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.

Website

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Publisher: Listen2aBook.com (2016)

Length: 17 hours 36 minutes

Series: Book 1 Little Women

Author’s Page

This American classic, set in the 19th century during the Civil War, follows the lives of the March sisters as they grow up and become young ladies. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are often joined by their neighbor Laurie, who is living with his grandfather.

Some how I missed reading this book as a kid but as an adult, I have had the pleasure to read it twice, this being the second time. Jo is still my favorite character. I love how she often flies in the face of what society might expect from a proper young lady. At one point she cuts off a good chunk of her hair. She learns to writes short stories that sell to newspapers, so she has a source of independent income. She’s not caught up in the latest dance or the stylish lace. Yep. She’s much how I would imagine myself if I was trapped in the 1800s.

The other sisters all have their own personalities as well. Meg is the oldest and seems be a little mother in waiting. Once she falls in love, that’s exactly what she becomes – a dotting mom. Then sweet Beth embodies the tender heart of the family. She is so kind to everyone and everyone in turn is so gentle and kind with her. Amy has a flash of independence as well but she’s also rather caught up in appearances. While the Marches don’t have much money, Amy makes up for it in grace and practical kindness.

Laurie is a good addition to the mix. I really like his grandfather as well. Laurie starts off as a rather shy and lonely lad but the girls draw him out pretty quickly and adopt him into their little circle of confidences and games. Marmee (Mrs. March) does her best to be a confidant to her daughters while also allowing them the privacy they need. Robert March, the dad, is seen quite a bit less in the book though he’s totally doted on by the family when he is home.

The entire book is riddled with little life lessons. For the first 3/4 of the book, these are well portrayed in story form. The author shows us rather than tells us. For instance, I like how Marmee often gives her girls enough rope to hang themselves. She lets them make mistakes so that they will recall the lesson better in the future. The solitary thing I don’t care for is that the last bit of this book gets a bit preachy. I feel the author was either rushed or got a little tired of the book herself and started telling us the lessons instead of showing us. Plus, perhaps since a main character dies, religion is brought into the mix. Despite this minor let down for the ending of the book, I still really enjoy this classic.

Let’s talk limes. Yes, limes. There’s a great little bit of the book that goes on about these pickled limes that were all the rage at school. In fact, the teacher banned them from his classroom since they were a distraction. One of the sisters had to borrow money from another sister just so she could buy some limes. After reading that section, I really want to try a pickled lime.

One of the reasons I so like this book is that most of the characters are women and it’s not a big romance. There is romance here and there, but that isn’t the main driving force of the plot. Women have so many more freedoms and rights now than they did during the Civil War and yet here we have a well written and enjoyable book that has women actually doing things, instead of being these flowery, vague love interests. So, when someone gives me the excuse, ‘Oh, things were different back then,’ to explain why a book is lacking in relevant female characters, I can always point to Alcott and quirk an eyebrow. Yes, things were different back then, but women were still relevant. Thank you Ms. Alcott!

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

The Narration: Andrea Emmes did such a lovely job with this book. She made each sister sound unique and she also managed to make them sound young when they are little girls and like young ladies by the end of the book. She also had a variety of male voices which were quite believable. 

What I Liked: Great narration; a worthy classic; ladies doing stuff but still working within the confines of the times; a family that does have arguments but still love each other; Laurie being brought into the fold; the pickled limes!

What I Disliked: It does get a tad preachy towards the end.

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

About Andrea Emmes:

Andrea Emmes started her career performing in musical theater while growing up on the East Coast. This lead to a successful career as a stage performer working for Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Renaissance Cruises and eventually head lining on the Las Vegas Strip.  Having worked in tv, film and video games, Andrea, a total bibliophile, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California.  Known as “The Girl with a Thousand Voices”, her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma. Not only does she have a Bachelor of Science in Game Art and Design, but Andrea gets her inner gamer geek on playing games of all kinds with her husband and their cat, Lucy.

 Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Synopsis of Little Women:

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, set in the 19th century follows the lives of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March as they live, learn, love, and grow as young pilgrims and blossom into fine little women.
Based on the author’s childhood, Little Women is one of the most beloved stories in American literature. It continues to touch listeners both young and old. Alcott takes you on a prolific journey which will make your heart swell, your soul laugh, and your heart ache as we experience the lives of the March sisters as they endure their lessons, scrapes, castles in the air, their romances, and more.

Audible        Amazon

About the Author Louisa May Alcott:

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist and poet best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868) and its sequels Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886). Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England, she also grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau.

Read more about her on Wikipedia!

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaways!

Narrator: Gary Furlong

Publisher: Forever Young Audiobooks (2017)

Length: 8 hours 48 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Timekeeper Trilogy

Author’s Page

Set in a Victorian England, the clock towers keep time from fracturing and the Timekeepers keep the clocks ticking along smoothly. Danny Hart is a time mechanic like his father and he hopes to one day free his father and citizens of a Stopped town where a clock tower broke 3 years ago. Meanwhile, he has been assigned temporarily to the clock tower in the little town of Enfield where small things keep going wrong. Danny begins to suspect sabotage even as he learns an unsettling yet still intriguing truth about the clock tower – it does indeed have a clock spirit. Colton seems equally intrigued by Danny and the two share a spark of romance that may or may not go anywhere.

This book was so much more than I was expecting. First, I was sucked in by the mythos of Chronos and how time was shattered but brought back under control by the clock towers and their spirits. Through out the book, we get little snippets of this mythology – never enough to bore and they always intrigued me. Then we learn more about the clock mechanics, their rigorous training, and how it’s more than just sprogs and bolts. There’s also this slightly mystical ability to feel the flow of time coupled with intuition of knowing just what the clock needs to run smoothly.

Danny Hart enters the picture and he has plenty going on in his life. He’s the youngest mechanic to graduate from the training program. His dad has been absent for the past 3 years trapped in the stopped city of Malden and no one has figured out how to free the city yet. Also, the lad survived a nasty accident himself and he’s suffering from PTSD. Lastly, he has finally come out of the closet, now that being gay is no longer a hanging offense. Few people are understanding, including his mom. Luckily, he has a stalwart friend in Cassie, a lass who has been his friend since childhood. As you can see, I was totally caught up in Danny’s character and definitely wanted to follow him around and see what he could accomplish in this book.

When Colton, the clock spirit in Enfield, first appears, he doesn’t tell Danny what he is. Danny guesses early on in their friendship but this presented yet another problem. Few people believed that the clock spirits were real so it wasn’t something he could readily explain to folks. Then as their romance begins, he finds it even more difficult to chat about Colton to folks. The romance is light, sweet, fumbling, and has a few misunderstandings between the two. I look forward to seeing where the author takes their relationship in the next book.

Danny becomes convinced that someone is sabotaging the tower in Enfield and so the hunt for clues begins. I enjoyed this little mystery and I only began to suspect the culprit late into the story. I was delighted that the tale hid the true nature of this person for so long. That made the reveal that much more delicious to me as the reader and it hit a hard punch to Danny when he figured it out.

As for side characters, I felt they were nicely developed and weren’t simple stand ins. Mrs. Hart is obviously grieving for her lost husband and is ready to move on. I think she’s a bit afraid to care too deeply as her son is in the same line of work and has already escaped one nasty accident. Cassie is a mechanic herself, though she tends to enjoy automobiles most. Daphne greatly intrigued me. She has a facial tattoo, wears men’s work clothes, and is rumored to have a parent from India. I hope there is more about her in the next book. I was charmed by Matthias, an older friend of Danny’s who went through a hardship and now is a teacher instead of a mechanic. He often took Danny under his wing in a paternal uncle-ish sort of way.

All together, it’s a great start to the trilogy. I saw that some folks stuck this book in the steampunk genre but I wouldn’t call it steampunk. I don’t recall a single thing being steam-driven. Regardless of what genre you place this book in, it’s going on my top shelf.

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

The Narration: Gary Furlong was a great pick for this book. I loved his rich, older voice for Matthias. He had the perfect on-the-cusp-of-manhood voice for Danny. His female voices were believable and varied (the ladies didn’t all sound the same).

What I Liked: Time can be messed with but you probably shouldn’t do so anyway; Danny comes into the story with some issues to work on; the mythological bits; the little romance; the mystery; the side characters brought something to the story; solid ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I was fully entertained by this book.

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

About Gary Furlong:

Gary Furlong grew up in Wexford, Ireland. Throughout his life he has worn many a hat: He has worked as a teacher in Niigata, Japan; a puppeteer in Prague; an improv artist in Memphis, Tennessee; and as a singer and actor all over Ireland. He started narrating audiobooks in late 2015 and hasn’t looked back.

Gary made his acting debut in the musical Godspell as a student. Since then he has pursued acting both on the amateur and professional circuits. Notable roles include Tom Collins in Bare Cheek’s production of Rent in 2010.

Over the course of his five years in Japan, he was an actor, director, and audio producer. It was during this time that he discovered his interest in audiobooks and voice-over.

He now works full-time as an audiobook narrator and voice actor from his home in Ireland.

 Website ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Timekeeper:

Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

Audible        Amazon

About the Author Tara Sim:

Tara Sim is the author of Timekeeper (Sky Pony Press) and can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives. Follow her on Twitter at @EachStarAWorld, and check out her website at tarasim.com.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ InstaGram ~ Pinterest

GIVEWAYS!!!

$50 Amazon Gift Card

Timekeeper Giveaway #1

Audiobook Bundle that includes Timekeeper

Timekeeper Giveaway #2

Zero Lives Remaining by Adam Cesare

Where I Got It: Review copy Narrator: Joe Hempel Publisher: Sky Warrior Book Publishing LLC (2015) Length: 6 hours 13 minutes Series: Book 1 Jonathan Shade Author’s Page   Set in modern day Denver, private investigator Jonathan Shade is hired by his ex-girlfriend Naomi Miller to look into the murder of her mother Cathy by her own husband David. Plenty […]

61XAlJ0cuuL._SL300_Narrator: Joe Hempel

Publisher: Rollin & Jeanie Press (2016)

Length: 2 hours 37 minutes

Author’s Page

 

The arcade is more than a kids’ favorite place to hang out. Legends are made in the arcade as the gamers compete for the highest score, the special items, and the secret levels. But this day will be different. Legends will die. Robby Asaro’s physical body passed away some years ago, but his consciousness continued on in his favorite arcade. Now an ill-timed act of bullying will trigger a deadly rage in Robby. This time, the body count is real.

This was a wickedly fun story! I know I shouldn’t have enjoyed it so much but I did. What gamer hasn’t fantasized about living in an arcade? Centipede and Ms. Pac-Man! There was definitely some nostalgia for me in this story.

There are few girls in the arcade and Tiffany Park has caught Robby’s eyes… attention. Unfortunately, she’s also caught the attention of the bully Chris Murphy. I really do like how the author portrayed the bully. He’s a messed up kid who’s looking for attention but he’s going about it the wrong way. We get little snippets of what’s going on in his head. I actually found myself hoping he would verbally express his loneliness and that Tiffany would sigh, tell him he had a jerk way of expressing it, and the two would have a friendly Galaga competition.

But this isn’t one of those books. This is a horror flick and it’s a good one. I was surprised how quickly the body count climbed as Robby’s spirit spiraled out of control. Tiffany has to use her wits to make it out of the building but there was no guarantee that would be enough. Her ally in these attempts was the maintenance man, Dan, who had lovingly tended to the arcade games all these years. They have to outwit and out-maneuver this now-malevolent spirit that has taken on the knowledge and attributed of each character it knocks out.

It was a great ride. I really enjoyed this tale. It had some surprising twists and the insight into Chris’s character put it over the top for me. While this is a short tale, I did get attached to some of the characters, Tiffany and Dan especially. I enjoyed the little surprises and the initial nostalgia of the arcade.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Joe Hempel did a magnificent job with this one. I’ve enjoyed several other books he has narrated and he didn’t disappoint with his performance here. One of the characters has a partially paralyzed face and Hempel brought that to life with his performance. He can bounce between angry jerk-face teen to Robby’s spirit to this partially paralyzed character with ease. 

What I Liked: Great narration; love the cover art; a wickedly fun story!; a bit of nostalgia; some insight into Chris the bully; Tiffany and the rest have to use all their smarts to get free; very few make it out alive; Dan and all his love for the arcade; great ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing – was truly a delightful horror story.

What Others Think:

Into the Macabre

Horror Talk

The Audio Book Reviewer

splatterpunkzine

Hellnotes

Scream Horror Magazine

Gingernuts of Horror

 

The River by Bill Stokes

StokesTheRiverNarrator: Johnny Mack

Publisher: Stokes Creative LLC (2017)

Length: 19 minutes

Author’s Page

 

This is a tale of young man’s first deer hunt. The author starts us off with a personal note of how deer hunting has been a part of his life even if he no longer directly participates.

Set in Wisconsin in 1947, a teen boy on the cusp of manhood is invited on his first deer hunt. On the first night of the hunt, there’s stories and manly cooking at the hunting cabin as Uncle Duffy and his friends deal out the cards. Our hero soaks it all up. He desperately wants to be considered one of them. He feels a driving need to prove himself on this week-long deer hunt and he fears he won’t measure up.

First, I was a bit surprised that he was allowed to wander the woods alone on his first hunt as we typically make sure to go by twos on any kind of hike that is over an hour long. It’s a little unclear if the area was well known to our young hunter or not. Anyway, he navigates his way back to the cabin day after day.

There’s a rising urgency as the hunt progresses. The men shares stories of hunts past. I liked how the story built up and up. I could really feel the young man’s need to prove himself worthy. When finally the moment comes, there’s a big snag in his triumph, followed by a triumph of another kind. I was surprised by how things ended but was also well satisfied with it. Years later when this kid is a seasoned hunter, he will look back on this incident with wry humor.

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Johnny Mack continues to do justice to this author’s short stories. He does a good job of sounding like a young man and also of sounding like an older Uncle Duffy.

What I Liked: The snowy river setting; the excitement of deer hunting; youth wanting to prove itself worthy; how nature has a tendency to show us just how small we are.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it’s a fun hunting story.

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Speakeasy Dead by Vicky Loebel

LoebelSpeakeasyDeadScroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrators: Emily Beresford & Nick Podehl

Publisher: Pentachronistic Press (2013)

Length: 12 hours 49 minutes

Series: Book 0.5 Demonic Intervention

Author’s Page

Note: This book and it’s loosely tied-in sequel, Keys to the Coven, can each work just fine as stand alones.

Set in Falstaff, Arizona in the 1920s during Prohibition, the Woodsens run a speakeasy bar and also sell some of their surplus alcohol to others. Now a Chicago-based mob is trying to move in and run the alcohol trade. They will be surprised at how little pushing it takes to upset a witch. Meanwhile, the youngest of the Woodsen cousins, teen Clara, is desperate to save her beloved movie star Beau Beauregard. She’s willing to break some rules in the name of true love (or her first crush). Her older cousin, Bernard (Bernie) Benjamin, is just the guy to help her out, even if he has to be lured to the basement and tied to the center of a pentagram. Demons and zombies have never had so much fun as they will during the dance competition!

Once again, Vicky Loebel has given me something original and very funny. There’s a bit of sexy (though it’s pretty PG-13 for this book) as well. Clara is a driven character who’s young enough to not know to look at the bigger picture when it comes to love, yet old enough to have just enough responsibility and autonomy to get into big trouble. She’s dead set on saving her ‘beloved’ Beau even if he has no idea she exists (and that’s because they’ve never met). She’s even willing to become a warlock by summoning a demon and striking a bargain with it. Hans is the handsome demon that appears and somehow he talks things around so that his demon familiar, Ruth, will enter a dance contest. The pit just gets deeper from there on out.

With the Chicago mob, Bernie and his personal schemes, Gladys the Golem, Beau’s resentment over the whole mess, zombies, stolen booze, and an older Woodsen sibling arriving soonish, Clara really does have her hands full. It was so funny! There’s plenty of clever lines and each person really has their own agenda in mind. Clara wants love from Beau, and to not get caught. Bernie doesn’t want to die a horrible death (which is surely what will happen when Clara’s older witch sisters find out about this whole mess). The mob want their booze, the money, and control (and they seem constantly surprised when that doesn’t happen easily). Beau is quite angry with his situation and Clara is totally surprised by what he truly wants. Gladys just wants to get back to housekeeping.

I really enjoyed the various magical elements. There’s the demon Hans and his familiar Ruth which have their intricate little dos and don’ts. Then Gladys who is a Golem and rather protective of young Bernie. One of Clara’s best friends is a ghost whisperer and she has a ghost familiar (Gaspar, complete with Spanish accent). Loebel manages to pull each one into the storyline seamlessly. Moreover, she gives each one rules to work with and she keeps them within those rules. With a comedy, it would be easy to have these various magical folk breaking rules, so I appreciated that once the author laid down a law of this is how this type of magic works, she kept her characters in line.

I did quite enjoy all the flirty, sexy behavior that popped up here and there. Demons love to trade on sex because it builds up their karma, which is basically spiritual coinage. Clara knows all this from her older witch sisters and her book on demons. Yet when the offers are made to her, she’s tempted. Bernie isn’t as naive but he’s not as well-schooled as he likes to pretend either. Ruth, being a large hunting cat most of the time, has a sexy confidence all the time, even when she’s totally mangling her dance partner’s foot during practice. There’s plenty of wit and humor with the sexy bits, making them just as fun as the rest of the book.

Having listened to both audiobook set in this urban fantasy world, I really hope Loebel gives us more. The humor is a bit unique and I love the mix of serious situations, magic, and laughter. Not everyone makes it out of this story unscathed. In many ways, Clara comes of age in this tale. Loved it and looking forward to more of it!

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Emily Beresford and Nick Podehl once again did a great job on this book. Even though they voiced totally different characters for Keys to the Coven, I read them far enough apart that I didn’t have character echos in my head, as can sometimes happen when you listen to books set in the same universe that have different characters yet the same narrators. These two are great with all the emotions and also delivering straight lines so the humor is left hanging there for the reader/listener to catch even as the story moves onward.

What I Liked: Arizona!; the Prohibition era; silly mobsters being all tough and hard to take a hint; Clara’s first real crush; Beau’s reaction to that crush; Bernie’s role in all this mess; Gladys is probably the most dangerous one in the mix but knows when to hold back; Ruth is a sexy beast; Gaspar and his Zorro sword; how it all ends with a Charleston.

What I Disliked: Nothing – so darn funny!

GIVEAWAY!

Vicky is generously offering up 3 audiobook copies of her book Speakeasy Dead! The audiobook is available through both Audible.com and Audible.UK. To enter the giveaway, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1)  Do you have either an Audible.com or an Audible.UK account?  2) What attracts you most to this book? Zombies? Prohibition? Demons? Dance Contests? 3) Leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaway ends April 4th, midnight, 2017.

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