Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche Blog Tour.

I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche. The Enola Holmes books were some of my favorites and I am beyond excited to help promote the newest installment.

This book is the seventh in the series and I had to wait so long for it. It’s been over ten years. Was it worth the wait? Keep reading for not only my review but also an excerpt from the upcoming book.

“A young girl who is empowered, capable, and smart…the Enola Holmes book series convey an impactful message that you can do anything if you set your mind to it, and it does so in an exciting and adventurous way.”–Millie Bobby Brown

Enola Holmes is back! Nancy Springer’s nationally bestselling series and breakout Netflix sensation returns to beguile readers young and old in Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche.

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!

Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.

● Link to a buy-this-book page: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250822963

● NANCY SPRINGER is the author of the nationally bestselling Enola Holmes novels, including The Case of the Missing Marquess, which was made into the hit Netflix movie, Enola Holmes. She is the author of more than 50 other books for children and adults. She has won many awards, including two Edgar Awards, and has been published in more than thirty countries. She lives in Florida.

● Author’s Twitter: @NancySpringer

On sale August 31st. Pre-order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250822963

My Review:

*Thank you to Net Galley and Wednesday books for providing me with an advanced copy of this book. My opinions are my own and are provided willingly and honestly.*

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche is the long awaited seventh novel in the Enola Holmes mystery series.

If you are a long time fan of this series then you will be most excited to know that this is truly book seven and not a Netflix tie in. The Movie was fine, but the books are better.

If you are just coming to the books, because you loved the Netflix movie, that’s fine, just be warned that this book has spoilers for the first six books in the series, which do have an over arching plotline. If you don’t care about spoilers the prologue to this novel includes a short summery of each of the previous Enola books. After a ten year break I admit I appreciated this refresher.

The Black Barouche is honestly the book in the series I most wanted while reading these books as a teenager. I was, and still am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, and this book finally sees Enola and Sherlock working on a case together. Well maybe not together. They are basically competing to see who solves it first. Seeing as they are sister and brother, this is the only natural outcome.

I just can’t get over how great this book was, Springer’s writing style is exactly the same and took me right back to when I binged the original six books in one month. Enola’s voice was just as confident and snarky as before. There is also the added bonus of revisiting Tewky from book one, and who Netflix viewers will recognize from the movie.

Each Enola Holmes book was centered around some aspect of Victorian society that related to women and most importantly to the injustices they faced at that time. The Black Barouche is no different, though this book may have the darkest injustice of all. It deals with the reality of how truly disposable women were.

A Nobleman writes his wife’s sister that she is dead. No explanation, no funeral, no body. Just, your sister is dead so sorry, don’t come round anymore. It’s up to Sherlock and Enola to discover what became of the late Lady Dunhench.

As is often the case in Victorian mysteries the true criminal is the law. The law that lets men, well men with money and power, do whatever they please without consequence. 

Excerpt:

“Is she fainted?”

Indignant, I wanted to sit up and say I was not so easily killed and I never fainted, but to my surprise my body would not obey me. I merely stirred and murmured.

“She’s moving.”

I saw the clodhopper boots of common men surrounding me and smelled alcohol on the breath of those leaning over me.

“Let’s get ’er inside.”

“Somebody go fer the doctor.”

Strong hands, not ungentle, seized me by the feet and shoulders. I could have kicked and yelled—I felt strong enough now—but my mind had started to function, realizing that I was about to be carried into a pub, for only in a public house, or pub, would workmen be drinking in the daytime. And normally no woman of good repute would enter a pub, or if she did, she would be jeered at until she retreated. But, my avid brain realized, fate in the form of Jezebel had given me opportunity to spend some time inside a pub—no, in the pub, most likely the only pub in Threefinches! So I closed my eyes and pretended to be rather more helpless than I was as the men hauled me inside and laid me down on a high-backed bench by the hearth.

Someone brought something pungent in lieu of smelling salts, but I shook my head, pushed the malodourous hand away, opened my eyes, and sat up, acting as if it were a great effort for me to do so. A burly, bearded man in an apron, undoubtedly the publican who kept the place, came running with a pillow for my back, and I thanked him with a gracious smile.

“Will ye have a nip of brandy, lydy?”

“No, thank you. Water, please.”

“Jack! Water for the lydy!” he bellowed to some underling, and he remained nearby as I managed, with hands that genuinely trembled, to remove my gloves. Their thin kidskin leather was ruined by the mauling it had taken from Jezebel’s reins, and my hands were red and sore; doubtless they would bruise. Grateful for the cool glass, I held it in both hands and sipped, looking around me. Half of the denizens of the place, like the owner, stood in a semicircle staring at me not unpleasantly, while the rest did the same from seats at the rustic tables—all but one. A tall man with beard stubble on his chin and quite a shock of coarse brownish-grey hair hiding his forehead had withdrawn to a table by the wall, where he devoted his attention to his mug of ale, or stout, or whatever noxious brew he might fancy. I said brightly to the tavern-keeper, “I believe I would like to stand up.”

“Now, why not wait for the doctor, lydy—”

But taking hold of his arm, as he stood within my reach, I got to my feet with reasonable steadiness. There were muted cheers from the onlookers. Nodding and simpering at the men all around me, I lilted, “Thank you so much. Do you suppose anyone could go out and fetch my bag, and my hat and parasol? I believe they fell along the—”

Already half a dozen would-be heroes were stampeding towards the door. Yet, if I had walked in here under my own power, any request for help would have been met with deepest suspicion. Such is life: odd.

Reminders:

The release date is August 31st.

You can read book seven even if you haven’t read the first six books but it will spoil those books for you.

Black Barouche pre-order/order links here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250822963

Have you read any of the Enola Holmes books?

How excited are you for the new installment?

Audio Review: Second Son

For my next audiobook review I decided to go back to the Minstrel’s Song series by Jenelle Schmidt. Today I’m doing a review for the second book in the series. If you remember my past reviews I skipped this one because it was more of a prequel. If you would like, you can go back and check out my reviews for book one, King’s Warrior, or book three, Yorien’s Hand.

So now on to the second book, conveniently titled Second Son.

In an attempt to manipulate the future, a family and a nation are forced to decide between two brothers. Guided by a prophecy spoken hundreds of years before, the King and Queen of Llycaelon have set their course. Their goal: to fulfill the prophecy and save their nation from a dire fate.Rhoyan has always understood and accepted his own role as second born and perpetual prince. He looks forward to the day when he will be a warrior in his older brother’s guard. When Rhoyan is sent on a quest filled with unimaginable danger, nobody anticipates the greater repercussions.As Rhoyan journeys far across the seas on his appointed trial, he will battle creatures of legend, suffer shipwreck, endure captivity, and lay claim to a fallen star. When tragedy strikes, Rhoyan must struggle to return home believing his quest has failed. However, the home he left no longer awaits him and the true test of his strength and character has only just begun.Long before Aom-igh needed a champion, Llycaelon had a Second Son.

Dive-in Audiobook Review:

Second Son is the second book in the series, but since it focuses on the childhood of main character Brant, it actually comes first In the timeline. But don’t read it first. It will spoil the big twist at the end of King’s Warrior.

I had originally skipped this book because I wanted to follow the main story line. I see now that was a mistake.

Second Son dropped so much lore and had character development that would have added to my enjoyment of Yoran’s Hand. So I’m amending my opinion. You should absolutely read these books in publication order.

Brant’s character is so much deeper than I realized. He goes through so much in this book. He is royalty, he’s a slave, he loves, and he knows loss.

Second Son would be an interesting read on it’s own, even without the larger series to complete it. I believe it can standalone, but it also fits perfectly into the larger mythos that the author has constructed for it.

As always, Benjamin Fife is a joy to listen to. He really shows his acting chops in this one, where he gets to play many roles, all of which require deep emotion. And he delivers stunning performances for each.

*I would like to thank Jenelle and Story Origin for providing a free reviewer code.

Purchase links:

Second Son on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Second-Son-Minstrels-Song-Book-ebook/dp/B00L74XNAM

Find the whole series available on Audible: https://www.audible.com/author/Jenelle-Leanne-Schmidt/B008J4H9ZS

Or if you still prefer your books a bit more silent get them in paperback or ebook an Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074C6DBH1

About the Author:

Jenelle first fell in love with stories through her father’s voice reading books aloud each night. A relentless opener-of-doors in hopes of someday finding a passage to Narnia, it was only natural that she soon began making up fantastical realms of her own. Jenelle currently resides in the wintry tundra of Wisconsin —which she maintains is almost as good as Narnia — with her knight-in-shining armor and their four hobbits. When she is not writing, she homeschools said hobbits and helps them along on their daily adventures… which she says makes her a wizard.

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Weird Writing Prompts Review and Questions Answered

So you know that phrase about saving the best for last? well the last post of June is going to be a big one. Not only am I spot lighting a new book from Janeen Ippolito, I get to plug my upcoming novel at the same time. Yes I am actually publishing this one. I have a release date. I’m committed But first here’s a little about Janeen’s book.

Get more out of your writing prompts!

Weird Writing Prompts is a short book loaded with questions to jumpstart your creativity, dive deeper into your characters, and rev up your book marketing.

Oh yeah, and some questions are weird. Like “trap your characters in an elevator with an emu” weird. Because everyone needs a little weirdness to refresh their writing lives!

Grab this book to:

-Get Deep & Random – Expanded prompts with ideas to make your characters epic, plus absurd situations to unlock your creativity with play

-Get Sharing & Marketing – Author-centric questions to fuel your marketing brain and help with social media content creation

It’s time to refresh your brain, supercharge your story, and have fun with your marketing!

“Having fun is vital to goo writing, good marketing, and good sales.” – Janeen ippolito

My review

Weird Writing prompts is a great writing prompt book. Instead of just offering you more story ideas to add to your “to write” list, this prompt book actually helps you develop the story you are already working on.

The book is divided into two parts, character questions and marketing questions. The character questions may seem random and silly, but each one is formulated to help you learn something about your characters.

The marketing questions are also fun and are great for helping you decide what kind of giveaway items you want on hand for when you your book releases. The author also includes ideas for how to adapt the questions for a classroom setting which is great for English teachers and homeschoolers.

I really enjoyed all of the odd little questions and having to think about how they would apply to my story.

If you are stuck on your current project and would like a prompt book to help you move forward then check out Weird Writing Prompts.

To see sample questions and how I used them for my story, keep reading to the end.

Weird Writing Prompts releases July 13.

But you can pre order the ebook now for only 99 cents.

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096YVQGWX

Other Online Ebook Retailers: https://books2read.com/u/bORvng

Autographed paperback: https://next.waveapps.com/checkouts/71222c16c26b4637b48cddca3c46d25c

All-in-One (book page on my website): http://www.janeenippolito.com/weird

Janeen Ippolito believes you should own your unique words. She’s a multi-published author of bestselling fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She’s also an experienced editor, marketing strategist, and businesswoman, plus the CEO of Uncommon Universes Press. When not writing, she explores random hobbies or posts cute animal memes. Connect at janeenippolito.com


Janeen Ippolito – Social Media Links (use whatever you wish)
Website: https://janeenippolito.com/  

Email Newsletter for Authors:  https://www.subscribepage.com/creativenewsletter 

Email Newsletter for Readers: https://www.subscribepage.com/booknewslettersignup

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/janeenippolitounique/

Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/168444147251310

Facebook Writing Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1435958919779131/  

Instagram: 

For authors – @ownyouruniquewords

For readers – @janeen_ippolito
For poetry/art – @janeen_ippolito_creations

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbOMGXV7E_Df8Dko1W9Tt5Q

Three Random Questions About Runaway Lyrics:

So first a bit of back ground:

Runaway Lyrics is a retelling of the Snow White and Rose Red fairytale, with a light steampunk aesthetic. The main characters are Snow and Rose, identical twin sisters who are both talented at music. There are also Bayare (the oldest) and Wickham, half brothers and princes. Placed under a curse that causes Bayare to turn into a great brown bear every night and for Wickham to become a great golden owl every day.

So let’s start with the ultimate random question:

What would each of your characters do if a bird pooped on them?

Bayare would look around to see where Wickham, in owl form, was. Then when he found him he would instantly accuse him of doing it. Wickham would deny everything. Honestly he knows that Wickham would never deficate on anyone but he loves teasing his little brother.

If Snow was pooped on she would flinch, but then wipe it off and keep going, hopefully to someplace where she could take a bath.

Rose is a bit different. She would complain. Long and loud, about how gross it was and why, of all the places for a bird to poop, did it have to be on her.

Wickham, as a part time owl, knows the bird that did it. He knows that bird did it on purpose. And Wickham is already planning his revenge.

“Writing is hard. Marketing is hard. We can use all the fun that we can get.” – Janeen Ippolito

Would each of your characters rather: sort 1,000 pieces of paper OR stand on a public stage for an hour to entertain a crowd of young children?

This is easy. Rose, Snow and Bayare would take the stage for an hour. Rose and Snow love playing music and that’s how they would entertain the kids. Bayare doesn’t know what he would do on stage, but he hates repetitive tasks like sorting. Besides who doesn’t like kids?

Wickham that’s who. Oh he loves attention and it’s not that he hates kids, he just doesn’t know what to do with them. They find the crudest things hilarious. They require so much talking down too. Nope give Wickham the stack of paper and lock him in the library.

“They say you have to go deep or have silly fun. I say you can do both.” – Janeen Ippolito

You can hire anyone to compose music for your story. Who do you choose and why?

It would be Lindsey Stirling. I listened to her music on a loop while writing this novel. Even though Snow and Rose can play multiple instruments, Linsey Stirling is the reason that they prefer the violin. Her Music videos also inspired the way the magic system in my world works.

If you aren’t familiar with Lindsey Stirling then check out her music on youtube, her videos are amazing. Start with this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfTknZt2DHA

Runaway Lyrics will have an official cover reveal and release date soon. So I hope you’re ready to hear me talk more about myself in the next couple month. But don’t worry I’ll still keep doing book reviews for others as well.

What was your favorite question I answered?

Are you excited to hear more about Runaway Lyrics?

Castle Contended Dive-in Review

Hello readers, today is release day for a new book. The book is A Castle Contended. This is the second book in the Castle in the Wilde series. Click here to read my review of the first book, A Castle Awakened. And then come back so you can scroll down and read my review of the second book.

A Castle Contended by Sharon Rose

Novel 2 in the Castle in the Wilde series

She loves her kingdom…and the foreign usurper they hate. How can she choose between them?

Beth finally understands. The despised foreigners are not what she believed. Nor is her noble role just a burdensome restraint. It also carries authority—and the obligation to use it wisely. Which might be more of a restraint than the proposed marriage she is evading. Now all she needs to do is convince an entire kingdom to respect the people they hate.

Before she can even try, unraveling deceptions rock her land. A duchess mysteriously dies. Atrocities in Tower Woods come to light. The governing assembly is being manipulated. The cry of Beth’s heart is the last thing anyone cares about. As for loving a despicable foreigner—intolerable!

Tristan would do anything to help Beth, but his foreign hands are tied. The only thing he can do, must do, is kill the enormous vixicats that terrorize the Wilde—beasts that have proven invincible for over a century. If he conquers them, he invites a siege to his castle. What is worse? Starving or becoming a vixicat’s meal?

How can Beth forge her newfound scrap of authority into a tool that is both subtle and powerful enough to return justice to her land? Especially when succeeding could turn the foreigner she loves into an enemy.

My Dive-in Review

A Castle Contended is the second book in the Castle in the Wilde series. It does feel very much like a part two, and I do recommend starting with book one, A Castle Awakened. There is a lot of character development in that first book that you need, to fully appreciate the character arcs that are completed in this novel.

My lest favorite character from the first book, Beth, became my favorite in this one. In the first book princess Ellabeth was very immature and acted like an entitled brat, but in this book we see how the attitudes of those around her very much fueled her ideas and actions. It took someone finally seeing her for the adult she was, for her to truly grow up.

This novel is Beth’s story but don’t worry the, dashing Lord Petram is still a central character, as he continues to hunt the dangerous vixicats that roam the Wilde. Much of his arc is just him waiting around for Lavaycia to sort out their inner kingdom politics, but he still finds plently to do to fill the time.

So we reach the central conflict of A Castle Contended. Politics and to a lesser extent genealogy.
For some reason this book struck me as more of a commentary on the practice of European royalty to marry within their own families. (Bringing up, both deformities from birth defects and with hereditary mental illness within the nobility.)

I didn’t find this change of focus as interesting. I really enjoyed the world building and exploration of A Castle Awakened. If the first book was a romantic adventure then this sequel was a political courtroom drama.

It featured a lot of debate and rhetoric, but very little action. (Unless you count the great Vixicat hunt, that scene had a ton of action.) Though, I did really like the part where the Duke of Maerton got put in his place. It was a good way to show that bullies don’t always get what they want.

Though it could be argued that the amount of justice served to people who actually deserve it, is the least realistic thing about this story.

On that note, the ending was almost too perfectly tied up for what I know to be a planned trilogy. I am very interested in what the author has in store for these characters next.

A Castle Contended is the second novel in the Castle in the Wilde trilogy. If you enjoy a story where wit and hope confront lies and hate, come and explore this fantastical world with medieval undertones and conflicted cultures.

The Castle in the Wilde books are available from Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. The print versions can also be ordered from local bookstores and libraries.

A Castle Contended – novel 2 releases June 24, 2021.

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08R11LYLG

Other Amazon markets: https://books2read.com/u/bOXwQ9

For a printed book from your local bookstore or library, request ISBN 978-1-948160-23-0

A Castle Awakened – novel 1

The ebook version of A Castle Awakened is currently on sale for $2.99, so it’s a great time to grab it and start the series from the beginning.

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GL7QXB2

Other Amazon markets: https://books2read.com/u/3LY9qJ

For a printed book from your local bookstore or library, request ISBN 978-1-948160-21-6.

Author bio:

I started writing when I was seven years old. Okay, My Life as a Flying Squirrel may have had a couple spelling errors, but my classmates loved it.

Plenty of life has happened since that first story, and I’ve come to realize the things that fascinate me. People. Communication. Culture. Personality. Viewpoints. Beliefs. Anything that makes each of us beautifully unique. Small wonder that my art spills out in story form.

It was only a matter of time before I just had to share my stories. I publish fantasy and science fiction because they allow vast spaces to explore. My stories weave cultures and characters, who are more than they seem to be, into adventures with mystery, romance, and hope.

When I’m not writing or reading, I may be traveling, enjoying gardens, or searching for unique coffee shops with my husband. We live in Minnesota, USA, famed for its mosquitoes—uh, I mean 10,000 lakes and vibrant seasons.

Follow Sharon Rose Online:

SharonRoseAuthor.com

Follow me on BookBub

Amazon

Goodreads

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Amok a Dive-In Review

This is a bit early, a few weeks back I help with a cover reveal for a book titled Amok. I said in the reveal that the release date was June 24th, but that date was moved up to June 1st. So I decided to move my review up accordingly Good news tough, the pre-order pricing stays in effect until the 24th. So grab it now before the price goes up.

Surprise lockdown launch!

In light of Malaysia’s not-so-surprising Total Lockdown, Teaspoon Publishing has pushed up the release date of Amok for a surprise lockdown launch! 

Yes, Amok ebooks drop on 1 June* as Malaysians hunker down at home—and you get to benefit! We’ll still honour our launch prices, so our ebook preorder prices of USD2.99 will remain until the 23rd of June and will rise to USD4.99 on 24 June. 

We’re currently in the process of approving paperback editions via Amazon’s POD and IngramSpark, so you’ll be able to get that once the book goes live at totally random times during the month! (You can tell we’re just winging it right now, can’t you?)

And while we’re at it, send a screenshot of your Amok purchase receipt (whether ebook or paperback) to admin@teaspoonpublishing.com.my by 24 June to claim a free ebook copy of The Painted Hall Collection

Happy reading!

Ebook Order Links:

Amazon: http://getbook.at/Amok

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=BAIvEAAAQBAJ 

Other retailers: https://books2read.com/amok 

Teaspoon Publishing: https://teaspoonpublishing.com.my/shop/amok-ebook 

Ebook sale price (until 23 June): USD2.99  

Full price (24 June): USD4.99 

Amok

What is faith, except hope in desperation?

All Putera Mikal wants is to gain the Amok Strength, the supernatural power granted by Kudus to the Mahan royal family. No matter how religiously Mikal keeps his vows, Kudus still denies him the Strength—whilst his father, Sultan Simson, flaunts the Strength despite his blatant defiance of the Temple and the priests’ visions of coming doom.

Then the prophecies come true.

Taken captive, Mikal must find a way to liberate his people and restore his throne in Maha—and the key to this is the Amok Strength. But what does it take to gain Kudus’ favour?

Dive-In Review of Amok

Amok by Anna Tan is a fantasy reimagining of the story of Sampson from the Bible. But this isn’t a straight retelling, Sampson is more of a frame work to tell the story of Mikal the son of the Sampson stand-in.

The story has a wonderful message about what it means to have faith. Mikal has none of his fathers amazing strength, leading him to question time and again what Kudos (God) wants from him. Why is his faith not enough? A question that I’m sure many people of faith struggle with. (I know I do.)

I really loved Mikal’s character. He has great motivation and his story, is compelling. He goes from being a prince to a slave, and I just couldn’t help feeling for him. He goes on such an inner journey throughout this story that Mikal really does feel like a different character by the end.

The secondary character of Yoshua was just as compelling. He goes from being Mikal’s servant to his new master. He is not the POV character so his arc feels more static, but even second hand you can still see how the plot shapes who he becomes.

Seeing their relationship flipped on its head gives the story a nice sense of symmetry.

The world building is a stand out feature of this book. Set in an Asian inspired fantasy world, the kingdoms of Maha and Bayangan are really fleshed out and I feel like I could crack open a history book and learn about them.

The part of this book that stands out the most is that it has no romance at all. It was super refreshing to read a story without a will they won’t they subplot. The character’s in this story literally had much bigger problems.

If you’re looking for something different from the typical medieval European fantasy then I highly recommend checking out Amok.

*Many thanks to the author who let me read an advanced copy of this book. This review is my own honest evaluation of the material.*

About the Author:

Anna Tan grew up in Malaysia, the country that is not Singapore. She is interested in Malay/Nusantara and Chinese legends and folklore in exploring the intersection of language, culture, and faith.
Anna has an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel under a Chevening scholarship and is the President of the Malaysian Writers Society. She can be found tweeting as @natzers and forgetting to update annatsp.com.

Discernment: Dive-in Review

A couple weeks ago I hosted a cover reveal for Discernment, the newest book in the Legacy Chronicles by Lauren H. Salisbury. The book is out now and I can’t wait to share my review with you. But first a reminder about the book.

Also this is an official stop on the Discernment blog tour so stay until the end for your secret word to use as entry into the grand prize drawing.

A misfit, a fugitive, and a sacred destiny. Everything changes when all three collide.

In Jiya’s world, the only choice a woman has is who she will marry. When she meets a mysterious off-worlder, she must decide how far she is willing to push the boundaries of Teraburan culture to gain her freedom, and whether that is truly what she wants.

Mahsan has never been accepted for who he is. The sole human raised on an Esarelian cruiser, his attempts to belong led only to disaster and him becoming a fugitive. When he is invited into the home of a Teraburan clan leader, he finds a place where he could finally put down roots. But his past haunts him, and he will need to make peace with it if he wants any kind of future in his new home.

Not everyone approves of Jiya and Mahsan’s friendship, and some will stop at nothing to keep them apart. As the unlikely pair discover their true calling, they will have to confront everything they thought they knew and learn to see themselves as they never have before.

Purchase links:

Discernment – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093WWJ5HY 

Universal link – mybook.to/Discernment 

Check out the first two books in the series at the link below:

Series page (US) – https://www.amazon.com/gp/kindle/series/B07QGK7TZY

My Dive-in Review:

Discernment is the third book in Lauren H. Salisbury’s The Legacy Chronicles. This series is a science fiction reimagining of the life of Moses from the Bible.

Discernment specifically focuses on the period of Moses’s story where he flees Egypt and goes to live with the Midianites. This is his wife’s story; here renamed Jiya.

I really loved this new character. Jiya is a strong independent woman stuck living in a patriarchal society that doesn’t value her as a person. Time and again, people try to put her in a box, and she continually thinks her way out of it. She is the perfect match to Mahsan (the Moses stand in) as she can relate to his feelings of not belonging.

Discernment reads very much like a romance. Very clean, with very interesting sci-fi elements, and a Biblical twist, but still romance. For this reason I feel like this book stands very well on it’s own.

As book three of a four book saga, I was afraid that it would suffer from middle book syndrome. Thankfully, it does not. You should of course start at the beginning with book one, Courage, but if you somehow, found yourself starting here, with book three, then rest assured, there is enough backstory that you won’t be lost. The ending is also pretty nicely tied off, with a gentle, slope rather than a sudden drop off a long cliff.

The aesthetic of this particular instalment is what I would call space western. Think Firefly where old ideas meet high tech. For the most part it takes place on a cattle ranch on the planet Terabu, there is quite a bit of mechanical tech as well as space craft, but for every microchip there are just as many low tech scenes.

An all around solid instalment in an interesting series and a great book in it’s own right. I’m looking forward to this fourth book to see how Salisbury handles the ten plagues.

*I was given an advanced copy of this book to review. The opinions provided here are my own honest evaluation of the provided work.*

Word 12. what

For those of you with screen readers. The above graphic has your word for the blog tour.

Word 12. what.

Follow the blog tour to get all the words in the secret sentence:

All the links to the posts can be found here: https://www.laurenhsalisbury.com/

Giveaway:

Discernment Swag Bag

  • Necklace
  • Character art (Jiya, Reemah, Gilla)
  • Recipe cards
  • Quote fridge magnet
  • Handmade greeting card(s)
  • Note from the author
  • Signed bookplate
  • (digital) companion story

Digital Swag Packs

  • Companion story 
  • Character art with notes from the characters
  • Recipe cards
  • Note from the author

Enter the Giveaway Here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ebe7708e2/

Or see if I embedded this widget right (I probably didn’t):

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

About the Author:

Lauren H Salisbury is a lover of all things science fiction/fantasy, creative, and edible, but not always in that order. An English teacher for sixteen years, she now tutors part-time while trying to figure out how to use an MA in Education as an author. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband and a room full of books but likes to winter abroad, following the sunshine. Her favourite stories include faith, hope, and courage.

Website – https://www.laurenhsalisbury.com

@gillascourage on Facebook and Twitter

@laurenhsalisbury on Instagram

White Wolf and the Ash Princess Audiobook review

If you are a long time follower of this blog you may remember a couple guest posts from author Tammy Lash. She wrote beautiful inspirational pieces that complimented her novels, White wolf and the Ash Princess, and Letter from a Dragon’s Son.

But I realized that I never actually reviewed either book.

So when Tammy offered me a free reviewer code for the new audiobook edition of White Wolf, I decided that it was good time to correct my error.

Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she suffered a terrible trauma that left her with physical scars. Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the Gudwyne’s young stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property’s rock wall into a world that promises possible answers but also great danger.

While running to escape his past, Jonathan Gudwyne rescued Izzy and took her in, but who did she belong to before he became her guardian?

A mysterious cellar filled with secrets sets Izzy on a path to the New World where the Wendigo wanders and Water Panther swims. In the wilds of 17th-century America, Izzy and Jonathan discover the legends of the New World aren’t the fairytales of their library home in England.

My Review: Historical or fantasy? It’s a fine line.

White Wolf and the Ash Princess by Tammy Lash, reads like a historical novel. But some elements are certainly fantastic.

The time of this novel is hard to pin down. It feels like a historical novel but the ambiguity over the time gives it an almost fantasy like feeling. Unique steampunk gadgets and advanced firearms set it firmly in an alternative timeline. So don’t hurt your head trying to pick out the exact year it takes place in.

The novel is in two parts. The main character, Izzy, suffers from childhood amnesia. The first part deals with her attempts to discover her past.

The second part is the price paid for reclaiming her memories. It shows how Izzy will choose to handle her past and if she will embrace her true identity.

Izzy is a wonderful character. A grown woman who still has a very childlike sense of wonder. Then reality catches up to her, and she must go on a journey of self-discovery, to reclaim the memories of her past so she can truly grow up into the woman she needs to be.

Izzy’s journey to return to her father is an obvious metaphor for a Christian’s faith journey from selfish sinner to child of God.

I’m not sure how I feel about Johnathan. He does love Izzy and wants to protect her, but his secrets seriously hurt her. She should have been told the truth instead of tucked away like a china doll. I suppose I do ship them in that I can’t imagine Izzy with anyone else, but he really should have been more open with her. The whole “We’ll deal with it when her memories return,” attitude is exactly what enabled her to suppress her memories for so long.

I really loved the Native American lore that was mixed into the narrative. I am not sure how much is traditional and what the author invented to aid the story. It just adds to the blurry boundary between the story’s fantasy feel and our own world’s troubling history.

Adele Adler brings this beautifully written prose to life with her lovely voice. She has a talent for making each character unique and she reads narrative description engagingly with Izzy’s first person POV.

Seeped in Native American lore, shrouded in mystery, and full of adventure, White Wolf and the Ash Princess is a book that will keep you guessing until the last page. Or ’til the last minute of audio if you choose the audio edition.

Where to find it:

You can get a copy from amazon at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/White-Wolf-Princess-Tammy-Lash-ebook/dp/B073D93YZ6/

The audiobook is available on Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/White-Wolf-and-the-Ash-Princess-Audiobook/B08XY67H64

Not subscribed to Audible? I recommend purchasing the eBook and adding audio through Amazon’s whisper sync program.

Tammy lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near the shores of Lake Superior with her husband and three teen/adult children. Currently, they are working together on their “new” home just outside the Hiawatha National Forest she writes about in her stories. 

Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering,”hunting” for birch bark, and spotting migizis.

She is the author of White Wolf and the Ash PrincessLetters from the Dragon’s Son, and the short story Eagle Eyes from the Descendants of White Wolf series. 

Facebook- https://m.facebook.com/tammylashauthor/

Instagram- http://instagram.com/tamlash5

Blog- http://tammylash.wordpress.com

The Bear of Rosethorn Ring: blog tour

You may remember my last blog post was a cover reveal for a new installment in a fairy tale series called Once upon a Twist Tales. You can find that cover reveal by scrolling all the way down and clicking the previous post button.

Title: The Bear of Rosethorn Ring: A Snow White and Rose Red Story (Once Upon a Twist Tales, Book #4)

Tagline: How far would Snow White and Rose Red go to save the man behind the bear?

About the Book:

When their father runs away, Marita and Diamond Kadlec realize how different twins can be. Marita’s ready to forget Lucas entirely, but Diamond wants to give him the second chance she’s never been able to give before. That’s before they discover that Lucas is indebted to the ill-tempered D’vard and his traveling circus, the Rosethorn Ring. The Ring’s entertainment lacks a bear, and Lucas must play the part of the savage creature to regain his freedom.

Lorcan D’vard cares only for three things: tending to his beloved beard, promoting his Rosethorn Ring, and eradicating the assassin out to kill him. With time running out, D’vard agrees to cancel Lucas’s debt and let him go free – if Marita and Diamond can apprehend the assassin before the assassin ends the show.

This is Snow White and Rose Red with a twist like you’ve never seen it before.

The Bear of Rosethorn Ring is available now. You can find it at Goodreads and Amazon below:

o Goodreads | Amazon

About the Series:

Once Upon a Twist Tales are your favorite fairytales retold backwards and upside-down, with a little bit of steampunk thrown in for fun!

Find the other books here:

o Goodreads | Amazon

Other Books in the Series:

Book One ~ The Rose and the Balloon: A Beauty and the Beast Story

Book Two ~ Spindle Dreams: A Sleeping Beauty Story

Book Three ~ Diamond: A Rapunzel Story

My Dive in Review:


The Bear of Rosethorn Ring is a retelling of the fairytale, Snow White and Rose Red. If you are unfamiliar with it, don’t worry, it’s often confused with that other (but unrelated) fairy tale about a girl named Snow White.

This version of the story removes the magic and replaces it with a circus setting. I really liked the circus aesthetic and thought the adaptation was spot on. All the fairy tale’s major plot points are present and easily recognizable.

This is the fourth book in Fichter’s Once Upon a Twist Tales series. I believe the story stands on its own well, but you will enjoy it more if you start at the beginning. At least read book three, as this book directly references those events. Diamond goes through so much that you really need to read about her previous adventures to appreciate how strong her character is.

The best character was indeed Diamond, who spends most of the book blind. Her POV is a prime example of how to tell a descriptive narrative using only sound and scent cues. Not only that, but she is caring and patient. Qualities that more people should learn to emulate.

*Received an advanced copy to review. This review is my own honest opinion and is willingly and honestly given after reading the provided material.*

About the Author:

Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who loves being the wife to her favorite person ever, mommy to two precious blessings, a piano enthusiast, a dragon buff, a serious bookworm, and an INFP synesthete. Fairytales have always fascinated her, and she has made it her goal to rewrite as many as possible and become known as the “Grimm Dickens” (i.e. mixing Grimm fairytales with a Dickens style). She is present in many online circles under the name “Kiri Liz” if you care about things like that. As you read this, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

Important Links:

– Author’s Pages

o Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

April 5th

Welcome & Giveaway @ A Synesthete Writer

Author Interview @ Living Outside the Lines

Favorite Fairytales About Siblings (Guest Post) @ Lands Uncharted

Book Review @ Christine Smith

Book Review @ Tower in the Plains

April 6th

Snow White and Rose Red Tag @ A Synesthete Writer

Author Interview & Book Review @ Madi’s Musings

Looking Ahead at the Twist Tales (Guest Post) @ Virtual Paper

Book Review @ E. Kaiser Writes

April 7th

Snow White and Rose Red Mad Libs @ A Synesthete Writer

Inspiration for The Bear of Rosethorn Ring (Guest Post) @ Ink Castles

Favorite Characters from the Twist Tales (Guest Post) @ Living Outside the Lines

Book Review @ Shieldmaidens of Shiloh

Book Review @ Live. Love. Read.

April 8th

The First Chapter @ A Synesthete Writer

Awesome and Obscure Fairytales (Guest Post) @ Madi’s Musings

SWRR Elements in The Bear of Rosethorn Ring (Guest Post) @ Abigail Falanga

Book Review @ Blooming with Books

Book Review @ C.O. Bonham

April 9th

Winner & Wrap-Up @ A Synesthete Writer

Author Interview & Book Review @ Virtual Paper

Retelling an Unknown Fairytale (Guest Post) @ Live. Love. Read

Book Review @ Living Outside the Lines

Book Review @ Ink Castles

Dive in Review: A Castle Awakened

Welcome back I hope every one enjoyed their holiday yesterday. Today I’m dropping in with a new release that you can spend your new amazon gift cards on. It’s a thought provoking read and a slow building romance, which is the healthiest kind of romance.

A Castle Awakened by Sharon Rose

Novel 1 in the Castle in the Wilde series

A foreign usurper. A lady who longs for freedom. Vicious beasts who want to rip them all to shreds. Who wins?

Never one to shy from a challenge, Lord Tristan Petram took possession of a forsaken castle. His search uncovered no hint of who built it or why they abandoned such a gem. What treachery would strike the founding family from history? Still, it seems a small matter, since the generations have passed. If he and his followers can forge a life here—and hold out against ravenous vixicats—the castle and this land will be theirs. As for the nearest kingdom, they never venture beyond their border or the mysterious forest of tower trees. Except…

Beth dons a disguise and takes a forbidden ride in Tower Woods—a last fling before she bows to the dictates of her noble birth. Her fun adventure turns into a nightmare of kidnap and rescue—of sorts. Now she’s trapped in a nameless castle held by a foreign usurper who calls himself Lord Petram. Who could he be, and what will he do with her if he finds out who she really is?

Thus, Lord Petram finds himself the unwilling guardian of an injured lady who won’t give her full name. A crime he didn’t commit may bring retribution from an unknown kingdom. Do they have a claim to this castle that he now calls home? If he survives the vixicats, will an army slaughter him and his followers?

A Castle Awakened is the first novel in the Castle in the Wilde trilogy. If you like fantasy with mystery, intrigue, and romance, come and explore this secondary world with medieval undertones and the turmoil of clashing cultures.

Author bio:

I started writing when I was seven years old. Okay, My Life as a Flying Squirrel may have had a couple spelling errors, but my classmates loved it.

Plenty of life has happened since that first story, and I’ve come to realize the things that fascinate me. People. Communication. Culture. Personality. Viewpoints. Beliefs. Anything that makes each of us beautifully unique. Small wonder that my art spills out in story form.

It was only a matter of time before I just had to share my stories. I publish fantasy and science fiction because they allow vast spaces to explore. My stories weave cultures and characters, who are more than they seem to be, into adventures with mystery, romance, and hope.

When I’m not writing or reading, I may be traveling, enjoying gardens, or searching for unique coffee shops with my husband. We live in Minnesota, USA, famed for its mosquitoes—uh, I mean 10,000 lakes and vibrant seasons.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Review:

A Castle Awakened is the first Fantasy novel from Sharon Rose. Up to now she has been known for her thought provoking science fiction. This book shows that she can also write thought provoking fantasy.

Much like her sci-fi offerings, A Castle Awakened deals with humans and their inability to communicate with each other.

When Lord Tristian’s men rescue an unknown girl from bandits he is at a loss for what to do with her. Because no matter how nicely he asks, she refuses to tell him anything about herself. Is it just stubbornness born of fear, memory loss, or possible a subterfuge? He is occupying an abandon castle, in a land that is not his own.

This story has so much going for it, mysterious girl, mysterious monsters in the woods mysterious abandoned castle that no one knows where the last residents went. It’s all so mysterious.

If there was one thing I didn’t like in this story it was Beth. She spends so much of this novel being distrusting and, while not confrontational, frustrated. The worst part is that most of her frustration is her own fault. She refuses to give any information at all to Lord Tristian and expects him to just treat her like an equal. In this age of the strong independent heroine, I am pleased to see someone finally learn that equality is just as much what you give as what you get.

This story is very much a romance. Far more romance than any of Rose’s space operas were. But it’s a well written slow building romance where two people learn mutual respect and how to communicate. Not the romance most people want, but the one they need if society expects couples to actually build healthy relationships.

The fantastical elements were nicely done. There are no wizards or magic use in this world, at least none that’s appeared yet, but there are healing waters, an ageless healer and mysterious beasts known as Vixicats. They sound kind of like foxes but they are much larger and more fearsome.

The novel ends on a good note. Not a cliff hanger but certainly with plenty more story needing to be told.

*I was given a free copy of the book by the author for the purpose of advance review. The opinions included herein, are my own and are willingly and honestly given.* 

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

The Castle in the Wilde books are available from Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. The print versions can also be ordered from local bookstores and libraries.

A Castle Awakened Available now.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GL7QXB2

Other Amazon markets: https://books2read.com/u/3LY9qJ

For a printed book from your local bookstore or library, request ISBN 978-1-948160-21-6.

A Castle Sealed – a prequel novella – will release Jan 19, 2021.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GKZMCFZ

Other Amazon markets: https://books2read.com/u/bPXJdl

For a printed book from your local bookstore or library, request ISBN 978-1-948160-19-3.

A Castle Contended – look for novel 2 in June, 2021.

Audio Review: The Realms of Elestra Prequels.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Okay I’m back again because surly you didn’t think I would let a week go by without dropping an audiobook for you?

To make up for Monday not being about an audio book, I’m dropping two audios today.

Once again these are codes I request through Story Origins. If you would like to get into the audio or E-book reviewing game check them out here.

The first book:

Saved from the streets by the mysterious George Whipple, Parker and Lydia grew up in the Whipplehouse Orphanage. After being fitted with a magical monocle, Parker finds he has the ability to stop time. With his new power, he spends his days tinkering and inventing intricate doodads. Life is grand until the night Elias comes to town.

Parker’s life is turned upside down when tragedy stikes on the night of the winter solstice of his 18th year. He risks losing the one thing he loves most: Lydia. But will his newfound power be able to find her? And what about the perplexing machine in the cellar workshop?

My Review:

I feel like Timekeeper is one of those prequel novellas that really needs to be read after the main book in a series for it to matter.

The story starts off interesting with Parker and Lydia as a sort of brother sister item. They get taken in by two older men who have magic and things get more interesting, then when things are the most interesting the story just ends and we get a summary of what Parker has been doing for the last two decades. It is a let down to be sure. Not even a proper cliff hanger. I suspect that summary is probably where the actual first book takes place. I fully intend to read more of this series so it wasn’t a total disappointment just anti climatic.

Parker and Lydia are good characters. You root for them because they are orphans, you ship them because they care about each other so much. And you don’t understand the ending at all because . . . we’ll I won’t spoil it for you.

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

The steampunk aesthetic was light but there, with cogs and tesla coils and Victorian clothing galore.

The narrator Andrew McDermott has an incredible Irish accent that I absolutely enjoyed listening to. But since the story takes place in Missouri and not Ireland, I was also a little unsure of why literally everyone has an Irish accent.

In conclusion Timekeeper is a prequel to what I’m sure will be an amazing steampunk series. The audiobook is short and easy to follow. So check it out if you need something to get you through a long lunch hour. Or if you just can’t get enough Irish accents.

The Second book:

Ripped away from Whipplehouse and the only family she had ever known, Lydia ekes out a living in the barren wasteland of Oregon as a prisoner of a family who never loved her. When Parker finds her at the county fair, Lydia can hardly believe her luck as she agrees to travel through time with the boy she once loved. They finally settle in the mysterious land of Elestra, a world like their own with magical powers, steam-powered devices, and even dragons.

Abruptly left to her own devices on the shores of Sea City, Lydia embarks on a dangerous adventure with fast cars, accompanied by the infamous and quite exiled pirate-turned-mechanic Matthias Cross. When the tables turn and she begins to see Parker for who he really is, how can she escape the darkness buried in his heart? What will become of Lydia now that she knows there are more worlds than these?

My Review:

Lydia is an odd little prequel novella. it comes before a book titled Clock city, but after another novella titled Timekeeper.

Do read Timekeeper first. This novella explains the bizarre epilogue of Timekeeper, basically the timeline is not linear and it’s all messed up with time travel and nothing takes place when you thought it did.

Lydia is an orphan sent out west on the orphan train. Her new family treats her like a slave, so when her childhood friend shows up to whisk her away she jumps at the chance.

what follows is a montage of literary references that will make book nerds smile.

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

As a story this book is very disconnected, It just doesn’t stand on it’s own very well. You need to read Timekeeper first. But I also feel like I need to read Clock City first too. Interestingly enough, this book is not listed on the amazon series page for Elestra. Only Time Keeper and Clock City.

The character of Lydia is a scared girl who keeps getting shuttled from one scary situation and abusive relationship to another. As a result I feel like she never really gets a chance to grow up. She follows the trail of many classic heroines of constantly settling for the “Safe” relationship instead of the “right” relationship.

As a prequel this book certainly made me eager to read Clock City. I am curious about how this all ties together.

Once again Andrew McDermott narrates with his soothing Irish accent. he does a fair job of distinguishing one character from another, and he does a great job of reading description, making it engaging and active.

Disclaimer:

*I was given Audible codes for these books and the above reviews are my own honest evaluation of the provided audio and stories.*

About Rebekah Dodson

Rebekah Dodson is a prolific author of over 30 romantic suspense, fantasy, and science fiction novels. Her works include the series Postcards from Paris, The Curse of Lanval, Life After Us, California Express, and several stand-alone novels. She has been writing her whole life, with her first published work of historical fiction with 4H Clubs of America at the age of 12, and poetry at the age of 16 with the National Poetry Society. With an extensive academic background including education, history, psychology and English, she currently works as a college professor by day and a writer by night.

Connect with Rebekah:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/realrebekahdodson
Twitter: @AuthorRDodson (This interface is not liking twitter links, I don’t know why, So please just search for her if you are interested in giving her a follow.)
Website: www.rebekahdodson.com

Purchase links:

This time it’s cheaper to buy the audio books for $6.08, than the e-book and narration together. But if you really want to go the cheap route the e-books are only 99 cents each.

Buy Timekeeper here: https://www.amazon.com/Timekeeper-Rebekah-Dodson-audiobook/dp/B07SZ9L2R7/

Buy Lydia here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081ZH98PD?plink=jdecFSEweTaz86tH&ref=adblp13npsbx_0_0_im

Book three? Book One? I’m not sure how this prequel stuff works really. Anyway if you are interested in continuing the story you can find Clock City here: https://www.amazon.com/Clock-City-Realm-Elestra-Book-ebook/dp/B07QPRP2Z3/

It’s sadly not in audio yet.

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