Review: The Axe of Sundering

axofsundering

When I requested this book via Netgalley, I didn’t realize it was the end of a series.

The cover is eye catching, and the synopsis intrigued me.

Synopsis:

Whalen Vankin is the world’s greatest wizard, and he has only ever personally trained two other wizards. One is Alexander Taylor, a young man who has earned a reputation as a brave adventurer, a warrior, and man of honor. The other is Jabez, Vankin’s nephew and a man whose choices have led him down a different, darker path. Dark magic has covered Westland, and evil is stirring. Whalen and Alex must journey together into the heart of danger, confronting a sea serpent, battling their way through a goblin army, and facing down more than one dragon.

Alex must find the legendary Axe of Sundering, the one weapon that offers a chance to defeat Jabez and protect the land from the dark wizard’s plans. But finding it will be an adventure of its own as the only pathway to the Axe leads through the underground tunnels and secret passages of Castle Conmar. But Jabez has one final weapon at his disposal: the powerful Orion Stone, which could spell the end to Whalen and Alex both.

The story opens with Whalen telling Alex about is problem– his nephew has taken to evil, and had to be stopped. It made me think of Stars Wars.  Alex agrees to assist, and the journey begins.

Every step of the story is well told. You can really believe in the friendships between Whalen, Alex, and those they meet along the way. I enjoyed the deliberate pacing with the adventure.

One thing is for sure, I’d like to check out the rest of the series.

adventurers wanted

You can visit the author on the web at: Adventurer’s Wanted

 

 

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Blog Tour: October by J. Grace Pennington

October Banner

Today is the day! For what? The release of J. Grace Pennington’s new book, October. Yep, she named her book after the month we are in. Check out the great giveaway, and the other posts in this countdown!

About the Book

CoverFor Emily Baxter, life is simple. Her world is made up completely of school, church, and the community in the small farming town she calls home. All that changes one fateful Sunday, when a new girl shows up at Pleasanton Baptist—a girl unlike anyone Emily has ever seen. A girl with long red hair, crystal green eyes, and style and posture like royalty.

A girl named October.

 

The months that follow are filled with magic—the magic of ordinary things, of finding pictures in the stars, of imagination and a new sense of beauty. But as time goes by, Emily begins to sense that her enchanting new friend may have secrets that could break the spell. Is October really all she seems to be?

About the Author

Author photoGrace Pennington has been telling stories since she could talk and writing them down since age five. Now she lives in the great state of Texas, where she writes as much as adult life permits. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading good books, having adventures with her husband, and looking up at the stars.

Preorder here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076JMZCYX/

Excerpt


We laid in silence for awhile, watching the stars appear one by one, adjusting slowly to the cooling temperature of the summer air.

“What should we do tomorrow?” I asked at last.

“Whatever we want.”

I giggled.  “What will we want?”

She poked my shoulder.  “We can’t decide now, silly.  That messes up the magic.”

“Magic?”

My question had been in the most teasing tone possible, but her reply was as serious as I had been silly.  “Whenever a decision is made in the heat of the moment—when we allow ourselves to be carried on joy or sorrow or mere simplicity and quiet—whatever it is, a moment of magic is created.  Not always good magic, of course.  But magic, nonetheless.”

From anyone else, it would have been the most absurd thing imaginable.  I would have laughed.  But here, under the stars, with that hint of wonder I had never heard in anyone else her age—I believed it.

“Then let’s have a magical day tomorrow,” I said.

It was dark, but I could feel her smile.


Character Spotlight

Emily Baxter

Despite not being the title or central character, Emily is the protagonist of “October.”  She is the narrator, the one through whose eyes we see the story—and October herself.

So who is Emily?

Emily is a small-town, seventeen-year-old girl who lives with her parents and her younger brother.  She goes to school and does her homework.  She goes to church every Sunday.  She goes to the mall with her friends.  She hangs out with her cousin, Jax, who lives just down the road from her.

She’s a good girl.  Sheltered.  Respectful.  She loves reading, particularly books about dragons.  She loves the color teal.  She loves poetry.  She loves spring, when the leaves come back to cover the nakedness of the trees.  She loves her parents, but finds them difficult to talk to, especially her mother.  Like many girls, she feels much more affection for her father.  She loves her little brother, but mostly writes him off as a somewhat annoying little kid.

She’s very close with her cousin, and somewhat close with her best friend, but still doesn’t feel quite like there’s anyone who can really relate with her on a deeper level.  Especially now—in that awkward period on the brink of adulthood but not seeming able to quite break into it.  She knows who she is, but she doesn’t seem to have that undefinable something that brings someone out of the innocence of childhood and into the grown-up world.

Enter October Blake.  A beautiful, somewhat mysterious, slightly older girl who shows up unannounced in Emily’s hometown and immediately captures her heart.  Could October be the friend she’s always hoped for?


Giveaway

Grace has generously offered a paperback book of her new book as her giveaway prize. You can enter at this link.


Tour Schedule

October 25, 2017
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory post
God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae – Character Spotlight
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Character Spotlight
Lisa Swinton – Queen of Random – Book Spotlight
Audrey Rich – Book Spotlight

October 26, 2017
Frances Hoelsema – Excerpt
Jaye L. Knight – Character Spotlight and Excerpt
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke – Review

October 27, 2017
Liv K. Fisher – Author Interview and Excerpt
Opinions, Thoughts, and General Rambling – Character Spotlight and Excerpt
Leila’s Bookshelf – Book Spotlight
Britbear’s Book Reviews – Guest Post

October 28, 2017
Rebekah Lyn Books – Excerpt
In the Bookcase – Review
Roxbury Books – Character Spotlight and Excerpt
Grace Pennington – Special author’s post

October 29, 2017
Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway Winner

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Clean Romance: The Nobleman’s Daughter

 

England, 1819

While British high society primps and plays, the impoverished citizens of London languish. But there are those fighting for the freedom of common citizens—including two members of the aristocracy who secretly champion revolution. In the drawing rooms of the upper class, Lady Amanda and Lord Nathaniel flirt and tease with the best of them as she pretends to win every heart in London for sport, and he, to conquer them. But in truth, their flirtation is merely a façade designed to keep their clandestine actions hidden from the ton—and from each other. When Nathaniel presents himself as a potential suitor, the attraction between the two is undeniable—but the faces they portray to the world are not enough to win each other’s hearts.

While their crusade for London’s poor unites them more deeply than they could imagine, Amanda and Nathaniel struggle to trust one another with their true ideals and identities. But when the call to action leads Amanda into the path of danger, she can only hope that Nathaniel will see through her frivolous pretense. Because now, only the aid of the suitor she loves most—but trusts least—can save her.

Check out this fantasy blog’s list of East Asian Fantasy

fantasy faction

I noticed this in a fantasy book group today, and thought the idea was wonderful. I mean, I love Asian based fantasy. (I enjoyed reading about qi and how it relates to fantasy. And with the Asian SciFi Fantasy promo organized by author JC Kang coming up,  excellent timing!

See the list here: http://fantasy-faction.com/2017/adding-to-the-to-be-read-east-asian-fantasy

What are some books that you’ve enjoyed set in an Asian setting?

 

 

 

Chuseok Festival of Books

I remember the Scholastic Book Fair at school. It was one of my favorite events. (I also enjoyed browsing those book flyers.)

Chuseok is sometimes called the Korean Thanksgiving. It’s a three day major harvest festival holiday in the middle of August.

Our harvest here at the Roxbury is, of course, books.


First up, here is a title I first discovered on Wattpad. I remember laughing a lot.

priestess and the dragon

For five hundred years a vengeful dragon has been sealed in stone, until a princess makes a terrible mistake unleashing him to fulfill a destiny centuries in the making.

BUY ON AMAZON


This next one I haven’t read yet, but it is on my to be read list.

kitsune

Rin is a Kitsune, or at least she was until a witch’s spell turned her human. To regain her powers, Rin must make the lord’s son fall in love with her before the next full moon. She thought it would be easy, her kind have been seducing humans for centuries. But Hikaru is different. He’s handsome, intelligent, and kind –the opposite of everything she’s assumed about humans. The plan is to seduce him and get back her powers, there’s no room for love.

BUY ON AMAZON


Another book I discovered first on wattpad is by author JC Kang. His epic fantasy series infuses Chinese culture with elves and dragons.

songs of insurrection

Only the lost magic of Dragon Songs can save the realm. Only a naïve girl with the perfect voice can rediscover it.

Blessed with an unrivaled voice, Kaiya dreams of a time when music could summon typhoons and rout armies. Maybe then, the imperial court would see the awkward, gangly princess as more than a singing fool.

When members of the emperor’s elite spy clan uncover a brewing insurrection, the court hopes to appease the ringleader by offering Kaiya as a bride.

Obediently wedding the depraved rebel lord means giving up her music. Confronting him with the growing power of her voice could kill her.

BUY ON AMAZON


 

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Sometimes winning is everything.

Champion swimmer Aerin Keane is ready to give up her dreams of college swimming and a shot at the Olympics. As she starts senior year in her third high school, Aerin’s determined to leave her family troubles behind and be like all the other girls at Two Rivers. She’s got a new image and a new attitude. She doesn’t want to win anymore. She’s swimming for fun, no longer the freak who wins every race, every title, only to find herself alone.

But when her desire to be just one of the girls collides with her desire to be the best Two Rivers has ever seen, will Aerin sacrifice her new friendships to break a longstanding school record that comes with a $50,000 scholarship?

BUY ON AMAZON


And now for some of my favorites to enjoy on a nice autumn day.

A Stand-alone Novel from the BESTSELLING Kpop romance series.

Corrine Miller-Hayden has a secret. As captain of the cheer team and a Texas beauty queen, she wouldn’t dare tell anyone about her closet K-pop music obsession.

That is, until she runs into her Minji, her ultimate bias, at a fan gathering. She never dreamed she’d touch Minji, let alone accidentally take his phone.

When they meet again at a pep-rally, it’s not like Corrine imagined. She thought she’d be showing off, but instead she becomes the target of a dye-filled water balloon attack. Abby was supposed to be her best friend, not the girl who openly shamed her in front of the whole school.

Minji saves her, not only from embarrassment, but from her own stuck-up self.

Can she love Minji openly, and keep her fangirling a secret?

 


 

Fed up with a string of bad blind dates, health blogger Alyssa Wu wants to drown her sorrows in ice cream. But there’s one more evening she must endure—a fake date with her best friend Barry Chang. They must convince her family they’re in love, an act which may (or may not) be easy to pull off, thanks to the magic of some mistletoe.


Librarian Chloe McAlister finds solace in her books—and hats—but doesn’t know where to turn when her longtime crush gets engaged. On a whim, she signs up for a speed-dating mixer and convinces her best friend, Dill Thomas, to attend. All goes as planned until she realizes Dill means more to her than she thought … and he goes and falls for someone else.


 

When she was nine-years-old, Katie knew she wanted Chris to give her her first kiss. It wasn’t because she was in love with him (no way, he was her best friend! Besides, she was in love with his fourteen-year-old big brother), it was because she could make him do anything she wanted.

Besides, it didn’t really mean anything. It was only a kiss after all.


Twenty-four-year-old photographer’s apprentice Regina has always felt like the plain, dull orange next to the shiny red apple that is her best friend Lana. But then she meets Ben—the first guy to ever break Lana’s heart, and the first guy to ever make Regina feel that he only has eyes for her. As Regina finds herself falling hard for Ben, she also finds herself breaking all the rules of best-friendship. Will she give up the love of her life for Lana, or will she finally realize that she deserves her share of the spotlight, too?

When Sparks Fly can be read as a standalone novel, but it is also a prequel to Ines Bautista-Yao’s other book Only A Kiss.


Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.


 

Lord Fenton is a gambler and a dandy, and he will be stripped of his wealth and position unless he rises to his responsibility—one of which is to marry. Far from being a giddy groom, Fenton chooses the unobjectionable Alice Stanbridge simply because he had known her as a young girl and his mother feels Alice would make a good wife.

Alice, however, has harbored feelings for Fenton since their first meeting years ago, and his proposal is a dream come true. Not only would a match with the most-eligible bachelor in London secure her future, but it will also give her a place of distinction and admiration. Had anyone admired Alice for anything before now?

When Alice learns that she is not only an unwanted wife, but a demanded one, however, she closes her heart. Only when Lord Fenton faces the greatest trial of his life does he begin to find love beyond the folly. Could a great love come from a beginning such as this?


 

When Persephone Lancaster receives a marriage proposal from the ill-tempered Duke of Kielder, she refuses—and then reconsiders. The obscene sum of money he’s offering Persephone would save her family from ruin. With her characteristic optimism, she travels to the far reaches of Northumberland to wed a greatly feared stranger. Lodged deep in a thick forest infested with wild dogs, the Duke’s castle is as cold and forbidding as the Duke himself, a man with terrible scars on his body and his soul. But the Duke’s steely determination to protect his heart at all costs is challenged by his growing attachment to his lovely and gentle bride. With caring persistence, Persephone attempts to pierce the Duke’s armor and reach the man beneath. Yet he cannot tolerate such exposure, and his repeated rejections take their toll. But when grave danger arises, the Duke realizes he must face the risk of revealing his true feelings or lose the woman he cannot live without.


 

Enter Atolas, a world where swords and daggers both extend life and end it; where magic is feared by all but a few; where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. Henry and Isabelle have secretly sworn to marry despite his lowly station. Though Henry is but a carpenter, his devotion drives him to commit an unthinkable act that may cost both of them their lives. Unknown to either, a dark prophecy has set in motion events which will affect not only them, but the thrones of rulers throughout all of Atolas by eclipsing the world in shadow. But all is not lost while hope remains in the guise of an unlikely hero and the strength of friendship.


 

Henry Vestin always believed that, despite being a carpenter with no training in swordplay or survival, he could lead Isabelle and his friends to safety. He thought he could defy an emperor and protect Isabelle from harm. He was certain that love and friendship would help them survive.

He was wrong.

The second volume in the Tale of Light and Shadow series follows Henry and his friends after the disastrous battle at the Iron Pass. Horrors await the band of travelers in strange new lands. Crippled and broken, Henry must rely on his friends more than ever. New allies and foes find them at every turn, but which are friendly and which are deadly? Isabelle, now a slave in Neverak, finds herself surrounded by enemies, uncertain about the fate of her friends, and relying on only herself to survive. The Emperor moves forward with his plans of conquest, spurred on by the Seer’s dark prophecy, but he has not forgotten those who defied him.

Return to the world of Atolas, where swords and daggers extend life or end it, where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships, and where magic is feared by all but a few.


This next book I only recently discovered. I reached out to the author, and I’m delighted to bring this book to the festival.  Kpop, Ghosts, and a Nine tailed fox is what caught my eye.

 

Yubin knows she’s different than the other girls in the pop group SIITY. Yes, they all got sucked into the same machine, giving up schooling and signing ridiculously long contracts before anyone knew if they’d be successful, but that’s how pop stars are made in Korea. Yubin is supposed to be thankful for that, but she isn’t. She doesn’t even like the girls she performs with.

She’s more connected to her former schoolmate Jieun, even though all they ever do is text. Over the last two months, Jieun has become her confidant and best friend, connecting Yubin to the real world in a way she desperately needs. Now that SIITY is going to appear on the reality show The Incredible Race: Asia, Yubin will need that connection more than ever, which is why she’s devastated to discover Jieun has been dead five years and is actually haunting her.

If that weren’t enough, Yubin’s not the only SIITY member with issues. Rena’s father is emotionally abusive. Somi has a learning disability, and after a near death experience, Tae-eun becomes a nine-tailed fox woman. The only way they’ll survive the show, each other, and the supernatural currents buffeting them is to work together and win the hearts of their fans. Because if they don’t, they have nothing to go back to even if they survive what’s trying to kill them.


The heart must be protected at all costs… but will Cassidy be able to afford the price? Cassidy has distanced herself from childhood friend, Tristan. She’s moved on from their days of best friend-hood and is attending college. And dating one of the most eligible males on campus. Life couldn’t be better. Really. Tristan has devoted himself to Cassidy since they were children together. But no matter what he did, she’s never treated him like more than her best friend. He knows they can have something deeper. If only he can find the key to unlocking her fearful heart.


Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting into a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There’s also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae’s heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae’s been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she’s always been looking for.


And from the Roxbury Dragons

 

Evangeline lost her mother to cancer, and her father is rarely home. Lonely and unhappy, she wishes someone would be there for her. A short time later, she is transported to Joseon era Korea.

This could be any Korean drama fans dream. Believing she is dreaming, she quickly accepts her new circumstances. Besides, it doesn’t hurt that Beom is handsome and reminds her of her favorite actor.

As for Beom, he’s not sure what to make of the maiden who mysteriously materialized before his eyes. But one thing he knows for sure is, he must help her return home to her world; yet the longer he is with her, the more he wants her to stay. When the time comes, will he be able to let her go?


Eun Na is working hard to help her father pay off a debt to a merciless lord when she meets two very different men by chance. One is a well-meaning noble who doesn’t believe in magic. The other: a mysterious stranger who is forced to take the ethereal form of a ghost each night.


 

The lonely sea dragon,Yong, wants a bride.

Chung Jo wants her father to regain his sight.

They will strike a bargain, and Chung Jo travels to Yong’s palace beneath the sea.


Forced into running when her village is destroyed, Elodia is about to discover a dragon egg and her destiny as a witch.

***
Fearing the growing power and wealth of the Guilds, the Imperial Emperor orders the destruction of a single guild to keep the people in line.

Childhood sweethearts Elodia and Eli are driven apart when her village is destroyed. When Eli hears the gun fire, he tries to get to Elodia to protect her. By the time he gets there, it’s already too late, and Elodia is gone. Eli goes on a desperate quest to find Elodia.

Forced in to hiding, Elodia makes her way to safety. Uncovering a dragon’s egg, she also learns that she is a witch, and that there is a freedom movement preparing to fight against the oppressive government.

Will they be reunited?

 


kari_read2iwelcomecommentsblinkie1_otto-1

What are some of your favorite books? Tell me in the comments. (Readers, don’t forget to check to see if something interests you!)

Review: All that Makes Life Bright

all that makes life bright cover

All That Makes Life Bright: The Life and Love of Harriet Beecher Stowe

When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled romance, eventually a family, and continued opportunities to develop as a writer. Her new husband, Calvin, is completely supportive and says she must be a literary woman. Harriet’s sister, Catharine, worries she will lose her identity in marriage, but Harriet is determined to preserve her independent spirit. Deeply religious, she strongly believes God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer and will help her accomplish everything she was born to do.

Two months after her wedding Harriet discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Harriet is overwhelmed–being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman’s life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Harriet begins to question her place in her husband’s heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned.

Struggling to balance the demands of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Harriet works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations.

Can their love endure, especially after -I do-? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?


My Review

I’m one of those readers out there that knew very little about Harriet Beecher Stowe.  I knew she was an early American author, but that was it.  So I began this book with no expectations, other than I expect good things from author Josi S. Kilpack.

This book is one of Shadow Mountain’s A Proper Romance, and I was delighted to be allowed to receive an ARC in exchange for a review.

One of the things I enjoyed about this fictional account of Harriet’s early married life as that she was very real. All those feelings of inadequacy, of being overwhelmed with domestic duties, of being a wife, of motherhood–all those are real.  As well as the very real need to write, and to create.

When Harriet marries widower Calvin Stowe, she embarks on a new chapter in her life. Both of them have to find the intricate balance on this path of life.   And Harriet could not have made the difference she did had her role been different, and this book does a wonderful job on showing the wisdom God has in who he calls to the task.

As a side note, at the end of the book, Ms. Kilpack shares info on what parts were real, and which were fictionalized.

 

ericablinky2kari_read2iwelcomecommentsblinkie1_otto-1

 

Review: Dongeng by Anna Tan

 

dongeng
click to buy on Amazon

Exiled. Powerless. The world he grew up in is changing—he feels it, feels the devastation being wrought. But what can he do so far away from home?

 

Lost. Afraid. She’s being enlisted to help save Alam Dongeng—a magical world she knows little about. How can she tell stories she doesn’t even know?

Worried. Confused. He’s long forgotten his grandfather’s stories—it’s familiar, but he’s never really believed in them. Why should he start now?
~
Dongeng tells the story of Sara and Helmi’s awakening to magic in their own country. There’s a war to protect Alam Dongeng, helmed by the Orang Bunian and Garuda. But are the ranks of Hantu really their enemies? They may very well be fighting the wrong battle.

A sequel to Coexist, Dongeng draws you into a whole new realm of fairy tales.

Roxbury Books Rating: PG


My Review:

This was my  first look at Maylasian fairytales, so  I wasn’t sure what to expect. I appreciated the descriptions, although I did wish a few times for a glossary.

Over all, I enjoyed the story. I liked Sara and Helmi, and their relationship. I liked Helmi’s parents. I liked how Sara linked the fairy lands of the West with those of Asia.

Some parts of the were confusing, especially when it was filling in the backstory.  By the end I could piece things together. I feel like the wrong characters were center stage to what could have been a stronger story about Abdul Mansoor and Aria.

I am a fan of blending cultures. After all, we share a beautiful world. Different families come together and create new families, blending together what was, what is, and what will be.

I definitely would love to learn more about Maylasia, and her stories.

Thank you, Anna Tan, for this wonderful story.

 

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Review: The Yard Sale by Shirley Jamiel

the yard sale

Synopsis: It was late fall and the family decided to have a yard sale to make some extra spending money. Little did they know their most valued treasure would be stolen. Who took 5 year old Cindi and how does the family pull together to solve her mysterious disappearance?

Roxbury Book Rating: R   Contains reference to a sexual crime against a minor.

 

 

 


My Review:

This is an inspirational story about family and faith.

It is written in third person omniscient, and that might throw off some modern readers. We never fully get into the characters heads as the narrator shares their thoughts and what is going on. There’s bits of info dumping, but the info is pertinent, and it is easy to follow when the POV shifts.

There are multiple mentions of faith, God, and prayer.

Possible Spoiler Alerts below.

I really liked the character Cindi. She’s a smart 5 year old, and her quick thinking really saves her. There’s one scene in which the kidnapper stops at cheap motel for the night. While the reader is aware what the evil man is up to in the bathroom, and what his intentions are for the child, it never goes into detail. Due to the nature of the crime I would rate the book  R.

Despite the nastiness of the scene, this is one of the scenes that Cindi starts to really shine. When the evil man joins her in the room, he’s not aware that she has hidden herself under the bed, and that the shape in the bed is her doll.  One of my favorite scenes though is when she drops a pack of  allergy pills into his drink and is able to escape.

At the time of my writing this, there are a few typos and format issues with the book. But these are minor and should not interrupt the flow of the story.

This book is currently available at B&N,  Apple, and Kobo.