Archives for October 2014

Book Club Recap: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and The Accidental Book Club by Jennifer Scott

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This month my book club read two books, Orphan Train and The Accidental Book Club. As usual, we had a wonderful evening talking, laughing, sharing, and munching on a yummy pumpkin pie! Sadly, I forgot to take notes on our discussion. What can I say? I was having to much fun. So, my recap is rather short. But below are the details for the books! Have you read either of these books? Has your book club?

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Orphan TrainOrphan Train
written by Christina Baker Kline
published by William Morrow Paperbacks

find it here: (affiliate links)  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

 

The Accidental Book ClubThe Accidental Book Club
written by Jennifer Scott
published by NAL Trade

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: Writing a new future takes a little time—and a lot of love.

Jean Vison never expected to run a book club, until her life took an unexpected turn. Now, with Jean’s husband gone, what began as an off-the-cuff idea has grown into a group of six women who meet the second Tuesday of every month for a potluck supper, for wine and laughter—and for books.

There’s Loretta, who deals with the lack of intimacy in her marriage by diving into erotic novels. Dorothy, whose ruffian sons are a never-ending source of stress. May entertains the group with her outrageous dating stories, while Mitzi finds something political to rant about in every book—including Loretta’s trashy romances. Even Janet, with her mousy shyness and constant blush, has helped Jean rediscover the joy in life.

So when Jean’s family starts unraveling again—her daughter forced into rehab and her troubled teen granddaughter, Bailey, coming to live with her in the interim—she turns to the book club for comfort and support. And, together, they all, even Bailey, discover that family is what you make of it, especially the family you choose…

 

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments. If you would like to join this feature, please feel free to do so by posting your own Book Club Recap and linking it in the comments. 

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Boost It Tuesday! – October 21, 2014

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Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free Chance, Candace’s Book Blog, and Gin’s Book Notes for Boost It Tuesday.

 

What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.

 

As an added bonus, Candace, Ginny, and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!

 

For this week’s giveaway, head over to the Every Free Chance Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!

 

Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!


Gin's Book Notes
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Melissa’s Review: A Soul’s Kiss by Debra Chapoton

A Soul's Kiss

A Soul’s Kiss
written by Debra Chapoton
published by Creative Prose Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
It was cute. Ms. Chapoton isn’t going to be accused of writing the next epic work of literature, but she’s a great storyteller. The prose was cleanly written, the characters were multidimensional, and the supernatural elements straddled the line of believability perfectly. Ms. Chapoton manages to convey the dark issues modern high school students face without offensive language or imagery, and she tosses in just the right amount of levity to keep her story afloat. Her years as a high school teacher have paid off — Ms. Chapoton captures the undulating, hormonal emotions of teenagers with expert accuracy and tells a romantic little tale in the process.

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Would I recommend it: Yes. It’s a great addition to the Young Adult genre.

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
When a tragic accident leaves Jessica comatose, her spirit escapes her body. Navigating a supernatural realm is tough, but being half dead has its advantages.

Like getting into people’s thoughts.

Like taking over someone’s body.

Like experiencing romance on a whole new plane – literally.

Jessica learns an amazing truth as she struggles to return to her body before the doctors pull the plug, only she can’t do it alone. Now the only two people willing to help Jessica’s splintered soul are the two she’s hurt the most. They must find a way to guide her soul back to her body … before it’s too late.

 

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The Sunday Post – October 19, 2014

The Sunday Post

 

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~

It’s a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

This past Friday, I, along with a few members of my book club, had the chance to meet an author, Brock Booher, whose book, Healing Stone, we read a few months ago. Mr. Booher also wrote a guest post for EFC, and I recently worked with him on his next book by doing a manuscript critique. I can’t wait to read the final version. Anyway, we had such a great time chatting with Mr. Booher, hearing about his experiences, chatting about his book, and laughing quite a bit. It was an awesome experience. Here is a picture of us with Mr. Booher.

with Brock Booher
We would also like to thank everyone for entering our Blogoversary giveaway and for all of you well wishes and comments! You guys are the best!! =) I will be choosing the winners of our Blogoversary giveaway later today.

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Last week at EFC:

  • Sunday: The Sunday Post and a spotlight of Just Desserts by Tricia Quinnies. Be sure to enter the giveaway!
  • Monday: I reviewed Serenade by Emily Kiebel.
  • Tuesday: We had 63 participants for Boost It Tuesday!!
  • Wednesday: We hosted a blog tour stop for Catherine Bell’s Rush of Shadows. This was Belinda’s final review on EFC.
  • Thursday: We spotlighted David Nicholls new book, Us. I’m looking forward to reading this one. Look for my review next month.
  • Friday: Our first short story contest winner, Pam Kirst, reviewed Still Life by Louise Penny.
  • Saturday: Gina reviewed Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

This week at EFC:

  • Sunday: You’re reading it — The Sunday Post!
  • Monday: Melissa reviews A Soul’s Kiss by Kebra Chapoton.
  • Tuesday: It’s Boost It Tuesday!! Be sure to link up your Facebook page and give each other a boost! I’m also hoping to post my Book Club Recap from this month.
  • Wednesday: Gina reviews The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
  • Thursday: Melissa reviews Blood Entwines by Caoline Healy for the blog tour organized by Candace at CBB Promotions.
  • Friday: I review The Christmas Women by Elyse Douglas.
  • Saturday: Melissa reviews Wednesdaymeter by Dean Carnby.

Don’t forget to check out all of our current giveaways.

 

Don’t forget to submit your holiday-themed short stories. You could win $75 and a few other great prizes!!

 

If you are in need of any editing or proofreading services, please visit EFC Services, LLC. Our rates are reasonable and competitive.

 

 

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Guest Review by Gina: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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Outlander
written by Diana Gabaldon
published by Dell Publishing Company

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: This novel is going to be on my favorites list. My friends kept telling me I’d fall in love, and they were right. It had some of my favorite things in it — Scotland, handsome highlanders, and a really good story. I love historical fiction, and if there’s some romance mixed in, it’s even better!

I usually don’t like romance novel heroines unless they’re very strongly written, because normally the heroine reminds me of my one-year-old when she doesn’t get her juice cup. Claire fits the bill when it comes to a well-written heroine. She is smart and sassy, and quite frankly, I love her. She’s a feisty Englishwoman who doesn’t let highlanders boss her around. She makes my inner Spice Girl say GIRL POWER! (Everyone has an inner Spice Girl right?)

Jamie, our hero, is also one of my favorite characters. He is strong and, at times, a brute, but his strength is comfortable and reassuring. I definitely want him wrapped around me like a security blanket.  He doesn’t dominate Claire but instead defends both woman and child. You’ve gotta love a man who tries his best, and any man who wears a kilt AND gets passionate in bed is fine by me.

Yes, there is some sex in this book, but I promise you it’s tastefully done. There isn’t any in the first half of the book, and I didn’t miss it. This book isn’t a bodice-ripping good time – it’s historical fiction with romance. Love is a constant theme, and when you do get the kilt lifting, it only builds the relationship between our beloved Claire and Jamie, which makes this book all the better for me.

Golden Line:  “Not for the first time, I reflected that intimacy and romance are not synonymous.”

 

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Would I recommend it: A thousand times aye!

~ Gina ~

 

About the book – from Goodreads: The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life…and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

 

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Guest Review by Pam: Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1)

Still Life 
written by Louise Penny
published by St. Martin’s Press, 2005

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: I fell in love with Chief Inspector Gamache of the Surete de Quebec and I look forward to reading my way through all ten of the books in this series.

I remember a professor from my undergrad days bemoaning the fact that American writers don’t do food justice in their fiction.  I don’t know if he was using ‘American’ as a synonym for ‘United States-ian’, but his complaint doesn’t apply to Canadian Louise Penny’s writing – my stomach rumbled for most of the book.  The investigative staff is fortified by platters of wonderful sandwiches served up by the colorful chef at the B and B; Jane’s friends meet over simmering pots of wonderful stuff.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit to reading #9, How the Light Gets In first; a friend recommended it on Facebook, and intrigued by the Leonard Cohen reference in the title, I did something I almost never do: I read a series book out of order.

It didn’t keep me from loving Still Life, but, as Penny herself recommends on her website, the books are best read in order.  The characters grow, the situation surrounding Gamache deepens, and the story line unfolds, bringing us more and more deeply into the Chief Inspector’s life.

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Would I recommend it: Yes, I definitely recommend it, and any of Louise Penny’s books.  They’re great for readers who enjoy a good murder mystery.

 

~ Pam, guest reviewer & EFC Short Story Contest Winner ~

 

About the book – from Goodreads: Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces—and this series—with power, ingenuity, and charm

 

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Blog Tour: Us by David Nicholls (spotlight)

 

UsUs
written by David Nicholls
published by Harper

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

 

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“I loved this book. Funny, sad, tender: for anyone who wants to know what happens after the Happy Ever After.” —Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You and One Plus One

“Nicholls brings his trademark wit and wisdom to this by turns hilarious and heartbreaking examination of a long-term marriage…. This tender novel will further cement Nicholls’ reputation as a master of romantic comedy.” —Booklist (starred review)

“From the author of One Day—which was infinitely better than the movie—comes a pathos-laden love story about marriage on the brink of collapse.” —Entertainment Weekly, “A Dozen Books We’re Dying to Read This Fall.”

 

 

David NichollsAbout the author: David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway. Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels includeStarter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Find Mr. Nicholls here: web, Facebook, Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour: Rush of Shadows by Catherine Bell (Belinda’s Review)

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Rush-of-Shadows-by-Catherine-Bell-189x300Rush of Shadows
written by Catherine Bell
published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
 Yes, for the most part.

The book starts out really strong with two young newlyweds embarking on life’s journey together in 1855. They head out west in search of the American dream. The possibilities are so ripe in the beginning of the novel. She’s pregnant with their baby while he’s loaded with ambition.

As you probably guessed, life doesn’t turn out the way they plan. And this is where the story pace begins to slow. The conflict is subtle. The highs are muted and the lows are leveled. The story goes on . . . and on.

Toward the end, it manages to pick up again. Death is a cruel advisory, charging real emotion into the story once again.

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Would I recommend it: If the story line is something that sounds interesting to you, yes.

 

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About the book – from Goodreads: When American pioneers set their hearts on a California valley where Indians had been living for thousands of years, a period of uneasy appraisal emerged, followed by conflict and soon enough by genocide. The epic greed and violence of the 1850’s and 60’s has been brushed aside by history, conveniently forgotten in the pride of conquest. Willful ignorance and cruelty, terror and desperation were common in that time, but there were moments too of nobility and compassion, ingenuity and forgiveness, qualities which might have prevailed if certain things had been different. Rush of Shadows brings to life two freethinking women, Mellie, a white, and Bah

About the author: Catherine Bell grew up in a New England family with a sense of its past as distinguished and its culture superior, as chronicled in many of her short stories.  An early reader, she found in fiction that penetrating experience of other people’s lives that opens a wider world.  The Winsor School, Harvard, and Stanford prepared her to recognize good writing and thinking.  She credits work as a gardener, cook, cashier, waitress, and schoolbus driver with teaching her how to live in that wider world.

She has also worked as a secretary, freelance writer, and therapist, served as a teacher in the Peace Corps, and taught in inner city schools.  She has lived in Paris, Brasilia, Nova Scotia, Northern California, and Washington, D.C.  Culture clashes, even within families, are often subjects of her fiction.  She has published stories in a number of journals, including Midway Journal, Coal City Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Sixfold, Solstice, and South Carolina Review.  Her story “Among the Missing” won The Northern Virginia Review’s 2014 Prose Award.

She researched and wrote Rush of Shadows, her first novel, over a period of twenty years after she married a fourth-generation Californian and fell in love with his home territory, the Coast Range.  The bright sunburned hills, dark firs, clear shallow streams, and twisted oaks were splendid, but the old barns and wooden churches and redwood train station didn’t seem old enough.  Where was the long past?   Where were the Indians?  There was only the shadow of a story passed down by her husband’s grandmother late in life.  Born in 1869, she grew up playing with Indian children whose parents worked on the ranch her father managed.  One day the Army came to remove the Indians and march them to the reservation, and that was that.  She was four years old, and she never forgot.

Bell lives with her husband in Washington, D.C. and visits children and grandchildren in California and Australia.  As a teacher at Washington International School, she loves reading great books with teenagers.

Find Ms. Bell here: web, AmazonGoodreads

 

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Boost It Tuesday! – October 14, 2014

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Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free Chance, Candace’s Book Blog, and Gin’s Book Notes for Boost It Tuesday.

 

What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.

 

As an added bonus, Candace, Ginny, and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!

 

For this week’s giveaway, head over to the Gin’s Book Notes Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!

 

Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!


Gin's Book Notes
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Chrissy’s Review: Serenade by Emily Kiebel

SERENADE-FINAL-

Serenade
written by Emily Kiebel
published by SparkPress

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Not really. I wanted to, but it just missed the mark for me.

This is my first book about sirens, a very interesting subject matter that I would like to read more books about. The story is set up well, and there is some explanation about the sirens and what they do. There are rogue sirens that are turned into banshees. There are messengers who have the premonitions of the deaths to come and let their sirens know when they will be needed. All the makings of a great story are here.

But here’s the thing: the story was just too slow and kind of boring for me. I didn’t really care if I picked it up and read it. It didn’t matter. It didn’t call to me. It didn’t grab my attention. I finished it because I was hoping for the end to grab me and let me know why I read this book. I wanted more history and education of Lorelei. (I love her name, by the way. Great choice!) I wanted less beginning, or maybe some different beginning parts. I didn’t want the insta-love in this case. It didn’t fit. I wanted more from Lorelei. She’s in college but didn’t act like it. She was locked in an attic, but then let it go quickly. She found out this crazy thing about herself — that she is a siren — and there was little rejection or acceptance of that fact by her. Her relationship with her mother was awful and not fully explained. I did like that she questioned the purpose of sirens, that she didn’t want to help people die if she could save them. I liked that a lot, because their purpose is kind of depressing. And I didn’t like the thought of not trying to save those who could potentially be saved.

The book ends in a cliffhanger. I won’t read the sequel.

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Would I recommend it: Sure, because I think this is a book some people will really enjoy. It just didn’t engage me enough.

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About the book: 
Suddenly the voice she prized is now dangerously seductive.

Lorelei Clark’s only concern was her future as a classically trained soprano, that is, until the day her father was tragically killed. Shattered by his death, she hesitantly accepts an invitation from a mysterious aunt to visit her lavish oceanside home in Cape Cod. She quickly discovers that her aunt and the two women who live with her are harboring a frightening secret – they are sirens, terrifying mythical creatures responsible for singing doomed sailors to their deaths. Even more astounding, Lorelei is one of them.

In this new world where water comes alive at her touch and an ancient power pulses beneath the tide, the most important rule Lorelei must learn is that a siren never interferes with fate. When she breaks this rule by rescuing a handsome sailor who should have died at sea, the sirens vow she must finish the job or face grave consequences. Finding herself inexplicably attracted to him, she must fight to keep him safe from the others, even if it means risking her own life – and her heart – in the process.

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