Thursday, April 19, 2018

Audiobook Review: Amanda Noble, #zoolife by Lesa Boutin

Title: Amanda Noble, #zoolife
Author: Lesa Boutin
Narrator: Katherine Littrell
Publication: March 30th 2018 by Boot in the Door Publications 

Purchase Links: Audible | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
Rating: 4/5

Amanda's life is a zoo. For real. Her family owns the Noble's Ark Zoo, and it's equipped her with a particular set of skills. She can worm goats, bottle-feed a sick chinchilla, and wrangle a wayward snake with her eyes closed. But when her father becomes a local TV celebrity where he's pecked, clawed, and pooped on for Central Florida's viewing pleasure, she's not sure how to cope with it. Change her name? Move to another city? Then there's Kyler. He's her best friend - the guy who taught her to belch the alphabet kind of friend. And friends don't date friends. Right?

When the family is in danger of losing the zoo, it may take more than a working knowledge of gator wrestling and avoiding the business end of a skunk for Amanda to handle a second-string mobster, find a missing body, and convince Kyler they're meant to be together. All this without suffering an epic social media fail. #Zoolife

I know what you're thinking. An audiobook review from me? It's a rare thing. I usually have a hard time concentrating on audiobooks, although I do enjoy them, but I really felt like listening to this one for some reason and I'm so glad I did because I adored the story. The start was a bit slow for me but after the first 30% or so I could hardly stop listening. I did guess how things would end up going but I didn't really mind because this book was such a joy to listen to.

The title of this book probably says it all, this is about a 15 year-old girl named Amanda Noble that lives in a zoo, which I think is such a cool concept. Now I kinda wish I lived in a zoo... But anyway, back to the story. I absolutely loved Amanda and her snark. Aside from the living in a zoo thing she seemed a pretty typical teenager with a dad who was a bit clueless and dorky and crushing on her best friend, Kyler. The story really starts getting interesting mobsters start showing up and Amanda gets involved in a mystery that may or may not include a murder. 

The secondary characters were all pretty loveable. I really liked Amanda's dad even though he was a bit clueless at the start. I loved that he was a bit of a hero at the end, though. With Amanda's best friend, Kyler, I went back and forth. Sometimes he was just a typical clueless teenage boy that kind of frustrated me but other times he seemed like the smartest person out of whole cast. I even liked Vanessa to a certain point because she did seem to want to be really friends with Amanda. 

I was a little surprised by how suspenseful this book actually was. Especially towards the end the suspense was kicked up a notch and I just had to know how it would end. I loved that. And another thing, this story was HILARIOUS. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much with a book. The things Amanda says and the shenanigans she gets into are too funny for words. I laughed out loud several times. I also feel like I have to mention that there was a Harry Potter reference once or twice, which made me smile. And even if the story doesn't hook you right away, the end of chapter 6 definitely will!

About the narrator: 
Amanda Noble, #Zoolife was the first book I have listened to that was narrated by Katherine Littrell. I loved the voices she did for each character, especially when she did accents. I just loved that. I'd definitely want to listen to more books she narrated. I literally have nothing negative to say. She did such a good job!

Author bio:
If I said I enjoy my own company, would I sound like a narcissist? Maybe I should say I love the company in my head. I can't remember a time in my life I wasn't imagining myself in other places, meeting new people, and living wild adventures. The problem was, I lived in the woods. Not the country or the forest where cute little animals frolic, but the woods where there's nothing but trees, and brambles, and bugs, and snakes, and wild animals, and, well, etcetera. So, my head was my favorite place to be. As a young adult, I only wanted to read adult novels, which is odd since now, as an adult, I only want to write Young Adult novels.

The coolest thing about being a writer is that I get to become all the things I dream of. If my character lives in a zoo, I volunteer at the zoo--scooping goat poop. If my character is a ballerina, I tour the Houston Ballet Academy and get to know a real-life ballerina. I haven't quite decided on writing fantasy yet. Not sure I can be trusted with a magic wand.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting On Wednesday hosted at Breaking the Spine.

The Falcon of Sparta by Conn Iggulden
Expected publication: May 3rd 2018 

Conn Iggulden, the bestselling author of the Emperor, Conqueror and The Wars of the Roses series' returns to the Ancient World with a ferociously bloody epic . . .

In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others.

401 BC. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India.

As many as fifty million people are his subjects.

His rule is absolute.

Though the sons of Sparta are eager to play the game of thrones . . .

Yet battles can be won - or lost - with a single blow. Princes fall. And when the dust of civil war settles, the Spartans are left stranded in the heart of an enemy's empire, without support, without food and without water.

Far from home, surrounded by foes, it falls to the young soldier Xenophon to lead the survivors against Artaxerxes' legendary Persian warriors.

Based on one of history's most epic stories of adventure The Falcon of Sparta masterfully depicts the ferocity, heroism, and savage bloodshed that was the Ancient World.

I've been obsessed with all things about Sparta lately so this book is just calling out to me. Especially since it also involves the Persian king Artaxerxes (who is the son of Xerxes I. He was a major player at Battle of Thermopylae.) I can't wait to read about Sparta vs Persia. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Cover Reveal: The Girl and Her Ren by Pepper Winters

The Girl & Her Ren by Pepper Winters 
The Ribbon Duet Book 2. Final Conclusion 
Publication Date: 5th June 2018 
Genre: Coming of Age Romance


“What do you do when you write down all your secrets? No…that’s not enough. What do you do when you write down all your secrets and the one person who should never read them does?

I’ll tell you what you do.

You hope.”


Ren didn’t know the meaning of love until he took Della for his own.

To begin with he hated her, but as the months bled into years, he learned the opposite of hate, dedicating his life to giving her everything.

Every sacrifice, every gift, he gave wholeheartedly.

But then love turned to lust and ruined everything.


I was stupid to write my secrets down, but I’d been stupid before so it was nothing new.

I couldn’t blame him, hate him, fix him.

I tried to move on without him.

But no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to delete the secrets I’d written.

Until something happened.

Until he came back and read my stupid secrets.

And nothing was the same after that.


Google Play:


Google Play:

About the Author:

Pepper Winters is a multiple New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today International Bestseller.

After chasing her dreams to become a full-time writer, Pepper has earned recognition with awards for best Dark Romance, best BDSM Series, and best Hero. She’s an multiple #1 iBooks bestseller, along with #1 in Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, and Erotica Thriller. With 19 books currently published, she has hit the bestseller charts twenty-six times in three years.

Pepper is a Hybrid Author of both Traditional and Self-published work. Her Pure Corruption Series was released by Grand Central, Hachette.

Her books have garnered foreign interest and are currently being translated into numerous languages, including already released titles in Italian and Turkish. Audio Books for her entire back-list will be available in 2017.

Connect with the Author: 
Never miss an update! Sign up for Pepper’s newsletter today! 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Blog Tour — Review: Ecstasy by Mary Sharratt + Giveaway (US)

Today I'm sharing my review of Ecstasy by Mary Sharratt, a historical fiction about Alma Mahler set in turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna. I read this book back in January and it's still my favorite one of 2018. Nothing has been able to top it just yet. I definitely need to buy myself a hardcover copy at some point of it because I just need this book on my shelf. It was truly amazing! ♥

Title: Ecstasy
Author: Mary Sharratt
Publication: April 10, 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary
Pages: 400
Purchase Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Book DepositoryBooks-A-Million | Google PlayIndiebound | Kobo
Also in AudioBook: Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million
Rating: 5/5

In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era.

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time center stage.

Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?

Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.
Oh, to sense the heights. To be a mountain. To be great and expansive, bursting with potentiality.

I signed up for the blog tour of Ecstasy because the synopsis sounded incredible and right up my alley. In the last year I've become really intrigued with books set in the early 20th century, especially if the setting is in Vienna and if the story revolves around a real woman in history like Alma. She definitely wasn't a perfect character. She had her flaws and problems but even so I hadn't expected to fall in love with this brilliant book the way I did. I even read until 2:00 pm to finish the story just because I didn't want to put the book down and stop reading.

The story is about Alma Schindler (later Alma Mahler), who more than anything wants to be a sucessful composer. When she meets the nearly twenty years older and accomplished composer Gustav Mahler, they fall for each other. But for their marriage his condition is that she gives up her music so that there's more room for his own, essentially. This causes Alma to be utterly torn between her passion for composing and her love for Gustav.

I can't quite put my finger on what exactly made this book so good. Vienna at the turn of the 20th century, the complex character of Alma, the artistic men she came in contact with and who all seemed to be enchanted by her, the bittersweet element of the story, the writing... I just loved it all. 

It also doesn't happen often but I ended this book with tears in my eyes. This just shows how totally taken I was with it. I'm so glad the author put the spotlight on Alma Mahler the way she did in this amazing story. I want more people to also read this book and hopefully also fall in love with it the way I did. 

Ecstasy by Mary Sharratt was one amazing and beautifully written story. I honestly fell in love with it from the very first page and continued being completely hooked throughout the whole novel. It was just phenomenal! 

Praise for Ecstasy

“In ECSTASY, Mary Sharratt plunges the reader into the tumultuous and glamorous fin de siècle era, bringing to life its brilliant and beguiling leading lady. Finally, Alma Mahler takes center stage, surging to life as so much more than simply the female companion to the brilliant and famous men who loved her. Sharratt’s portrait is poignant and nuanced, her novel brimming with rich historic detail and lush, evocative language.” – Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress
“A tender, intimate exploration of a complicated woman, Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY renders in exquisitely researched detail and fiercely imagined scenes the life of Alma Mahler — daughter, wife, mother, lover, and composer — and the early 20th Century Vienna and New York in which she came of age. I loved this inspiring story of an early feminist standing up for her art.” – Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Race for Paris
“Evocative and passionate, ECSTASY illuminates through its tempestuous and talented heroine a conundrum that resonates across the centuries: how a woman can fulfill her destiny by being both a lover and an artist.” – Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers
“Mary Sharratt makes a triumphant return to the page with this masterful portrait of Alma Mahler, the wife of the famous composer Gustav Mahler. Set in a time and place when a woman could only hope to be the power behind the throne, Sharratt brings a meticulously researched and richly illuminated account of a young woman who was a brilliant composer in her own right. Alma may have had to suppress her own talents to support Mahler; however, ECSTASY reveals that she was a woman who “contained multitudes.” ECSTASY is an important work of historical fiction, as well as a timely and topical addition to the canon of knowledge that needs to better represent important women and their contributions.” – Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books
“Alma Mahler’s unexpected, often heartbreaking journey from muse to independence comes to vivid, dramatic life in Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY. Sharratt skillfully evokes turn-of-the-century Vienna and the musical genius of the era, returning Alma to her rightful place in history as both the inspiration to the men in her life and a gifted artist in her own right.” – C.W. Gortner, bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel
“Mary Sharratt has more than done justice to one of the most interesting, shocking, and passionate women of the 20th century. Overflowing with life and lust, ECSTASY explores this flawed but fascinating woman who was not only muse but a genius in her own right.” – New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose
“A deeply affecting portrait of the woman rumored to be the most notorious femme fatale of turn-of-the-century Vienna. Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY is as heartbreaking and seductive as Alma Mahler herself.” —Kris Waldherr, author of Doomed Queens and Bad Princess

About the Author

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.

Her novels include Summit Avenue, The Real Minera, The Vanishing Point, The Daughters of Witching Hill, Illuminations, and The Dark Lady’s Mask.

For more information, please visit Mary Sharratt’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 10
Review at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, April 11
Feature at Passages to the Past
Thursday, April 12
Review at Bookfever (It's me! ♥)
Review at Unabridged Chick
Friday, April 13
Interview at Unabridged Chick
Review at View From the Birdhouse
Saturday, April 14
Review at Clarissa Reads it All
Monday, April 16
Review at Cup of Sensibility
Tuesday, April 17
Review at Based on a True Story
Wednesday, April 18
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, April 19
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Friday, April 20
Review at Linda’s Book Obsession
Sunday, April 22
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings
Monday, April 23
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Tuesday, April 24
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, April 25
Review at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, April 26
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Friday, April 27
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, April 30
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer
Tuesday, May 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, May 3
Interview at The Writing Desk
Monday, May 7
Review at What Cathy Read Next
Wednesday, May 9
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, May 10
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Friday, May 11
Interview at Writing the Renaissance
Monday, May 14
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, May 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, May 17
Review at Nicole Evelina
Friday, May 18
Interview at Nicole Evelina 

Win a paperback copy of Ecstasy!
Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting On Wednesday hosted at Breaking the Spine.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain
Expected publication: May 1st 2018 by Ballantine Books

The bestselling author of The Paris Wife returns to the subject of Ernest Hemingway in a novel about his passionate, stormy marriage to Martha Gellhorn—a fiercely independent, ambitious young woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century.

In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. It’s the adventure she’s been looking for and her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. But she also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.

In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and their professional careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man’s wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that could force her to break his heart, and hers.

Heralded by Ann Patchett as “the new star of historical fiction,” Paula McLain brings Gellhorn’s story richly to life and captures her as a heroine for the ages: a woman who will risk absolutely everything to find her own voice.

This book caught my eye a few days ago and I'm already obsessed with it. I  love the time period it's set in. Lately I've become more interested in the 1930's and 1940's so I absolutely need to get my hands on this book. Another thing I love about it is that the story is about Martha Gellhorn who used to be married to Ernest Hemingway from 1940 to 1945. That's also something I've been intrigued by more and more lately, historical fiction about independent women who've been married or involved with famous men that are writers or artists in some way, even though those stories are usually tragic. 

The cover featuring above is the US cover (that's the one I like the most) but here below is the UK cover. 

Which one do you prefer?