My Dewey’s Readathon Listening List: October 2020

This weekend is the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. It’s an annual event for me and I love it. It’s more important than ever, this year, I feel. Books transport you to places you had only ever dreamed of going.

This year, I am being more involved in it than ever. In past years, I have done pre-readathon posts and mini challenges.

This year, I’m doing all that PLUS being a moderator on the Goodreads account for Hour 2.

Look out for my posts during Hours 1 and 2 and my mini challenges during hours 2 and 3 or head over to Goodreads in Hour 2 and join my discussion there.

Preparing all this has been amazing and I am SO looking forward to this weekend.

Here’s my Readathon listening list:

The House Mate by Nina Manning

Creatures by Crissy Van Meter

Both books will be featured in blog tour posts on my blog next week.

What are you planning to read/ listen to for the Readathon?

An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

Meet Jackson – a very unusual boy in a world that prefers ‘normal’…

Julia Curtis is a busy mother of three, with a husband often away for work, an ever-present mother-in-law, a career, and a house that needs doing up. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Milla, has fallen in love for the first time, and her youngest, Ruby, is a nine-year-old fashionista who can out-negotiate anyone.

But Julia’s eleven-year-old son, Jackson, is different. Different to his sisters. Different to his classmates. In fact, Jackson is different from everyone. And bringing up a child who is different isn’t always easy.

Then, one Monday morning, Jackson follows his new friend Digby into the school toilets. What happens inside changes everything; not only for Jackson, but for every member of his family. Julia faces the fight of her life to save her unusual boy from a world set up for ‘normal’.

An extraordinary boy. The mother who loves him. The fight of their lives.

Bestselling novelist Fiona Higgins returns with a heart-stopping, devastating, but ultimately uplifting story about loyalty, love and forgiveness.

About the Author:

Fiona Higgins is the Australian writer of several bestselling contemporary novels including The Mothers’ Group and Wife on the Run. Her work has been widely reviewed, translated internationally, and described as ‘page-turning domestic melodrama for the social media age’. She lives with her family in Sydney and her first book for Boldwood will be published in October 2020.

Contact Fiona:

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My Review.

I am not a mother yet but I found this tender, heart-wrenching and harrowing. I do have experience of being seen as “different” by others because of my multiple disabilities, glasses and wheelchair. 

Struggles at school are what I experienced too and this novel resonated with me. I could sympathise and empathise with the day-to-day extra struggle that it is to live with different abilities but also life’s beautiful moments. 

I felt like I was living with the family, this book was so immersive. I adored the family and Ruby has my extra kudos as the family fashionista which I guess I am for my family too. I loved the detail in every character to make them unique. 

The word choices, pacing and plot are utterly enthralling and the family’s experiences are what no family should have to go through. 

Fiona Higgins’ writing style oozes empathy and she deals with the tough subjects in this book with expertise. The book has wonderful visuals and details dropped here and there that just made me love everything about the novel, the characters and everything about it. 

I am an advocate for books like this. If you love novels about family, neurodiversity harrowing issues that some authors do not write about, impeccably-written plots that make you think, smile, cry and tear up yet root for them, then you will love An Unusual Boy. 

Thanks to Fiona Higgins and Rachel’s Random Resources for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

5 stars, although I would give it more if I could.

The world needs more books like this and more authors like Fiona Higgins who are not afraid of subjects we need to be more open about. 

If you love Cathy Glass novels and any honest, expertly written novels about what it’s really like to live a life where people see you as different but where you are the one who really has so much to give the world then you will love An Unusual Boy. 

Excerpt:

Jackson whistles through a prominent gap in his front teeth, his head nodding erratically to some internal tune. Setting down the gifts at the foot of the bed, he drops to the floor and rolls into a headstand.

‘Careful, yogi master,’ I warn, watching his neck wobble beneath the weight.

Although Jackson is capable of holding this position much longer than most other eleven-year-olds – until he starts seeing stars – I can’t help but feel concerned. The family therapist we’ve been seeing for almost two years, Dr Louisa Kelleher, points out that ‘children with a low instinct for self-preservation’ tend to cause greater anxiety in their mothers than their fathers. If Andy were here, he’d simply tell me to relax. ‘Mothers minimise hazards and fathers maximise fun,’ he’d remind me. ‘Just let Jackson do his thing, Jules.’

Milla moves to the bedside table and begins pouring out a cup of tea, assuring me that she’s ‘warmed the pot first’. Ruby arranges the stack of gifts from smallest to largest, while Jackson flops out of the headstand and smiles at me from beneath a zany fringe.

‘Hungry, Mum?’ Ruby seizes a singed pancake and thrusts it under my nose.

‘Oh yes,’ I say, visualising a warm croissant. ‘With butter and jam, please.’

Ruby slathers the pancake, passes it to me, then starts on another.

‘Whoa, sweetie. I can’t eat more than one.’

‘But you ate heaps last year!’Ruby looks crestfallen.

‘That was Dad,’ intones Jackson. ‘He had three pancakes, two fried eggs, a slice of bacon and an apricot pastry.’

‘Really?’ I can’t recall any such detail. ‘That sounds like an awful lot for one father to eat.’ Jackson is presumably exercising creative licence again.

‘You only had one croissant,’ says Jackson, lying down on the carpet. ‘Dad ate everything else.’

‘I miss Dad,’ says Ruby, sniffing. ‘Why does he have to go away for weeks?’The bereft look on her face tells me exactly how much she wishes her father was here right now.

‘Oh, darling,’I say, kissing the crown of her head.‘We all miss Dad.’

‘I miss our old house,’ Milla says quietly. ‘I liked Erskineville more, Mum.’

The mere mention of Erskineville – our family’s home of fourteen years and maternal nest for our three precious babes – makes tears well up in my eyes.

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About Last Night by A.S. Kelly

✨ About the Book ✨

About Last Night is a sexy, funny and uplifting Romantic Comedy about love, family and new beginnings.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tyler Hayes, and I’m a fireman. Sorry to already disappoint you, but I’m not the person you think I am.

My charming uniform and seductive smile have caused nothing but trouble, and my not-so-honourable reputation, which I used to be so proud of, has kept me away from the one person I wanted to spend the rest of my life baking cookies for; my sweet, beautiful, slightly crazy Miss White.

I guess now I need to tell the whole story.

At forty years old, following years of self-sabotage, I’ve suddenly found myself admitting that I know absolutely nothing. Maybe my friend Niall was right when he told me to accept the process and just grow up. And now it’s too late; I’ll never be able to keep her close to me. All that’s left to do is watch helplessly – but deservedly – as my world comes tumbling down around me.

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The Other Woman by Amanda Brookfield

‘No one gets to the heart of human relationships quite so perceptively as Brookfield.’ The Mirror

On a normal day, in a normal house, on a normal street, wife and mother Fran has had enough. She packs a case, leaves a note for her bullying husband Pete, and one for her beloved twenty-year-old son Harry, and heads to the airport – and freedom.

In another house, on another street, Helena is desperately baiting her husband Jack into a fight. These days it feels like the only way to get Jack to take notice of her. Passionate, volatile, increasingly fragile, Helena is fast running out of hope.

What Helena and Fran don’t know, is that soon their lives are going to come crashing together in ways neither expect nor understand. And if Fran and Helena are going to change their own futures, then first they will have to change each other’s.

Amanda Brookfield is back with a triumphant, crackling story about love, marriage, lies and fate, and how our destinies can be changed by the smallest decisions. Perfect for fans of Sheila O’Flanagan, Jane Fallon and Jane Green.

Buy HERE

About the Author:

Amanda Brookfield is the bestselling author of many novels including Good Girls, Relative Love and Before I Knew You, and a memoir, For the Love of a Dog starring her Golden Doodle Mabel. She lives in London.

My Review:

I was hooked on this title and synopsis and thought it sounded mysterious and gritty. 

I wasn’t wrong. The book is carefully split into 3 parts. First, we have everything about Fran and her life. She and her husband had relationship problems but do not be fooled by the homely start to the book. I loved the way details about the surroundings and neighbour’s actions were sprinkled here and there. 

The writing made me feel that all was not what it seemed and I was swept up on the journey all the way through. The book takes us from London to Madrid, both favourite cities of mine and vastly different. The way Madrid was described is spot on, the light and customs. I loved all the references to Spain and Spanish culture. 

The second part of the book focuses on Helena, the wife of the guy Fran had an affair with, and part 3 wraps everything up. 

The book kept me guessing and the escape plan was well-thought out and gripping. The way plans and made and there are so many twists and turns throughout the novel made for an interesting rollercoaster ride. 

The attention to detail is in the right places and I felt I was following every character. 

The Other Woman is a novel of contrasting places, people opinions intertwining lives and secrets. 

Thanks to Amanda Brookfield, Rachel’s Random Resources and Boldwood Books for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

4 stars.

Contact Amanda – 

Website – Author website

Facebook – Facebook

Instagram – Instagram

TwitterTwitter

Goodreads – Goodreads

Mailing list sign up – Newsletter sign up

Extract:

After the front door has slammed, I do all the usual things. I take it steady. I make the bed, load the dishwasher, wipe the kitchen surfaces, pat some life into the sofa cushions, tidy the mess from Pete and Harry’s football-watching the night before – the cans of beer and pizza boxes – and run the hoover along the passageway to suck up any stray mud-crumbs.

It is only when I pile Suki’s bowl with extra food – her tea as well as breakfast – that I realise there is a wobble inside me, ready to reduce me to a jelly if I let it. I am not a risk-taker – life – Pete – has not allowed for that – and yet here I am.

I breathe as much air into my lungs as I can and exhale slowly. Suki appears, threading her black tail between my shins, mewing. I bend down to touch her and she headbutts my hand, hungry for love, as always. Her head is hard as a coconut and her whiskers prickly.

‘You’ll be fine, you’ll see,’ I whisper, glad she’s just a cat and can’t hear the catch in my throat.

Upstairs, I set my phone to Jack’s last message and place it beside the suitcase as I pack. I love the shortness of the list, the simplicity, the certainty.

Passport. Phone. Money. Some clothes. Yourself. We can do this. I love you. Until tomorrow.

Before leaving the house, I check the street like a spy from behind the sitting-room curtains. If Mrs Dawkins is taking Alfie, her doddery Frenchie, out, or chatty Dave across the way is on his front step having a fag, then I’ll have to be ready. I have thought of this, of course – between us, Jack and I have done our best to think of everything, which is why it’s taken so long to get to this moment. If the station wasn’t so close, I’d splash out on a taxi, but money will be tight for a while and the drama of baggage-loading into a strange car, all that revving and motion outside the house, would draw attention in itself – crazy, after all the months of taking so much care.

Better to slip out and brave the gauntlet of the street. Better to have ready my prepared story about visiting Rob and Jo, my brother and his wife, and their motley crew of children and animals in the wilds of Kent. There’s their new baby still to meet, five-month-old little Marcus, and, of course, it’s always lovely to see the twins. All morning, I have been practising in my head what I’ll say if someone asks, the tone I’ll use – jolly and affectionate. Twenty years of marriage to Pete has taught me that at least – how to put on a show, how to say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done. By the time the truth comes out, I’ll be gone.

If it weren’t for the suitcase, it would be a doddle. But a suitcase invites questions, even from strangers, and despite having learnt to lie, it still takes nerve and grit and all the things I do not naturally possess. That this terrible necessity of double-living, thirteen months of it, is about to end is one of the things that has been keeping me going. I am free to make my own choices. My life is my life. Jack has opened me up to such daring thinking. We are all just tumbleweed otherwise, he said once, getting blown nowhere, for nothing.

I chose the suitcase from the dusty heap in the loft for its large size; not used for years and with wonky wheels, I know it won’t be missed. Only after I have finally left the house, passport and phone treble-checked, the note for Pete propped on the mantelpiece, the one for Harry half under his pillow so Pete can’t get to it first, the front door double-locked, do I discover that the pull-out handle on the suitcase no longer extends properly either. But I am already in the street, sweating inside my overcoat, and it is too late to go back. The coast, mercifully, remains clear.

Alaskan Christmas Redemption by Belle Calhoune (Home to Owl Creek #1)

About the Book:  Some secrets are meant to be shared. Before he gives his heart… he’ll have to forgive himself. Returning to Owl Creek after years away, Braden North’s determined to help his best friend, Piper Miller, save her failing diner. But as they work to revitalize her business, Braden’s convinced he must hide the truth about a tragedy from their past…or risk losing Piper for good. If he can find the courage, might telling her everything make this Christmas a time for healing and forgiveness? About the Author: Belle Calhoune lives in Connecticut with her college sweetheart husband and two daughters. After a thirteen year career as a Federal Investigator, she chose to pursue a writing career. An avid lover of romance novels since she was a teen, she enjoys writing love stories and reading them. She loves spending summers in beautiful Cape Cod and traveling to new places. A dog lover, she has a mini poodle and a chocolate lab. More than anything, she believes in happily ever afters.  My Review: Braden and Piper were friends since preschool. Then something terrible happened to change that and life led them on different paths.  A few years later, Piper’s diner is in trouble. But is he the right person to ask for help? A lot has changed for him too, but he still has feelings for Piper, and sweet memories of their friendship.  Many characters have difficult pasts and lives in Owl Creek. But can Piper and Braden rekindle what they once had? Braden’s opinion of, and lasting feelings for, Piper, are so sweet and heartfelt that it made my own heart ache. He has a secret about years ago, but will he let it slip?  Braden’s sister Sage was abducted and he’s overjoyed when she is back. I really liked her straight-talking, but understanding attitude and the fact she was full of empathy and truth.  Piper is driven and Braden is sensitive and appreciates Piper. His family chocolate business is a hub in the town too, but Piper is important to him.  Owl Creek is a snowy, cosy place and the Snowy Owl Diner is an important place in the community. I loved the festive traditions  Alaskan Christmas Redemption is a realistic, heartwarming story that has an undercurrent of real-life problems such as sudden loss, economic hardship or being bi-racial as well as love and friendship.  Belle Calhoune creates a town that I felt immersed in and I felt for the characters. I was rooting for Braden and Piper. Friendship, loyalty and evaluating what’s important are key themes here and ones I enjoy.  Can Piper trust Braden after his absence and the past? I was glad that Piper had her brother Hank too. The subplots of the diner situation and Braden and Piper as well as themes of secrets, feelings fate faith and love make this a great book for a lazy afternoon.  Thanks to Belle Calhoune and Harlequin Love Inspired for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 4 stars About the Author:  Author website  Instagram  Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads  Where to Buy: B&N  Amazon  Goodreads  IndieBound  Harlequin  Goodreads  Excerpt: Braden watched as Piper’s eyes widened with surprise. The shock on her face made him want to laugh out loud, but he knew the situation was far from humorous. The Snowy Owl Diner was at stake, and although he’d agreed to provide his assistance, he wasn’t sure if Piper even believed it could be saved. From this point forward, she would have to tell him everything about her situation. He would have to look over the books with a fine-tooth comb. If he was truly going to help her, he needed to understand exactly what she was facing. The good, the bad and the ugly. “A-are you serious?” she asked, sputtering. “Completely,” he said, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. “Whatever you need is what I’ll do.” She pressed a hand to her chest. “You will? Really? You were so decisive last night. What made you change your mind?” Braden paused before answering. “Because I owe you, Piper.” “For what?” she asked, confusion radiating from her eyes. Telling her the truth wasn’t an option. She wouldn’t want to know why he would forever be indebted to her. “For a million different things. You’ve always being in my corner. How could I say no to you when you’ve always said yes to me? No matter what trouble I got into or the problems I laid at your feet, you always jumped in to help me. There’s no way I could do any less for you.” Tears slid down Piper’s face, and she made no attempt to wipe them away. She bowed her head, and he could see her lips moving. When she raised her head back up, Braden saw pure happiness emanating from her eyes. “Thank you, Braden. I’m so grateful that you changed your mind. I know it’s complicated, but in my heart I truly feel that I was meant to carry on Daddy’s legacy. I just can’t imagine my life without this place in it. I’m willing to do just about anything to save it.” Braden couldn’t envision Piper losing ownership of the restaurant either. It would be agonizing for her. Not to mention Trudy and Hank. They were all invested in it. The townsfolk would be both saddened and upset. Piper would be the subject of endless gossip about the circumstances of her losing ownership of the Snowy Owl. She wouldn’t be able to bear it if the townsfolk discovered that the diner had been struggling since before her father’s death. He knew Jack’s reputation was important to Piper. People would sympathize with her as well, but he knew she would be inconsolable. If there was even a small chance of them reversing things, he wanted to give it his all. It would be his penance for shaving years off Jack’s life. If it hadn’t been for him, Jack might be here today, doing everything he could to boost the restaurant and spreading his effortless charm throughout the establishment. “We should meet up so you can give me an opportunity to look over the books and all of your monthly bills along with revenue. That’ll at least give me a snapshot of what’s been going on.” Piper made a sad face. “Sure thing. I hope you see something in there that I missed, but I crunched the numbers over and over again. It’s not looking good.” “We have to look at all your options. You might need a lawyer or a consultant.” She shook her head. “I don’t have money for an attorney. It’s a lack of money that’s gotten me into this situation in the first place.” Piper let out a frustrated groan. “Why don’t we meet this evening to try and sort some of this out?” he suggested. From what he’d initially gathered, they had only a short window of time to get things dealt with before everything imploded. That needed to be prevented at all costs. “That sounds good. Come by after I close up,” she told him. “I have to get back out there, but I’m so thrilled you changed your mind about helping me.” She flashed him a smile. “In case you didn’t realize it, I’m super grateful.”

Cover Reveal: Finding Love at Mermaid Terrace by Kate Forster

I have reviewed other books by Kate Forster so I was pleased when publisher Aria emailed me about her latest release. Finding Love at Mermaid Terrace. Just look at that cover! It is very nice to have a nice sunny sky to look at this time of year. And I love the pink flowers. The book title sounds both romantic and mystical with the prospect of finding love and the name of the street which is original. While you admire the cover, here’s the synopsis of the novel:

After Hours Redemption (404 Sound #1) by Kianna Alexander

About the Book: Their red-hot reunion is off the charts! They made passionate music together. Has this heartbreaker changed his tune? Songwriter Eden Voss had the perfect man—sexy, charming, talented and hers. Until record executive Blaine Woodson broke her heart to save his fledging label. Now music’s bad boy is back, begging for her songwriting skills in his studio…and her lovemaking skills after hours. Eden vows to keep things strictly business this time. But there is nothing professional about the heat still between them… About the Author: Like any good Southern belle, Kianna Alexander wears many hats: loving wife, doting mama, advice-dispensing sister, and gabbing girlfriend. She’s a voracious reader, an amateur seamstress and occasional painter in oils. Chocolate, American history, sweet tea, and Idris Elba are a few of her favorite things. A native of the TarHeel state, Kianna still lives there with her husband, two kids, and a collection of well-loved vintage 80’s Barbie dolls. Contact Kianna: Author website  Instagram  Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads  My Review: Eden Voss and Blaine Woodson have a romantic past that was sweet until it turned bitter and this was because of him.  Eden wants to continue her success in the R&B music industry. But what will happen when circumstances conspire to throw her and Blaine back in a situation where they have no choice but to try and work together?  Memories are still raw and emotions are rife. Will they reclaim the spark they once had?  I liked how the R&B scene was the background for this and how there were also stories behind the main plotline. The backstory for each character was rich and immersive and I felt I got to know the characters pretty well pretty quickly.  The pacing in this book was enhanced by the writing style and the words chosen were carefully thought through which made it make more impact on me. A well-rounded, sexy realistic story with R&B at its heart that oozes with chemistry and real-life issues.  I was left wanting to listen to Eternal, Usher or TLC afterwards. The R&B theme gives this a relaxed vibe in amongst all the feelings and action.  Thanks to Kianna Alexander and Harlequin Desire for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.  4 stars I am looking forward to the other books in the series. Where to Buy: B&N  Amazon  Google  IndieBound  Harlequin  Goodreads  Excerpt: “Mind telling me why you insisted on coming here?” He eyed her curiously. She tugged him along by the hand, around the circular path leading to the Clara Meer Dock. When they came to a stop, she pointed. “This is why I wanted to come here.” He looked out, his eyes scanning the dark, glassy surface of Lake Clara Meer. “I’m guessing you come here often?” She nodded. “This is my thinking spot. Whenever I’m working on lyrics and I can’t quite get it right, I come here. I spread my blanket out on the grass, sit down with my notepad and work it out.” He looked at her skeptically. “So, did we come here to work?” “Nah.” She shook her head. “It’s Saturday night, after all. I brought you here to talk.” He frowned. “I’m still confused.” She started walking over to the grassy patch overlooking the water and the dock and spread out the blanket there. “Something about this place always seems to bring me clarity. It’s a little slice of heaven, right in the middle of the city. It’s bound to inspire some pretty deep conversation between us.” She sat down, careful not to let her dress ride up till heaven and earth were filled with her glory. Then she patted the empty spot next to her. He hesitated, standing there on the concrete path, looking a bit baffled. “You scared, Blaine?” She faked a pout, sticking her lip out as she teased him. “Of little old me?” He rolled his eyes, but his smile was evident as he joined her on the blanket. “You’re too much, Eden.” “So, we’re basically alone now.” Or at least as close to alone as we’re gonna get without me crawling into your lap. She watched him, taking in his moon-dappled handsomeness. The dim lighting seemed to enhance his features, especially the golden flecks in his dark eyes. He was temptation in the flesh; her body craved him even though her mind knew better than to get lost in him again. The question was, how much longer would she be able to lead with logic? “What do you want to talk about?” He cleared his throat. “If I’m being honest…” “Please do,” she encouraged. “I want to talk about kissing you again.” His deep baritone had each word dripping with sensual energy. Warmth raced through her body, and she felt it pool in her cheeks, her chest and a bit farther south. “Blaine.” She meant it as chastisement, but it came out sounding far sultrier than she’d intended. He shrugged. “Can’t blame a brotha for shooting his shot.” “I guess not.” She chuckled, from both amusement and nerves. “I don’t know if we should lead with talking about kissing, though.” “Why not?” He gave her a wicked look. “Did you enjoy the kiss?” She swallowed and needing a respite from the intensity of his gaze, she looked down at her lap. Her dress had crept up her to mid-thigh, so she tugged the end a bit. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. But that’s beside the point.” “If you say so.” She shook her head. Same old Blaine. Always charming, never reflective. “There’s too much in our past that you’re not considering, Blaine. We can’t just ignore our history.” “Who said I’m ignoring it?” He traced a finger along her lower leg, trailing from her knee to the top of her sandal-encased foot. “What I know about you, our ‘history’ as you call it, is precisely why I want you.” She drew a deep breath. Was he misremembering? Or was he really so clueless that he didn’t understand where she was coming from? “You know your decision to cut Ainsley and me from the group effectively ended both of our singing careers, right? Not to mention how much it hurt me personally. You have to realize the impact of that.”

One More Chapter Readalong: Finding Henry Applebee Day 2 Progress #FindingHenryApplebee #OMCReadalong

The book question for today was about how friendship is represented in the book.

I am only a few chapters in, but so far I think the theme of friendship is explored in a cautious, then more curious way, much as what it would be like for anyone meeting someone new in real life and that’s what I love… that we are seeing friendships unravel gradually and that keeps interest and suspense.

The other theme was “a journey of a lifetime.” We were asked where we’d go if we could choose anywhere. I would go to Peru where my husband is from and also to the USA where I have family. I would love to go on a coast-to coast road trip. I also would love to go to Italy and visit the areas of Spain I have not already.

During the last readalong for Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well Thank You, I suggested in my feedback that an excerpt from novels read aloud by the author would be good.

Today I was thrilled that Celia Reynolds read an extract from Finding Henry Applebee on One More Chapter’s Facebook page. I think it just makes it more special to have an author read their own work. I loved that about today and it was a nice touch to the event.

There was also a widget competition for an ebook copy of the book.

Group Review: The Emperor’s Wolves (Wolves of Elantra #1) by Michelle Sagara

After having posted my review for Cast in Ruin, my book in the Chronicles of Elantra series reread, the day has finally come for the big event that the publisher, MIRA Books, was organising. The Emperor’s Wolves is Michelle Sagara’s latest novel and is the first part of a new series, The Emperor’s Wolves. Today is the celebration of that with a group review of the novel.

I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review, so thanks to Michelle Sagara and MIRA Books for this opportunity.

THE EMPEROR’S WOLVES

Author: Michelle Sagara

ISBN: 9780778309918

Publication Date: 10/13/20

Publisher: MIRA Books

My Review:

I have not reviewed many of the Chronicles of Elantra novels but I enjoyed the ones I have. In The Emperor’s Wolves, we finally get to hear about Severn’s story and get to know him better. The Emperor’s Wolves is book #0.1, and, as with the Harry Potter series, I enjoyed the fact that there was “book 0” addition to the Cast In series. 

The book also starts off another series called The Wolves of Elantra which I am looking forward to. 

Michelle Sagara continues to shine in this novel and I quickly got into it and now feel I know Severn better. I enjoyed going on his personal journey with him through the pages of this novel. 

I am looking forward to the rest of Michelle Sagara’s novels and hope that one day I can review both this series and the rest of the Chronicles of Elantra series. 

Thanks to Michelle Sagara and Harlequin for this great opportunity to take part in the series reread for Cast in Ruin as well as the group review for The Emperor’s Wolves. 

5 stars for The Emperor’s Wolves.

Where to Buy: 

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Contact Michelle:

Author Website

Twitter: @msagara

Facebook: @MMSagara

Goodreads

About the Author: 

Michelle Sagara is an author, book­seller, and lover of liter­ature based in Toronto. She writes fantasy novels and lives with her husband and her two children, and to her regret has no dogs. Reading is one of her life-long passions, and she is some­times paid for her opinions about what she’s read by the venerable Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. No matter how many book­shelves she buys, there is Never Enough Shelf space. Ever.

About the Book:

Set in the bestselling world of The Chronicles of Elantra, THE EMPEROR’S WOLVES is a prequel spin-off based on a fan-favorite character, and broadens the beloved fantasy world with another action-packed tale of intrigue and magic.

As an orphan scrounging in the lawless slums, young Severn Handred didn’t have the luxury of believing in anything beyond his own survival. Now he’s crossed the river and entered the heart of the empire: the city of Elantra. When Severn is spotted tailing some lawmen of the Hawks—a not insignificant feat to go otherwise undetected—the recruiter for the Imperial Wolves thinks he should join their ranks. The Wolves are a small, select group that work within the Halls of Law, reporting directly to the Eternal Emperor. Severn hopes to avoid the law—he certainly had no intention of joining it.

In order to become a wolf—even on probation—Severn must face the investigators most dreaded throughout the Empire: The Tha’alani, readers of minds. No secret is safe from their prying, no knowledge can remain buried. But Severn’s secret, never shared before, is not enough to prevent the Wolves from adopting him as one of their own. All men have secrets, after all. Severn’s first job will be joining a hunt, but between the treacherous politics of the High Court, the almost unnatural interest of one of the Lords, and those who wish long-held secrets to remain buried forever, the trick will be surviving it.

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

ELLUVIAN OF DANARRE DID NOT LIKE THRONE rooms.

For much of his life, throne rooms and audience chambers had been a grueling exercise in humiliation; humiliation was always the outcome when one had no power. His presence in a throne room was meant to emphasize that utter lack of power. He was called. He came. He stood—or knelt—at the foot of the platform that led to the raised throne.

There he had remained, while the disappointment of his lord made itself known.

There were significant differences between this throne room, this audience chamber, and the throne room of his youth. An act of war had given him a freedom he had never before possessed.

And the actor in that action occupied the current throne as a force of nature, uneasily caged by masks of civility and mundane governance. Elluvian had been announced; he had been given permission—or an order—to approach the Imperial Presence. His steps across the runner that covered worked stone were as loud as his breathing.

Before him sat the Eternal Emperor, Dariandaros of the Ebon Flight. Neither name had been used by any of the Emperor’s subjects for centuries. Elluvian, however, remembered. The only freedom he had ever known had occurred because of war. At the end of the third war, the Dragon Emperor had demanded oaths of allegiance from each and every Barrani adult who had survived it and intended to live within the boundaries of the Empire.

Elluvian had offered his willingly. He had offered it without reservation. Had the Emperor demanded Elluvian swear a blood oath, a binding oath, he would have done so without hesitation. The Emperor did not demand his True Name. Anything else, he could live with. Nonbinding oaths were just words.

He knelt.

“Rise,” the Emperor said. The undercurrents of his voice filled the vaulted ceilings above with a distinctly draconic rumble. Elluvian obeyed, meeting the Emperor’s gaze for the first time; the Dragon’s eyes were orange, but the orange was tinged with gold.

No discussion between Emperor and subject was private. The Imperial guard and the Imperial aides were omnipresent; an Imperial secretary or three were positioned by the throne to take notes where notes were necessary.

“Approach the throne.”

Elluvian was aware that of all the Barrani—each forced to offer an oath of allegiance to the Emperor directly—only a handful were allowed to approach the throne. It was not considered, by most of his kin, an honor. Were any of those disapproving kin to be present, they would have obeyed regardless. Just as Elluvian did.

The Imperial guards stepped back.

“You look peaked, old friend,” the Emperor said, when the guards were standing as far from the Emperor as they were willing to go.

“You did not summon me here to discuss my health.”

“Ah, no. But I have been informed that I lack certain social graces, and it seems incumbent on me to practice.”

Elluvian raised a brow. His eyes were blue; Barrani blue denoted many things. At the moment, he was annoyed. Annoyed and tired.

“Very well. The Halls of Law seem to be having some minor difficulty.” When Elluvian failed to reply, the Emperor continued. “In particular, and of interest to you, the difficulty involves the Wolves.” Of course it did. The Halls of Law were divided into three distinct divisions: the Hawks, the Swords, and the Wolves. The only division of relevance to Elluvian was the Wolves.

Elluvian exhaled. “Again.”

“Indeed.” The Emperor’s eyes remained orange; the orange, however, did not darken toward red, the color of Dragon anger.

Elluvian bowed his head for one long moment. His eyes, he knew, were now the blue of anger and frustration. In a life considered, by the youthful Barrani and Dragon kin, long, failure was not the worst thing to happen to him. But consistent failure remained humiliating—and no Barrani wished their failures dissected by Dragons. He struggled to contain emotion, to submerge it.

In this, too, he failed.

“I have never understood why you wish to create this division of mortal Wolves. We have power structures developed over a longer stretch of time, and we have not descended to barbarism or savagery. Those who have power rule those who do not.”

“That is what the animals do. Those with power rule those with less. We are not animals.”

Elluvian’s mood was dark enough, the sting of failure dragging it down in a spiral that had no good end. Humans, who comprised the vast majority of mortals within the Empire, were one step up from animals, with their unchanging, fixed eye colors, their ability to propagate, their short, inconsequential lives.

“I do not understand the Empire you are attempting to build. I have never understood it, and the centuries I have spent observing it have not surrendered answers.” The admission of ignorance was costly.

For a man who professed not to want to rule by power, his form of communication was questionable. He commanded, and those who had survived the wars and sworn personal loyalty to the Emperor—most Barrani, given the sparsity of Dragons by that time—obeyed.

Elluvian had been summoned. The summons was, in theory, an invitation, but Elluvian was not naive. The oath of service had weight and meaning to both the Emperor who had demanded it and the man who had offered that vow.

Mortals were not a threat to either the Barrani or the Dragons, but many of the Imperial systems of governance—the Emperor’s word—were most concerned with those very mortals. The Emperor had created the Halls of Law, with Swords and Hawks to police the mortals who vastly outnumbered those who rose above time and age. He had also created the Wolves.

“No,” the Emperor replied.

Excerpted from The Emperor’s Wolves by Michelle Sagara, Copyright © 2020 by Michelle Sagara Published by MIRA Books

One More Chapter Readalong: Finding Henry Applebee Day 1 Progress.  #Finding Henry Applebee #OMCReadalong

After how much I enjoyed the One More Chapter Readalong for Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well Thank You, I expressed an interest in doing more readalongs and when they emailed me about a readalong for Finding Henry Applebee,  I accepted.

The synopsis sounded heartwarming so I signed up because,  at a time like this, we need all the feelgood books we can get.

Here Henry was, once again in a bustling train station, ready to resume where he had left off all those years ago…

Finding Henry Applebee is a charming, tender and uplifting story about unlikely friendships, the power of love – and how it’s never too late to change your life. Perfect for fans of The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Eighty-five-year-old Henry Arthur Applebee has had a pretty good life. But one regret has haunted  him for the last sixty-five years.

And so, on an ordinary December morning, he boards a train from London to Edinburgh. His goal is simple: to find the woman who disappeared from his life decades earlier. But Henry isn’t the only person on a mission. Also bound for Edinburgh is troubled teen, Ariel. And when the two strangers collide,what began as one humble journey will catapult them both into a whole new world…

This is today’s book club question.

I think the themes are these:

Friendship in general, keeping friendships for generations. Meeting new people, being brave enough to take risks. Living in the moment and making of life what you can. I hope to do all today’s events.

I took part in the Recreate Henry’s Suitcase task where I had to state what I would take on a journey of a lifetime. The task was across all social channels and this is what I would take if I were to go on a dream trip: Clothes  for different types of weather, my favourite books for the journey, food, money my phone and a camera to capture special memories. I would also have researched online beforehand about the area and I would make use of my phone’s Maps app when needed. I would take something that reminded me of home so I would not miss it and also photos of those who are important to me. I would take my laptop so I could blog about my journey.

What I would take on my life-changing journey: clothes for different types of weather, my favourite books for the journey, food, money my phone and a camera to capture special memories. I would also have researched online beforehand about the area and I would make use of my phone’s Maps app when needed. I would take something that reminded me of home so I would not miss it and also photos of those who are important to me. I would take my laptop so I could blog about my journey.

I really enjoyed the Facebook Live interview with Celia Reynolds as well as checking out all the Instagram posts for today’s tasks.

Here is the schedule for the event: