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A Maiden in the Foxcombe: The Spiregarden Saga Book 1 by Tanya SM Kennedy (Book Review)

Be polite. Be graceful. Be beautiful. Remain safe.

Being a maiden in Spiregarden requires specific traits and Kardin has none of them. Fastly approaching being labeled unmatchable, she faces being sent to the Cell, a prison-like structure where unmatched maidens are left beyond the safety of the walls to protect the rest of society. It is a death sentence for those maidens society has deemed not good enough, and there is nothing she can do about it.

But when she meets Commander Lef of the illustrious Foxcombe, she is offered a glimpse of the freedom she has always wanted. A chance to escape the Cell and to make a difference and all she has to do is face the greatest danger in Spiregarden. Will she be able to aid in learning vital information to protect all of Spiregarden or will she be the lamb to the slaughter?

A Maiden in the Foxcombe is the opening installment in the fantasy adventure series of the Spiregarden Saga. If you like strong women going against tradition, dangerous monsters, and underdog stories, you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s story of one woman looking for her place in the world.

Buy A Maiden in the Foxcombe and join up today!

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

A Maiden in the Foxcombe: The Spiregarden Saga stressed the capabilities of women. We can do more than cook, clean, and birth babies. We can defend our homes, protect our friends. We can be vital in battle, an ally. 

Even though many characters and society, as a whole, believed a woman’s place was in the home, I was overjoyed not everyone conformed to the ridiculous train of thought. Yes, many played the role out of fear of the neylons. However, Kardin chose freedom over fear, and her monumental decision resulted in a game-changing discovery. 

With A Maiden in the Foxcombe: The Spiregarden Saga being this good, I have incredibly high-hopes the sequel will knock my socks off.


On a side note: During Kardin’s training in the Foxcombe ranks, I kept humming this song…


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤1/2

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Tanya SM Kennedy was born in the wilds of West Virginia where she was raised to be strong, independent, and bull-headed. She spends her free time (any she can find) reading, writing, and taking care of her menagerie. She still lives in the wilds of West Virginia with her family enjoying the solitude.

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Henrietta and the Battle of the Horse Mesa (Henrietta The Dragon Slayer Book 3) by Beth Barany (Book Review)

Finally, the sweeping conclusion to the Henrietta The Dragon Slayer trilogy! 

Parted by destiny, the four friends struggle to rejoin forces and face for a final time, the ruthless sorcerer intent on destroying them all.

In the biggest challenge of her life, Henrietta the legendary Dragon Slayer of Bleuve must lead her people into a battle that may end life as they know it. For they face no ordinary army, but the dark forces of a powerful sorcerer bent on overtaking all five kingdoms. And unless she can rescue her dauntless knight Franc, she must do it without his support.

Franc will follow Henrietta anywhere. But on a mission to find allies among the Horse People, he is kidnapped and taken by minions of the evil sorcerer Eyvindir. Will he find the strength and courage to survive, and fight again at Henrietta’s side?

Paulette, the young fire witch, must stand trial for a murder committed out of desperation. In despair at her imprisonment by forces acting against her dearest friend, Jaxter, she escapes and flees to the frigid, forbidden land of Varangia to find a witch powerful enough to help her finally master fire. But what must she give up to gain the power to aid her friends?

Jaxter, now a king, must come to terms with the heavy responsibilities of ruling the Oro Islands, newly emerged from over 75 years of evil rule. This means doing right, even when it means going against ancient customs and protocols. Worse, the marauding Varangians press at his borders. He must find a way to defend his home, or none of them will survive.

Will Henrietta and her friends be able to stop the ruthless sorcerer from obliterating her, claiming the Dragon Stone, and ruling over the Five Kingdoms?

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

The gang is all here for the third and final novel in the Henrietta The Dragon Slayer series. While all the familiar faces are present, they each have a quest that keeps them separate but eventually reunites them for the final battle. 

Paulette: searches for a way to control her firepower.

Henrietta: She has too many missions to list. 🙂

Jaxter: He’s searching for Paulette. He’s also working on another item but revealing it would spoil his big reveal, so MUMS THE WORD. 

Franc: He’s mission hasn’t wavered since the last book — protect Henrietta and find the magical villain. 

Antoine: Return home and show he’s no longer a scared child. 

Eyvindir (villain): His evil intentions have stayed constant – get the stone by any means possible! 

 

So many storylines happening = never a dull moment.

With numerous battles, I can understand why Henrietta is always bone-tired and hungry. She’s riding high on adrenaline! 

Beth (the author) did a marvelous job depicting the characters’ individual quests and then merging them at the end for the final showdown. I only wish this wasn’t the end of the series.

Paulette’s story was just heating up, and I believe Jaxter has many tales to tell. 

Beth, great job at leaving this reader wanting more. MUCH MORE! 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤1/2

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Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mysteries. Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

For fun, Beth enjoys walking her neighborhood, gardening on her patio, and watching movies and traveling with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano and over 1,000 books.

Sign up here to be notified about once a month of book news and special events: http://bethb.net/itbnews.

 

 

Henrietta YA Fantasy Box Set 
Books 1-3
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres/Themes: YA, adventure, fantasy

Buy all three at once!

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Henrietta and the Dragon Stone (Henrietta The Dragon Slayer Book 2) by Beth Barany (Book Review)

What if all those you loved were threatened by a force you couldn’t see or fight?

Henrietta the legendary ass kicking dragon slayer wants to return to her village for a heroes’ welcome. But an unknown sorcerer rides after her and her Dragon Stone, and aims to destroy everyone she cares about.

Can she claim her newfound powers sparked by the Dragon Stone and keep her loved ones safe, especially her more-than-friend, and her stalwart bodyguard, before the sorcerer destroys her and everything in his path?


Perfect for fans of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Collins’ The Hunger Games, McKinley’s Hero & the Crown, and Paolini’s Eragon.

Get your copy of Henrietta the Dragon Slayer trilogy today!

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone WAS NOT a slow-paced book. As a whole, this story had more battles, bloodshed, suspense, danger, magic, sorrow, and love than its predecessor, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer

Henrietta was lucky she had Franc guarding her back. He was also fortunate she was watching his. Apart, they are strong. Together though, they are unstoppable. 

I am rooting for them in their upcoming battle. I’m sure they will reign supreme, but the journey is sure to be challenging and exhilarating. I am looking forward to reading Henrietta and the Battle of the Horse Mesa (book three). 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤1/2

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

 

 

Award winning author, Beth Barany writes in several genres including young adult adventure fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction mysteries. Inspired by living abroad in France and Quebec, she loves creating magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure that empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives.

For fun, Beth enjoys walking her neighborhood, gardening on her patio, and watching movies and traveling with her husband, author Ezra Barany. They live in Oakland, California with a piano and over 1,000 books.

Sign up here to be notified about once a month of book news and special events: http://bethb.net/itbnews.

 

 

Henrietta YA Fantasy Box Set 
Books 1-3
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres/Themes: YA, adventure, fantasy

Buy all three at once!

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Love, Second Time Around: A Summerfield Village Sweet Romance by Penny Appleton (Book Review)

Can Maggie Stewart find love, second time around?

Maggie Stewart is a retired environmentalist, working to preserve the heritage of her little English cottage in Summerfield village. Her children have grown and she’s content to ride horses in the countryside and enjoy her retirement.

Except she needs money for her renovations – and she’s lonely.

When she joins her old environmental team to go up against an oil company intent on destroying a pristine Scottish river, Maggie finds herself working in opposition to a man she once loved from afar, many years ago.

Idaho ranch owner Greg Warren is rich and entitled, with a dark past that he hides behind a professional smile. But inside, he struggles with loneliness after the loss of his wife and the rage of a wild daughter who won’t let him move on.

Love blooms as Maggie and Greg take a chance on a new start, but can they find a balance between the two worlds they inhabit?

In this sweet romance, set between the English countryside and the wide expanse of the Idaho plains, can Maggie and Greg find love second time around?

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It’s dawn and raining hard on a Thursday in Summerfield, but my garden robin is an optimist. He pours his liquid song from the top of a birch tree, telling the world it’s spring, even as leaves blow wildly across the lawn.

I smile and check that the back door and windows are locked as I walk through my cottage. A faint aroma of toast lingers in the warm kitchen, and my big Aga stove purrs quietly as it adjusts the central heating. 

As I pass the breakfast bar, I touch the photos of my wonderful children hanging on the wall behind. Samantha, grinning at Luke on their wedding day, and Harry, surfing with friends. I pause to look more closely at the lovely one of the three of us laughing together, Mother’s Day two years ago, with glasses of champagne in our hands. Happy days, indeed.

I check the dining area next to the kitchen, the center of so much of our family life. I remember Harry, aged nine, sitting at the old oak table, his legs curled around the chair, busy drawing monsters. I look up at the collection of antique milk jugs on the top shelf above, each a chipped and lovely treasure, discovered in Oxford flea markets with my daughter, Sam.

But there’s no time for memories now. I check my watch again, switch off the light, and go into the sitting room.

Like many old English cottages, the front door opens into this living space opposite the narrow staircase, but I don’t use it much. The back door is nearer to the garage and a much better place for storing coats and boots, muddy from walking the fields in the early mornings.

It’s getting lighter outside and I cross to the window that looks out onto the driveway. It’s still raining, and there’s no sign of the taxi. It’s not late, and there’s plenty of time, but I’m eager to get going. I feel a pitter-patter of nerves and breathe, exhaling deeply. I know it will be okay, but this is the first conference since my retirement last year, and I want it to go well. As much as I love this cottage, it needs a lot of upkeep, so I need the work.

My familiar leather briefcase, raincoat, and overnight bag wait on a chair by the door. There is nothing left to do, so I straighten the cushions again and re-fold the throws on the two soft couches. The logs are stacked in the big, open fireplace and the kindling is laid, all ready for when I get home.

I love this room on wild winter nights, all curled up and cozy in the firelight. My Moroccan rug covers half the floor in a palette of reds and blues against a pattern of gray, polished flagstones. The low oak coffee table has two neat piles of books and the latest Horse Magazine that I’m looking forward to reading when I get back. I’m excited about this trip, but no matter how many times I leave, I always want to return to Square Cottage.

Headlights flash across the wall, and a white taxi turns through the gray dawn into the drive. I open the front door and wheel out my bag, eager to get going.

“Taxi to Oxford Station?”

“Morning, Jim.” I smile as he climbs out of the driver’s seat and touches his cap. He takes my overnight bag. “What’s with the cap-touching formality?”

“Just practicing to be the Summerfield taxi driver of choice, Maggie.”  

“Good job, but you’re the only Summerfield taxi driver.” I chuckle as I turn back to ruffle my fingers through a bowl of rose potpourri by the door. The scent of summer fills the air, and I know it will linger in the cottage until I get back. Grabbing my raincoat and briefcase, I pull the front door shut behind me, duck my head, and hurry through the rain to the taxi.

“Early start?” I brush water droplets off my suit as Jim reverses into the lane. My friend Selena waves from her bedroom window above The Potlatch Inn next door, and I wave back with a smile.

“You’re the first today,” Jim says, “but I had a terrible one yesterday. 3:00 a.m. to central London for the Eurostar.”

I make sympathetic noises and turn to look back at Square Cottage as we drive away. It’s three hundred years old with ashen stone walls and a darker gray roof rising to a central chimney on the top. It looks like a cottage teapot without a handle or a spout.

I fell in love with it when we first looked over the gate–Samantha, Harry and me, a little family in need of a home. The cottage was run down and broken. Patching it up took all my savings, but in rebuilding it, we became even closer, and together, we turned it into our family home. Those were happy years, and now that the children are grown up, I’m content living here on my own.

Most of the time.

Jim peers at the road ahead through the driving rain. “Excuse me for not talking, Maggie. The bends are slippery, and wet leaves are everywhere.”

I nod and relax with the swish-swish of windshield wipers and faint music from the radio. From the back seat, I can just see my reflection in Jim’s rearview mirror. My hair is shoulder length and still my natural corn-blonde color, with a bit of professional help. It’s twisted into a smooth chignon today.

The executive businesswoman, professional but not distracting. Good enough. I comb the soft wisps around my face with my fingers and check to see that I’m wearing both earrings. A lesson learned from the past – hurrying out the door, juggling two kids and a demanding job.

I stare out at the rain-drenched fields passing by. Soon we’re into Oxford and pulling onto the station forecourt, where Jim helps me with my bags.

“Have a good trip, Maggie.”

A chilly wind blows across the station as Jim waves from the driver’s window and pulls out into the early morning traffic. I pull my raincoat tighter around me. There’s just enough time to buy a newspaper and a coffee before the train pulls in on Platform 7.

It’s busy, but I find my reserved seat quickly, take off my coat, and settle into my seat. A shrill whistle echoes along the platform, and the train slides out of the station exactly on time. As we leave the suburbs of Oxford, I drink my coffee and look out at vivid green fields with cows and horses by the edge of the river. There are boats moored under the willow trees, their branches trailing in the current.

Rain slashes diagonally across the windows as the train gets up to speed. I read the news headlines, but I’m distracted. There’s so much riding on this conference.

Just after Reading station, the train slows down.

After a few minutes at this reduced speed, it stops completely.

My heart beats faster, and I keep looking at my watch. The minutes tick by faster as the train finally begins to move again, but creeps along by inches.

I turn to the lady next to me. “Any idea why we’re going so slowly? I didn’t see anything on the train app.”

“Something to do with the flooding. I did this journey earlier in the week, and we went at a snail’s pace. Could be a while.”

I try and stay calm, but I can’t miss that flight.

Finally, we pull into Paddington. The doors unlock and I half-jog across the station, dragging my wheelie bag. I make it to the Heathrow Express to find a line of frustrated people and a Cancelled sign. I don’t wait to see what the problem is, I just turn and puff my way to the station entrance, where black London taxis crawl in and out like ants. I join the funnel of commuters and finally make it to the front of the line.

The price to Heathrow makes me wince, but there’s no alternative. My anxiety rises and rises as the taxi inches out of the city and onto the motorway toward the airport. My calm day has fallen apart. I’m disheveled now, my hair and makeup no longer perfect. The rain and wind and running around have flushed my cheeks, and my hair is flyaway. I do my best to touch it up in the back of the cab.

When we arrive at the airport, I thrust money at the driver and sprint to Check-in, making it just before it closes. Of course, there’s a long security line, and I shift from foot to foot, trying to calm my breathing.

Come on, come on or I’m still going to miss the flight.

Cell phone and laptop out, liquids in their plastic bag. I take off my coat and suit jacket and slip them into the tray. Counting precious seconds, I silently plead with the security guy to ignore my shoes.

“Shoes off,” he says.

“Final call for the remaining passenger on flight BA1434 to Edinburgh. Your flight is ready to depart, and all other passengers are waiting for you.”

I run to the gate, blushing as I dash into the cabin. I’m the last to board, and the attendant closes the door behind me. I’m out of breath, flushed, and flustered.

So much for my careful planning and preparation.

I look down at my ticket. Window seat, 12A. Thank goodness it’s quite near the front, so I don’t have to walk the whole length of the cabin in embarrassment.

A man stands in the aisle, stowing his bag in the overhead locker. I wait to squeeze by and he turns as he closes it.

“Thank you.”

I glance up. The man smiles down at me with dark, intelligent eyes behind stylish, black glasses. He’s tall with close-cropped silver hair and a strong, close-shaven jawline. He wears a charcoal business suit expertly tailored to his athletic frame, and he smells of pine forests after rain.

My eyes widen. I take a breath, but suddenly, there’s not enough air.

Greg Warren.

I freeze, my eyes locked on his face.

“Hello, Maggie,” he says, in the beautiful American voice I haven’t heard in so many years.

 

Continue the journey in Love, Second Time Around by Penny Appleton. Available on Amazon in ebook, print and Large Print editions.

 

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

Young or old, everyone deserves a chance at love and I am thrilled Penny Appleton focused her love story around two individuals with a few extra years under their belts. These added years also meant they had a bit more baggage than most young, budding romances do such as prior spouses and full-grown kids.

As much as I love rekindled relationships, I somehow didn’t fully embrace this couple. I felt as if Maggie loved the Greg she knew from the past and those memories clouded her judgment of him now. He didn’t show her the appropriate amount of attention she deserved when she flew all the way to Idaho for him. Plus, I couldn’t shake the feeling he really thought a woman’s place was in the kitchen. And, there’s the conversation between Barb and Maggie. Barb’s description of Greg nagged at me through the rest of the story. Barb: “But Greg was hard to live with at times. He can have flashes of temper and lay down the law as if he’s Moses.”

I know Greg and Maggie were not getting any younger but, no matter the age, there’s something to be said about getting to know your potential spouse before you pledge your undying love. Making sure you’re truly compatible.

Now for more positives: Penny described both England and Idaho so beautifully that each sounded like a wonderful place to visit. I also appreciated the bit of history she weaved into the storyline: Wolf Recovery Program, Nez Perce (Native Americans), and Native American Heritage Day (day after Thanksgiving). It’s always nice to learn something new.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest)

Score: ❤❤❤

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Penny Appleton is the pen name of a mother and daughter team from the south-west of England. We both enjoy traveling and many of the Summerfield sweet romance stories contain aspects of our adventures. We both enjoy walking in nature, and a gin & tonic while watching the sun go down.

Some of our favorite romance authors include Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts, plus we love The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloch, as well as Jane Austen and Stephenie Meyer. Our favorite movies include Legends of the Fall, A Room with a View, and The Notebook.

We are good friends … although sometimes we want to strangle each other! Family relationships are at the heart of our books.

You can find all the books and sign up to be notified of new releases at: www.PennyAppleton.com 
or check out my pictures on Facebook.com/PennyAppletonAuthor

 

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