Thursday, November 28, 2019

1 Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift @swiftstory @hfvbt


Entertaining Mr. Pepys by Deborah Swift

Publication Date: September 12, 2019
Hachette Book Group
eBook. Paperback, Audiobook; 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


London 1666

Elizabeth 'Bird' Carpenter has a wonderful singing voice, and music is her chief passion. When her father persuades her to marry horse-dealer Christopher Knepp, she suspects she is marrying beneath her station, but nothing prepares her for the reality of life with Knepp. Her father has betrayed her trust, for Knepp cares only for his horses; he is a tyrant and a bully, and will allow Bird no life of her own.

When Knepp goes away, she grasps her chance and, encouraged by her maidservant Livvy, makes a secret visit to the theatre. Entranced by the music, the glitter and glamour of the surroundings, and the free and outspoken manner of the women on the stage, she falls in love with the theatre and is determined to forge a path of her own as an actress.

But life in the theatre was never going to be straightforward - for a jealous rival wants to spoil her plans, and worse, Knepp forbids it, and Bird must use all her wit and intelligence to change his mind.

Based on events depicted in the famous Diary of Samuel Pepys, Entertaining Mr Pepys brings London in the 17th Century to life. It includes the vibrant characters of the day such as the diarist himself and actress Nell Gwynne, and features a dazzling and gripping finale during the Great Fire Of London.

The third in Deborah Swift's atmospheric trilogy, bringing to life the women in Pepys' Diary. Each novel features a different character and can be read as a stand-alone book.

'A remarkably beguiling read. It transported me to the glitter and filth of seventeenth century London' - Martine Bailey, author of The Almanack

'The fusion of historical facts and fiction is so flawless that it is hard to know where reality ends and fiction begins' - Readers Favourite Review

Amazon | Book Depository


Praise for the Pepys Trilogy

'Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines' - The Visitor

'A novel that transports readers with astonishing and engrossing detail' - Readers Favorite 5*

'Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life… Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined' -Lancashire Evening Post

About the Author

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Lady’s Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martin’s Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists.

She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District – a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.

For more information, please visit Deborah Swift’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 21
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Reading the Past

Friday, November 22
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Monday, November 25
Review & Excerpt at Book Reviews from Canada

Tuesday, November 26
Review at A Book Geek

Wednesday, November 27
Guest Post at Short Book and Scribes

Thursday, November 28

Friday, November 29

Monday, December 2

Tuesday, December 3
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, December 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 6
Excerpt at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, December 9

Tuesday, December 10
Excerpt at Words and Peace

Wednesday, December 11

Thursday, December 12
Feature at Coffee and Ink

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a signed copy of Entertaining Mr. Pepys! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Entertaining Mr. Pepys


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

0 Distant Signs by Anne Richter Excerpt and Giveaway


Distant Signs by Anne Richter

Publication Date: November 7, 2019
Neem Tree Press
Hardcover; 240 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Saga


Distant Signs is an intimate portrait of two families spanning three generations amidst turbulent political change, behind and beyond the Berlin Wall. In 1960s East Germany, Margret, a professor's daughter from the city, meets and marries Hans, from a small village in Thuringia. The couple struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of war. As East German history gradually unravels, with collision of the personal and political, their two families' hidden truths are quietly revealed. An exquisitely written novel with strongly etched characters that stay with you long after the book is finished and an authentic portrayal of family life behind the iron curtain based on personal experience of the author who is East German and was 16 years old at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why do families repeat destructive patterns of behaviour across generations? Should the personal take precedence over the political? Can we rise above our histories and political identities to forge a new understanding of the past and to welcome change?

Available on Amazon


Excerpt

1. Margret – 1965 – Communist Cow (pp.12-13): meeting Hans

After work, I was now in the habit of taking an evening stroll through the surrounding area. My eyes quickly grew accustomed to the faint light, so that each time I recognised the contours of the land better, easily discerned the paths, trees, meadows and fences. Shrouded in my coat and woollen scarf I was at one with the winter air, the dormant plants, the sleeping animals, on some days with the snow, luminous against the dark.
One evening, at the edge of a meadow I spotted a man’s silhouette, static and slightly stooped, hands clasped behind his back. He turned to me as I approached.
“The evening air here,” he said by way of greeting, “reminds me of home.”
I recognised the young man’s face; he too worked on the farm.
“Where are you from?” I asked, and he named a village near my boarding school. I told him where I had gone to school and how fondly I remembered my time there. He mumbled in surprise that no one else here knew his village.
We were silent for a moment; then he said, “I learned some of the work when I was a child: harvesting crops and milking goats.”
I nodded, and was surprised to think that he had also noticed me on the farm.
“I’m here to deepen my knowledge before I start my studies,” he continued, and proceeded to tell me that while it was still light on his early autumn walks he had picked plants at the field perimeters and set up a herbarium. “I don’t mind the winter,” he said.
I rubbed my hands together, formed two small hollows and breathed into them. We were not far from the farmyard when he offered me his gloves. I hesitated. Then my hands slipped into the already warm wool.
In the meagre light of the murky farmyard lantern, I noticed he had a slight squint in his left eye and blushed under my gaze. Although he did not come across as very athletic and looked poorly suited to hard farm work, I felt at ease in his presence, precisely because there was nothing boisterous or uncouth about the way he talked and behaved. As we said goodnight he asked me my name.
“Margret,” I told him.
And he told me his – Hans – before adding, “The women in my village don’t have as nice-sounding names as yours.”

About the Author

Anne Richter was born in 1973 in Jena, in the former German Democratic Republic. Her degree in Romance languages and English included study periods in England, Italy and France. In 2011, Anne was nominated for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, a highly regarded German-language literary award. Her debut novel, Distant Signs, was published in Germany in 2013. Anne is currently writing her second novel.

Douglas Irving is Scottish. He studied German and Spanish at Aberdeen University. In 2014 he completed a Masters in Translation at Glasgow University. His first translation, Crossing: A Love Story by Anna Seghers was published in 2016 in the US to positive reviews. His translation of Anna Seghers’ last work published in her lifetime, Three Women from Haiti, is set to follow.

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, November 7
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Comet Readings

Friday, November 8
Review at A Book Geek

Sunday, November 10
Excerpt at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, November 12

Wednesday, November 13

Thursday, November 14

Friday, November 15

Monday, November 18

Tuesday, November 19

Wednesday, November 20
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, November 21
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Friday, November 22

Saturday, November 23

Monday, November 25

Tuesday, November 26

Wednesday, November 27

Friday, November 29
Feature at Coffee and Ink

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of A Distant Signs by Anne Richter! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

- Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
- Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
- Only one entry per household.
- All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
- The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Distant Signs


Friday, November 1, 2019

0 Review: Marley by Jon Clinch


Marley by Jon Clinch
Narrated by: Matthew Lloyd Davies
Length: 7 hrs and 15 mins
Published October 8th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
9781508299202

Young Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley are very different in temperament when they meet in the gloomy confines of Professor Drabb’s Academy for Boys, but they form a bond that will endure for the rest of their lives.


My Thoughts

Marley by Jon Clinch is a prequel to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Readers are not entirely sure what exactly Jacob Marley did in his life, but we know it's bad. We know that because when Scrooge is visited by Marley, he is weighed down by heavy chains of his own making. Chains he forged in life. Without knowing exactly who he is and what he's done, we can deduce from Scrooge's life that Marley wasn't a good character. However, there is a redemptive quality to Marley. After all, he does come to Scrooge to warn him that if he doesn't change his ways, he'll end up the same way.
"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

We know what happens to Scrooge, but what we don't know is how Scrooge got to be Scrooge in the first place, and we don't know exactly what part Marley played in it. Now thanks to Jon Clinch, we do. Clinch mastered the backstory of two classic but complex characters. This story is dark but compelling. Every step that Scrooge takes during this book, you can see him coming closer and closer to the miserly character he is at the beginning of Charles Dickens classic tale. I don't think I'll be able to read A Christmas Carol again without thinking of Marley.

We meet Scrooge and Marley as young lads. From early in their relationship, Marley has a hold over Scrooge. Scrooge is the man who's good with numbers, while Marley is the big picture man. Together they make a good team. If only they used their powers for good. They deal in slave trade and have shady business practices that would make your stomach churn. So many times I wanted to shout at the characters. Scrooge and Marley had a complicated relationship, sometimes friends, sometimes frienemies.

Marley by Jon Clinch is a fantastic prequel. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies, which I enthusiastically recommend. Whether you listen to this book on audio or read the hardback, it's definitely one you'll want to add to your tbr. 

*I received a digital copy of this audiobook for review purposes only. It has in no way influenced my opinion.



Friday, October 25, 2019

0 5 nonfiction audiobooks for your consideration


How to Connect: Stories on the Power of Human Connection
by Brian Grazer
Narrated by: Brian Grazer - introduction, Steven Weber
Published September 17, 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio 
Length: 4 hrs and 42 mins
 9781508282495


"New York Times bestselling author and iconic Hollywood producer Brian Grazer reveals a new secret to forge a happier and more successful life. Through his own personal stories, discover how eye contact—a power available to nearly everyone—can change your life too."

Are you ready for the secret? Let me save you 4 hours and 42 minutes. Make eye contact. Yep, that's it. I didn't think this was a secret, per se. After all, any communications class will tell you how important it is. But it's also no secret that today's society tend to be looking at their phones more than each other, so maybe we need this reminder. Brian Grazer goes on to illustrate his points about eye contact by telling stories (heavy on the name dropping) about his life and how this concept served him well. While the intentions were good, the execution not so much. 









What Set Me Free A True Story of Wrongful Conviction, a Dream Deferred, and a Man Redeemed
by Brian Banks
Narrated by Brian Banks
Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins
Published July 2nd 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
9781508295020


"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."

What Set Me Free is an eye-opening memoir about a young man who was failed by the US judicial system. I went through an array of emotions while listening this audiobook, beginning with infuriated and incredulous to inspired and hopeful. Stories like Brian's need to stay in the media to keep issues like this in the forefront of our minds. Our country needs many things, but prison reform needs to be at the top. Too many people are being wrongfully convicted or serving outrageous sentences for minor crimes. I am so sorry that Brian Banks had to go through this, but I am grateful for him to tell his story so that others may not have to suffer as he did. 





Sweat the Technique: The Elements of Writing—Anything
by Rakim
Narrated by: Rakim
Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
Published 09-24-19 by  HarperAudio
9780062916877

"Filled with valuable lessons for every writer, Sweat the Technique reveals the heart and mind of an artist and his love for great storytelling, and always, the words."

I am fascinated by artists' creative process, and that fascination led me to this book. I have to be completely honest, I didn't know who Rakim was or what his contribution to hip hop was before I began this book. I liked that Sweat the Technique wasn't a typical 'how to' guide. Instead it's part memoir/part writing guide. One thing that struck me while listening was Rakim's absolute confidence he had in himself to see his vision of who he wanted to be and what he wanted to accomplish to fruition. He didn't compromise himself, and that's truly inspiring. I think this book has a little something for everyone, no matter your industry.





And a little bonus. Try not to dance. I dare you.







The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience
by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton
Narrated by: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chelsea Clinton
Length: 14 hrs and 34 mins
Published 10-01-19 by  Simon Schuster Audio
9781508299233

"Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, share the stories of the gutsy women who have inspired them—women with the courage to stand up to the status quo, ask hard questions, and get the job done."

The Book of Gutsy Women seemed to be like a conversation between Hillary and Chelsea that the audience is privileged to sit in on. This book highlights powerful, gutsy women both past and present. I love books like this one. Books that highlight the accomplishments of so many women who didn't make the pages of history, of were given but a single sentence about their contributions. I also love that the book included women of today, who should be highlighted for their achievements in making this world a better place.






Inside Out
by Demi Moore 
Narrated by Demi Moore
Length: 6 hrs and 31 mins
Published: 09-24-19 by HarperAudio
B07RFJSVRB

"Famed American actress Demi Moore at last tells her own story in a surprisingly intimate and emotionally charged memoir."

Inside Out felt like a rebuttal to an argument I wasn't privy to. It felt defensive. It felt a little chaotic at times. I grew up watching Demi on the big screen--Ghost and St. Elmo's Fire among my favorites. I knew very little about her private life before listening to Inside Out. And I kinda wish I could go back to my previous ignorant state.
Demi begins with her childhood. It was terrible. Her parents were terrible. She moved around a lot, she had/has body image issues, and then the book goes on to talk about her feelings of not belonging, her drug and alcohol abuse, her career, her marriages, the roles she took on, and her public image. It seemed if she were trying to justify all her actions. But justify them to whom exactly?
 I don't know.
A lot of what she went through is not uncommon. The impostor syndrome thing is real. So maybe she's trying to say, "I'm just like you." I don't know. But taking responsibility for your choices, owning your choices, good and bad, and not blaming everyone else for your decisions is part of being an adult. I don't think she quite there yet. But hey, we're all learning and growing every day. One thing I thought was really brave was her sharing about her rape at 15. This is a travesty and a situation where 100% blame lay entirely elsewhere. This might be a trigger for some readers, so be warned.




*I received some of these book from publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

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
Audiobook
Published August 13th 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
Length: 7 hrs and 45 mins
9781508295792

Summary

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
 9780062672155

Summary

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
9780062691989

Summary

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
9781508282877

Summary


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


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
9781508286608

Summary

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
9781508292814

Summary


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.

Ready.
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.
Aim.
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.
Desire!
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.


Excerpt:


“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?

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

0 Audiobook Review: Sky Without Stars


Sky Without Stars (System Divine #1)
by Jessica Brody and  Joanne Rendell 
Narrated by Joy Osmanski, Emily Woo Zeller, and Vikas Adam 
Length: 18 hrs and 33 mins
624 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Simon Schuster Audio
 9781508281269

Summary

A thief.
An officer.
A guardian. 

Three strangers, one shared destiny…

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.

*I received an mp3 file of this audiobook for review purposes only. It has in no way influenced my thoughts on this book.

My Thoughts

Part of what grabbed my attention about Sky Without Stars is that it's a retelling of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. I'm a huge fan of both the book and musical. I entered into this audiobook with a little trepidation with one question on my mind: How will it compare to the original? 

The book itself is rather long and it's only the first book of at least two books. However, it didn't really register that 18 hours had passed while I listened to it. In fact, an hour would go by rather quickly, which is a good sign. 

The story is told from three points of view: Chatine, a thief; Marcellus, an officer, and Alouette, a guardian. Each point of view had it's own narrator, and I loved that. It gave each character a unique voice. Although, sometimes the narration seemed a little too quiet. 

Sky Without Stars has much in common with Les Misérable. I could see many similarities, but I could also see many differences as well. I liked this aspect too, because at the heart they have the same message. The characters resemble those in Les Misérable, though a little more dramatic than they needed to be at times. 

Overall, I enjoyed listening to this title. The book ended with a cliffhanger, so the authors have sucked me in to listening to the sequel when it comes out. Which I suspect was their plan all along. If you like science fiction/fantasy and you're not afraid of big books, you should check this book out--even if you haven't read Les Misérable. 


 

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