Book Review: Icehaven/Sum of All Tears by Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester

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Title: Icehaven
Series: Sum of All Tears #1
Authors: Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian, Paranormal

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Icehaven
Sum of All Tears #1
Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester
KC Publishing, April 2019
ISBN 978-1999558819
Trade Paperback

From the authors—

They said it wouldn’t happen.

Everything would be better.

They were wrong.

After a climate change experiment goes terribly wrong, August Madison finds herself resurrected in a frozen wasteland.

With most of the world’s population and food sources annihilated, depraved nomadic gangs patrol the lawless landscape as outlasters claw for survival.

Amid the chaos, Graysen Marx, iron-fisted leader of the domed settlement Liberty, emerges from the catastrophic event with his own agenda.

When August crosses his path, he sees an opportunity he must exploit.

She sees an evil she must destroy.

Isn’t it wonderful when you come across that book that is SO good that you’re kind of stunned by it? Icehaven is the one for me for a lot of reasons starting with being thrown into the midst of disaster right away, literally on page 2. No lollygagging here, no building up to the horrible event you know is coming. Then the questions begin, the obvious ones such as how the few people left will survive, but also the ones that are so unexpected, particularly regarding why and how some survivors have developed special abilities.

Our protagonist, August, is a miracle herself, having apparently died and then come back to life but, at first, she  remembers very little about what happened other than she does know that she’s the daughter of the man who set off this devastating experiment. Besides taking on her duties among the group that found her, August also feels a strong need to figure out what went wrong; meanwhile, an old friend, Brandon, is miles away and wonders if August is still alive. Then there is Graysen Marx, the man behind Liberty, a biodome facility that seems to be the only hope for longtime survival but is he the honorable man he seems to be or is he ruthlessly intent on his own agenda?

The action in Icehaven is nearly nonstop with something new and alarming happening constantly and the plot is full of suspense, so much so that mystery readers will be as enthralled as post-apocalyptic fans but plot does not overshadow character development. The players, primary and secondary, are vividly drawn and they all come alive on the page while the authors’ worldbuilding is remarkable, making me feel the intense cold and hunger and the emotional havoc wrought by the attempt to control climate change.

I could say much more but it would be hard to avoid spoilers so let me just say Icehaven is going on my list of best books read in 2019 and I heartily encourage one and all to jump right on this one 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2019.

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Purchase Links:
Books2Read

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About the Authors

Kim Cresswell resides in Ontario, Canada and is the bestselling and award-winning author of the action-packed WHITNEY STEEL series.

Her romantic thriller, Reflection (A Whitney Steel Novel – Book One), has won numerous awards including RomCon®’s 2014 Readers’ Crown Finalist (Romantic Suspense), InD’tale Magazine 2014 Rone Award Finalist (Suspense/Thriller), UP Authors Fiction Challenge Winner, Silicon Valley’s Romance Writers of America (RWA) “Gotcha” contest. Kim also signed a 3-book German translation deal with LUZIFER Verlag for the first three books in the series: Reflection, Retribution and ResurrectLethal Journey won RomCon®’s 2014 Readers’ Crown (Thriller).

The Assassin Chronicles TV series was in development with Council Tree Productions. The TV series is based on Kim’s upcoming 4-book paranormal/supernatural thriller series: Deadly Shadow, Invisible TruthAssassin’s Prophecy, and Vision of Fire.

Website // Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter
Goodreads // Instagram // Bookbub // Amazon 

M.K. Chester is an RWA award-winning author of historical and contemporary romance. Her first novel, Surrender to the Roman, is currently published with Carina Press. Her three-book historical series, Bryeton Books, focuses on love, loss and redemption in small town America at the turn of the 20th century, while her latest release, Crashed, is the first book in the contemporary New South Series.

M.K. is a native Buckeye who lives in Tennessee. She’s married to a veteran, recently became a MoM (Mother of Marine), and will soon become a grandmother. She adores her Scottish Terriers and is fighting MS.

Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Series Instagram // Bookbub // Amazon // Goodreads

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Coming in March 2020

Liberty
Sum of All Tears #2
Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester
KC Publishing, March 2020
ISBN 978-1999558819
Trade Paperback

From the authors—

A new enemy rises.

Surviving the cold is only the beginning.

In the second installment of the exciting Sum of all Tears series, a core group of survivors from Liberty travel to Boston, endangering themselves and those they left behind in a winner-takes-all showdown that will leave readers breathless.

Pre-order Links:
Books2Read

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card

Enter here.

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Book Review: The Red Labyrinth by Meredith Tate

The Red Labyrinth
Meredith Tate
Flux, June 2019
ISBN 978-1-63583-034-7
Trade Paperback

In Trinnea, the citizens are Skilled or Blank. Enviable abilities set the Skilled apart and allow them to create their own hierarchy. Almost. Pathetic people possessing only the capabilities of mere human beings are Blanks; good for only hard labor and deplorable jobs.

Wonderfully walled to keep out criminals, the banished and Blanks…along with anyone who has insulted The Leader, the population of Trinnea is a proud one. And eerily of one mind. Except Zadie. Having been stripped of pride at a tender young age, she is one of the few Un-Skilled inside the city, and she certainly stands out.

As if her blatant lacking wasn’t enough to elicit sneers and jibes, Landon, the golden-boy of Skills and Trinneans alike, is inexplicably her best friend. Bitter jealously and undeserved anger permeate the air around her. While this leaves much to be desired, Zadie is soon to see how simple and safe this life is.

It is one thing to be among determinedly ignorant individuals that have banded together to support someone that seems to be a self-absorbed blow-hard; but when said crowd syncs into submission under rebels, simple survival is no longer enough for Zadie. She has others to save and, for once in her life, Landon is nowhere to be found.

Communications down, Zadie’s only option is to actually approach The Leader. She will need to outwit dark riddles and terrible tricks while traversing the terror-inducing twists and turns of the Labyrinth that separates The Leader from Trinnea. Worrisome, but the inevitable encounter with Dex, the psychopath who has made the maze his home, is what truly scares her.

Shoving her fear deep down, Zadie enters the Labyrinth. Challenges and lessons learned along the way show her that, even if she makes it out alive, every single part of her life will be drastically different.

I was immersed in Zadie’s quest, admiring her strength, selflessness, intelligence and inherent need to do the right thing. Quite frankly, if there isn’t a follow-up, Ms. Tate has firmly established herself as one of those ornery authors whom I adore, as I gnash my teeth, just a tiny bit.

Reviewed by jv poore, June 2019.

Book Review: The Circle: Taken by Sage Sask

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Title: Taken
Series: The Circle, Book 1
Author: Sage Sask
Publisher: SBSK Corp.
Publication Date: March 7, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Amazon // The Book Depository // Indiebound

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Taken
The Circle, Book 1
Sage Sask
SBSK Corp., March 2019
ISBN 978-1733579391
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Abandoned at eleven with no memory of her family, Alexia seeks her true identity. Under the new government’s regime, sixteen year-olds are evaluated for their desire to harm others. Throughout the test, Alexia struggles to conceal her psychic ability to read the past and future of anyone she touches. When her secret is revealed, Alexia is taken to an island where other highly skilled agents and readers like her train to survive.

As Alexia gains more control over her abilities, she desperately tries to piece together her elusive past. In her quest for the truth, Alexia’s loyalties are tested when forced to make an impossible choice between those she loves and the family she can’t remember.

A spell-binding adventure of friendship, love, unforeseen twists and learning that our most dangerous enemies are often the people we trust the most. A captivating novel filled with forbidden romance and shocking betrayals that demand the question – Can One Decision Determine Your Destiny?

Most of the time, I either like a main character with few or no reservations or I close the book early because I can’t make a connection with the protagonist. Alexia evoked altogether different feelings because of her complexity and because the author allowed her to have faults, very natural faults at that. Alexia appealed to me because she’s not the near-perfect being who rarely makes a misstep. In essence, she is in search of herself while she learns some very valuable life lessons.

Taken is in some ways a study of good versus evil and how difficult it can be to know the difference, who can be trusted. I especially enjoyed this arc of the story because it’s such an essential part of a person’s growth and watching Alexia learn these things made her seem quite real. The Circle itself is full of contradictions, a quagmire of choices and decisions she has to face…much like what we’re all faced with in growing up.

Most of all, I was intrigued by Alexia’s search for her past and for a path to connect with those around her. She’s a girl I hope to see more of in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

About the Authors

Sage S.A.S.K. is a team consisting of USA Today, Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author Sejal Badani and a group of young adult writers. Kiran, Akash and Sienna are the creative force behind the story concepts, editing, social media, marketing, and book trailers for the novel.

Kiran

Kiran is still processing the bait and switch pulled by his parents of having been promised a sports car and ending up with their old minivan. When he’s not running track or falling asleep in class, Kiran can be found driving around with his friends blasting Travis Scott.

 

Website // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Tumblr // Facebook // Goodreads

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Follow the tour:

Week One:

4/15/2019- Lone Tree Reviews– Excerpt
4/16/2019- Lisa Loves Literature– Spotlight
4/17/2019- Jheartlovesbooks– Review
4/18/2019- BookHounds– Interview
4/19/2019- Reese’s Reviews– Review

Week Two:

4/22/2019- Writing on the Sunny Side of the Street– Excerpt
4/23/2019- Life With No Plot– Review
4/24/2019- Daily Waffle– Excerpt
4/25/2019- Two Chicks on Books– Interview
4/26/2019- Dorky Girl and Skeletor– Spotlight

Week Three:

4/29/2019- Buried Under Books– Review
4/30/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Spotlight
5/1/2019- Taking It One Book at a time– Review
5/2/2019- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt
5/3/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Excerpt

Week Four:

5/6/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review
5/7/2019- Mama Panda Bear– Review
5/8/2019- Jaime’s World– Guest Post
5/9/2019- A Gingerly Review– Review
5/10/2019- Book Briefs– Review

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Giveaway

3 winners will receive finished signed or unsigned
copies of THE CIRCLE:TAKEN, US Only.

Enter here.

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Book Review: Alien Minds by Christina Bauer



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Alien Minds
Christina Bauer
(Dimension Drift #1)
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication date: April 23rd 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

DIVERGENT meets OCEAN’S EIGHT in this urban fantasy heist!

On my seventeenth birthday, I wake up in the hospital to find I just survived a sketchy but terrible accident. My parents stand by my bedside—both are beautiful, wealthy, and super-nice. They tell me that once I leave the hospital, I’ll attend the prestigious ECHO Academy, where I’ll churn out equations for the government along with my mega-smart peers.

So, I’m living the perfect life.

Then why does everything feel all wrong?

My parents, my house and even ECHO Academy…none of it fits. Plus, what’s up with Thorne, my brooding yet yummy classmate who keeps telling me I need to remember my true past, which seems to have included a lot of us kissing? That’s one thing I’d really like to remember, except for the fact that I’m pretty sure Thorne is hiding a ton of nasty secrets of his own, including the fact that he may not be from this world. But considering how my own past seems alien to me, it’s not like I can judge. Plus, Thorne has dimples. That’s a problem.

And worst of all, why does it feel so yucky to work on these calculations for the government? It’s all supposed to be part of ECHO, but my heart tells me that I’m helping something truly terrible come to pass. Thorne seems to think that kissing him again will release my real memories.

Maybe it’s time to pucker up.

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After this series’ prequels, Scythe and Umbra, I was pretty sure the first full-length novel would be a wild ride and so it is. Alien Minds delivers a punch on all levels—action, intrigue, and nefarious government activities—and it’s all at the core of masterful worldbuilding I’ve come to expect from Ms. Bauer.

There’s romance, of course, between Meimi and Thorne, and I can’t say I was thrilled with that part but such things seem to be de rigueur in young adult fiction so I just go with the flow these days. Actually, neither of these two is in my list of 5 favorite characters but that’s okay because I really connected with their story if not them.

Ms. Bauer has added in just the right amount of snide humor to make me chuckle in all the right places but, make no mistake, her core theme is one to beware of. It’s bad enough to be doing things at the government’s behest that don’t exactly sit well but how much worse is it to not remember enough of your past to understand how you came to be in such a situation? Meimi has misgivings almost from the moment she wakes up and is confronted with a man and woman purporting to be her parents and telling her she’s going to the ECHO Academy; once she gets there, all does not become clear and there’s this hunky guy, Thorne, telling her a simple kiss will bring back her memories. When she’s assigned to a special project, she bargains to have a few friends help her and, with her team, embarks upon a plan to escape…and do some damage while they’re at it.

There are a few hiccups along the way but, all in all, Christina Bauer still has my attention and I’ll be waiting for the next Dimension Drift story.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

“Appealing and engaging. Love the strong female character!”
– Arlene’s Book Reviews

This new series is perfect for: fans of urban fantasy, action & adventure, cool science, evil corporations, forbidden romance and hot new classmates who may or may not be aliens.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Kobo / iBooks / Google Play

About the Author

Author Bio:

Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Be the first to know about new releases from Christina by signing up for her newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/CBupdates

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: Savior by AJ Eversley

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Title: Savior
Series: The Watcher Series, Book 3
Author: AJ Eversley
Narrators: Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Publication Date: March 8, 2019

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Savior
The Watcher Series, Book 3
AJ Eversley
AJ Eversley, March 2019
Narrated by Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobooks

The explosive conclusion to the Watcher Series will decide the fate of the entire human race.

Sawyer has been a Watcher. She’s been a Carbon. Now she must become their Savior.

With the inevitable return of Coleman looming, Sawyer knows their army is not enough. On a journey to convince an ally to join their war, Sawyer discovers why the stars have placed the fate of the human race in her hands. And she’s not alone.
Kenzie is her enemy. He is wrong and ruthless, and he’s tried to kill Sawyer more than once. Yet she still can’t stay away. Both drawn to each other in a way neither can explain, they must learn to trust one another as well as themselves if they want to survive. And soon, Sawyer will find she must trust in the stars to protect her and put her faith in others if she wants to live.

Find out who will survive, and if they can save humanity from a future painted black, in the epic conclusion of the Watcher Series.

To get the most enjoyment from this book, I highly recommend reading the trilogy in order as this is really not a standalone. I’m glad I listened to this one so soon after the second volume because the pace is very fast and the interaction among the primary characters is intense; it helped not having to try to remember details from the earlier parts of the story.

While Sawyer and Max are certainly important, it’s Kenzie who held my attention the most this time. He’s truly a tortured soul and wondering how things would turn out for him…and Sawyer and Max…was more than a bit agonizing but I have to say I wish there wasn’t so much of the now-commonplace love triangle. With so much going on in the fight to save the world, the romantic elements were just a distraction.

Being perceived as the “savior” is uncomfortable for Sawyer but at least she’s finally accepted that her life will never be what it was before she learned the truth about herself and her world. Almost despite herself, she really is the last hope, so to speak.

I appreciated the way Ms. Eversley brought things to a close and don’t feel any lack in the ending. Ms. Stephens and Mr. Campbell rounded out their narration of the trilogy quite nicely and, in my opinion, had much to do with my enjoyment of the tale. I won’t be unhappy if these three collaborate again on another story in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2019.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrators

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

Website // Twitter

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Steve Campbell’s first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is his personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to Steve. He is now fortunate enough to be living his dream of audiobook narration from his home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Spotlight on Savior by AJ Eversley

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Title: Savior
Series: The Watcher Series, Book 3
Author: AJ Eversley
Narrators: Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Publication Date: March 8, 2019

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Synopsis

The explosive conclusion to the Watcher Series will decide the fate of the entire human race.

Sawyer has been a Watcher. She’s been a Carbon. Now she must become their Savior.

With the inevitable return of Coleman looming, Sawyer knows their army is not enough. On a journey to convince an ally to join their war, Sawyer discovers why the stars have placed the fate of the human race in her hands. And she’s not alone.
Kenzie is her enemy. He is wrong and ruthless, and he’s tried to kill Sawyer more than once. Yet she still can’t stay away. Both drawn to each other in a way neither can explain, they must learn to trust one another as well as themselves if they want to survive. And soon, Sawyer will find she must trust in the stars to protect her and put her faith in others if she wants to live.

Find out who will survive, and if they can save humanity from a future painted black, in the epic conclusion of the Watcher Series.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrators

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

Website // Twitter

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Steve Campbell’s first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is his personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to Steve. He is now fortunate enough to be living his dream of audiobook narration from his home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: Carbon by AJ Eversley

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Author: AJ Eversley

Narrators: Chelsea Stephens, Steve Campbell

Length: 8 hours 55 minutes

Series: The Watcher Series, Book 2

Publisher: Author AJ Eversley

Released: Dec. 10, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction; Young Adult

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Strangers become allies. Lovers become enemies. And a destiny formed before birth unfolds.

Sawyer spent most of her life hunting the very thing she has now become. No longer the Watcher she once was, Sawyer struggles to make sense of her new identity. Though she now has the powers of a Carbon, she is also tied to the control Coleman has over all of his creations.

Desperate for help and answers, Sawyer travels to the United Isles with Max in search of an ally. Not only must she learn to harness her new abilities, she must find a way to mend a broken heart…if her past doesn’t kill her first.

The epic journey continues, and the war for the human race draws ever closer. Join the resistance in the next chapter of the Watcher Series.

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AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsInstagram

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Narrator Bio

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

WebsiteTwitter

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Narrator Bio

My first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is my personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to me. I am now fortunate enough to be living my dream of audiobook narration from my home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

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Review

In my review of the first book, Watcher, I mentioned that I thought the beginning was a bit slow-going and I also felt that way about this book. I do want to emphasize that the pacing didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story; it just caught my attention.

Much has happened in Sawyer’s world, both her own personal existence and the larger world in which she lives. Coming to terms with her life as one of the Carbons she used to hunt is difficult, to say the least, but she’s also learning—and testing—her new-found abilities as a Carbon. What is really intense is the change in her relationship to those who mean something to her and Kenzie’s painful response to her is certainly understandable. Interestingly, Sawyer has become more appealing, with a softer side, now that she has been torn away from everything she’s always known and that growth in her psyche is what I found to be most compelling about this episode. Now that she has a new raison d’etre, a new target if you will, the action is really picking up and I can’t wait to start the next book.

Narrators Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell continue to bring Sawyer and Kenzie, as well as other characters, to life and both have good tonations and pacing. They are a pleasure to listen to, so important in audiobook storytelling, and they are a large part of why I want to continue with the trilogy.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 6, 2019.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by AJ Eversley. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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Giveaway

Giveaway: 3-month Audible Membership

Watcher Series Giveaway: 3-month Audible Membership

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Mar. 5th:

Lilly’s Book World

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Mar. 6th:

Buried Under Books

Mar. 7th:

T’s Stuff

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Mar. 8th:

Turning Another Page

Mar. 9th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Mar. 10th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Mar. 11th:

Lomeraniel

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