Girl Underwater by Claire Kells (Audiobook)

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It’s always exciting to discover an audiobook that you know from the beginning is going to make your favorites list and that is exactly what Girl Underwater by Claire Kells was for me.  It’s narrated by Julia Whelan and if you listen to audiobooks at all then you already know what a fantastic narrator she is.  I love the different voices she’ll use for her characters and the emotion she puts into telling the story really brings it alive for the listener.  She’s one of my favorite narrators so I was thrilled to see she was narrating the story and then when the book turned out to be so good I was over the moon.  It was like watching a good movie that you just can’t turn away from.  Girl Underwater is a powerful story about survival – both in the most trying of circumstances and in life.

Nineteen-year-old Avery has always loved the water and is a competitive college swimmer.  She’s got a great boyfriend and family with a father who has always taught her to take care of herself.  She’s happy with her life so far … until the plane crash.  On the way home for Thanksgiving break the plane she is on crashes in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and Avery finds herself one of only five survivors.  One of those survivors is teammate Colin as well as three young boys.  For almost a week they struggle to survive the snow and cold of the Rocky Mountains. As the story unfolds it alternates between the scenes of the plane crash with Avery’s life in present.  We see her as she tries to do what she can for those she’s stranded with and her inner turmoil with the choices she needs to make in order for them to survive at all.  In present we see how the aftermath of something so devastating takes its toll on an individual as Avery struggles just to get through each day and then there is the secret she is keeping, hiding it even from herself.

Avery is a great character.  She’s smart and strong and she’s easy to like and to relate to.  The author weaves a love story throughout the novel but it isn’t overwhelming – it’s just perfect as are the two male leads she has in the story especially Colin.  As well she tackles the psychological side of such an event and it’s effects on those who survived.  To be sure Kells  certainly grabs your attention with the terror of a plane crash, the survival, and the aftermath in such a way that you can’t put down this book or in my case stop listening.

Girl Underwater is the debut novel from Claire Kells and it’s an awesome one.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.  Highly recommended … especially in audio – the production is fabulous!

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Source: Review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. No compensation was received.

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff & Giveaway (US/Canada)

chelseaIf you’ve ever sat down with a novel written by Pam Jenoff then you are already aware that you are in for a wonderful experience.  She is one of the best writers out there and her newest novel The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is a beautifully written novel set against the backdrop of World War II and is about a woman trying to find her place in life and in love.

It’s 1941 and Adelia’s parents have put her on board a ship bound for America to stay with her aunt and uncle and escape the war.  Adelia is only sixteen and terrified but once she’s in America her aunt and uncle do what they can to make her comfortable.  They start by taking her to Chelsea Beach, hoping  some time by the seaside will ease her into this life that is so different from what she was used to.  It is when she meets the Connally family with their four boys that she comes out of her shell.  While she adores all of the boys it is Charlie that her heart belongs to and when she finds out he feels the same she is over the moon but the war is raging and tragedy strikes close to home and then nothing turns out as it should have.

Not capable of dealing with her own grief or anyone else’s Addie moves to Washington and then London in an attempt to start over and finds work at a newspaper.  The work at the paper gives her a purpose and also leads her back to Charlie who she hasn’t seen in over a year.  She still loves him so much but can things ever be the same for them again especially with Charlie leaving on another mission?  And then there is Teddy, her boss, who is a steadfast good man and he’s so in love with her.  Yet as things come full circle for Addie she will find love in the last place she expected to.

With each page turned I loved this book more and more.  This story pulls you in and Jenoff’s descriptive writing has you feeling as though you are right there amidst the turmoil of the war and all the personal strife of the characters.  Addie is a character you quickly connect with because you can literally feel her fear as she crosses over to America all alone on a ship and then as she tries to acclimate to a new life and then of course a new love.  The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is a beautiful story and it’s one I won’t soon forget.

For fans of historical fiction or if you’re just in the mood for a story that will dominate your every minute be sure to pick up The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach and add it to your summer reading! Highly recommended!

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GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US & CANADIAN RESIDENTS

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1 paperback copy of the book and a Chelsea Beach limited edition beach bag
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter
Draw Date August 12/15

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. Giveaway sponsored by the publisher. No compensation was received.

Demelza: A Novel of Cornwell, 1788-1790 by Winston Graham (Audiobook) – Blog Tour & Grand Giveaway Contest (US only)

demelzaDemelza is the second novel in the enthralling Poldark series from author Winston Graham. The Ross Poldark & Demelza Blog Tour kicked off on July 6 and will run through to August 3. The blog tour is to highlight the tie-in editions of Ross Poldark & Demelza which are the first two novels in The Poldark Saga by Winston Graham. These two novels have recently been adapted for television for the new Masterpiece Classic PBS’s series Poldark, which began airing on June 21 and will run through to August 2.  After really enjoying the first novel, Ross Poldark, and now Demelza I can say without a doubt that I am definitely hooked on the series and can’t wait to keep reading and with twelve books in the series I foresee a lot of good reading ahead!

Being the second book in the series it’s impossible not to write at least a few minor spoilers so if you intend to read the series you may not want to go past this point.  Demelza, who had once been a poor miner’s daughter, is now married to Ross and they’ve had a baby daughter together.  Ross is still busy fighting for the rights of the miners and Demelza finds herself struggling just to fit into Ross’ life.  Many of Ross’ counterparts still view Demelza as an outsider and don’t see her as being right for Ross or being the kind of person who can readily fit into their social circle.  Of course there is still Elizabeth, Ross’ first love, and Demelza still struggles with her uncertainty around the woman.  Needless to say with the changes in the world and within their own lives, the ensuing years are very trying for the couple, testing their marriage and love for one another.  When tragedy strikes will everyone overlook their differences to work together or let bitterness destroy them all?

That’s about all I want to say as I don’t want to ruin these books for anyone else.  What I do want to say is what a wonderful character Demelza is and how much I like her.  She and Ross are the types of characters who you come to know and care about.  I love the setting of Cornwall and when I opened this novel I felt instantly transported back to eighteenth century Cornwall and into the lives of the Poldarks and back to a time in history so different from my own.

If you enjoy historical fiction full of unforgettable characters and a great love story then you really should indulge yourself in the beauty of Demelza and the Poldark saga.  I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Clare Corbett and as usual she does a terrific job of bringing the world of the Poldark’s to life.  Highly recommended!

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Grand Giveaway Contest – Win One of Three Fabulous Prizes!

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In celebration of the re-release of Ross Poldark and Demelza, Sourcebooks Landmark is offering three chances to win copies of the books or a grand prize, an Anglophile-themed gift package.

Two lucky winners will each receive one trade paperback copy of Ross Poldark and Demelza, and one grand prize winner will receive a prize package containing the following items:

(2 ) Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Mugs by Johnson Brothers
(1) Twelve-inch Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Plater by Johnson Brothersr
(1) London Telephone Box Tin of Ahmad English Breakfast Tea
(1) Jar of Mrs. Bridges Marmalade
(1) Package of Duchy Originals Organic Oaten Biscuits
(2) Packets of Blue Boy Cornflower Seeds by Renee’s Garden Heirloom (1) Trade Paperback Copy of Ross Poldark & Demelza, by Winston Graham

To enter the giveaway contest simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on the Ross Poldark Blog Tour starting July 06, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, August 10, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the entrants and announced on the Buzz at Sourcebooks blog on August 13, 2015. Winners have until August 20, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to US residents and the prizes will be shipped to US addresses. Good luck to all!

Don’t forget to follow along with all of the tour stops (click here for the full list of tour stops) and comment on each including mine to be entered in this fantastic giveaway prize pack!

 

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“If Jane Austen met Charlotte Bronte and they drank too much port,
the Poldark Saga would be their literary love child.” — Poldarkian.com

 

Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review however Audiobook is personal copy. Giveaway sponsored by the publisher. No compensation was received.

Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

orphanKim van Alkemade’s debut novel Orphan #8, based on true events, takes us back in time to the 1900’s.  It is a powerful novel of the tragedies that can occur in life and the choices we later make in dealing with them and moving forward with our lives.

It’s 1919 and Rachel Rabinowitz is four years old and living with her parents and brother Sam in New York.  Tragedy strikes the family and little Rachel’s life changes drastically.  Having no other alternatives Rachel and her brother are separated and Rachel is put into a Jewish orphanage.  There Rachel essentially becomes a medical experiment conducted by Dr. Mildred Solomon who does everything in the name of important medical research.  Rachel ends up having x-ray after x-ray and these have terrible side effects on her body while the taunts from the other orphans leave scars on her image of herself that last her lifetime through.

Years later Rachel is working in a nursing home and one day comes face-to-face with none other than Dr. Solomon.  All those memories she had tried so hard to bury hit her full force and she wants revenge on this woman who has done so much damage to her life and the thing is now the power all lies in Rachel’s hands.  She wants the doctor to acknowledge what she did to her and pay for what she did so long ago.  Yet as Rachel sits with the dying woman she is torn.  Will taking her revenge on Dr. Solomon be the answer to healing her broken soul?

I really enjoyed this novel although I would have liked if the story had only focused on Rachel’s days in the orphanage and then later with Rachel and Dr. Solomon.  At times when it slipped into the past the story lost focus for me.  The most fascinating part of this novel for me was the historical aspect.  Just the thought of the atrocities these poor orphans went through horrifies me.  They justified these medical experiments on the orphans because they were feeding, clothing, and taking care of them instead of turning them out onto the streets.  It breaks my heart to think of what their little bodies went through all for someone’s twisted idea of using these homeless children for medical research.

A powerful and emotional novel, Orphan #8 is sure to stay with a reader for a long while.  Recommended for historical fiction readers!

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Source: Digital review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review. No compensation was received.