoire has escaped. Elisabeth soon finds herself under investigation for the crime. She is shipped off to the capital to await trial. Her escort and guard, Nathaniel Thorn, is also a sorcerer. Whom she's loathed to trust. However, she starts to question everything she knows about the libraries and sorcerers.

I highly enjoyed this novel as an audiobook. Time seemed to fly while I was listening. The storyline was really good and not something I've come across before. I loved the mystery that at times seemed almost Gothic in nature. Rogerson has a great descriptive element to her writing that really makes the story come alive. This is the first book I read by the author, but I'm hoping there might be a sequel to this one. I'll be keeping an eye out for it.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Temper

by Layne Fargo
Narrated by  Jayme Mattler and Hillary Huber
Audiobook, Unabridged
Published July 2nd 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
Length: 9 hrs and 57 mins


After years of struggling in the Chicago theater scene, ambitious actress Kira Rascher finally lands the role of a lifetime. The catch? Starring in Temper means working with Malcolm Mercer, a mercurial director who’s known for pushing his performers past their limits—on stage and off.

Kira’s convinced she can handle Malcolm, but the theater’s co-founder, Joanna Cuyler, is another story. Joanna sees Kira as a threat—to her own thwarted artistic ambitions, her twisted relationship with Malcolm, and the shocking secret she’s keeping about the upcoming production. But as opening night draws near, Kira and Joanna both start to realize that Malcolm’s dangerous extremes are nothing compared to what they're capable of themselves.

*I received a digital file of Temper from the publisher for review purposes. All opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by this.

My Thoughts

To be perfectly honest, I almost stopped listening to Temper about an hour in because I had a hard time getting interested in the story. I decided to listen a bit more before making a decision whether to continue or not. But then it was sort of like watching a train wreck. I just couldn't look away. Even after I finished, I had to sit back and think about the story. And I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet.

Temper is told from duel points of view. The first is Kira, an actress, who lands a dream role in the Chicago theater scene with the illustrious Malcolm Mercer. Malcolm has a reputation for being a dark horse. The second point of view is Joanna Cuyler, the theater's co-founder, and she's not Kira's biggest fan. Jayme Mattler and Hillary Huber narrate these two complex characters and bring this interesting(?) story to life. 

Temper left me with mixed emotions. I can't really identify what those emotions are. Curiosity? Intrigue? Revolting? Fascination? It kind of makes you wonder what's lying beneath the surface of the people you meet everyday. Or what's underneath your own skin. What are you capable of?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: The Other Queen

The Other Queen: A Novel
(The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels #15)
by Philippa Gregory 
Narrated by Richard Armitage, Alex Kingston, Madeleine Leslay 
Published June 25th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
Length: 16 hrs and 32 mins


Fleeing violent rebellions in Scotland, Mary looks to Queen Elizabeth of England for sanctuary. Though promised protection, Mary, perceived as a serious threat to the English crown, is soon imprisoned by her former friend as a “guest” in the house of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick. The newly married couple welcomes the condemned queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court. 

To their horror, they grow to realize that the task will bankrupt their estate and lose them what little favor they’ve managed to gain as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Queen Elizabeth. And Mary is not as hopeless as she appears, manipulating the earl and spinning her own web of treachery and deceit, as she sharpens her weapons to reclaim her Scottish throne—and to take over Queen Elizabeth’s of England.

My Thoughts

I wanted to read/listen to this book mostly because it was written by Philippa Gregory. I haven't read all her books, but what I have read, I've really enjoyed. The reason I wanted to listen to this as an audiobook is because it is narrated partly by Alex Kingston and Richard Armitage. 

Alex Kingston in a great actress, whom I admire. Though she's narrated many audiobooks in the past, this is my first experience with her as a narrator. She did not disappoint. Richard Armitage is a different story. Audible released a Christmas freebee in December 2019, The Christmas Hirelings
by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and he did an amazing job with it. In fact, there were times that I forgot just one person was narrating the story. I had no previous experience with Madeleine Leslay. But now I do, and I'm glad.

The Other Queen is told from three points of view: Mary Queen of Scots (narrated by Leslay), Bess of Hardwick (narrated by Kingston), and George Talbot, Earl of Shewsbury (narrated by Armitage). It takes place after Mary flees from a turbulent Scotland into England, hoping to find sanctuary. However, Mary is perceived as a threat to the kingdom. Queen Elizabeth calls on her faithful servant, George Talbot, to house the displaced queen. 

The newlyweds, Bess and George, take Mary into their home as an honored quest, but also as a prisoner. It's not long until the stress and financial burden of taking on the queen starts to tear their household apart. Not to mention the plots to free Mary and put her on the English throne that could have them all condemned for treason--guilty or not. 

The characters in this novel are complex to say the least. Bess of Hardwick seems more concerned with money than with anything else. However, being a woman in the 1500s didn't leave you with a lot of options. So her obsession with finances can be understood, though she does seem a bit harsh at times.

It was said to look at Mary was to love her. Many people fell under her spell. She was exactly what a queen should be. She charmed all. Did she plot for Elizabeth's throne, or was she innocent? She seemed to trust all the wrong people. There were many layers to this queen without a country.

The Earl of Shrewsbury was as loyal as they come. He would do anything for Queen and country. His loyalty was famous. However, her could not stand up to the beguiling nature of Mary, not that he tried very hard. At times I felt so sorry for him because he wanted to believe Mary so badly that it almost cost him everything. 

This isn't a part of history many authors have written about. I loved that Gregory explored the alternate points of view of the main characters. The only issue I had with The Other Queen is that at times it was repetitive, especially at the beginning of the book. Still, the book was pretty awesome. Also, I highly recommend the audiobook. The narration was outstanding!

*I received this audiobook from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way influenced my opinions.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

0 One Fine Duke by Leora Bell

Title: One Fine Duke
Author: Lenora Bell
ISBN: 9780062692504
Price: $7.99
On-Sale Date: 7/23/19

USA Today bestselling author Lenora Bell returns with her third book in the sexy School for Dukes series.

Raised in the countryside by her overprotective uncle, Miss Mina Penny’s dream of a triumphant London season is finally here. She determined her perfect match long ago: Rafe Bentley, the wickedest rake of them all. There’s only one very large, very unyielding obstacle: Rafe’s brother Drew, the reclusive Duke of Thorndon.
This was supposed to be simple. Duke goes to London. Duke selects suitable bride. Love match? Not a chance. But when Drew meets Mina, she complicates everything. How can a lady armed with such beauty and brains fall for his irresponsible degenerate of a brother? Drew vows to save her from heartbreak and ruin, no matter the cost.
But Mina is no damsel in distress. She’s daring, intuitive, passionate…and halfway to melting Drew’s cold heart. And although Mina thought she knew exactly what she wanted, one breathtakingly seductive kiss from Drew changes everything. Now Mina must decide between long-held dreams and dangerous new desires. Could her true destiny lie in the arms of a duke?

Author Bio:

Lenora Bell is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of historical romances. A teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing, Lenora has lived and worked on five continents. She currently lives in New Zealand with her carpenter husband and two tiger-striped rescue kitties. She loves hearing from readers! Sign up for her mailing list to hear about new books, sales, and giveaways.


“There he is, Wilhelmina,” Grizzy whispered, staring reverently across the crowded ballroom. “The Duke of Thorndon.”
Holy hell he’s handsome, thought Mina.
Jaw-dropping-on-the-floor handsome. Drool-on-your-lace-fichu handsome.
Distract her from her plan with his brother, handsome.
Her uncle had been right. Thorndon was a fine figure of a man. Objectively speaking, the finest she’d ever beheld.
Tall as a doorframe, with a face hewn from the same granite as the rugged Cornish coastline.
A face rendered seductive by contrasts: sharp cheekbones and curved, sensuous lips. Gleaming ebony hair brushed his collar. His eyes were a light, gold-tinged brown—the only warm thing about him.
He owned this ballroom. Literally. And he owned everyone in it by dint of his oversized presence and the cold, unsmiling arrogance scrawled across his face.
He didn’t even follow the dictates of fashion, preferring plain black attire to the white pantaloons and gaily-colored waistcoats of the other gentlemen.
Why should he follow the dictates of fashion? Everyone should follow him.
“When you’re introduced to Thorndon, pray speak as seldom as possible,” Grizzy whispered. “Attempt to appear biddable and do try to recall my decorum lessons. Remember, no one in London knows anything about you, thank the Lord.”
Mina had seen several polished, elegant young ladies staring at her, nudging each other and whispering. She was an outsider, a usurper, her proper place in the social hierarchy not yet established.
They needn’t worry. She had no designs upon their prize duke. And she was about as unpolished as a debutante could be—as rough as an un-sanded plank. If anyone touched her they might get splinters.
She longed to shed her country skin swiftly and emerge as the sophisticated social butterfly her mother had been. But she knew that it would take time, observation, and experimentation.
Her first flirtatious conversation, first kiss, first taste of brandy, first adventure…it was all ahead of her.
She couldn’t wait to taste it all.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

0 Magic and empowerment: Week 14 of Sync's Summer of Audiobooks For Teens

Available for a Limited Time
Remember — grab these titles before the Summer SYNC Program ends at midnight on 7/31/2019! While the title availability is time-limited, your listening time is not. Once you have downloaded the MP3 files, the audiobook is yours to keep and listen to at your leisure. 

by Maggie Stiefvater | Read by Thom Rivera
Published by Scholastic Audiobooks

Here is a thing everyone wants: A miracle. Here is a thing everyone fears: What it takes to get one. Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado, is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars. At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo. They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

by Nnedi Okorafor | Read by Yetide Badaki
Published by Tantor Audio

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she has albinism. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent mystical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal well-versed in powerful juju?

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