Category: The Writers Life

A #WitchyWednesdays Audiobook Review during #WyrdAndWonder | “The Ghosts of Wonky Inn” (Book Two: the Wonky Inn series) by Jeannie Wycherley, narrated by Kim Bretton

Posted Wednesday, 25 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

#WitchyWednesdays banner created by Jorie in Canva.

#WitchyWednesdays is a curated collection of #WitchyReads this Wyrd And Wonder on Jorie Loves A Story. I have long held a fascination with Paranormally inclined stories involving witches and wizards as well as magic schools. I read either Contemporary or Historical releases as well as completely fantastical worlds featuring a Witchy premise and storyline. This year for Wyrd And Wonder, I’m focusing on specific stories I’ve been wanting to share and discuss either during our annual event in May OR our sister event #SpooktasticReads in October. Every Wednesday there will be a new Witchy story to discover as I share my readerly adventures into Witchy Fiction this month. I am considering keeping this a mainstay of focus both during May & October for our events for Wyrd And Wonder.

In regard to the name I chose for this showcase of reviews, I sort of stumbled onto the name when I was deciding which day of the week I wanted to feature Witchy Reads this year. I thought it was original until I ran a search online, I saw others use the #WitchyWednesdays tag however, I did not source an origin of the tag – only a collective recognition for it attributed to different creative projects or venues whilst I didn’t find an actual meme origin for it on a blog or website. If someone knows who started it – kindly let me know so I can add attribution.

The first #WitchyWednesdays featured: TransWitch by E. Chris Garrison

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Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how you’re reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions.

Through hosting for the Audiobookworm who is now known as Audiobook Empire, I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories. Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive and/or CloudLibrary for their digital audiobook catalogues. Aside from my libraries, I also enjoy having Audible & Scribd memberships as my budget allows. It has been a wonderful journey and one I enjoy sharing – as I am now fully expanding how many audiobooks I listen to per year whilst enjoying being a part of the LibroFM ALC programme and an audiobook reviewer for NetGalley as well.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “The Ghosts of Wonky Inn” from the author Jeannie Wycherley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I simply *adore!* the #WonkyInn series:

It is quite hard to keep your composure as your listening to this story, as despite the somberness of attending a funeral at the beginning of this tale, it doesn’t take long for the sarcasm to begin! Especially when Alfhild Daemonne begins to describe her personal style and the choices she makes with her wardrobe! Most women will readily warm to her quirky way of expressing her feelings and thoughts about everything from the colour palette of choice to the fact her clothes hug her figure a bit more than they had when she was younger. On top of which, despite this being a gathering of witches to lay to rest one of their own, it was Alfhild who brought the cheekiness to the program! Complete with casting aside the fact she no longer felt this was part of her ‘life’ per se but rather a blink of a blib on the map of where her journey once had taken her as all the witchy bits felt rather ‘put to bed’ in the past.

It was here where we find the contrast between her and her late mother’s legacies – how people viewed her mother as a giving woman who loved to help people in need. She, on the other hand, had a completely different perspective on her mother’s affairs but of course, she might be bias being her daughter rather than her coven. She was still very much defensive about loving to bake with the normality of ingredients one might expect off the Great British Bake-Off show – wherein, you had a feeling her Mum would have preferred her interests to lie more towards eye of newt! The longer she spoke on behalf of her relationship with her mother, the more you understood why there was a wedge dredged between them! Ironic or not, the way she defends her preference for wearing black (ie. by eye colour or cloth) is quite hilarious – which is only one of the passages which gives you a hearty gigglement of joy to listen too!

Rather cleverly, there is a secret combination of books in the Occult section of a bookshoppe to get you into the alleyway where the witches of this world love to roost and shop for their witchy needs! I liked how Wycherley made this sound like an alternative to the shoppes you’d find in Hogsmeade. The way Alfhild discloses this part of her life, you had a feeling she was feeling constricted by the requirements needed to put her mother to rest. Once the funeral was over, she couldn’t just resume her life from where it was put on pause – mostly because of Penelope Quidwell! She was her Mum’s solicitor who came round to talk to Alfhild about the estate she needed to settle before she could consider the account closed. You had to give her credit – she kept her truer thoughts and feelings at bay from those she interacted with directly, but when it came to listening to the those thoughts in-step with her conversations gave you a wicked good volley of humour! She didn’t mind being blunt if it gave her a way to get her points across and that was what makes her such a winning character, truly!

There are subtle bits and bobbles of magic enveloping through the background of the story – such as the way Penelope’s address claimed the card in Alfhild’s hand! A dash of smoke and a pinch of ink was all it took to give her a place to arrive. What she would find there once she did however was a bit of a alarm as she didn’t give her Mum much credit for having a complicated estate as the best she remembered she lived humbly without too many assets. Before she can get into those particulars though she had to find the solicitor’s office! Laughs. This set into motion a series of laughable moments where she thought she was destined to be coo-coo clocked to death!

What endears you to Alfhild’s journey is how sincere she is making a new life for herself in this place – even if her magical abilities are questionable at best but evenso, she does what she can whenever she can to compensate for it. She sorts out whom she can trust and who are her best allies – for she is working against forces she could not have predicted would interfere with her goodwill. There was a moment where in the height of an uprising she was bringing against these forces where she reconsidered her options before realising there was only one future she would feel comfortable owning as her own. And, that felt like the greater purpose of this installment – of taking control of not just your own destiny but of embracing who you are and the inherent gifts that come with feeling proud of where you’ve come as well.

Sometimes you’re challenged past the point you feel you can overcome what blights onto your path – but as Alfhild found, if you dig deep, stay positive and align yourself with people who give of themselves for the greater good of everyone else – you find a strength you never had. Alfhild’s parents would be wicked proud of her efforts and of the courage she encountered the moment she realised that the power to change her own destiny lay inside the power she had within herself. And, that should be something all readers takeaway from this story – aside from the advice given how to defeat one’s enemies as truly that is one of the oldest pieces of wisdom I think more people ought to be reminded of as so much truth is held within how that is one of the most powerful tools we all have to use ourselves.

If you wanted to get a good view of Wycherley’s humour, the way she paints the life of Alfhild as a witch attempting to live amongst the rest of us as if there was nothing unique or different about her is a proper bang-up riot! She also shows her heart such as the scene where she gives a twenty spot to a witch down on her luck whilst taking the commuter rail. The dialogue is sharp and the quickstep pacing of the story being delivered is a treat for your ears (if your listening to the audiobook, such as I had been) – everything is running a bit on hyper-speed, as the lead character has this hyper personality that comes through quite clearly. It adds to her charm though, because she’s the kind of bold character you look forward to meeting and can’t wait to know further!

The hilarity is in high order- Wycherley has such a prime way of carving out a bang-on brilliant romp of humour, you can’t stop laughing before you run into the next snarky bout of humour arriving in your ears! She’s written a right smart emotionally raw and honest character who speaks her mind, says what she means and means what she thinks who has a way of warming your heart for her forwardness! The way she’s written this Cosy Mystery is a bit unsuspecting as it feels much more like a Women’s Fiction exploit in how to put your life together at an age where everyone expects you to have your druthers in order whilst at the same time, there is a case of mystery right in the midst of Alfhild putting her life back to rights!

The way she’s conceived of this neverending home repair property to rankle the patience of Alfhild is just part of the folly as once you get into the groove of the audiobook, you’ve already embraced her cheeky humour and the dramatic way she involves us into this witchy Cosy!

-quoted from my review of The Wonkiest Witch

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A note of apology to Ms Wycherley
& an explanation of the delay in this review
being featured on Jorie Loves A Story:

I have been trying to bring this review to Jorie Loves A Story for the last three years as when I originally listened to the story I was unable to compose my thoughts about it directly as I heard it. I was going through quite a lot back then and for whichever reason, listening to a story on audio was far easier than pooling my thoughts about it as I heard it. This novel and the first Trans-Continental novella by E. Chris Garrison (ie. Girl in the Gears) was heard the same year and both are reviews I’ve been wanting to write and share on my blog ever since. Both of them were so wickedly brilliant – both in scope of the writers who wrote the stories and the performances of the narrators who expertly brought both worlds to illuminated light for me.

In different intervals and conversations, I did let both authors know the personal impact these audiobooks had on me but as I’ve become an audiobook listener (and audiophile, let’s be real!) I’ve enjoyed conveying my reactions the listening to stories read aloud, performed by narrators and blogging my thoughts about the joy of hearing a story lit alive through narration. It has been an interesting journey these past six years (since 2016) and I’ve grown a lot as both a reader and as an audiobook listener; even if I feel I have only scratched the surface of genres and literary realms to explore in audio – I’m comfortably confident to say I have curated quite a few favourites along the way! And, these two authors and their narrators are at the top of the expanding list which is now past ten faovurite narrators!!

I’ve tried several times to re-listen to both over the years – tying them into different events (ie. Witchathon, #SpookasticReads or even #WyrdAndWonder or #SciFiMonth) which they would naturally fit inside and yet, it wasn’t until this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder where I had conceived of the idea for a #WitchyWednesdays showcase wherein I could tuck closer to the #WitchyReads I love seeking out and talk about those stories directly on a Wednesday. I had planned to feature 4x #WitchyWednesdays this May but as life and work threw me offline more than I expected to be this month, I had to reduce my plans.

However, there is some good news to share! This series has expanded quite a heap since (2019) as back then there were 8x releases and now there are a wickedly brilliant 15x!! Plus, four Christmas Specials which reminds me dearly of my beloved BBC serials which oft do the same! I also noted more of the audiobooks have released which is why between now and October (for our next #SpooktasticReads event hugged into the final fortnight of the month in a chase up to Halloween) I’ll be gathering those audiobooks myself to continue my adventure into a world which bewitched me as soon as I first entered it!

I might have taken the longer road back into the Wonky Inn series but I am evermore grateful to the author who first enchanted me with her series and now has me hungering after new installments! I’ve marked which of the stories are now released into audiobook as well for those who would prefer to listen to the series as I do vs reading them in either print or ebook. I have known ever since I first ‘heard’ Alf that this is a series I have to always listen to in audio – I cannot even fathom how I would read a story set in the Wonky Inn world without Kim Bretton in my ears! Except to say for the Christmas Specials – as I’m uncertain if those are going into audio which is why I noted on this review I’ll be collecting those in print editions. If they do go into audio that would be a wickedly sweet surprise for me!!

I cannot apologise enough to the author for the long gaps in communication and for stalling in my progress to make this review a reality. I cannot wait to listen to the third novel Weird Wedding at Wonky Inn ahead of the Christmas Special and the next two audiobooks in sequence right in time for #SpooktasticReads this October when I resume my #WitchyWednesdays!! The blessing of course is how cosy comfortable this series has become to me and how lovely it is to return as if I’ve simply gone away for a spell and now have chosen to return ‘home’.

I should also mention – portions of this review were previously written during my first listening of the story and also, during my second – whilst this is my third listening of the story and I’ve done my best to make this a cohesive review as I combined all the thoughts I had to share on its behalf.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A #WitchyWednesdays Audiobook Review during #WyrdAndWonder | “The Ghosts of Wonky Inn” (Book Two: the Wonky Inn series) by Jeannie Wycherley, narrated by Kim BrettonThe Ghosts of Wonky Inn
Subtitle: Wonky Inn, Book 2
by Jeannie Wycherley
Source: Direct from Author
Narrator: Kim Bretton

Alf has tried to banish her demons.

And her ghosts.

But memories of her recent past linger and keep her awake.

Every night it’s the same. Insomnia.

When she does eventually drift off, she’s woken almost immediately by a sobbing spirit.

He says he's lost.

And worse than that, someone is trying to kill him.

Who is this sad specimen of a spirit? And where does he belong?

And how do you kill someone … who is already dead?

Find out what Alf gets up to next as the Wonky Inn adventures continue.

Read The Ghosts of Wonky Inn today.

Genres: Cosy Mystery, Ghost Story, Paranormal Suspense, Historical-Fantasy, Paranormal Urban Fantasy, Urban Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1719966740

ASIN: B07TKGBZ4H

Also by this author: The Wonkiest Witch

Published by Self Published

on 28th June, 2019

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 4 hours and 51 minutes (unabridged)

This is a self-published audiobook.

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

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The Wonky Inn series:

Wonky Inn series promo banner provided by Audiobookworm Promotions

🎧 The Wonkiest Witch (book one) (see also review)

🎧 The Ghosts of Wonky Inn (book two) → heard thrice!

🎧 Weird Wedding at Wonky Inn (book three) → next in line!

The Witch Who Killed Christmas (A Wonky Inn Christmas Special)

🎧 Fearful Fortunes & Terrible Tarot (book four)

🎧 The Mystery of the Marsh Malaise (book five)

The Mysterious Mr Wylie (book six)

The Great Witchy Cake-Off (book seven)

Vengeful Vampire at Wonky Inn (book eight)

Witching in a Winter Wonklyland
(A Wonky Inn Christmas Cozy Mystery)

A Gaggle of Ghastly Grandmamas (book nine)

Magic, Murder and a Movie Star (book ten)

O Witchy Town of Whittlecombe (A Wonky Inn Christmas Cozy Mystery)

Judge, Jury and Jailhouse Rockcakes (book eleven)

A Midsummer Night’s Wonky (book twelve)

Halloween Heebie-Geebies (book thirteen)

Owl I Want for Witchmas is Hoo:
A Wonky Inn Christmas Cozy Mystery Special

Oh Mummy! (book fourteen)

Pieces of Hate (book fifteen) ← forthcoming August, 2022!

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NOTE: I marked which installments are released into audiobook with a headphone emoji whilst I changed the colour of the text to reflect the Christmas Specials which are only currently released into print or ebook formats. I’ll have to gather the print of those stories to read before I proceed forward into the next stories released into audiobook. For instance, I’ll be purchasing my first one after listening to “Weird Wedding Wedding at Wonky Inn” before I purchase a copy of “Fearful Fortunes & Terrible Tarot”.

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I believe there is a spin-off series called:
MISTER MAGIGI’S MAGICAL EMPORIUM

Sugarplum Scary (book one)

*as I read somewhere online this is a story connected to Alf
as she asked a favour of the character whose featured

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Converse via: #WonkiestWitch + #AudioReads, #Audiobook
and #WitchyWednesdays during #WyrdAndWonder

OR #loveaudiobooks, #Paranormal #CosyCrime

About Jeannie Wycherley

Jeannie Wycherley

Genre-hopping introvert and word witch living somewhere between the forest and the sea in East Devon, UK.

Jeannie finds inspiration everywhere: in myths, stories and songs, while people watching, a word here, a look there. However, her main inspiration comes from the landscape. Devon has it all - a rocky coastline, pebble and sandy beaches, narrow winding lanes and picture perfect cottages, steep cliffs and an abundance of forest.

A good day for Jeannie means a blustery wind, racing waves and salty rain. She lives with her husband and two dogs, makes a lot of soup, plays too many computer games and loves watching movies.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Wednesday, 25 May, 2022 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, #WitchyWednesdays, Audiobook, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), Clever Turns of Phrase, Cosy Mystery, Fantasy Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Ghost Story, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Historical Fiction, Humour & Satire in Fiction / Non Fiction, Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Witches and Warlocks

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | soaking into Shakespearean Fantasy within the pages of “Harlequin’s Riddle (Book One: Tales of Tarya) by Rachel Nightingale

Posted Monday, 2 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Gifted Book By: This novel “Harlequin’s Riddle” was part of a gifted #bookhaul of mine from my Mum and Dad for #WyrdAndWonder, Year 4! They happily surprised me with a lovely bundle of books I featured during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This continues my readings of those novels as I was overjoyed I can read all the lovely stories I had either showcased and/or featured but wasn’t able to read during our Year 3 Wyrd And Wonder.

Thereby, I was gifted a copy of “Harlequin’s Riddle” by my parents and I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials last year from the publisher and had asked if I could re-use them if and when I was able to read and/or review the stories I was featuring during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 (2020); and thankfully was given permission to do so which is why I am using them during my readings this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I was quite smitten with all the stories I’ve selected to feature from this Independent Publisher – each of the guest features will tuck us closer to the stories themselves, introduce us to the writers and give us a newfound appreciation for the Fantasy stories which are being independently published by publishers who champion the crafting of stories and the writers who have created these fantastical worlds for us to discover.

I wanted to begin this series of features with Ms Nightingale – as her world is a rather curious one – both from the perspective of what initially inspired her series and how she first fused curiosity to building the foundation of this world she’s given us to read and by how her characters simply step forward from that world and embrace our imaginations.

-as shared on the guest post by Ms Nightingale

As you might remember – two years ago, I had the lovely pleasure of running a series of guest features for Odyssey Books. Their authors were very welcoming to me and open to my enquiries as much as they returnt my interview and guest post topics with such hearty depth – it was a true pleasure to host all of them! I even interviewed one of them via #SatBookChat as I did a takeover chat experience that year as well.

Last year, I was able to start my readings again of Odyssey Books via “Cassandra” (see also Review) whilst previously I had featured Elizabeth Foster’s “Esme’s Wish” (from 2020: see also Review) and Felicity Banks Rahana trilogy: “The Monster Apprentice” (from 2020: see also Review) and “The Princess and the Pirate” (see also Review) in 2021.

This #WyrdAndWonder I am picking up from whence I last left off – I have the complete set of stories for the Tales of Tarya to read and I couldn’t be happier! I didn’t want to set out to read the first novel if I knew I couldn’t read the rest of the series. Thereby, I waited until our 5th Year to begin my journey into this world and it is my hope to read the rest of the Odyssey Books I have on my shelves every Monday throughout May. Part of what drew me into these stories was the premise of them — how they are a combination of reshaping what we understand about Shakespeare against what we love about Mythological Fantasy and Fantasy which is set in a world re-inspired by another writer.

Whilst I am planning to read the Odyssey Books authors on Mondays – you’ll find two more lovelies from them being featured and read this month: “Esme’s Gift” the sequel to “Esme’s Wish” and “The Shadow of the Skytree” (see also Interview). I am attempting to get a copy of “Songlines” by Carolyn Denman as well. Join me on Mondays as I take my own odyssey into a publisher’s canon of stories and series.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | soaking into Shakespearean Fantasy within the pages of “Harlequin’s Riddle (Book One: Tales of Tarya) by Rachel NightingaleHarlequin's Riddle
Subtitle: Book One of the Tales of Tarya
by Rachel Nightingale
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Nadia Turner
Source: Gifted

Ten years ago, Mina’s beloved older brother disappeared with a troupe of travelling players, and was never heard from again. On the eve of Mina’s own departure with a troupe, her father tells her she has a special gift for storytelling, a gift he silenced years before in fear of her ability to call visions into being with her stories.

Mina soon discovers that the travelling players draw their powers from a mysterious place called Tarya, where dreams are transformed into reality. While trying to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, she discovers a dark secret to the players’ onstage antics. Torn between finding her brother or exposing the truth about the players, could her gifts as a storyteller offer a way to solve Harlequin’s riddle?

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Magical Realism, Upper YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1922200990

Also by this author: Harlequin's Riddle

Published by Odyssey Books

on 12th June, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 312

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The Tales of Tarya series:

The Tales of Tarya collage created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: jorielovesastory.com

Harlequin’s Riddle (book one)

Columbine’s Tale (book two)

Pierrot’s Song (book three)

Be sure to read Ms Nightingale’s Guest Post after this review!

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Converse via: #HistoricalFantasy, #YAFantasy, #TalesOfTarya
as well as #OdysseyBooks & #WyrdAndWonder

About Rachel Nightingale

Rachel Nightingale

Rachel Nightingale has been writing since the age of eight (early works are safely hidden away). Harlequin’s Riddle is her first novel.

Rachel holds a Masters degree and PhD in Creative Writing. Her short stories have been selected several times for exhibition as part of the Cancer Council Arts awards, and winning the Mercury Short Story competition (junior section) at the age of 16 only fuelled her desire to share her stories with the world. One of her plays, No Sequel, won the People’s Choice Award and First Prize at the Eltham Little Theatre’s 10 Minute Play competition in 2014, while another, Crime Fiction, was performed at Short and Sweet Manila in 2016. Her second passion after writing is the theatre, and she has been performing in shows and working backstage for a rather long time. She co-wrote and performed in the 2013-2015 version of the hugely popular Murder on the Puffing Billy Express, a 1920s murder mystery set on the iconic Dandenong Ranges train.

The inspiration for the Tarya trilogy, which begins with Harlequin’s Riddle, began when she read a quote by Broadway actor Alan Cumming about that in-between moment just before you step on stage and enter a different world, and began to wonder what you might find in that place between worlds.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Monday, 2 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Classical Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fantasy, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Introspective Literary Fiction, Life Shift, Magical Realism, Parapsychological Gifts, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Realistic Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy, William Shakespeare, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

This #SaturdaysAreBookish features #HarlequinHeartwarming | “The Secret Santa Project” (Seasons of Alaska, Book Eight) by Carol Ross

Posted Saturday, 18 September, 2021 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Happily, I was able to read two lovely novels in the Seasons of Alaska series this year!

Which was sweetened by celebrating my 8th Blogoversary, this March!

I blessedly read the eighth novel in this series, a month and one week after I celebrated my 8th Blog’s Birthday which was on the 6th of August, 2021. 8 is definitely my number now!

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Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Secret Santa Project” direct from author Carol Ross in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I love reading Carol Ross & Harlequin Heartwarming novelists:

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You might have noticed these features & showcases throughout the years of Jorie Loves A Story. In truth, I have only been reading the stories by Ms Ross since [2018] – it has been such a wicked wonderful journey into her different series and seeing how she attaches us with the vision of her characters’ worlds simply by how she creates the drama behind their lives. I have felt dearly attached now to *Seasons of Alaska* as I had the pleasure of joy binge reading this series via interlibrary loan. One of these days I’m going to bring the series home to roost on my shelf in full point of pride as it has given me an infinite delight of happiness to discover, read and savour.

It is hard to capture *why!* I love Harlequin Heartwarming as much as I do except to say – if you’re seeking relationship-based Romances with a deepening centre of focus on family (biological, adopted, found, etc) and the strength of community – these are realistically told romantic dramas with a particular encaptured portrait of contemporary modern life within the backdrop of realistic characters living real lives. You can tell what inspires these stories by the authors who pen them and how much heart and soul of themselves they etch into the stories as you’re reading them. You don’t want to put these lovelies down – their #unputdownable, memorable and they knit themselves into your heart. The epitome of a #bookHUG if there ever were one to be had, too!

More than that even,.. Heartwarming stories give all of us singletons the hope of what tomorrow can bring when we least expect our lives to intersect with a bit of romance & the unexpected blissitudes of meeting someone who understands us without having to explain ourselves. Romance is an uplift for the heart and a pulse of inspired joy for the joy and that is why I love reading Harlequin Heartwarming stories. Their the kind of Romances I crave to read and the kind of Romances I cannot get enough of as a reader.

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This #SaturdaysAreBookish features #HarlequinHeartwarming | “The Secret Santa Project” (Seasons of Alaska, Book Eight) by Carol RossThe Secret Santa Project
Subtitle: Seasons of Alaska
by Carol Ross
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

A gift he wasn’t expecting…

A special Christmas wish

Working with his best friend’s sister isn't how Cricket Blackburn had planned to spend his holidays. He’d tried to forget about sweet, beautiful Hazel James for ten whole years and now she's back, closer to him than ever. They have a Christmas charity to run—certainly that will keep Cricket’s mind off what might have been. Perhaps if he tells Santa his secrets, his ultimate wish might come true.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Romance Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance


Christmas Romance Book Icon made by Jorie in Canva.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1335426352

Also by this author: The Rancher's Twins, Mountains Apart, A Case for Forgiveness, If Not for a Bee, A Family Like Hannah's, Bachelor Remedy, In the Doctor's Arms, Keeping Her Close, Second Chance for the Single Dad, Series Spotlight w/ Notes: Return of the Blackwell Brothers, Catching Mr Right, His Hometown Yuletide Vow

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 27th July, 2021

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

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A quick recapturing of the JOY I had reading the last novel in this series:

I found it wicked interesting how Ross started us off in this story by stepping into the joy of fishing! We do not have a lot of information about who is fishing but its how their fishing that means more than their name and identity! The care and attention they have to the sport of fishing as much as the mindfulness of releasing the fish after archiving data and evidence of the fish being caught. I was a compassionate fisherwoman myself – I never caught for anything more than the joy of the time I spent fishing. Between the natural environment and the quiet calm of the setting – there wasn’t any reason not to feel relaxed in that moment.

You can tell Ross has a passion for fishing herself – especially how she describes how her characters’ are fishing and the methods they are using to fish. There is an art to it – from the choices of bait to what you use on your lines to draw the fish to you. Everyone makes their own choices and of course, a lot of those choices depend on where you’re fishing, too. Reading the opening chapters of this novel brought back a wealth of happy memories and a childhood where there was still a lot of innocent joy to be found.

I surmised the Cajun ancestry in Victoria’s family even before it was disclosed and that is credit to Ms Ross who had tucked in subtle hints about her family’s origins. From the name she called her grandmother to the ways in which she spoke herself – she had such a distinctive tone and sound to her person, I knew her ancestry even before it was properly announced! This is one reason why I enjoy reading Contemporary and/or Historical stories set in and round NOLA. And, coincidently before the storylines went askew that is also why I loved that variant of NCIS. There is something special about stories set in the bayous of Louisiana and I felt Ms Ross did a chamption job in capturing but the history and the spirit of the setting.

I especially loved seeing how this story took on a role of ‘perspectives’ – from Seth and from Victoria and how dearly realistic and relatable their stories were from that angle. Ross makes the critical observation of how we sometimes get ‘stuck in our heads’ to the point where we’re either overthinking something or we’re nearly to the point of talking ourselves out of something without any rationality attached to that choice other than where our hearts and emotions are leading us. From this, Ross deepens their individual and conjoined journeys as they shift forward in their individual lives whilst attempting to test the waters if there is a way their paths can not just cross but continue to merge in a role neither of them are fully comfortable defining. For me, this was the most immediate joy of Catching Mr Right – it wasn’t a meet-cute circumstance nor was it an insta-attraction plot either – it was more of seeing two people re-discover what they want out of life and what they potentially had overlooked in what they might want in someone else.

The best takeaway from Catching Mr Right is that family stands behind family. You cannot get far in this world without people who will defend you at a moment’s notice and you cannot hope to survive this world without a family behind you. Whether your family is biological, adopted or found – family is EVERYTHING. And, this is the best part of reading this story – Ross champions FAMILY and gives us such a stirringly brilliant ending which makes our heart rejoice for having read it.

-quoted from my review of Catching Mr Right

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Seasons of Alaska series:

Bachelor Remedy by Carol RossIn the Doctor's Arms by Carol RossCatching Mr Right by Carol RossThe Secret Santa Project by Carol Ross

Mountains Apart (Book One)

A Case for Forgiveness (Book Two) | see also Reviews of Book One & Two

If Not for A Bee (Book Three)

A Family Like Hannah’s (Book Four) see also Reviews of Book Three & Four

Bachelor Remedy (Book Five)

In the Doctor’s Arms (Book Six) see also Reviews of Book Five & Six

Catching Mr Right (Book Seven) see also Review

The Secret Santa Project (Book Eight)

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Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin

Formats Available: Paperback* and Ebook

*Harlequin has the luxury of offering Regular, Large & Larger Print editions which I personally can attest are lovely to be reading! Especially after a migraine or when my eyes are fatigued.

Converse on Twitter via: #ContemporaryRomance & #HarlequinHeartwarming
as well as #SeasonsOfAlaska and #CarolRoss

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About Carol Ross

Carol Ross

USA Today bestselling author Carol Ross grew up in small town America right between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, in a place where you can go deep sea fishing in the morning and then hit the ski slopes the same afternoon. The daughter of what is now known as free range parents, she developed a love of the outdoors at a very early age.

As a writer, Carol loves to breathe the life she has lived into the characters she creates, grateful for the “research material” that every questionable decision, adrenaline-charged misstep, and near-death experience has provided.

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Posted Saturday, 18 September, 2021 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Christmas Romance &/or Holiday Story, Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Family Life, Life Shift, Modern Day, Passionate Researcher, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

A #WyrdAndWonder Audiobook Review | “The Marvelwood Magicians” by Diane Zahler, narrated by Sarah Zimmerman; courtesy of #NetGalley

Posted Sunday, 2 May, 2021 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: In late Winter 2020, (February) I joined NetGalley for the first time as they finally announced they were going to be offering full-length audiobooks for reviewers. I was never able to join NetGalley due to having chronic migraines and being unable to read ebooks. I started requesting audiobooks to review as soon as they opened their audiobook catalogue in July, 2020. I am an eclectic reader and thereby, you will see all genres in Fiction explored from both markets of interest: mainstream and INSPY as well as from Major Trade, Indie Publishers & Press and other routes of publication, too. There might be the occasional Non-Fiction title appearing in my NetGalley queue of reviews as well. This marks a new adventure for me seeking stories for review consideration and I look forward to seeing where the stories lead me to venture.

I received a complimentary digital and temporary audiobook copy of “The Marvelwood Magicians” direct from the publisher Live Oak Media via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All audiobooks via NetGalley are able to be heard via the NetGalley Shelf which is why I was thankful to be gifted an android tablet by my parents to celebrate my 7th Blog Birthday on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: As a new reviewer on NetGalley, I’m sorting out how to get the Press Materials for each of the audiobooks I’m reviewing when I share them on my blog Jorie Loves A Story. When I contacted NetGalley Support they informed me that if a separate Press Kit is not included on the audiobook’s book page we’re allowed as reviewers to use the book cover and synopsis provided when we go to share our review of that audiobook on our blogs; as long as we give attribution as I have done at the bottom of this review in “Sources”. Those materials are provided with permission of the publishers to be used by reviewers via NetGalley.

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Why I wanted to read &/or listen to “The .Marvelwood Magicians”:

I have had a certain attachment to circuses ever since I was a young girl who attend the Ringing Brothers circuses. This was during the age of Gunther Gebel-Williams. Beyond the excitement of the shows under the big top and the ways in which the circus can ignite the imaginations of anyone who attends them, part of me was concerned about the conditions of the animals and the treatment of them before and after the shows themselves. In time, I came to appreciate zoos more than the circus but only the ones who had the best interest of the animals at the heart of their mission, not the bottom-line when it came to selling tickets and/or earning profit.

Through the years, you might have noticed I RT and support The Australian Zoo – which is one of the zoos and wildlife outreach organisations I’ve come to appreciate as I spent years watching Steve Irwin and his family through their docuseries long before tragedy struck his family.

However, when it comes to ‘fantasy’ side of the ledger in literature – there is just something interesting about how writers are taking our love & excitement for performance art and close encounters with animals to a new heightened level of interest!! You might have first seen this coming across in my readings of the first bits of the Magical Midway series – and it continues this year, as I was unexpected surprised to find my copy of “The Marvelwood Magicians” was still on my NetGalley shelf waiting for me!

It was the best surprise – as it helped me move past the health woes of April (which let’s face it were adversely difficult) and re-settle myself into listening to audiobooks (its been terribly long since I could last listen to a story in full!) as well as finding my JOY again as a book blogger which is something I’ve struggled with since January, 2021. (you might have seen the reduction in posts every month!? the archives tell tales!) This became my segue novel – as much it became the novel my bookish heart wanted to HUG outright for the HAPPINESS it gave me as a reader!

Every night this week, I’ve been pulled into the throes of the Marvelwood’s — bit by bit and eagerly hopeful I might get ‘further’ into the story. Some nights I could barely keep my attention focused past a half hour but on our first day of #WyrdAndWonder *before!* midnight marked the second day, guess what?! I learnt how it ENDS. It was bittersweet for me, too, as I didn’t want to ‘let go’ of the Marvelwood’s!! Who would!? I felt such a kinship with this family!! Now, I can look forward to gathering this on audio & print and adding both to my personal library. Not sure when I can do that — but when I can, you can bet I’ll be tweeting my glee about bring this family HOME!!

The key reasons I wanted to listen to this lovely were due to the setting (ie. circus & travelling performers!) AND the fact this was a story set in a Fantasy world but dearly focused on family & community. Two of my favourite themes across the genres I regularly read. I wish I had a preteen to give this audiobook too – to see if they delight in the joys I had hearing it myself and to talk about it afterwards.

Read my review and see if this might fit into your #WyrdAndWonder plans – for this year or next – or any month betwixt and between! I appreciate you visiting with me as I’m just getting started – I’ve planned a whole literary holiday for myself where everyday I’ll be reading and/or listening to Fantasy stories and taking everyone on my readerly journey! Come back and see what I’ve discovered each week. For now,.. let the Marvelwood’s entice you into their world and find the JOY of the circus anew,.. .

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A #WyrdAndWonder Audiobook Review | “The Marvelwood Magicians” by Diane Zahler, narrated by Sarah Zimmerman; courtesy of #NetGalleyThe Marvelwood Magicians
by Diane Zahler
Source: Audiobook Direct from Publisher via NetGalley
Narrator: Sarah Zimmerman

Eleven-year-old Mattie Marvelwood comes from a family of traveling performers. Her dad is an illusionist; her mom is a fortune-teller; her brother has a vanishing act; and she herself is a mind-reader. But the Marvelwoods have a deep secret.

The acts they perform at carnivals, fairs, and circuses are not just acts. Their powers are real. In all their wanderings, the Marvelwoods have never met another performer with gifts like theirs—until they join Master Morogh’s Circus of Wonders! But it turns out that Master Morogh’s true talent is stealing the gifts of others. When he steals Mattie’s brother’s vanishing ability, the family has a big decision to make. Do they run, leaving Bell’s gift behind to save the rest of them, or risk exposure by trying to beat the duplicitous ringmaster at his own game?

Genres: Children's Literature, Middle Grade, Middle Grade Fantasy, Urban Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781629797243

ASIN: B0815B761C

on 1st October, 2019

Format: Audiobook | Digital Review Copy (NetGalley)

Length: 5 hours and 19 minutes (unabridged)

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Published By: Live Oak Media (@MediaLiveOak)

Converse via: #KidsLit, #MGLit or #MiddleGrade, #Fantasy and #Magicians OR #Magic
and  #audiobook or #audioreads as well as #TheMarvelwoodMagicians
and especially #WyrdAndWonder !!

Available Formats: Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

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?✍ Follow the author: @dianezahler

?? Visit the narrator: Sarah Zimmerman

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Sunday, 2 May, 2021 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, #WyrdAndWonder, Audiobook, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Bullies and the Bullied, Children's Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Conservation, Content Note, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, Good vs. Evil, Indie Author, Invisibility, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade Novel, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, NetGalley, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Preservation, Siblings, Small Towne USA, Speculative Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Telekinesis, Telepaths & Telepathy, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Urban Fantasy, Writing Style & Voice