Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Audio Books Narrators I Adore

Good morning lovely people! Can you believe that it's almost April? I feel like that shocked emoji would fit just perfectly here, because March absolutely flew by. It's been a pretty great year of reading so far though, so I can't complain at all. Now, let me stop rambling and let's get to today's Top Ten Tuesday!
Top Ten Audio Book Narrators

This was a hard one, and so these are in no particular order. It would be way too hard on my poor little reader brain to do that, and I love them all so much!

--- Kathleen Gati ---

Kathleen Gati is a narrator for most of the historical fictions novels that I've stumbled upon, and her voice definitely lends itself to that! She runs the gambit of emotions in all of the stories that I've listened to her narrate, and does it perfectly. I always feel like I'm right there alongside the characters.

--- Neil Gaiman ---

The fact that Neil Gaiman narrates his own books is magical. If you haven't listened to a book that is narrated by him, please do. His voice is lyrical. It's calming. It's the voice that you want to read you bedtime stories for the rest of your life. Does the fact that his books are also amazing make a difference? Totally. Everything about this man is magic.

--- MacLeod Andrews ---

Andrews' voice is one that, once you listen to a book narrated by him, you'll always be able to pick out. He has a very animated reading voice, which makes him amazing at stories that have big emotions, like Steelheart does. Plus I can't deny he does a great superhero voice. Hahaha.

--- Katherine Kellgren ---

I was devastated when Katherine Kellgren passed away. Her voice first came to my ears as I binged all of the Incorrigible Children books, and it became one of my favorites quickly. She had the kind of voice that makes you feel safe. Just like I feel about Gaiman, it's the kind of voice that you want to read you bedtime stories. I'll miss her.

--- Renee Raudman ---

Okay if I HAD to choose a favorite narrator, Renee Raudman would be on that very short list as a candidate. Her voice is epic. I first was introduced to her when I found the world of Kate Daniels, and quickly fell in love was I binge listened everything that Ilona Andrews had to offer. Her voice is so emotional to me, because it's the voice of Kate. The voice of a character that I followed for 10 books. From this point forward if Renee Raudman narrates it, I'm listening to it.

--- Kate Mulgrew ---
Notable Books: The Fireman, NOS4A2 

If Kate Mulgrew's name sounds familiar, you might be an OITNB fan! Her voice, to me, is the voice of Joe Hill. After listening to her read NOS4A2, I was hooked! Her voice is gruff, raw, and just perfect. She's still fairly new to narrating audio books, so her list is small, but I'm so ready for her to become a staple in the game!

--- Jim Dale ---
Notable Books: Harry Potter Series, The Night Circus

I probably don't have to introduce Jim Dale to many of you. He's a staple, and a saint, in the audio book world. His many, MANY voices bring so many wonderful stories to life, but if you've listened to any Harry Potter audio books you've probably experienced and loved his lovely narration. This man is my idol.

--- Wil Wheaton ---
Notable Books: Ready Player One, Redshirts, V Wars

Did you know that Wil Wheaton narrates books? NO? Well trust me, you need to experience them. His voice is perfect for all things Scalzi, and I've devoured many a book listening to (and giggling over) his over the top performances. If you're looking for a narrator with a lot of panache, Wheaton is your guy.

--- Angele Masters ---
Notable Books: A Curious Beginning, A Crown For Cold Silver, One In A Million

It's funny how I associate certain narrators with certain story types, but that's true of Angele Masters. For me, she's the voice of Fantasy. The voice of witty women, gruff men, and all the characters in between. Her male voices are actually really excellent! I love her, and always seek out books that are narrated by her.

--- Khristine Hvam ---
Notable Books: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Skinwalker, Onyx & Ivory

Oh, Khristine Hvam. I fell in love with her voice while I was falling in love with Karou and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. That book, that story, with the beautiful addition of Hvam's voice, broke me. I've been listening to books with her amazing narration ever since! I mean, she's Jane Yellowrock, y'all. That's all you need to know.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Book Review: Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Sky Without Stars
   Series: System Divine Book 1
Authors: Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: Hardcover; 592
Release Date: March 26, 2019
Source: Publisher / FFBC Tours
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy retellings with vivid characters.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
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.
Settle in friends, because this is going to be a fairly long review. I was deeply excited for Sky Without Stars, since Les Miserables is one of my favorite stories of all time. While there were a lot of portions of this story that caught me up in their magic, there were also a fair amount of issues I had that kept me from really this loving story. Once again, I find myself with a book that has me sitting right on that proverbial fence. So bear with me while I sort it all out.

First, let's talk setting. Laterre is an an absolutely fascinating setting for this story to take place. Imagine the dregs of a world that was supposed to be a new start for the masses. A place that promises a fair chance for fair work, but in reality just enslaves over half of its population for the benefit of the wealthy. That on its own is already an amazing setting for a retelling of this nature, but add in the fact that there are science fiction elements galore and you have a space that truly amazed me. Les Miserables in space is a perfect description, and you're in for a treat when you visit Laterre.

In terms of the story line, it actually sticks fairly closely to the original subject matter that it is pulling from. Of course there are differences, since this is a YA book that is set in space, but I enjoyed the fact that Brody and Rendell honored the original story so well. You can see glimpses of Jean Valjean, Eponine, and Inspector Javert. I could see the story unfolding in a similar manner to the original story. A revolt. A rebellion. Unfolding love. Terrible tragedies.

So what made this a three star read? First off, the characters were rough to love. While I saw their counterparts firmly in my head, all of them but Chatine had no depth for me. Marcellus is frustratingly unsure of himself throughout this whole book. Alouette is just that lost little girl who needs people to save her over and over again. I found myself skimming their chapters because they were just so slow. If this whole book had revolved around Chatine (which yes, I know it wouldn't make any sense that way) I would have loved it. She was the fierce peasant, the wily street rat. In other words, my favorite kind of character. Her chapters are what helped me make it through this story.

Which leads to the fact that, yes, this story is lengthy. While the writing is well done, and not too flowery, there are definite portions that felt like they dragged well beyond what they needed to be. This is a tome, to be honest. I completely understand that the source material is also this long, having read both the book and watched the musical, but there's something that's a bit lost in translation in Sky Without Stars. It doesn't feel like the length adds to anything, but more tends to slowly pull the reader out of the story being laid out in front of them. I think if this book had been just a little shorter, focusing more on character development, I would have loved it that much more.

As it stands, I rate this a solid three star read. It wasn't my favorite book, but it does have potential. Since this is the first in a series, I'll probably pick up the next book to see how things evolve. Perhaps my characters will pick themselves up a bit, and things will move along at a quicker pace.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Review: Off Planet by Aileen Erin

Title: Off Planet
Author: Aileen Erin
Publisher: Ink Monster LLC
Pages: 350, paperback
Publication date: March 19, 2019
Source: Author/Xpresso Book Tours

Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a strong heroine and are interested in finishing a series.

From USA Today Bestselling Author Aileen Erin

Maite Martinez has always yearned for more than waitressing in a greasy diner on the polluted ruins of planet Earth. Hiding her special abilities is a full-time job on its own, even with the government distracted by the mysterious alien race – the Aunare.

When a SpaceTech officer gets handsy with her, she reacts without thinking. Breaking his nose might not have been her smartest move. Now she’s faced with a choice: serious jail time working in a chain gang on a volcano planet or join the corporate army to fight against the impending war with the Aunare. It’s really no choice at all.

As with everything in her life, Maite quickly realizes that the war with the Aurnare isn’t what it seems. And Lorne, the Aunare prince, keeps popping up everywhere she goes. Being seen with him could get her in even deeper trouble with her commanders, but he’s the first person who sees through the wall she’s built around herself and she can’t bring herself to send him away.

When the situation between SpaceTech and the Aunare escalates, Maite has a way to end the war before it even begins. There’s only one question: Can she stop the total annihilation of humanity without getting herself killed in the process?

Add It: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo /

What a wild ride. From start to finish I couldn't wait to find out more about the mysterious Maite and her alien powers. We meet Maite in hiding on Earth after the humans, namely SpaceTech, turn on the Aunare and attack them relentlessly. Maite and her human mother have been in hiding and on the run and have finally found a routine that feels a bit normal. Maite is constantly worried about being exposed as a halfer and the "lost" heir to the Aunare throne. Then she gets arrested for protecting herself from sexual harrassment.

 Maite gets sent to a work camp on a volcano planet while being assigned work that no human should have to endure. There she meets some new friends, new enemies, and learns what her limits are. There are people rooting for her and she starts to trust the friendships she's made. A double agent from SpaceTech is trying to prevent the inevitable war. Maite is the key to that process but she doesn't remember anything about being Aunare.

After a daring escape she meets Lorne who she immediately connects with in a way she doesn't even understand yet. Slowly Maite must learn what it is to be Aunare and take her place in their society. Will she be able to handle the stress after all she's been through on Earth? We have to wait till the next book to find out!

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good sci-fi thriller with a dystopian background. Strong heroines and eclectic characters make the start of this series a great read, and you will be counting the days until the next book comes out. 

Aileen Erin is half-Irish, half-Mexican, and 100% nerd–from Star Wars (prequels don’t count) to Star Trek (TNG FTW), she reads Quenya and some Sindarin, and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and spends her days doing her favorite things: reading books, creating worlds, and kicking ass.


FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday - The Oddmire by William Ritter

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here, at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you're continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.
Real talk, I am SO EXCITED about this book! The instant that I saw the synopsis for William Ritter's new book, I was smitten. I have a soft spot for middle grade at the best of times, but when those books are also filled with fantasy? You have my heart. I cannot wait to dive into this and, lucky me, I have an ARC to read! HUZZAH!

The first book in an action-packed fantasy adventure series featuring witches, shape-shifters, and other creatures of fairytale and folklore, including two brothers—one human and one a goblin changeling—on a life-changing quest into the Oddmire.

Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.

In The Oddmire 1: Changeling, the New York Times bestselling author of the Jackaby series brings to life a bold new adventure, the first in a series about monsters, magic, and mayhem.

This releases on July 16th and I am SO EXCITED. I can't even hide it!

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Book Spotlight: Hitched by Britni Hill

Title: Hitched
Author: Britni Hill
Publication date: March 18, 2019
Genres: New Adult Romance
The last book in Britni Hill's Western Palm series is now available!

Western Palm University brought them together, making them a family.
               Tess and Blake stuck together and headed straight toward their happily ever after. They have everything they need and can’t imagine wanting more. Does that mean they’ve reached the end of their story?
               Jason stood up to his father. He made all the right choices for his family. Corinne and their toddler, Arianna, are the bright spots in his days. He thought he put his doubt and self-sabotage behind him. So why does he feel like everything is crashing down on him?
               Abby gave in, letting Adam break down her walls. She let him convince her that she needed him. It turned out he was right. And having a stubborn boyfriend isn’t as bad as she thought it would be. They’re going strong, sweetly in love, and happy with their relationship. Is it enough?
               Megan is far away from Western Palm attending law school. With Matt back at home and his ring on her finger the distance between them is tough. Does chasing your future have to lead you so far from the ones you love?
               Turns out they might have a few more things to learn.
Grab it: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

I'm so excited to finally get my hands on the final book in the lovely Western Palm series. If you haven't had a chance to dive into the series yet, don't fret. I have linked the first book in the series below so you can get started. You won't regret it!

Book 1: Amazon | Nook | Kobo

Britni Hill is a romance author. She has written new adult romance, contemporary romance, and romantic comedy. She spends her days as a hair stylist, and her nights with the characters in her head striving to write real, page-turning romance.

Britni lives in Indiana where she was born and raised. She has a rescue pup she adores and an unhealthy love of binge-watching cheesy, teenage dramas. If she isn't writing, she's reading or watching horror flicks.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Some weekly ramblings.

The first day of Spring approaches (only 6 more days!) and I'm so eager for warmer weather that I actually feel antsy this year. California got a ton of rainfall this winter, which was amazing for our drought ridden state. However that also means that it was a lot colder, for a lot longer, than last year.

Look people, I'm a So Cal girl now. I'm like a houseplant. I need three things, and one of them is SUNSHINE. Needless to say, I'm really eager for the temps to get back up into the 70s. Especially so I can start planting my Spring garden and get some beautiful flowers and food bearing plants back up and producing! My poor little tomatoes are doing pretty well in their inside greenhouse, but I'm ready to transplant them and get things moving.

In other news, we're planning our big trip to New York. My husband and I are so excited! This is the third new state the two of us have played tourist to over the last few years, and we're making a big thing out of it. Between Niagara Falls, my little brother's wedding, some roadtripping, and then good old Manhattan, we'll be running all over the state. I'm really ready to take lots of photos and just soak in somewhere new.

What are you excited for that is coming up, my bookish friends?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Guest Post: Jennifer Povey, author of Daughter of Fire

Good morning lovely people! You've made it to the middle of the week, and that's something to celebrate. For me, it's been a bit of a rough one. Still, there's nothing I look forward to more than sharing good stories and new authors with you!

Today Jennifer Povey, author of the standalone Fantasy novel Daughter of Fire, is here to share a guest post with you! I'm reading my way through this now and it's stellar. I hope to have a review up for you soon. In the meantime, please enjoy her wonderful thoughts on romance in writing.
Laura led a sheltered, middle class existence. Oh, she knew she was adopted, but what did it matter? A lot when her birth mother is murdered and the killers come after her next...for reasons that are deep in her very blood.
Find it on:
Romance. It's the most popular genre - and it worms its way into all of the others. In fact, I was told as a baby writer that if my book didn't have a consummated romance involving the main character it would never sell.

Fortunately, I'd already developed a thick enough skin to ignore the writer saying this (I'm not going to name him, but it was a writer with a solid mid list career) and write what I want.

In marketing my latest book, I've found a difference between it and my four-book series. The series is a romance. It's more urban fantasy than paranormal romance, but there are consummated romances involving the main character and a second romance between secondary characters. There's lots of romance.

But when I tell people my book "is not a romance" I'm finding more and more readers perk up. Truth is?

Romance gets into everything, and sometimes you just want gun fights or a story about friendship or fatherhood. So, when Jessica asked me to do a guest post?

I decided to put out some recommendations for books that are, or are close to, "Romance free zones." Because as much fun as romance is, sometimes you don't need it.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (Urban Fantasy). While Richard's relationship with Door is important, it's not romantic and the story is almost more about...I'd honestly call it an analogy for becoming a fantasist.

Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought series - A Deepness In The Sky, A Fire Upon The Deep and The Children of the Sky (Space Opera). This is one of my favorite space opera series, deeply philosophical and with amazingly designed aliens. There's a teensy bit of romance in A Fire Upon The Deep but it's between aliens with a very different view of the world.

Alastair Reynolds' Terminal World (Unclassifiable Science Fiction). I say unclassifiable because I can never tell whether to call this work post apocalyptic steampunk, planetary romance, or...you have to read it. It's brilliant and I wish he would come back and write a sequel.

Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Paksenarrion series - Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold (Epic Fantasy). Not only does this series come up with some interesting twists on classic Tolkeinian fantasy, but the protagonist is one of the few explicitly asexual characters in fantasy. And it proves paladins don't have to be boring or, in gamer speak, "Lawful Stupid."

And I'm out of space. Thank you, Jessica, for letting me borrow a piece of your blog!

As a fiction writer, Jennifer R. Povey has short fiction credits from a number of magazines including Analog, as well as publishers including Third Flatiron and Flame Tree Publishing. She is currently working on her fifth novel, the fourth book in the Lost Guardians series.

As a freelancer, she offers quality, human-readable web content and copy to individuals and businesses at reasonable rates. She also writes articles and guest blog posts on a variety of subjects, but specializes in material related to fiction writing, equestrian activities and travel. She also provides proofreading and basic copy editing services.

She also has a number of credits in the RPG industry, having written or co-written supplements for Fat Goblin Games, Rite Publishing, Dark Naga Games, Flaming Crab Games, Avalon Game Company, and others.

She also enjoys horseback riding, travel, role-playing games and hanging out with her highly supportive and wonderful husband, Greg.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Witch's Tower by Tamara Grantham

The Witch’s Tower
Tamara Grantham
(Twisted Ever After #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 11th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Gothel is a witch. Punished for the actions of her mother, her choice is simple: either she stands guard over Princess Rapunzel—or she dies. But just because a choice is easy doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. Protecting Rapunzel means watching as the princess lays trapped in a tower, bedridden by hair that is so long and heavy it’s slowly driving her insane. Gothel’s life has become one of imprisonment and solitude as well—until a prince and his handsome squire appear at the tower.
Only one object can cut Rapunzel’s hair and end the curse: a pair of magical shears. But the shears are guarded by the most terrifying witches in the land, who also happen to be Gothel’s aunts. As Gothel and the prince’s squire, Raj Talmund, work to form a plan, she finds herself more and more drawn to the mysterious young man from the Outerlands. Unfortunately, his destiny is far more dangerous than she wants to admit: to save a princess, he must kill the witch who’s been forced to guard her.
THE WITCH’S TOWER is the first in an inspired new series of fairy-tale retellings from award-winning fantasy author Tamara Grantham.
99¢ on release week only!

Moonlight illuminated the tower as Raj and I crossed into the meadow. The handcart’s wheels squeaked as I pulled it to a stop at the base of the tower. Raj had been true to his word and purchased all the supplies we needed for winter. I couldn’t complain—I was grateful he’d done it. I only hoped he didn’t expect a miracle in return.
Now I had the chore of transporting everything into the tower. Luckily, I’d brought my largest knapsack. As I loaded vessels of lentils, bags of flour, and a few jars of syrup into my bag, Raj stood over me.
“You’re bringing all that up there?” he asked.
“It’s better than leaving it down here.”
“You really live up there all the time?”
“Yes, I only ever come out to gather edibles, or when we’re desperate for supplies.”
“But how do you get water?”
“We have a well inside the tower. Can you help me?” I tossed him an empty burlap sack. If he was so insistent on being here, he might as well help me.
“It seems like a lonely existence.”
I eyed him. Lonely? What did he know of loneliness? I didn’t feel like admitting to this stranger how desperately lonely the past five years had been, how I lay awake at night wishing I had someone to talk to, feeling as if the silence would drive me to insanity. No, he didn’t need to know any of that.
“It’s not that bad. Rapunzel isn’t one for talking, but we have a cat. His name is Jester. He keeps me company most of the time.”
“A cat?”
“Yes. He’s mostly feral. But he’s friendly enough, and he comes and goes as he pleases. He’s even learned to climb the vines to get in and out of the tower. He’s quite clever.” I adjusted the pack’s straps on my shoulders. “Now, let’s get up there before Rapunzel…” I stopped myself. “Let’s get up there.”
With the pack strapped to my back, I turned to the tower. Wind rushed past, battering my hair against my cheeks, as I prepared to speak the spell.
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” My words carried on the wind, echoing through the forest.
I waited, nervousness making my hands grow clammy as I held to the pack’s straps, but why did I feel so uneasy? Was it because Raj was with me?
I turned to him. He stood with haunting dark eyes as he watched a coil of ropy, matted hair drop from the tower’s only window high above us. I stepped to the length of hair and grabbed it, holding my breath against the scent of unwashed scalp. I never got used to that smell.
“Should I follow you?” Raj asked.
“Yes. But let me enter first.” Gripping the hair tightly, I started the climb. I made my way toward the window at the top of the tower. Halfway up, my muscles burned, and I focused on breathing to make it the rest of the way. This part was always the hardest, and the sack of supplies weighing me down wasn’t helping. Why did Varlocke have to put his daughter into such an impossibly tall tower?
When I reached the window, I grabbed the ledge. The worn stones felt smooth under my palms as I climbed over, then landed inside. As I straightened, I pulled off the pack and left it on the floor, then focused on the room. Moonlight illuminated the bare stones walls, the well sitting at the room’s center, the wooden chairs, roughly-hewn tables, huge bookcases cluttered with dusty spell journals and vials, and the bed where Rapunzel lay.
I stepped over the matted coils of hair. Pieces of rat and bird bones lay trapped in the knotted strands, seeming to glow white against the dark hair. The sound of gnawing stopped me.
She wasn’t.
“Rapunzel,” I said quietly. “What are you doing?”
The gnawing continued. I approached her on quiet feet, afraid of what I might find. Behind me, Raj scrambled inside the room.
Please don’t let it be the prince.
When I reached her side, her pale, skeleton-white skin glowed in the moonlight. She held a rat.
I exhaled, grateful it was only a rodent and not something—someone—else. A crust of bread and a handful of wild beets sat on the bedside table, but they were untouched.
Raj’s footsteps echoed, and I turned to face him. His tall, lean frame looked so out of place. Only the high sorcerer ever visited, and to have an Outlander squire inside my home unnerved me.
“Is she eating something?” he asked. “What is that?”
“Sorry. It’s the cat’s fault. He catches them and leaves them on her lap. He thinks he’s giving her a prize or something. Rapunzel does that with them sometimes—with the rats—eats them, I mean.” I stumbled over my words, feeling immeasurably mortified that Raj had to see it. But it could’ve been worse.
I approached her. She looked up, as if only seeing me now, and she hissed. With her red-rimmed eyes, it looked as if she hadn’t been sleeping, and her collarbones seemed to be protruding more than I remembered. Her white gown hung off her meatless frame, but at least it was the clean one I’d left for her. She’d managed to change clothes—at least there was that.
“Where is the prince?” Raj asked.
“I don’t know.” I scanned the room. With the large piles of hair covering the floor, he could’ve been hidden, but we should’ve seen some clue he was here—his feet or a hand poking out. Something. “You’re certain he came up here?”
“Yes, positive.”
I studied the tower more thoroughly but didn’t see anything that resembled the prince. Odd. Where was he?
“Rapunzel,” I said, turning to her, “we’re looking for a prince. Have you seen him?”
She shook her head, clutching the rat, her fingers digging into the carcass.
“Please,” Raj said. “I need to find him. His father is the king. He’ll be very sad if he loses his only son. Can’t you tell us where he is?”
Rapunzel focused on the man, but she remained silent. Outside, the sky lightened. Pink streaked through the gray as dawn approached. As the sun rose, sunlight streamed into the room, giving light to the dark places. Something thudded inside the well, and Raj followed me as I maneuvered around the coiled hair toward the raised ring of stones surrounding the deep drop that went straight through the bottom of the tower.
“Is there something in the well?” Raj asked.
“Someone probably.”
I pried open the lid. Sitting atop the wide-mouthed bucket was the prince, who stared up at us with a vacant expression. Hair coiled around him as blue bands of magic wrapped his wrists and ankles. I grabbed his tunic with both hands and attempted to lug him out. He was heavier than he looked.
“How’d he get in there?” Raj asked.
“Rapunzel. She tried to throw him down, I assume.”
“She can do that?”
“With her hair, yes. She’s clever when she’s motivated.”
“He was looking at me!” Rapunzel yelled. Well, at least she was finally speaking.

Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books and novellas, including the Olive Kennedy: Fairy World MD series and the Shine novellas. Dreamthief, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in INDIEFAB’S Book of the Year Awards, a RONE award for best New Adult Romance of 2016, and is a #1 bestseller on Amazon with over 200 five-star reviews.
Tamara holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University. She has been a featured speaker at multiple writing conferences, and she has been a panelist at Comic Con Wizard World speaking on the topic of female leads. For her first published project, she collaborated with New York-Times bestselling author, William Bernhardt, in writing the Shine series.
Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, taking nature walks--which fuel her inspiration for creating fantastical worlds--and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made. You can find her online at www.TamaraGrantham.com.


Friday, March 8, 2019

Book Review: Beware the Night by Jessika Fleck

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Beware The Night
Author: Jessika Fleck
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Pages: Hardcover; 320
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Source: FFBC Tours / Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking for a Fantasy with a brave heroine facing unspeakable odds.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
When her world divides, pitting light against dark, Veda must join a dangerous revolution to save her grandfather and fight against injustice...even if it costs her the boy she loves.

On the island of Bellona, life is peaceful--as long as the citizens dutifully worship the Sun, which protects them from all harm. Seventeen-year-old Veda knows that keeping the Sun happy will protect her and her grandfather from the Night, the dangerous people who snatch innocent citizens from their beds under the cover of darkness, never to be seen again. As long as Veda follows the rules, she will be safe.

But when Veda's grandfather is offered up as the next sacrificial offering to keep the Sun's favor, she starts to see that the safety she's been promised comes at a dangerous price. Maybe there is more to fear above than there is below.

With a mysterious young man, Dorian, at her side, Veda has to figure out if the scary bedtime stories she grew up hearing are real--or dangerous lies.

I'm going to be completely up front with you all, and let you know that this wasn't my favorite YA Fantasy I've read this year. However, and here's the part I'm excited to share with you, this book has a lot of a potential. In fact, Beware the Night is the kind of book that is a gateway for new readers who are making their way in the Fantasy genre. It's highly accessible, quick moving, and filled with characters who are easy to fall into step with. So keep in mind that while this wasn't my cup of tea, that doesn't mean I don't think this is a good story. More below!

Kudos to Fleck on the pacing of this book, because it all but flies by. From the moment that the reader meets Veda, to the final page, everything is laid out in perfect order. There was really no time to stop and breathe, because every page turn brought about some new revelation that once again set Veda's world on edge. I also thought that the slow world building that was done in this story was actually rather good. Instead of starting by describing the world that Veda inhabits, Fleck opts to allow the reader to uncover it with her while she explores. At first I was worried that I'd be lost, but I soon found myself intrigued by the descriptions of day to day events and (as brutal as they were) the sacrifices that the people of this world made to keep it safe.

Character wise, I felt like most of the important people in this story were a little flat. Still, their interactions with one another were what really sold things. I'm not a fan of love triangles, but I did feel like Veda's attractions were at least warranted. Nico, with his childhood friendship and sweet gestures. Then on the flip side, Dorian with his kindness and intrigue. It's not often that I like both love interests for a main character, but Veda has good taste.

I'll end here by saying that really the thing that kept me from falling in true love with this book was simply that it's so predictable. There's nothing that you haven't seen before in a Fantasy. The good side of that though, is that this is a comfort read. You know you can believe in Veda. You know that you can believe in good over evil. Like I said above, this is an excellent gateway book! I can't wait for it to get into the hands of readers.

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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Book Review: The Sweetest Match by Abby Tyler

Title: The Sweetest Match
Author: Abby Tyler 
Publisher: Self
Pages: 202, paperback
Publication date: March 7th 2019
Source: Author/Xpresso Book Tours

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy sickly sweet romance.
She hid secret messages in frosting, thinking no one would notice.
Abby Tyler welcomes you to the witty, well-meaning busybodies of Applebottom, Missouri, where the community takes its pies — and its matchmaking — very seriously.
Sandy Miller became an outcast at fifteen years old. Pregnant, confused, and blackmailed into silence, she spent eighteen years raising her son away from the disapproving stares of her hometown.
But Caden has left for college, and Sandy needs a job. When Applebottom’s tea shop owner sees Sandy’s decorating sketches, she hires her instantly in hopes of putting her little bakery on the map.
And then the town starts spotting secret words of love and longing on her cakes.
Andrew McCallister is the first to admit that he never got over Sandy Miller. In high school, another boy swooped in and snatched her right up. Everything that happened afterward filled him with regret. The town’s censure. His failure to check on her. Her struggle.
But now she’s back.
When the town summons the pair to a meeting to plan the school’s centennial bash, Andrew and Sandy discover they are the only two members of the committee. As they attempt to rekindle the long-lost flame, they realize the community must come together for more than an anniversary party. For their new relationship to flourish, the old guard must learn to support their most vulnerable members even when times get hard.
Abby Tyler is the new small-town romance pen name of USA Today bestselling author Deanna Roy / JJ Knight.

You know those stories that remind you of home? There's nothing earth shattering or huge plot twists but they are just a pleasant happy book. That's The Sweetest Match

Set in a small town in the Midwest, we meet cake decorator Sandy. Recently emerged from hiding in the outskirts of town since her teenage pregnancy, Sandy is cautious but optimistic about running into all of the people who shunned her years ago. Enter the match making old bitties. 

Andrew has had a crush on Sandy since high school and is excited to spend time with her again. With the help of the town busy bodies, the two of them are paired up to work on the school centennial. As with most new relationships, first impressions and baggage are hurtles to overcome. Luckily for Sandy, Andrew doesn't shy away easily. 

I wish the book included a little more history from Sandy's perspective. They touch on it occasionally but I think it would round out her character and make the story just a little more interesting if we heard more about her mother and what it was like staying out of town all those years. The story could use just a little more character depth, otherwise, I really enjoyed it. 

This is a feel good story with small town humor. If you've ever lived in a small town you know that there's a lot of gossip and not a lot of secrets kept. Luckily for Andrew and Sandy, they get their happily ever after. I'd recommend this story if you're in the mood for a sweet romance. 

Abby Tyler loves puppy dogs, pie, and small towns (she grew up in one!) Her Applebottom Matchmaker Society books combine the sweet and wholesome style of romance she loves with the funny, sometimes a-little-too-truthful characters she remembers from growing up in a place where everyone knew everybody’s business.


FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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