Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Narrator: Colleen Winton

Length: 8 hours 20 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press

Series: Anne of Green Gables, Book Three

Genre: Classics

 

Anne of the Island was published in 1915, seven years after the best-selling Anne of Green Gables, partly because of the continuing clamor for more Anne from her fans – a fan base that continues to grow today!
In this continuation of the story of Anne Shirley, Anne leaves Green Gables and her work as a teacher in Avonlea to pursue her original dream (which she gave up in Anne of Green Gables) of taking further education at Redmond College in Nova Scotia. Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane enroll as well, as does Anne’s friend from Queen’s Academy, Priscilla Grant. During her first week of school, Anne befriends Philippa Gordon, a beautiful girl whose frivolous ways charm her. Philippa (Phil for short) also happens to be from Anne’s birthplace of Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. Anne, always the good scholar, studies hard, but she also has many life lessons. This book sees Anne leave behind girlhood to blossom into a mature young woman.

AudiblePost Hypnotic Press

➜Use the code Anne_VT17 to get 35% off downloads and CDs from Post Hypnotic Press.

Lucy Maud Montgomery OBE (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author best known Anne of Green Gables and the series of novels that book begins. The “Anne” of the books is Anne Shirley, an orphaned girl who comes to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm, Green Gables. Published in 1908, the book was an immediate success in Canada, the United States and beyond. It has been adapted multiple times to screen, stage, radio, and TV.

Anne Shirley made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. Anne of Green Gables was ranked number 41 in “The Big Read,” a survey of the British public by BBC to determine the “nation’s best-loved novel” (not children’s novel!). And a survey conducted by School Library Journal (USA) in 2012 ranked Anne of Green Gables number nine among all-time children’s novels.
Anne of Green Gables was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. Montgomery published 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays in her lifetime. Her work, diaries and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide. Mostly set in Prince Edward Island and locations within Canada’s smallest province, the books made PEI a literary landmark and popular tourist site. Montgomery was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
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Narrator Bio

Colleen is a Vancouver actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer…and now a narrator. Her career has taken her all over the country and includes the Stratford, Shaw and Charlottetown Festivals, the original Canadian companies of CATS and Show Boat, extensive film/TV credits, and numerous directing/choreographing credits. Her stage work has been honoured with numerous nominations and a Jessie and Ovation award and she received a cultural award given by her local Chamber of Commerce. She was especially pleased to have recorded the works of L.M. Montgomery for Post Hypnotic Press just before she embarked on a production of the musical Anne of Green Gables at Theatre Calgary in which she plays Marilla Cuthbert.

Note: While this is Book 3 in the series it works just fine as a stand alone.

Anne Shirley is growing up and now in her late teens, she has the opportunity to go to college. Set in 1915, Redmond College in Nova Scotia, Canada is the nearest and best choice for her. Her dear friend Priscilla Grant also enrolls. Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane, childhood friends, are returning for their second year of education. While there, Anne meets Philippa (Phil) Gordon who she becomes good friends with despite Phil’s honest vanity.

I missed these classics when I was kid but I have enjoyed the trilogy as an adult. Book 1 is still my favorite as I feel Anne has the most imagination and the silliest accidents in that book. Now that she’s an adult, she still has much to learn but she doesn’t have as much imagination nor does she have so many simple mistakes and accidents. No, her blunders are fewer but also are more serious, especially in matters of the heart.

Much of this book had to do with romance. Sigh. It seems that all the young people go off to college to find a spouse and if they happen to get a degree along the way, so much the better for it. While the ladies have some depth to them in this tale, the men are pretty much just stick figures. Even poor Gilbert Blythe has little to do with the tale. We learn so little about him that I as the reader could project any traits I like onto him to make him the perfect match for Anne. So I would have liked less romance and more details about the characters.

With that said, the ladies have their hands full learning how to manage their lives away from home. Anne discovers that she does have a soft spot for cats after all. While Phil usually lacks a filter between brain and mouth, I did find her honesty about everything, including her own faults, to be amusing. One of the ladies gets a Math degree which I thought was great considering the date this was set in and published. (Though we rarely see any of the ladies doing anything related to their studies, since they spend so much time gossiping about the men).

The most touching scene for me was when Anne returned to her birthplace. Phil happens to be from there and she invites Anne to come visit during one of their breaks from college. Anne has long wondered about her parents. Going to Bolingbroke held a lot of importance for Anne.

After much drama about Anne’s love life, the story wraps up rather quickly. Things are tied up neatly and with a happy ending.

I received a free copy of this book. 

Narration: Colleen Winton once again makes a great Anne. I like how she manages to make Anne sound a little older with each book while also managing to make her be distinctly Anne. Her male voices were also spot on as well as her elderly voices. Anne has a range of serious emotions in this book and Winton did great in capturing them with all their nuances.

What I Liked: Anne is growing up; Phil’s lack of brain-to-mouth filter; Math degrees for women!; Anne gets to visit her birthplace; things neatly wrapped up at the end; great narration.

What I Didn’t Like: So much silly romance and romantic gossip!; the men are pretty much stick figures – we learn so little about Gilbert Blythe!

Anne of Green Gables Giveaway: Three Winners

Aug. 13th:
History From A Woman’s Perspective
Spunky ‘N Sassy

Aug. 14th:
A Lovelorn Virgo
2 Girls and A Book
Tara’s Book Addiction

Aug. 15th:
Dab of Darkness
Joy of Bookworms
Canadian Book Addict

Aug. 16th:
CGB Blog Tours
A Book and A Latte
Macarons and Paperbacks
Lilly’s Book World

Aug. 17th:
To Read Or Not To Read
Jorie Loves A Story
Reading for the Stars and Moon
Notes From ‘Round the Bend
Haddie’s Haven

Aug. 18th:
The Maiden’s Court
The Book Slayer
Jorie Loves A Story
Hall Ways

Aug. 19th:
Christian Chick’s Thoughts
Lomeraniel
Life As Freya
Bound 4 Escape
WTF Are You Reading?

➜Sign up as a host here

 

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

Scroll to the bottom for the Giveaway!

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Narrator: Colleen Winton

Length: 9 hours 5 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press

Series: Anne of Green Gables, Book Two

Genre: Classics

 

Following Anne of Green Gables (1908), this book covers the second chapter in the life of Anne Shirley. We learn of Anne’s doings from the age of 16 to 18, during the two years that she teaches at Avonlea school. It includes many of the characters from Anne of Green Gables, as well as new ones: Mr. Harrison and his foul-mouthed parrot, Miss Lavendar Lewis, Paul Irving, and the twins Dora (sweet and well behaved) and Davy (mischievious and in constant trouble). Anne matures, slightly, but she gets into a number of her familiar pickles, as only Anne can: She accidentally sells her neighbor’s cow (having mistaken it for her own), gets stuck in a broken duck house roof while peeping into a pantry window, and more.

AudiblePost Hypnotic Press

➜Use the code Anne_VT17 to get 35% off downloads and CDs from Post Hypnotic Press.

Lucy Maud Montgomery OBE (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942) was a Canadian author best known Anne of Green Gables and the series of novels that book begins. The “Anne” of the books is Anne Shirley, an orphaned girl who comes to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm, Green Gables. Published in 1908, the book was an immediate success in Canada, the United States and beyond. It has been adapted multiple times to screen, stage, radio, and TV.

Anne Shirley made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. Anne of Green Gables was ranked number 41 in “The Big Read,” a survey of the British public by BBC to determine the “nation’s best-loved novel” (not children’s novel!). And a survey conducted by School Library Journal (USA) in 2012 ranked Anne of Green Gables number nine among all-time children’s novels.
Anne of Green Gables was followed by a series of sequels with Anne as the central character. Montgomery published 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays in her lifetime. Her work, diaries and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide. Mostly set in Prince Edward Island and locations within Canada’s smallest province, the books made PEI a literary landmark and popular tourist site. Montgomery was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterest
Narrator Bio

Colleen is a Vancouver actor, singer, dancer, director and choreographer…and now a narrator. Her career has taken her all over the country and includes the Stratford, Shaw and Charlottetown Festivals, the original Canadian companies of CATS and Show Boat, extensive film/TV credits, and numerous directing/choreographing credits. Her stage work has been honoured with numerous nominations and a Jessie and Ovation award and she received a cultural award given by her local Chamber of Commerce. She was especially pleased to have recorded the works of L.M. Montgomery for Post Hypnotic Press just before she embarked on a production of the musical Anne of Green Gables at Theatre Calgary in which she plays Marilla Cuthbert.

Anne of Green Gables returns in this classic. Now she’s a school marm at age 17. Her little batch of students charm and try her by twists and turns. Toss in the recently orphaned twins Davy and Dora Keith, and Anne has her hands full indeed! She has many mishaps and whimsical adventures in this tale.

This is a charming little book about Anne. While there’s no central plot to the tale (it reads more like a string of interconnected short stories), the characters really make it work. Anne is so well-meaning even if she makes mistakes and causes property damage. She always apologizes and makes amends (whether through doing repairs or paying for replacements). I especially liked Anne’s idea of the Avonlea Village Improvement Society (AVIS) and the Pye family.

Anne wants everyone to love her and she strives to find a way to win the trust, love, and approval of all those around her. However, as a school marm she sometimes finds this impossible when the rascals try her sorely. Then there’s Mr. Harrison and his sailor-mouthed parrot Ginger. Davy would probably give her early grey hairs if he doesn’t learn to behave.

Marilla, Anne’s adoptive guardian, is still a significant part of the story. I like her steadying hand and well-placed advice. While I did like Book 1 a little more since is was about Anne fitting into this new life, it’s so good to have Marilla be such a backbone presence in this tale.

Occasionally the tale dips a toe into the preaching pond with examples of good morals and what not. It was mild but once or twice I did roll my eyes. There is one short discussion about ‘injun’ feathered headdresses which dates this work.

Anne grows up a bit in this book. She’s working full time, has her own chores and adult friends. Then she and Marilla take on Davy and Dora. Marilla’s eyesight is failing so Anne has all the sewing to do for the household. Even though she hates sewing, she’s willing to do it to give these kids a good home, even if just temporarily.

There’s busted plates, caterpillars down a shirt, frog in a bed, a cow sold accidentally, a horrendous storm, and plenty more in this tale of Anne’s young adulthood. My favorite was the parrot Ginger. He swears a lot (though we never get to hear it swear) but it provides meaningful companionship for Mr. Harrison.

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Colleen Winton was a great pick for Anne. She has that wonder and gentleness that Anne is well known for. She also does a great Marilla, being a little sour but overall well meaning. She has distinct voices for all the characters and her male character voices are quite well done too. Her little kid voices are great as well as though few for the elderly.

What I Liked: Anne’s growing up; the parrot; both good and bad things happen; the taming of Davy, who is so naughty sometimes; the whimsical nature of some of Anne’s musings; great narration.

What I Disliked: From time to time, there’s a preachy bit here or there; one racial comment.

Win a store credit to Post Hypnotic Press (audiobooks!). Open Internationally. There will be 3 winners. Ends August 20th, 2017.

Anne of Green Gables Giveaway: Three Winners

Aug. 6th:
History From A Woman’s Perspective
Spunky ‘N Sassy

Aug. 7th:
The Book Slayer
A Book and A Latte
Tara’s Book Addiction

Aug. 8th:
CGB Blog Tours
2 Girls and A Book
Lilly’s Book World

Aug. 9th:
The Maiden’s Court
Macarons and Paperbacks
Canadian Book Addict

Aug. 10th:
Jorie Loves A Story
Notes From ‘Round the Bend
Dab of Darkness
Haddie’s Haven

Aug. 11th:
To Read Or Not To Read
Joy of Bookworms
Hall Ways
Bound 4 Escape

Aug. 12th:
Lomeraniel
Forever Literary
Life As Freya
WTF Are You Reading?

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Aranya by Marc Secchia

Narrator: Shiromi Arserio

Publisher: Marc Secchia (2015)

Length: 14 hours 33 minutes

Series: Book 1 Shapeshifter Dragons

Author’s Page

Aranya, princess of the island kingdom of Immadia, is given up as hostage to the invading Sylakian Empire. Chained aboard a Sylakian dragonship (dirigible), she manages to save the commanding officer, a Warhammer, from a windroc. She has a bit of freedom once imprisoned with all the other hostages of subjugated nations but that doesn’t prevent the hostages from forming cliques and taunting one another. Matters get out of hand and Aranya is sentenced to die. She is shackled to a stone and tossed off a high escarpment. That’s when her life changes forever as she shapeshifts into a dragon. This might just be the turning point in the war with Sylakia.

There’s much to be enjoyed in this book. I liked Aranya as a character even though she didn’t wow me. She’s not perfect but she has a good heart. She has her strengths and weaknesses but she also has some good companions to help her along the way. My one quibble would be that she’s a little too good, only having minor flaws. She was rather bland and this made her a little boring.

Meanwhile, her best friend and dragonrider is Zip (short for Zuziana), another princess hostage. They don’t start off as friends but they eventually find merit in each other and bond over shared experiences. Zip has a mouth on her short frame and isn’t afraid to use it, like her archery skills.

The plot was in two pieces for me. In fact, it felt like this was two books pressed into one. First, Aranya must discover who and what she is. That whole bit about being tossed off a cliff that’s mentioned in the book’s description doesn’t happen until several hours into the book. The second half of the book is Aranya and Zip running some guerrilla tactics on the Sylakian air navy and eventually having a really big battle to determine the fate of the island kingdoms.

Let’s talk a little about the male characters. Mostly, they are either there for comfort (like Aranya’s dad) or are of a romantic interest (like Yolathian and the formerly nameless monk). Occasionally they get to do stuff and have a few meaningful lines. That said, most of their plot-related actions happen off the page and the reader only hears about it after the fact. It is both refreshing and odd to have a book that wouldn’t pass a reverse-Bechdel test.

Nak and Odya, an older couple who have experience with both natural dragons and dragon shapeshifters, get to play teachers and stand-in grandparents to Aranya. Sometimes this was very sweet and sometimes Nak was outright creepy with all his lecherous comments to and about Aranya and later Zip. Odya and Nak know something about Aranya’s parentage but are reluctant to give up all their secrets. Aranya’s mom is something of a mystery throughout the book and that’s one of the things I liked.

There’s also warrior pygmies on some of the isles and Zip and Aranya have to trade with them. Then there’s the dragonets, which are small dragons with limited intelligence and speech. This last bit really reminded me of some of Anne McCaffrey’s books. As a biologist, I got a kick out of the info about dragon anatomy – 3 hearts, 7 stomachs, etc. After so many mentions about dragon digestion I did start to wonder about dragon poo. For a good chunk of the book, Aryana in dragon form is being tracked by the Sylakians and spoor is a useful find when tracking anything. Alas, no dragon dung.

As the story goes on, Aryana’s powers grow. At first, this seemed natural and I was interested. Later on though, she has so many powers that she’s getting close to be invincible and I found this a bit boring. I like my heroes to have limited abilities and therefore, they sometimes have to rely either on others or on their wits to get them out of a jam.

All told, it’s a good solid start to an epic dragon fantasy series. The two main characters are pretty interesting and the world they inhabit has a lot left to explore.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Shiromi Arserio makes a really good Aranya, both princess and dragon. I enjoyed the quick banter between Aranya and Zip throughout the book. For the most part, she usually had distinct character voices but sometimes there were a few conversations where the distinctions became muddled. The male character voices really needed some masculinity. She was great at imbuing characters with the correct emotions. 

What I Liked: A world made up of islands; natural dragons and dragon shapeshifters; Zip and Aranya make a great team; pygmies; little dragons; dirigibles; Odya playing grandmother.

What I Disliked: Could use some gender balancing; Nak is creepy; Aranya’s power grow so numerous and powerful during the book that she becoems a little boring; male characters don’t sound particularly masculine.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

Bookish Giveaway & Interview: Marc Secchia, Author of the Shapeshifter Dragons Series

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Folks, please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author Marc Secchia. I recently had the pleasure of listening to his book, Aranya: Shapeshifter Dragons Book 1 which follows the dragonish adventures of Aranya and her friends.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Snape – well, he’s not so much a villain, but he is a beautifully conflicted character who I found myself rooting for almost despite my instincts. Very well-written indeed.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

African fiction. I believe this is one of the most underrepresented fields of literary endeavour and I’d love to see powerful African voices taking their place on the world stage.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’d choose a dragon. They are Fantasy’s finest and most magical creatures and they’d undoubtedly possess the skills and magic to pull off a crazy rescue.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Definitely The Lord of the Rings. It’s the classic fantasy tale of the insidious, corrupting power of evil and the courage of those who choose to stand against it. Peter Jackson did an awesome job of bringing the tale to the big screen, but I still love the rhythm, detail and power of the original text. I’d love to dive into that world afresh because it’s just incredibly immersive and every detail is thought out.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

There are so many terrific books out there that would make amazing movies, it’s hard to choose. Let me throw out a classic author’s name here – Anne McCaffrey. I think it’s a travesty her works have never made it to screen, although some of the mores are a bit dated I think this series would still resonate with so many people, not just Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans. I’d play Robinton, the Master Harper of Pern.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Let’s see … Dumbledore since we’re having a smallish Potteresque vibe here, Aladdin if he doesn’t come in his canned-and-potted Disney guise, since he’d have plenty of fun tales to tell, and it’s weird I know but I think Mulan just kicks it in her world and time. Two more (scratches chin) … Killashandra from one of my favourite books of all time, the Crystal Singer omnibus by Anne McCaffrey, and Aragorn from LOTR. Maybe I’d throw in a dragon just to liven things up. Toothless is awesome but not much of a conversationalist. He’d just have to make funny faces.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I live and work in Ethiopia so that’s a little different to most. I love to play music – I play a range of woodwinds such as flute, panflute and Irish whistle – and when I’ve a quiet evening I love nothing more than a relax with an epic book.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Ha ha, it’s really boring, but it’s one of those “learn-to-read” books about Kathy and Mark I think. After that must come Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and then I had a Hardy Boys binge before graduating to older books.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, I’ve a sale coming up on 15th/16th August when I’m going to take a run at getting one of my books into the Top 10 free books on all Amazon. If you’d like to sample my work, Aranya will be free on the 15th and it is a bestseller in Coming of Age fantasy. http://smarturl.it/draconic

Secondly, I’m really excited about the release of Dragonstar on August 16th. It’s the 4th book in my Dragonfriend series and the culmination of the series. http://smarturl.it/dragonstar

I think you’ll love the cover art for this series – do check it out, thanks!

Check out more interviews, spotlights, & reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Marc Secchia:

Marc is a South African-born dragon masquerading as an author, who loves writing about dragons and Africa, preferably both at the same time. He lives and works in Ethiopia with his wife and 4 children, 2 dogs and a variable number of marabou storks that roost on the acacia trees out back. On a good night there are also hyenas patrolling the back fence.

He’s the author of 21 fantasy books in 3 languages (2 more languages coming this year – watch this space!), including 8 rip-roaring dragon fantasy bestsellers. Dragonfriend won a Gold Award for Fantasy in the 2016 IPPY Book Awards. Look out for Whisper Alive, his latest release. The 4th tale in the Dragonfriend series, Dragonstar, is coming soon!

When he’s not writing about Africa or dragons Marc can be found travelling to remote locations. He thinks there’s nothing better than standing on a mountaintop wondering what lies over the next horizon.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of Aranya:

Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly?

Long ago Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonizing, building, and warring. Now the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom – the Island-Kingdom of Immadia.

Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter.

Series Note

There is a companion series to Aranya, set in the same unique Island-World above the Cloudlands. Aranya is the last of the Dragons – or is she? Find out why the Dragons disappeared in The Pygmy Dragon, now available on Kindle.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ iTunes ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Shiromi Arserio:

A native of London, England, Shiromi Arserio is a stage actor, voice talent and audiobook narrator. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. In addition to narrating dozens of audiobooks, her voice can be heard in documentaries, e-learning projects and video games such as Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion. Shiromi currently resides in the Seattle area with her husband and her two furbabies.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ SoundCloud ~ IMDB

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $50 Amazon gift Card. Open internationally! Ends August 16th, 2017.

Aranya Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Ray Saunders, Author Of Winds West

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Ray Saunders. He’s here to share not only his novel, Winds West, but also a mostly non-fiction account of frontier life in Colorado (Gunnison Country) written by his mother, Betty Wallace. Don’t forget to check out the ebook giveaway at the end of the post!

What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

No real mystery in my past, but Alternate History would be me having decided to be a poet instead of a computer maven. It would be a very convoluted plot, involving Greenwich Village, off-grid living in the Rockies and becoming God.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

The lost contents of the Library of Alexandria and every poet since 500BC.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

I would prefer to forget my teen years, but if I had to pick it would probably be the 1920s for the radical politics.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

Liza from Winds West would get along well with Sayward Luckett from Conrad Richter’s The Awakening Land trilogy. Both were strong women who knew what they wanted and had the courage to go after it.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The movies Amalie or Casablanca. And any of Maurice Walsh’s writingThe Quiet Man, The Small Dark Man, Trouble in the Glen, etc. (I love the way the Irish use the English language, both in prose and poetry. The Scots, on the other hand, use English like they still hold a grudge over Culloden).

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

The Americas before European contact.
Central Asia before Islam.
Celtic Europe before Caesar.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Picasso’s Guernica – displayed as publicly as possible.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

John Masters, Maurice Walsh, Stephen Vincent Benet, Charles Bowden and A.A.Milne.

We’d all eat pizza. And drink lots of wine.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I always gush over my favorite writers at every opportunity, to the point of irritating those who’ve heard me for the umpteenth time. (I think it’s more awkward for them than for me). Don’t know if this counts, but a young lady wrote a glowing review of Winds West, albeit expressing surprise at my “uncanny insight into the female psyche”. LOL

Places to Find Ray Saunders

Website

Steele Park Press Facebook

Ray’s Facebook

GoodReads

Amazon

About the Author:

I grew up in a small western town, steeped in both pioneer culture and writing, my mother being a reporter, editor, English teacher and local historian. By the time I finished high school I was well versed in poetry and the Beat Generation, properly prepared to appreciate the ‘60s in Greenwich Village, which added folk music to the mix. To pay the bills, I spent 50 years doing cutting-edge computer work, then retired and now I’m back to writing poetry and songs and the occasional novel.

Book Blurb for Winds West

Home maker at 10, grown at 15 – what future awaits Liza as she head West? Young woman goes West on a voyage of self-discovery. “Winds West is a thoughtful account of Liza Woods, a young woman’s coming of age story set in early 20th century Ohio. At 13, Liza takes a job as a governess/housekeeper, but has a wisdom beyond her years. She yearns for the freedom generally afforded only to men, however, and what follows is her subsequent journey to Colorado, where she settles down, making a life for herself on the frontier.” – Granny’s Pantry review.

Book Blurb for Gunnison Country:

History of Gunnison Colorado and surrounding areas. Betty Wallace was born near Lake City, CO, in 1913. She spent her youth among the ranchers and miners who settled the Gunnison Country. Herself a child of pioneers, she understood the world they faced and how they coped. As a reporter and editor she worked to preserve the stories of those early days, from the displacement of the Native American by gold-seekers to the uranium prospectors of the 1950s. She researched the old newspapers and interviewed many Old Timers in a tireless effort to make sure their stories were preserved for future generations.

GIVEAWAY!

Ray is offering up one ebook copy of Winds West and one ebook copy of Gunnison Country. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments to be entered into the giveaway. 1) What special collections would the library of your dreams hold? 2) Which book would you prefer to win (Winds West or Gunnison Country)? This giveaway is open world wide and ends August 1, 2017, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bookish Giveaway: Heartborn by Terry Maggert

Check out the bookish giveaway at the end of the post!

I have enjoyed several of Terry Maggert’s books lately, including his Heartborn young adult fantasy. In celebration of the forthcoming sequel, Moonborn, Terry is throwing a giveaway! Also, check out the rest of the tour on the Audiobookworm Tour Page!

About Terry Maggert:

Born in 1968, I discovered fishing shortly after walking, a boon, considering I lived in South Florida. After a brief move to Kentucky, my family trekked back to the Sunshine State. I had the good fortune to attend high school in idyllic upstate New York, where I learned about a mythical substance known as “Seasons”. After two or three failed attempts at college, I bought a bar. That was fun because I love beer, but, then, I eventually met someone smarter than me (a common event), and, in this case, she married me and convinced me to go back to school–which I did, with enthusiasm. I earned a Master’s Degree in History and rediscovered my love for writing. My novels explore dark fantasy, immortality, and the nature of love as we know it. I live near Nashville, Tennessee, with the aforementioned wife, son, and herd, and, when I’m not writing, I teach history, grow wildly enthusiastic tomato plants, and restore my 1967 Mustang.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~Facebook ~ GoodReads

MaggertHeartbornSynopsis of Heartborn:

Her guardian angel was pushed.

Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where violence and deceit are just around every corner.

His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.

Until Keiron arrives.

In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.

Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love someone who will give their very life to save you.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

JuliaWhelanNarratorAbout the Narrator Julia Whelan:

Julia Whelan has appeared in many films and television series, most notably ABC’s Once And Again. After receiving a degree in English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College and Oxford University, Julia began narrating audiobooks. She’s recorded hundreds of novels across all genres and has received multiple Earphones and Audie Awards. She is repeatedly named one of Audiofile Magazine’s Best Voices and was Audible’s Narrator of the Year.

IMDB ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of Moonborn

Livvy Foster has a new heart, home, and a place in the powerful halls of House Windhook. The fall of Sliver was only the beginning of a civil war that sees angels from across the sky challenge each other to lead a world in which the past and the future are connected by a storm crafted from time, ambition, and power.

When House Selinus attempts to bend the light of days in order to become the supreme power in an apocalyptic future, they confront a goddess who is older than time itself– and she’ll stop at nothing to get the one soul who escaped her deadly grasp: Livvy.

With deceit, war and love swirling in the clouds above a shattered world that was once Livvy’s home, she’ll be asked to do something a girl with a broken heart never thought possible.
Fight for Windhook. Fight for her world.
Take wing with Livvy, one heartbeat at a time.

GoodReads

GIVEAWAY!!!

Terry Maggert is offering up a Moonborn Throw Pillow (16inX16in) for this tour.  Giveaway ends June 21, 2017. 

Heartborn Giveaway

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Understanding the Stars by Xela Culletto

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Lori Prince

Publisher: Xela Culletto (2017)

Length: 5 hours 59 minutes

Author’s Page

This X-files-like tale is set in Colorado. Alex Blackwood is just about to graduate high school when her life takes an unexpected turn. Ronan drops a stunning revelation on her involving three alien races, the CIA, and some secret surveillance. In the midst of all this, Alex’s dad is suffering from cancer and she has her pizza delivery job as well.

Ronan was the most interesting character for me. He’s a human descended from a group of humans that left Earth ages ago to co-habitate with an alien race (Salurians? My spelling is probably off since this was the audiobook version). I would have liked to get to know him more in this book and what his life in space is like. Now the Salurians are back and have been watching Earthers for a few decades, simply learning about current cultures and such.

Now the creepy part is that Ronan was assigned to watch Alex since she was 14 (she’s 18 at this point in the story) and this involves an implant in her. Yep. He knows every time she went to the bathroom, had the stomach flu, or suffered growing pains. On his part, I can see the insta-love that we stumble into later. I didn’t really care for the insta-love stuff, but Alex seemed pretty happy with it. Setting aside the beginning of the romance, it later grows into something meaningful as these two develop a friendship.

The Salurians need to leave ahead of schedule because the aggressive Kema’dor are on their way. Initially, they are portrayed as these violent tech thieves. Later on, Alex meets some of them and has to form her own opinion. Much later in the story, a third alien race (the Meddas – again, spelling?) come into play. I really liked that not all aliens are created the same and each race has their own ethics and goals.

I did feel that Alex was a little too easy going about these bigger revelations but freaked out a bit over small things (like the first image she saw of a Kema’dor). This didn’t work for me in terms of character development but it did move the plot along swiftly. I did like that not everything turns out OK for everyone. Alex has to deal with some sadness and loss. This added some seriousness to the story and gave Alex a little depth.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Lori Prince was a really great Alex. She sounded young but right there on the cusp of adulthood. She gets an A for effort when it comes to the alien voices and accents. I realize this is a difficult thing to pull off but I have heard better. That said, I did like her voice for the alien Malsoar. She did great with Alex’s feelings.

What I Liked: Multiple alien civilizations; Ronan’s personal history; not everyone gets out unscathed; the CIA mixed in there.

What I Disliked: The insta-love; could have used more about Ronan; why wasn’t Alex more stunned about these big things?

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Xela Culletto:

Xela is a working mother of three, living in the Utah. She teaches secondary English and after talking to students for years about following their dreams and doing whatever it takes to achieve them, she decided to take her own advice and complete her lifelong goal of writing a novel. The idea of life on other planets has always fascinated her, and she wondered what they would think of humanity, which is what spawned the idea for the plot of “Understanding the Stars”. When she’s not playing with her kids, or sorting through the endless laundry, you’ll find her watching The Walking Dead, horseback riding, or working on her next book.

Amazon ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Understanding the Stars:

Alexandra Blackwood is minding her own troubled life when she unknowingly gets caught up in an extraterrestrial conflict. Ronan, a human with his own alien-entangled past, has been keeping an eye on her and sets out to help her escape looming abduction, and maybe win her heart.

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Lori Prince:

Lori Prince is a classically trained actor with a BFA from Syracuse University.  She has performed Off-Broadway as well as at top regional theaters including; The Denver Center, Alliance Theater Company and PlayMakers Repertory Company among others.  She has also appeared on Television in Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU and Are We There Yet?. Her voice work includes various characters in the feature film Epic, as well as additional dialogue recorded for over 50 feature films and TV shows.

Website

GIVEAWAY!!!

Win an Audible.com audiobook of your choice! Ends June 11th.

Understanding the Stars Giveaway

Giveaway & Review: The Sparks by Kyle Prue

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrator: Jon Eric Preston

Publisher: Cartwright Publishing (2017)

Length: 9 hours 14 minutes

Series: Book 1 Feud

Author’s Page

The Houses have been warring for generations. Each House has it’s warriors and assassins along with their special abilities. Now something has taken aim at the major Houses and old feuds may have to be set aside in order for the remnants of these Houses to survive. Building trust enough to mount a strategic attack may be impossible.

Set in the fictional city of Altryon, Neil Vapros is an assassin in training. He desperately wants his father’s approval but gaining that may be impossible. The Vapros are currently targeting the senior members of House Taurlum but taking one out is harder than Neil expected. In fact, if it wasn’t for Neil’s street-wise commoner friend Bianca, his role in this tale may have ended quite early on.

Even as Neil tries to come up with new ways to prove himself worthy of the Vapros House, something starts targeting the three ruling Houses. Despite their special powers, they die or disappear one after the other. The steel skin and incredible strength of the Taurlum House doesn’t keep them safe. For each incredible power, there is a weakness and the Taurlum weakness is not a secret. Members of the Vapros House can teleport and also turn human bodies into ash. House Celerius (the ability to heal quickly coupled with super speed) comes into it a bit later but also plays a significant role. Myth holds that these Houses were given special abilities in order to protect the people of Altryon. Outside there city-wide walls lies only rumors and guesses.

This rich, deadly world that Prue created is the thing that I loved most about this book. These long-feuding Houses and the kids growing up in this culture where they are expected to kill members of the other Houses whenever they get the chance is a great setting. When major changes start happening to this status quo, it gets really interesting. Now the main characters no longer have this family script on how to behave and they have to start thinking and acting for themselves and the ones they truly care about. For instance. Neil’s sisters (Jennifer and Victoria) aren’t particularly loving towards him. Once his family comes under attack, things shift.

Michael of House Tarlum experiences a character shift as well once he loses most of his family. I was particularly intrigued by this character because he seems so rough and bull-like at the beginning. He’s a big ball of anger and perhaps lust (lust for power, life, the ladies). Losing the comforts and prestige he grew up with changes him.

I also enjoyed the glimpses we get into the Emperor’s life and those closest to him. He’s a force to be reckoned with and he isn’t playing fair. Then there’s also the hints that there’s a bigger world outside of Altryon. I hope the author explores this possibility in later books.

There was one small weakness that stood out to me. There’s a point where these remnants of the great Houses plan to meet to discuss where to go from here. They set a time and location and share that around. It was painfully obvious that somehow their foe would get hold of this info and they would be attacked. It was a predictable plot point that was delivered without subtlety.

Despite that one little criticism, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was trying to describe this book to my husband and I went with ‘imagine Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards without all the creative cussing mashed up with Red Rising without Mars and you got something like The Sparks‘. Now he wants to give it a read as well and he’s not particularly into YA books. I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Jon Eric Preston was a really good pick for this book. While is female character voices could use a bit more femininity, he kept all the characters distinct. He had a variety of voices for all the male characters. What he excelled at were the numerous emotions. He was great at getting the characters’s anger, grief, frustration, joy, triumph, surprise, and more across to the listener.

What I Liked: Great setting; the super powers; the culture these kids were raised in and how that affects their actions going forward; the intense scenes with the Emperor; hints of a bigger world outside the city; how the remnants of these great Houses come together. 

What I Disliked: There is one particularly obvious plot point that I cringed at.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Kyle Prue:

Kyle Prue is an award winning author, actor and comedian. Kyle wrote The Sparks: Book 1 of the Feud Trilogy when he was just 16 years old. Kyle has spent the past year on a national book tour visiting over 80 middle and high schools and meeting over 60,000 students. Kyle is now a freshman at the University of Michigan, studying acting and creative writing. He still visits schools and is a keynote speaker for conferences.

Kyle is the founder of Sparking Literacy, a non-profit dedicated to lowering the high school dropout rate by inspiring teens to read, write and follow their dreams.  The Sparks has won numerous national awards including Best YA Fiction awards from: The Florida Authors and Publisher’s Association, the Florida Book Festival, New England Book Festival, Midwest Book Festival, Southern California Book Festival, and the International London Book Festival. Kyle also won an International Moonbeam Award and IndieFab Award for Best Young Author.

Website ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

Synopsis of The Sparks:

One teen assassin-in-training must unite three warring supernatural dynasties before death comes to them all…

Find out why USA Today calls The Sparks “a crackling read” that “builds a vivid world (both) otherworldly and relatable.”

Neil Vapros just wants to make his father proud. The sixteen-year-old aspires to serve his family as an assassin, but he nearly dies in the process. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Neil’s family, as well as two rival dynasties, have abandoned an ancient promise to protect their city. An unknown evil has begun hunting all three houses from the shadows…

As Neil’s relatives fall one-by-one, he attempts to unite the three supernatural families against a common enemy. But earning trust after years of assassination attempts could prove impossible. Neil’s fight may involve more than a bloodthirsty empire, as betrayal rears its ugly head…

The Sparks is the first book in the award-winning Epic Feud trilogy of young adult fantasy novels. If you like captivating characters, inventive world building, and supernatural battles, then you’ll love Kyle Prue’s action-packed coming-of-age tale. Buy The Sparks today to ignite your thirst for adventure!

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Jon Eric Preston:

Jon Eric Preston received his Theatre degree from Florida State University after returning from the London program. He earned top honors narrating in the Dramatic Interpretation category on the Speech and Debate team, and performed professionally in Children’s Theatre companies and did National Tours of A Christmas Carol, Twelfth Night, and Othello.

As a SAG BookPAL and a father reading to his two boys for more than 12 years, moving into the booth to record audiobooks was a natural and joy filled progression.
He is thrilled to be narrating and giving voice to the characters for Kyle Prue’s Feud Trilogy.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

GIVEAWAY!!!

Kyle Prue is offering up a $50 Amazon gift card!

The Sparks Giveaway

A Savage Ghost by Donna K. Weaver

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Emerald Arch Publishing (2016)

Length: 3 hours 18 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in northern Washington State, the Savage family recently took over an Irish castle that was moved to the US some years ago. Now Lia Savage has left California to help her family renovate the castle and get it ready for it’s new life as a tourist attraction. However, there is a spirit haunting the premises. Add to that, Lia has set eyes once again on Coop Montgomery, who has grown from the boy she knew to a young man. Romance is in the air.

This story starts off pretty good. The main characters are given some dimension and the setting is interesting. Adding the Irish ghost to the mix adds some mystery since the ghost is hunting for something hidden in the castle.

Lia was my favorite character. She’s very much wants to be a chef and she and her California friend are searching for a place to open their own cafe. However, her family would really like her to stay in Washington. Then we meet Coop and, despite his silly name, he provides yet more reason for her to consider staying in Washington.

The romance was cute and moved along swiftly. I’m not big on romance myself but it worked well for this story. The setting was great. I love the idea of an old Irish castle moved brick by brick over to the states and set down in the Pacific Northwest. Lia and her siblings had fun exploring the castle as well as assisting in fixing it up.

Speaking of Lia’s siblings, they are all twins. I think it was 3 sets of twins, though one of Lia’s sisters had died at some point prior to the beginning of this tale. So I couldn’t help but wonder if Lia’s mother was on some sort of egg enhancing drug therapy. Also we never do learn the particulars of how Lia’s sister dies and that left a little string hanging undone. I really wanted to know and it wouldn’t have been much trouble for the author to give us that.

The story winds up to the big hunt for the lost object the ghost has been longing for. It was fun and exciting though I never felt that Lia, Coop, or the kids were in any real danger. Once the mystery is solved, the story wraps up really quickly and I was left with a few questions about the plot hanging there unanswered. I wanted to know about Lia’s dead sister but I also wanted to know what happened with Lia’s friend in California and how their friendship held up to Lia’s ultimate decision.

I received a free copy of this book with no strings attached.

The Narration: Tiffany Williams was a delight to listen to. She had distinct voices for each character, which was not always an easy feat with the twins in this book. While her Irish accent for the ghost was a little rough, it was still enjoyable.

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; good narration; the castle in Washington setting; the mystery of the ghost; Lia and her siblings.

What I Disliked: There were a few questions left unanswered by the end of the story. 

The Glitch by Ramona Finn

Narrator: Genevieve Kaplan

Publisher: Relay Publishing (2017)

Length: 6 hours 30 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Glitches

Author’s Page

Set in a future dystopia, the AI runs the Norm, a domed utopia. However, all those human techs that are deemed damaged are tossed out into the barren wasteland. Lib is one such Glitch; however, she has nearly no memories. As she pieces things together, she learns from other Glitches and the local Rogue Clan how to survive in this nearly empty desert.

Despite certain issues with this story, something kept on pulling me back into it. First, I’m a sucker for domed city stories. I have this fascination with closed (or nearly closed) systems and all the inherent issues that can arise in such situations. Second, I got attached to Lib. She has few memories to work from but what little she knows compels her forward in a quest to make life better for all humans, not just those that live in Norm or those in the Rogue clans.

My biggest issue with this tale were the internal inconsistencies. The story contradicts itself multiple times, sometimes within the same paragraph. For an example, there’s a scene where Lib goes scavenging with some Rogues in a long abandoned city. Wolf, leader of this clan, explains that they don’t spend much time in the cities because they are dangerous since the AI’s drones might find them there. Yet in the same scene he later says the drones rarely come to the abandoned cities. There’s another dealing with tracks in the sand being an issue and yet they miraculously blow away in all other scenes that would leave tracks. Their underground hot spring has unpotable water but they still wash in it; yet it has bubbles… so I really hope the place is well ventilated. I don’t think it’s boiling since they are submerged in it. As you can see, these small inconsistencies are sprinkled throughout the story and I really wish it had gone through another round of beta readers, or 1 really good editor, so that I wouldn’t be distracted from the truly good story that lies among these inconsistencies.

For the first part of the story, I wasn’t too sure if Lib was caught in some little used rural part of the AI’s virtual reality or if she was truly stuck in some desert. I really liked that it took me a while to figure out which one it was. Lib is stuck between worlds on many levels and this beginning really sets that tone that lasts for the entire novel.

The other characters were interesting, though I feel they need some fleshing out. Lib is the one that shines in this tale and the rest are window dressing. Everyone seems to be no older than early 20s at most, though the doctor might be older. Raj is also a Glitch and truly wants to go home to the Norm. He says he misses his parents, which I believed. However, I would have preferred some stories showing us what life was like in the Norm instead of a handful of lines telling us how civilized and comfortable it was inside the dome. I kept interchanging Skye and Bird. One is a seer, having dreams that come true and the other is a leader of the clan and a potential mate for Wolf.

The romance was light, being almost non-existent. I think that’s understandable since Lib has a lot on her plate already. Over all, the tale was a fun, quick read. The author shows some obvious talent, and while I feel the story could have been tidied up a bit, I was still entertained throughout the tale.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Genevieve Kaplan makes a very good Lib. She has a young teen voice that suits Lib well. She was really good at keeping her character voices distinct. Wolf is described as having a deep voice, and while Kaplan’s voice for this character sounded masculine, I wouldn’t call it a deep male voice. There were a few technical issues. For instance, the volume sometimes fluctuates, though it’s not enough to hurt an eardrum or two. Additionally, 1 chapter is in there twice (Chapter 14 if I recall correctly).

What I Liked: Humanity in a fishbowl!; the AI and the danger she poses; Lib’s character; survival in the desert; domed humans, the Glitches, & Rogues – can they ever work together?

What I Disliked: Internal inconsistencies; a few technical issues with the narration.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Ramona Finn:

Ramona Finn writes about courageous characters who fight to live in broken, dystopian worlds. She believes a person’s true characters is often revealed in times of crisis, and there is no greater crisis than the worlds that she drops her characters into!

She grew up sitting cross-legged on her town’s library floor–completely engrossed in science fiction books. It was always the futuristic world or the universe-on-the-brink-of-extinction plotlines that drew her in, but it was the brave characters who chose to fight back that kept her turning the pages.

Her books create deep, intricate worlds with bold characters determined to fight for their survival in their dystopian worlds–with a little help from their friends. And, of course, romance is never out of the question.

Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Amazon

Synopsis of The Glitch:

On the brink of extinction, being human means more than just surviving.

In Lib’s world, it’s dangerous to stray from the Norm. In fact, for someone who doesn’t live up to the AI’s standards, it’s practically a death sentence. Lib learns this the hard way when she wakes up with her memories erased in a barren wasteland, and only one thought lodged in her mind:
It’s all her fault.

Lib is a Glitch—an imperfect human component of the utopian Norm. Utterly alone, she’ll have to team up with her fellow Glitches Skye and Raj and the mysterious Rogue Wolf and his clan to survive. Wolf only cares about the survival of his group, but Raj thinks they can hack the AI and change the Norm for the better.

Now, Lib will have to decide which path to choose—whether to go with handsome loner Raj or stay with Wolf and his tight-knit group. Her heart is drawn to both, but she’s carrying a deadly secret that could jeopardize them all. Will she be able to save her newfound family and stop the AI before it’s too late?

Audible Amazon

About Narrator Genevieve Kaplan:

For the past fifteen years I have received extensive training in lyric diction and classical voice. Various experience includes lead roles in multiple opera production through Santa Clara University with semi-professional recording obligations. For a minor in Lyric Diction at Santa Clara University I was required to take 6 units of Lyric Diction learning the correct pronunciation of languages including Italian, German and French (and of course English) as well as four years of private vocal training. Outside of musical endeavors I have experience with various characters and voices of my own creation included in my stand up comedy set.

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