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Friday, April 20, 2018

#Audiobook #Review: 2 out of 5 stars for Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu @BlackstoneAudio @downpour_com

TITLE: Carmilla
NARRATORS: Megan Follows
PUBLICATION DATE: April 27, 2010 (first published 1872)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 3 hrs
GENRE: Classics, Horror, Gothic
A classic Victorian vampire novella, which influenced Bram Stoker's later treatment of the vampire mythos in Dracula.


I have always wanted to read this classic, and I picked it up when it was featured as a Daily Steal on Downpour. 

The story is about a young woman named named Laura, who lives a quiet life with her father in their castle. Her mother is deceased, and she is raised by two governesses. She yearns for the companionship of a friend. When she was a young child, she had a dream about a beautiful woman who crept into bed with her and then felt the pain of two pricks above her breast.

When Laura is a teenager, a woman is injured in a carriage incident near the castle and is brought to them. Laura recognizes the woman as the one from her dreams when she was a child, although it seems impossible because she looks exactly the same as she did approximately ten years earlier. The woman's name is Carmilla, and she stays with the family while she recuperates. I guess people were a lot more welcoming to strangers back then!

Carmilla has the odd habit of sleeping during the daytime, but Laura's family chalks it up to the fact that she is convalescing. Carmilla and Laura become inseparable, and Carmilla tells Laura: “You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever.”

I so wanted to enjoy this book, but it was so dull and boring! There is more talk than anything else, with little action. I guess the story was scandalous back in the day because it featured a lesbian vampire although, again, it was very understated and was revealed more in what Carmilla said to Laura than in anything actually happening. What I thought was cool is that the villain is a woman, which I think was uncommon in that era.

Although this story is short, it dragged for me. I highly recommend the audiobook if you are interested in reading this book, as the narrator was fantastic! She kept me listening, even through my boredom. Here is a sample of the narration:


2 stars!! Meh, it was just "okay."

This book qualifies as:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

#Audiobook #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Bared to the Laird by Eliza Knight @ElizaKnight @TantorAudio

SERIES: Highland Bound, Book #2
AUTHOR: Eliza Knight
NARRATORS: Arika Rapson and Antony Ferguson
PUBLISHER: Tantor Media
PUBLICATION DATE: July 14, 2014 (first published 2013)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 6 hrs and 36 mins
GENRE: Romance/Historical, Science Fiction/Time Travel
ISBN: 9781494523091
Secret obsession makes for the sweetest of sins.

Overwhelmed by her new life in another era with the Laird of Gealach, and the feelings that threaten to consume her, Emma determines she must return to her own time and a semblance of sanity. Having heard of a magical circle of stones atop the ridge overlooking Loch Ness, she manages to escape from the castle and the desire and intensity of Logan that’s held her captive.

When Logan realizes Emma is missing, he is enraged and terrified. He seeks to find her and when he does, he will punish her exquisitely for leaving him, and for inexplicably exposing his scorching fascination and adoration.

Together again, their passions are reignited and a new stunning level of sensuality and self-discovery invoked. But underneath it all, both still wrestle with their inner demons and the impending danger of angered clans and traitors among them. Revealing how they feel about each other could bring about cataclysmic crash within their hearts and the realm. The blade is sharp on both edges, but they know not which side to choose, for one promises sweet, decadent surrender and the other, irrevocable damage - and they aren't certain which is which. Will baring her soul to the Highlander forever change the course of history?

This the second book in the Highland Bound Trilogy and is intended for mature audiences only.


This is the second installment in the Highland Bound series.

It's been four months now since Emma found herself travelling back in time to 1542. She remains at Castle Gealach with Logan, and they try to keep their relationship on the down-low. However, when one of Emma's nightgowns is shredded, they know that someone is on to them. 

Emma fears that every time there is a storm that she will be sent back to the present, and she still struggles with keeping this secret from Logan.

While the first book in the series, Behind the Plaid, focused more on the relationship between Logan and Emma and how they changed because of each other, this one was more about what is going on around them. Here, there are outside forces that threaten their relationship.

I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first one in the series, but I'm still a fan and will continue with the next book in the series, Dark Side of the Laird.

I enjoyed the dual narration by Arika Rapson (Emma) and Antony Ferguson (Logan). I still find Rapson to be slightly nasally at times, but overall both narrators did a good job. Here is a sample of the narration:


4 stars!! I really enjoyed it, and you should put it on your TBR list if you enjoy steamy historical/time travel romances.

This book qualifies as:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

#Book #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Dreamfall by Amy Plum @AmyPlumOhLaLa @harperteen

TITLE: Dreamfall
SERIES: Dreamfall, Book #1
AUTHOR: Amy Plum
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 288 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction
ISBN: 9780062429872
Cata Cordova suffers from such debilitating insomnia that she agreed to take part in an experimental new procedure. She thought things couldn’t get any worse...but she was terribly wrong.

Soon after the experiment begins, there’s a malfunction with the lab equipment, and Cata and six other teen patients are plunged into a shared dreamworld with no memory of how they got there. Even worse, they come to the chilling realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares have come to life. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations and tormented by secrets they’d rather keep buried, Cata and the others will be forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if they can’t find a way to defeat their dreams, they will never wake up.


I have suffered from insomnia for decades, so the premise of this story really appealed to me. I don't think that I'll ever participate in any sleep studies, LOL!

A group of seven kids, ranging in age from 13 years to 19 years, all with sleep disorders sign up for a radical treatment involving electroconvulsive technology. The total length of the therapy is about six hours, with all patients hooked up to machines to monitor their brain/muscle activity, heart rhythms, and eye movements. After being put under general anaesthesia, the patients are zapped with an electrical current which is supposed to put them into REM sleep for about 20 minutes and then they will transition to non-REM sleep for about 50 minutes when the current is off. The cycle is supposed to repeat five times in total, which the doctors believe will reset their sleep patterns. However, before the end of the first REM cycle, there was an earthquake which interrupted the flow of the electrical current which had disastrous results. The doctors are unable to wake up the patients, and none of them appear to have any brain activity and appear to be comatose.

Meanwhile, in dreamland, the kids are trapped in their worst nightmares. They have to stay together if they have any fighting chance to survive their nightmares, and they need each other to interpret what is going on so that they can anticipate what will happen next. The REM/non-REM cycle also has an effect on what is happening to the kids in dreamland.

The story is told from multiple points of view of the kids, who are an eclectic group all with their own issues. We also hear the perspective of Jamie, a pre-med student witnessing the experiment who observes patterns that the doctors are oblivious to. Jamie is my favourite character in the story and, when I asked the author on Twitter whether Jamie was a male or female because it bugged me that it was never disclosed in the book, she told me that Jaime was a literary gender experiment.

The author posted on Twitter that she was interested to find out from readers whether we thought Jaime was a male or female. Here was my response:

The story moved at a fast pace, and I really enjoyed learning about the backgrounds of each of the kids. As an insomniac, I found the whole experiment to be pretty freaky and I was hooked!

Plum is a new-to-me author, and I cannot wait to read the conclusion to this duology, Neverwake, to be released in August 2018.


4 stars!! It was really good, and you should put it on your TBR list if you enjoy science-fiction.

This book qualifies as:

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Girls' Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke @LizandLisa @amazonpub

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tessa @ Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. Find out more here.

Here is this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

AUTHOR: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
PUBLISHER: Lake Union Publishing
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 336 pages
GENRE: Thriller
ISBN: 9781503902565
From the bestselling authors of The Good Widow comes a chilling novel of psychological suspense that will make you think twice about what your best friend may be hiding…

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit.

These authors are both new to me. I love psychological suspense, and I like the setting and premise of this one.

What are you waiting on? Please leave a comment in the section below. If you participate in this meme, please leave a link so I can visit your blog!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Favourite Debut Novels #TopTenTuesday

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

The topic for today's list is a FREEBIE. My list is:

Favourite Debut Novels 

Before I Wake
by Robert J. Wiersema
From my review: "This wasn't just the story of one family's tragedy, but also of good versus evil with the paramount feeling of hope."

by Marissa Meyer
(Lunar Chronicles, Book #1)
From my review: "I love fairy tales, and I have to admit that I was initially skeptical when I heard about a Cyborg Cinderella. I thought that the story would be too high-tech for me or just too weird. I was wrong! I loved it!!"

Distress Signals
by Catherine Ryan Howard
From my review: "Howard totally hooked me from the first chapter, and I loved how the plots and sub-plots became tangled together. The story moves quickly, and I found myself swept up into the drama. If you enjoy plot twists, you are going to love this one!"

In a Dark, Dark Wood
by Ruth Ware
From my review: "Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 was my first read of 2017, and I was totally blown away and wanted to read her debut. This dark psychological thriller is just as good, if not better!"

A Promise of Fire
by Amanda Bouchet
Kingmaker Chronicles, Book #1)
From my review: "A Promise of Fire delivers all my favourite elements in an amazing debut: A kickass heroine, a hot Alpha male, fiery chemistry, vivid worldbuilding, cool magic, and mythology! There are even dragons!"

by Gretchen McNeil
This debut blew me away and McNeil is definitely a favourite author that I discovered in 2017. 

Still Missing
by Chevy Stevens
From my review: "Wow, what a page-turner!!"

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
From my review: "This gut-wrenching story of love, friendship, betrayal, and redemption moved me to tears!"

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
by J.K. Rowling
(Harry Potter, Book #1)
From my review: "This is the type of book that I would have loved as a child. It is a classic tale of good versus evil."

by R.J. Palacio
(Wonder, Book #1)
From my review: "This book is not just for kids. It should be required reading for every man, woman, and child. I know of many adults who need reminding that they should be more compassionate and less selfish! The principle of choosing kindness is so basic, and it could change the world if everyone would behave with this in mind."

And here are some debuts that are on my TBR:

The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte

Wuthering Heights
by Emily Bronte

by Jane Austen

A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

Ready Player One
byt Ernest Cline
(Ready Player One, Book #1)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky

So, what are your favourite debut novels? Please let me know in the comments, or leave me a link to your blog post if you are also participating in the meme!

Monday, April 16, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This weekly meme is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

I'm reading: 

Something from the dusty bookshelf, which is a good pick for the Spring Into Horror Read-a-Thon. This was the first book that I ever added to my Goodreads "To-Read" shelf, so it's been waiting for a LONG time! Time to tackle it!

AUTHOR: Alice Sebold
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown and Company
PUBLICATION DATE: September 1, 2006 (first published 2002)
FORMAT: Mass Market Paperback
LENGTH: 328 pages
GENRE: Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 9780316166683
The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder -- a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family's need for peace and closure.

The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.

Sebold creates a heaven that's calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive -- and then some. But Susie isn't ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature.

Not only am I a first generation Canadian, but immigration is my profession. 

PUBLISHER: Caitlin Press
PUBLICATION DATE: February 7, 2017
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 216 pages
GENRE: Nonfiction
ISBN: 9781987915341
Edited by Miriam Matejova, Wherever I Find Myself is a diverse collection of stories about the joys and struggles of immigrant women living in Canada. Often bringing with them the shadow of war and the guilt of leaving, the women in this new anthology expose their emotional pain but also their gratitude for being able to call Canada home. Their stories paint touching and charming portraits of cultural and linguistic misunderstandings, bureaucratic hurdles, attempts to navigate unfamiliar landscapes, and a desire to be accepted despite differences in accent, skin colour, or taste in food. Together they form a mosaic of emotions and world-views that underline the immigrant condition for women.

A yellow dress with ruffles, a kind Grade 1 teacher with a surname that’s difficult to spell, cockroaches in the bathroom, the contempt of strangers, and Whitney Houston on the radio–a Filipino woman recalls her experience as a six-year-old immigrant in a ghetto in Mississauga in the 80s. Browsing through a Polish fashion magazine at a European deli, a woman sees herself in an alternative universe of what her life might have been had she never immigrated to Canada. A same-sex couple moves from Minnesota to Ontario to find refuge for their love, but first they must drive a seventeen-foot truck through a blizzard and make it through the frustrating net of Canadian bureaucracy. In search of her origins, a Jewish woman travels to her birthplace in Passau, Germany. There, among rows of European picturesque houses and foreign tombstones of a Jewish cemetery, she finds no memories, only the shadow of Hitler and the ghosts of her parents.

Through these stories of courage, aloneness, and hope, new and established writers reach out to both immigrants and those whose families long ago ceased to identify with the immigrant label. Through their struggles and, at times, endearingly critical looks at Canada, they remind us that many of our perceived divisions are nothing but artificial creations of mind and that all of us are past, current, or potential immigrants.

I completed a nine-week course with a group of people, which featured DVD Study sessions and a Participant Guide with study questions (homework!) for discussion each week. The book is a lot to digest, and I'm still reading it in chunks.

TITLE: Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
PUBLISHER: Zondervan
PUBLICATION DATE: November 2, 1992
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 314 pages
GENRE: Nonfiction, Psychology, Self-Help
ISBN: 9780310585909
Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances -- Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions -- Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others -- Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God's will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator -- Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries, they ask: - Can I set limits and still be a loving person? - What are legitimate boundaries? - What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries? - How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? - Aren't boundaries selfish? - Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves.

Something from the library. I really enjoy this author, and I find him to be very inspirational!

AUTHOR: Joel Osteen
PUBLICATION DATE: October 24, 2017
FORMAT: Hardcover
LENGTH: 304 pages
GENRE: Nonfiction
ISBN: 9781455534326
The same God that leads you through green pastures guides you through the valleys. #1 New York Times bestselling author Joel Osteen shares how God uses the darkness in life for good.

All of us at some time encounter dark places that we don't understand: a loss, a sickness, a divorce, a child who breaks our heart. It's easy to get discouraged, give up on our dreams, and just settle there. We may not realize it, but when we feel buried in dark places, we are being blessed. God is using those experiences to help us grow, because we cannot reach our highest potential if we're standing in the light all the time. With Blessed in the Darkness, you will learn how to draw closer to God and trust Him when life doesn't make sense.

If we will go through the valley trusting, believing, and knowing that God is still in control, then we will come to the table that is already prepared for us, where our cup runs over.

Another one from my dusty bookshelf, which I am reading aloud to my younger daughter. We are loving this series!

TITLE: Rising Storm
SERIES: Warriors, Book #4
AUTHOR: Erin Hunter
PUBLICATION DATE: February 15, 2005
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 336 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy
ISBN: 0060525630
Fireheart's traitorous enemy Tigerclaw has been vanquished and exiled from Thunder Clan -- but Fireheart can't shake the feeling that he's lurking in the forest, waiting for his chance to strike.

That's not the only problem facing the young warrior in these blazing summer months, as he struggles to handle sinister omens, an apprentice with a shocking secret, and a devastated Clan leader who is a shell of her former self.

Meanwhile the forest gets hotter and hotter ... and everyone braces for the coming storm... Ages 10+.

Another one from my dusty bookshelf, which I am reading aloud to my younger daughter.

TITLE: The Capture
SERIES: Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Book #1
AUTHOR: Kathryn Lasky
PUBLISHER: Scholastic, Inc.
PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2010 (first published 2003)
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 222 pages
GENRE: Young Adult
ISBN: 9780545253062
Soren is born in the forest of Tyto, a tranquil kingdom where the Barn Owls dwell. But lurking evil threatens to shatter peace and change the course of his life. Captured for a forbidding canyon orphanage, Soren and his friend Gylfie know that the only way out is up. To escape, they will need to do something they have never done before - fly. With owls Twighlight and Digger, they seek the truth and protect the owl world from unimaginable danger.
I'm listening to:

Something from my Audible library, which is also a good pick for the Spring Into Horror Read-a-Thon!

AUTHOR: Peter Clines
NARRATOR: Ray Porter
PUBLISHER: Audible Frontiers
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 12 hrs and 38 mins
GENRE: Horror, Science Fiction
ASIN: B0089Y7K0M
Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches.

There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s. Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends. Or the end of everything....

I just finished:

SERIES: This is Not a Test, Book #1.5
AUTHOR: Courtney Summers
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin
PUBLICATION DATE: January 20, 2015
FORMAT: Kindle Edition
LENGTH: 96 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Horror
ASIN: B00PF8197K
In this gripping sequel to This is Not a Test, Rhys and Sloane are headed for a safe haven when they get separated along the way. Rhys is determined to reunite with Sloane until he discovers people who might need him more--people who offer him the closest he'll get to everything he's lost, if they can just hold on long enough.

Rhys thinks he has what it takes to survive and find the girl he lost, but in a world overrun by the dead, there are no guarantees and the next leg of his journey will test him in unimaginable ways ...

TITLE: Genesis
SERIES: Project Nemesis, Book #2
AUTHOR: Brendan Reichs
NARRATORS: Kirby Heyborne and Emily Rankin
PUBLISHER: Listening Library
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 15 hrs and 22 mins
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction
ISBN: 9780525532040
"Reichs knows exactly how to mix action, suspense, and characters into a breathless read." --Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Warcross

The blistering sequel to the instant New York Times bestselling Nemesis by Brendan Reichs.

Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.

The 64 members of Fire Lake's sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning and zero rules apply. But Noah's deaths have trained him-hardened him-to lead the strongest into the future ... whatever that may be. And at any cost.

Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn't enough.

In a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it's tempting to lay back and let everyone else battle it out. But Min's instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She's ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.

TITLE: I Am Legend
NARRATOR: Robertson Dean
PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: August 14, 2007 (first published 1954)
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 5 hrs and 19 mins
GENRE: Horror, Science Fiction/Post-Apocalyptic
Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth... but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville's blood.

By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn.

How long can one man survive like this?

What are you reading? Have you read any of these books and, if so, what did you think? Please let me know in the comments and, if you are also participating in this meme, leave me a link to your blog post so that I can stop by!
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