by Corrie Wang
Published by Disney Hyperion Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

THE TAKEDOWN, Blog Tour Digital Assets

Title: THE TAKEDOWN

Author: Corrie Wang

Pub. Date: April 11, 2017

Publisher: Freeform

Pages: 384

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads

 

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club, a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

 

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

 

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible-take something off the internet-all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint. Set in near-future Brooklyn, where privacy is a bygone luxury and every perfect profile masks damning secrets, The Takedown is a stylish, propulsive, and provocative whodunit, asking who would you rely on if your tech turned against you?

 

Let me start off by saying that I REALLY LIKED THIS STORY. I admit that I signed up for this book because I could not resist the “hooking up with hot teacher” aspect of the plot. I was only minimally interested in the future/technology/internet aspect of the story. As a historian/librarian-in-training, I always have conflicting emotions about technology and the internet. But let me tell you, this book sucked me in like a stumbled upon episode of The Kardashians at I-can’t-sleep-so-I’m-flipping-through-channels-a.m.

Part Mean Girls, part Gossip Girl- this book was so fun and so hard to put down.

The author does an amazing job at creating the near future world in which humans have become appendages to technology and not vice versa. Humans are at the mercy of their devices in this carefully crafted story world, and there is a very creepy Big Brother vibe in the story. It gave me second thoughts about bring my cell phone with me into the restroom anymore *coughs*.

The main female character, Kyle, narrates the story with complete candidness and the kind of arrogance that you hate to love.  The mix of romantic and bestie/friend drama is perfectly balanced and gave the story such a realistic current that the younger me identified with. Although the story is set in the future, it really brought back memories, LOL.

The best part of this story, besides the integrated text-speak and the nostalgic memories of 1990’s high-school films and T.V. dramas that this book ironically evoked, was the compelling mystery at the center. I did not want to put this book down. I was addicted to it like most people are addicted to their cell phones. I HAD TO KNOW WHO WAS BEHIND THE MISCHIEF. In addition to the fun and engaging plot and storyworld, I loved the diversity of the characters that Corrie Wang so vividly animated in the prep-school setting.

This book is so fitting for today’s media and technology saturated culture. It will definitely have you thinking about your relationships with your devices and how much technology has embedded itself into your existence. It will also make you think twice about who you are both in private and public spaces.

This book is a super fast and surprisingly nuanced read. FIVE STARS, hands down. Did I mention how much I love the cover and the formatting inside? FUN.

About Corrie:

Corrie Wang is passionate about libraries, road trips, and eating all the food, everywhere. Corrie grew up in Buffalo but spent her formative years in Brooklyn, where one of her last paying gigs was managing a three-story nightclub on the Lower East Side. ​

She currently lives in Charleston, where she and her husband Shuai Wang own and operate Short Grain food truck— named one of Bon Appetit magazine’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants 2016 and a 2017 semi-finalist for a James Beard Award. The Takedown is Corrie’s debut novel.​

And fyi it’s pronounced Wong y’all.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE TAKEDOWN, US Only.
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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

4/10/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Blogger Post

4/11/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

4/12/2017- YA and Wine– Review

4/13/2017- BookHounds YA– Blogger Post

4/14/2017- Storybook Slayers– Review

 

Week Two:

4/17/2017- Dazzled by Books– Review

4/18/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Blogger Post

4/19/2017- MEREADALOT– Review

4/20/2017- Book Briefs– Review

4/21/2017- Savings in Seconds– Review

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

by Victoria Scott
Published by Scholastic, Scholastic Press Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

About the Book:

Title: HEAR THE WOLVES

Author: Victoria Scott

Pub. Date: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Pages: 240

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads

 

It’s survival of the strongest in a contemporary, girl-versus-wild middle-grade début from Fire & Flood author Victoria Scott!

Sloan is a hunter.

So she shouldn’t be afraid of anything. But ever since her mom left the family and she lost hearing in one ear in a blizzard, it’s been hard to talk to people, and near-impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her dad or big sister within eyesight — it makes her too scared to be on her own.

When they leave her home alone for what should only be two nights, she’s already panicked. Then the snow starts falling and doesn’t stop. One of her neighbors is hurt in an accident. And the few people still left in Rusic need to make it to the river and the boat that’s tied there — their only way to get to a doctor from their isolated Alaska town.

But the woods are icy cold, and the wolves are hungry. Sloan and her group are running out of food, out of energy, and out of time. That’s when the wolves start hunting them . . .

Who else needs a poster of this AWESOME book art!?!

Dear Readers,

Be ready to tear through this book like a wolf through its prey. Victoria’s middle-grade début novel will snatch your imagination by the throat and shake it to its core. A fast-paced and attention-grabbing read, Hear the Wolves howls with tension, drama, fright, and courage.

I could not put this book down.

The ending of each chapter left me with so much anticipation, that I devoured the book in one sitting. I admit that I had reservations going into Hear the Wolves. First, I was not sure if a middle-grade novel would hold my attention. Secondly, as a diehard animal lover, I did not know if I would make it through much less enjoy a novel with a protagonist who was a hunter; but this is where an author’s skills shine through. Victoria’s deft handling of the realities of rural Alaskan life worked like magic, subduing my reservations. The complex characters and suspenseful plot absorbed my attention and propelled me through the story.

I loved the diversity of the setting and the flawed characters. Victoria explores the world of the Alaskan wilderness through the eyes of Sloan, the female protagonist, and her fellow townsfolk. Sloan is the kind of female MC that we need in fiction today. She is flawed and perfect because of it.  Intelligent, sensitive, and courageous, Sloan’s character ARC provides a powerful narrative for girls and boys alike: Your past does not define you. Your agency and courage in the face of adversity does. YOU ARE POWERFUL.

A unique and adrenaline-spiking story, Hear the Wolves also teaches a valuable lesson about the effects that human actions have on nature and wildlife. This is a MUST read for tweens, teens, and adults. Keep scrolling, and ENTER TO WIN a FINISHED COPY of this gorgeous book! US ONLY.

About Victoria:

Victoria Scott is the author of eight novels including Titans, Fire & Flood, Salt & Stone, the Dante Walker trilogy, Hear the Wolves (March 2017), and Violet Grenade (May 2017). She is published by Scholastic and Entangled Teen, and is represented by Sara Crowe of Pippin Properties.

Victoria’s latest novel, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood has been selected as a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels have been bought and translated in fourteen foreign markets. The author currently resides in Philadelphia, and loves hearing from her readers.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of HEAR THE WOLVES, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Tour Schedule:

Week One

3/20/2017- YA Books Central Interview

3/21/2017- Just Commonly– Review

3/22/2017- Falling For YA– Guest Post

3/23/2017- MEREADALOT– Review

3/24/2017- BookHounds YA– Interview

Week Two

3/27/2017- A Backwards Story– Review

3/28/2017- A Gingerly Review– Excerpt

3/29/2017- Book Briefs– Review

3/30/2017- Mundie Moms– Interview

3/31/2017- Library of a Book Witch– Review

 

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

About Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe of the Harvey-Klinger Literary Agency. She’s the author of the FIRE & FLOOD series published by Scholastic, and the DANTE WALKER trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her first stand-alone young adult title, TITANS, will be published by Scholastic in spring 2016.

Victoria’s books have been bought and translated in eleven foreign markets including the UK, Turkey, China, Poland, Israel, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Taiwan, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. She currently lives in Dallas, and hearts cotton candy something fierce.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
The Deep End by Kristen AshleyThe Deep End by Kristen Ashley
Series: Honey #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 7th, 2017
Pages: 454
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Indiebound | BAM!
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Enter a decadent sensual world where gorgeous alpha males are pleasure slaves committed to fulfilling a woman's every desire. At the elite Honey club, no boundary will be left untested, and one's darkest desires will become a sensual reality.

Olivier isn’t sure what he’s gotten himself into when he joins the Honey Club, only that a dark part of him craves the lifestyle offered by this secret, exclusive club.

When Amèlie invites Olivier to surrender, she pushes him to explore his deepest desires as a submissive. As they grow closer and find themselves falling harder than either of them anticipated, the truth about Olivier’s past could threaten the budding relationship they both long for.

Gripping and seductive, The Deep End is the first book in a sensational new series from bestselling author Kristen Ashley.

Erin’s Review:

 

 

WOW. I recommend you turn the air conditioning when you start this book. It is seriously HOT. I thought Kristen Ashley’s Unfinished Hero series was dirty…those books have NOTHING on The Deep End. Wow. In the Unfinished Hero books, KA does dabble a bit in the BDSM when it came to some of the sex scenes but not anything like this book. This book was ALL SEX for the most part and most of it was the drrrty kind, not the plain ole vanilla kind.

Ok, I have to be honest, it took a while for me to really get in to the story. I got a little lost in the beginning of the book. It might have been the narrative, as I am not the biggest fan of third person, possibly just the story starting out really slow as well. There was a lot of inner dialogue I could have lived without, especially in the beginning of the book but eventually I started to get in to the story. I really enjoyed the second half of this book a lot more than the first half. Things definitely got a lot more interesting, there was more than just intense dirty sex happening ..the story developed a lot more.

Amelia is the DOMME in this book, and it was interesting, seeing the female in that role… and Olivier was referred to as an Alpha/Sub.. and he was definitely a Kristen Ashley ALPHA IN ALMOST ALL THE WAYS, except for the playroom. O_O Say what? He is what I saw someone refer to in another review as “Lion in the streets, kitten in the sheets.” and I TOTALLY AGREE with that.  This made for an interesting Kristen Ashley story for sure.

It’s not my favorite book of Kristen Ashley’s but I didn’t hate it. It’s just a lot different than what we are used to from her. That’s ok though. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book. I haven’t seen the synopsis for it yet (is there even one out?) but I can take a guess as who it could possibly be! 🙂

 

Excerpt:

At that moment, for the first time in years, she was paying no attention to Stellan.

This was because Talia’s tall frame shifting out of the way offered an unhindered view of something else that had slipped in without her notice.

And gazing at him, Amélie went still.

As did her breath.

And her heartbeat.

Leaning a shoulder against the wall beyond the edge of the bar, six or seven feet from the door to the playrooms, he was surveying the scene as if he wasn’t part of it.

Or as if it was he who was on the prowl.

But although a Dominant could mingle freely in the open space, this would be done with some intent.

If they were on the hunt, they’d be at a booth.

Subs were not allowed to sit in a booth unless the invitation was extended. They populated the floor, on display, it was requisite.

In the mesh of bodies, a sub could be identified in a variety of ways. The cast of their gaze. Their bearing. Jewelry that declared their status.

And their position in the hunting ground.

No Dominant would linger there like he was, partially for that reason. Clear communication and transparent messages were key in their world. No Dom would give the impression of being a sub.

This was explained at length during membership orientation.

That magnificent beast was a sub.

An alpha-sub, assuredly.

It came from his sheer size, like a cloak stitched to his skin he had no hope of shrugging off (not that he’d wish to).

He had to be six five, perhaps taller. His dark suit and mono-chromatic shirt necessarily tailored for his physique for there were very few men on this earth that had it. His shoulders as wide as a log. His chest a veritable wall. The muscles Amélie had no doubt were hidden under his clothing apparent in the exposed line of his throat. It wasn’t that he had no neck. But that lethal shank of corded, sinewy muscle could not be established and maintained if the rest of him didn’t match precisely.

She knew he was alpha beyond that. His stance at the wall, casual and self-assured, it was openly cocky. He knew his allure. He knew his beauty. He knew even if he wasn’t exactly your type, every being would understand with base instinct his attraction.

He also knew how to use this. All of it. It was his art as sure as reading it on him was Amélie’s.

From what she could tell, his hair was dark blond, the thickness of it, how it was longer at the top, clipped short at neck and ears was so appealing, she was willing to make that single allowance for she preferred her toys to have dark hair.

She made that allowance, but if she had her way, and she often did, he’d grow it longer so there’d be more of it to fist her fingers into as a means to use to make him serve her will.

His facial features only heightened his appeal that already, with the rest of him, defied belief.

A strong brow over eyes she couldn’t see the color of from her distance. Hollowed cheeks under high cheekbones and over a firm, cut, clean-shaven jaw. And a large nose that was openly pugilistic, the dent at the top of the bridge not created by God but by a break that he didn’t deem important enough to have set properly.

Staring at him, utterly incapable of not doing it openly, she felt the insides of her thighs tingle. And her nipples were hard buds, the restriction of the lace of her bra suddenly excruciating.

That…

Now that was whisky.

“Oh my, Leigh, are you seeing what I’m seeing?” Mirabelle asked. And before she could answer, her friend went on, “It’s like he was made for you.”

It was, indeed.


Blog Tour:

Kristen Ashley’s THE DEEP END – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

February 27th

All Romance Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Crystals Book World – Excerpt

Foxy Blogs – Excerpt

Garden of REden – Review

Stacey is Sassy – Review

Steamy Reads – Review

February 28th

Books,Dreams,Life – Excerpt

Marieke’s Books – Review & Excerpt

Read more sleep less – Review

Scandalicious Book Reviews – Review

She Reads New Adult Book Blog – Review

The Book Bellas – Review & Excerpt

March 1st

After Dark Book Lovers – Review & Excerpt

Booklovers For Life – Review

FMR Book Grind – Review

Jax’s Book Magic – Excerpt

Reads All the Books – Review & Excerpt

Three Girls and a Book Obsession – Review & Excerpt

March 2nd

Agents of Romance – Review & Excerpt

Under the Covers – Review & Excerpt

Book Bitches Blog – Excerpt

Oh My Growing TBR – Review & Excerpt

Reading Keeps Me Sane – Review & Excerpt

The Review Loft – Review & Excerpt

March 3rd

Random Book Muses – Review

MEReadALOT – Review & Excerpt

Mommys naughty playground – Review

Stephanie’s Book Reports – Review & Excerpt

Vilma’s book blog – Review & Excerpt

March 4th

a crazy vermonters book reviews – Review

Book Babes Unite – Review

Love Between the Sheets – Review & Excerpt

Vagabonda Reads – Review

March 5th

All About Romance – Review

Mustreadbooksordie – Review & Excerpt

Angie and Jessica’s Dreamy Reads – Review & Excerpt

PBC – Excerpt

March 6th

About That Story – Review

Krista’s Dust Jacket – Review & Excerpt

KT Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Night Owl Reader – Review & Excerpt

Read-Love-Blog – Review

StuckInBooks – Review & Excerpt

March 7th

Shh Moms Reading – Review

Words We Love By/LucyLiciousReads – Review & Excerpt

Books to Breathe – Review & Excerpt

For The Love of Fictional Worlds – Review & Excerpt

Joyfully Reviewed – Review & Excerpt

Nose Stuck in a Book – Review & Excerpt

March 8th

Shameless Book Club – Review & Excerpt

A Fortress of Books – Excerpt

BJ’s Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Jen’s Reading Obsession – Excerpt

Lit Slave – Review & Excerpt

Straight Shootin’ Book Reviews – Excerpt

March 9th

Behind Closed Doors Book Review – Review

Dirty Girl Romance – Review

Friends Till The End Book Blog – Excerpt

iScream Books – Review & Excerpt

Red Cheeks Reads – Review

Smut Book Junkie Reviews – Review & Excerpt

March 10th

Bookcrack – Review & Excerpt

Two Girls with Books – Excerpt

E-Romance News – Excerpt

Four Chicks Flipping Pages – Review

Lit. 4 Ladies – Review & Excerpt

Natalie The Biblioholi – Review & Excerpt

True Story Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

March 11th

Aurora B’s Book Blog – Excerpt

Blushing babes are up all night – Review & Excerpt

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents – Review & Excerpt

Reading Between the Wines Book Club – Excerpt

March 12th

Collector of book boyfriends – Review

Feeding My Addiction Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

I’m A Sweet And Sassy Book Whore – Review & Excerpt

Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’ – Excerpt

March 13th

Black heart reviews – Review

Nice Ladies, Naughty Books – Excerpt

Once Upon a Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

Pretty Little Book Reviews – Review

Queenzany – Review & Excerpt

Sizzling Pages Romance Reviews – Review & Excerpt

Talk Books to Me – Review

March 14th

Abibliophobia Anonymous Book Reviews – Excerpt

Alpha Book Club – Review

G & T’s Indie Café – Excerpt

Once Upon An Alpha – Review & Excerpt

No BS Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt

The BookWhisperer – Review & Excerpt

The Escapist Book Blog – Review & Excerpt

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake. Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue + GIVEAWAY!!!The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Published by Little Brown on September 20, 2016
Pages: 291
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels--a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

ENTER TO WIN a Hardcover copy of The Wonder below! US ONLY.

Have you read Emma Donoghue’s Room, or seen the Academy award winning film based off of that book? I haven’t indulged myself in either of these yet, but I did recently read Donoghue’s, The Wonder, and I could not put it down.

Set some years after the Crimean War, this story unfolds within the confines of a thatch-roofed home, in a small Irish village, haunted by poverty and intense religious superstition. The setting of the novel evokes an atmosphere of beauty, mysticism, and despair– a strange and compelling combination.

Image result for Ireland thatched roof house

The narrator of the story is a bold Red Cross nurse, named Lib, with brains and cynicism to spare. Trained under Florence Nightingale, Lib is called on for her special skills to determine if a nine-year-old self-proclaimed saint, who claims to survive off of ”heavenly sustenance”,  is the real thing.

The characters are concentrated doses of the culture, mannerisms, attitudes, and beliefs you would expect from late nineteenth-century Irish folk. The majority of the story is concentrated even further between the nightly conversations between Lib and Anna, and Lib and her own mental meanderings.

In short, this story is a superfast read. Each chapter begs you to continue to the next as the story plants red herrings and grows more complex by the page. It is an intimate story that forces you to ask yourself what you would do or believe in Lib’s position. Overall, I recommend this book to any historical fiction or psychological suspense fan who is looking for a story with a deep and fast hook. The only minor dislike I had was for the much too tidy ending.

Have you read The Wonder or The Room? What did you think?

Just for fun:

Here is a short video on Florence Nightingale and the advent of modern nursing:

 

And here is a fun, 1940s video aimed at women entering the workforce as nurses:

 

 

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
Blog Tour: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven + GIVEAWAY!!!

by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, Random House Kids on October 4, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Armed with wit and humour, Niven delivers a poignant story that reads like an insta-classic. It is the “Can’t Hardly Wait” of this generation.

This novel was a fast read for me. I couldn’t put it down once I started. Alternating chapters reveal two characters that find a common heart-string among the awkwardness of high-school despite their night-and-day experiences. While the chapters were short and sweet, the characters were smart and addicting. Being inside of Libby Strout’s head was one of the best things I’ve ever done. If you are lucky, she will remind you of yourself. Or if you are lucky in a different way, she will inspire you to be more of your awesome self. Jack Masselin is pretty bad-ass as well, but Libby takes the cake. No pun intended.

Niven’s story delivers sharp and insightful commentary on the American social experience, especially for those who fall outside of the cookie cutter norm that American media sells. Although written from the perspective of Libby and Jack, a high-school boy and girl, Holding Up The Universe is sure to hold truth and relevance for a range of readers. There is magic in this book that transcends age.

This novel takes a tabloid-esqe story and pieces together the humans behind the headlines. Holding Up The Universe is an important reminder that people are more than what they look like and that everyone we come across is fighting their own battles.

Holding Up The Universe is A MUST for your holiday wish-list and book-loving friends. Enter below for a chance to read an ARC of Niven’s latest and greatest novel. US ONLY.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Forget Tomorrow by Pintip DunnForget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn
on November 3, 2015
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all.

Callie herself.

This review is long overdue, but that is a common theme for me as of late. Over the past year, I have used any “spare” time (between school, work, commuting, spending time with my family) to attack my leisure/TBR list. So, when I have a moment to write a review/blog during the semester, that means I’m on top of my game. Yay for me!

Check out this lovely book-look created by another fan:

Book Look: Forget Tomorrow (Forget Tomorrow #1) By Pintip Dunn
Book Look: Forget Tomorrow (Forget Tomorrow #1) By Pintip Dunn by xmikky featuring a mini dress

When I read Pintip Dunn’s Forget Tomorrow earlier this year, it acted as the miracle brain balm to my reading romance rut. With Victoria Scott’s Dante Walker trilogy complete, J.L. Armentrout’s Lux series at an end, and Amy Engel’s The Book of Ivy duology finished, I felt at a loss for where to turn to for my next gripping teen read. Then, lo and behold, EntangledTEEN puts out the first book in another MUST READ series: Forget Tomorrow. My SciFi,YA, Romance loving heart was happy again…and completely in love with the characters and plot of Pintip Dunn’s new series.

I hesitate. Not because I don’t want to touch him, but because I do. I want to take his hand and hold it forever. […] Because five years ago, I never noticed the way his upper lip rested on his lower one, soft but assured. My breath didn’t quicken when he was near, and my stomach didn’t flip-flop whenever he touched me.

Our friendship has entered unfamiliar terrain.

Fans of the above mentioned books and others like the Divergent and UTNS series will find their next action-packed, romantic tension fix with Forget Tomorrow.

Two bad-ass characters, each carrying a secret. 17 year-old Callie is a strong, resilient, complex, and clever character that perfectly complements Logan, her childhood crush, who emanates from the page with quiet courage and a heart of gold. In other words, I’m in love.

This heart-pounding debut explores themes of family, convention and rebellion, identity, and the power of choice. I’m dropping everything to dive into the newly release sequel, Remember Yesterday, TONIGHT.

Follow me on Instagram for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Remember Yesterday in the near future.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas (Review & Giveaway)The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas
on September 6th, 2016
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo
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THE NEW NOVEL FROM THE #1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE THIS MAN TRILOGY ANDONE NIGHT TRILOGY!

People think they have Camille Logan nailed: daddy's girl; beautiful, spoiled young woman with her father's bank balance to fund her lifestyle. But Camille is determined to have a life free from his strings. Out on her own, she's made mistakes, including one that found her clawing her way back after a stint in rehab and plenty of bad press. Now, after fighting so hard to be independent and happy, she finds her life threatened as a result of her father's ruthless business dealings. Caught between resentment and fear, Camille prepares herself for the measures her father will take to protect her. But nothing could prepare her for the ex-SAS sniper who crashes into her life.

Jake Sharp resides in his own personal hell. He was distracted from duty once before, and the consequences were devastating--both personally and professionally. He vowed never to let that happen again. Accepting the job of bodyguard to Camille Logan isn't the kind of distraction from his demons he should take. Women and Jake don't mix well, yet protecting the heiress seems the lesser of two evils. But Jake soon discovers that she isn't the woman she's perceived to be. She's warm, compassionate, her presence settling, and his duty to protect her soon goes deeper than a well-paid job, no matter how hard he fights it. He needs absolution. He comes to need Camille. But he knows he can't have both.

 

Book Trailer

 

 

Review

Oh. my. GOD. This is another masterpiece from Jodi Ellen Malpas. If you love a Tall, Dark and Moody hero then Jake Sharp is the Book Boyfriend for you.

Jake Sharp has serious demons and he lives with them every day. The only ways that help him keep them at bay is drinking, sex and work. When a job comes in to guard the daughter of a rich business man he’s reluctant to take it at first glance. What he’s expecting is a rich spoiled girl brat, but it isn’t what he gets.

Camille Logan is a smart, independent woman who is determined to make a name for herself without the help of her father.

The moment the two of them meet in the story the chemistry is there and it builds up quite nicely throughout the story. I really enjoyed getting to know the two of them. Jake’s backstory is quite heartbreaking and I definitely didn’t expect for it to turn out the way it did. But in the end it works out quite nicely and it will definitely bring a tear or two to your eyes. It was a very sweet ending.

The Protector is a standalone novel, unlike Jodi’s previous work, and I’m quite sad that we won’t get to spend any more time with Jake and Camille. Who knows? Maybe in the future she’ll re-visit them again. We’ll see…

Jodi definitely knows how to write a Swoony-worthy guy and if you love Jesse and Miller, you’ll LOVE JAKE. Read this book now! If you haven’t read Jodi’s previous series This Man or One Night, you should DEFINITELY check those out as well. 🙂

 

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About Jodi Ellen Malpas

Jodi Ellen Malpas was born and raised in the Midlands town of Northampton, England, where she lives with her two boys. Working for her father’s construction business full time, she tried to ignore the lingering idea of writing until it became impossible. She wrote in secret for a long time before finally finding the courage to unleash her creative streak, and in October 2012 she released This Man. She took a chance on a story with some intense characters and sparked incredible reactions from women all over the world. Writing powerful love stories and creating addictive characters have become her passion – a passion she now shares with her devoted readers.

Blog Tour Review + GIVEAWAY: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

by Jay Kristoff
Published by Thomas Dunne Books Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

NEVERNIGHT

Don’t forget to ENTER TO WIN an awesome prize at the end of this post!

Nevernight could be classified as a pop-up book because every character and detail leaps from the pages. This book has a PRESENCE albeit a sadistic one. I found myself compelled to finish Mia’s story in as few sittings as possible.

When I first read Ann Rice’s Lasher series at the tender age of ADULT, I would hide the books in my dresser drawer at night when I went to bed. I thought the books were way evil and would possess me or my house, LOLOLOLOLOL.

Now, at the tender age of  ‘been-adulting-it-for-a-while’ , I will admit to you that Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight made me do the same thing. This book is MESSED UP…..in all the right ways. It is delightfully eeeeeeval in a STAB STAB way, not paranormal way. I have to admit, while reading Nevernight, I felt like I needed to reach out to Mr. Kristoff and offer him one of my psychoanalysis sessions, but I digress.

Sex. Violence. Assassin’s Creed. Blood. Guts. Star Wars. Opera. Harry Potter. The Godfather. All of these things came to mind while reading this brick-thick book full of delightful footnotes. (How could you not read a book that brings all the aforementioned to mind!?) As a historian-in-training, I enjoyed the footnote aspect. THAT’S WHERE THE TREASURES ARE. Take my advice and DO NOT SKIP THE FOOTNOTES. They added another fun dimension to the storyworld. And seriously, the landscaping for Nevernight was fantastic. The world building is so vivid and complete and original.

Stylistically, the novel is crass, hardcore, and abrasive. There were definitely moments where I asked myself, “Did he really just write that?!”.  There were also moments where I felt like the storyworld dimensions of Sin City and The Borgias had burst open and spilled into each other, making for a really interesting reading experience.

The characters were all well played. Everything about this book, from the settings to the dialogue to the fight scenes has ‘video gamer CRACK’ written all over it.

Don’t call the cops when I tell you this, but I totally connected with Mia’s character and could relate to her on multiple levels. She’s wonderfully conflicted and vulnerable, yet powerful beyond measure because of her shortcomings. I loved how Mia’s story taps into the powerful and seductive emotions of vengeance, despair, and unbridled hatred, and that Mr. Kristoff wasn’t timid in exploiting those emotions. But Mia’s story grows exponentially more complex by the end of Nevernight, and we see a new set of emotions disrupt her tunnel vision.

The chemistry between Mia and Tric, her love/lust interest, is the stuff that solar systems are made of.  If you are reading this book, and thinking to yourself, “Whoaaaaa, this is so not for me,” keep reading for Mia and Tric. And Mister Kindly. TRUST ME.

Side note:

After watching the wonderful book trailer for Nevernight (featured further down), I knew I was right on point with how I was imagining most of the storyworld/settings except I also got a modern feel at points. Modern like graphic novel/Sin City type modern. HA. Immediately below is the song I would have set as the book trailer soundtrack:

 

jayAbout Jay Kristoff

About Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff is a New York Times and international bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy. He grew up in the second most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he’s been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. He spent most of his formative years locked in his bedroom with piles of books, or gathered around dimly-lit tables rolling polyhedral dice. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of.

 

His LOTUS WAR trilogy was critically acclaimed in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards and won the 2014 Aurealis Award. Jay’s new series, the SciFi thriller THE ILLUMINAE FILES, was co-authored with Amie Kaufman. Book 1, ILLUMINAE, became a New York Times and international bestseller, was named among the Kirkus, Amazon and YALSA Best Books of 2015 and won the 2016 Aurealis Award and an ABIA Book of the Year award. ILLUMINAE is currently slated to be published in twenty five countries, and film rights have been acquired by Brad Pitt and Plan B Entertainment.

 

Jay’s new fantasy series, THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, commences with book 1, NEVERNIGHT, from St Martins Press/Thomas Dunne Books and Harper Voyager in 2016. A new YA series, LIFEL1K3 has also been acquired by Knopf/Random House Kids, and commences publication in 2018. Jay is as surprised about all this as you are. He is represented by Josh Adams at Adams Literary.

 

Jay is 6’7 and has approximately 13,030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

 

He does not believe in happy endings.

Website | Twitter | Facebook |Instagram | Goodreads

 

Book Trailer: This is a trailer made by Sarah @ The YA Book Traveler. 

 

Giveaway Details:

5 winners will receive a finished copy of NEVERNIGHT, US Only.

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Blog Tour: The Shadow Hour by Melissa  + GIVEAWAY!!!The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey
Series: The Girl at Midnight #2
Published by Delacorte Press on July 12, 2016
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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A battle has been won. But the war has only just begun.

Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature—or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour.

THE SHADOW HOUR (2)

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

The Shadow Hour

Author: Melissa Grey

Pub. Date: July 12, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 432

Format: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature– or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour. 

My Review:

Welcome to the bad-ass sequel of the friggin’ century. The Shadow Hour outshines The Girl at Midnight with the power of a thousand firebirds. It’s the norm for sequels to kind of suck, but I am officially wooed beak over wings for this series because of book two. I alternately had urges to watch vintage X-Men cartoons and the film Willow while reading The Shadow Hour BECAUSE THAT’S HOW EPIC IT WAS.

XMenPheonix2XMenPheonix 1

The seeds of greatness that were planted in The Girl at Midnight fully bloomed in The Shadow Hour. The story world, wherever it went, was vivid and intoxicating in description. I marked so many pages in this book because I was buzzed on its descriptive power and the potency of the emotions it evoked. Reading The Shadow Hour made me feel powerful. And that’s all I really ever want from a book. For it to make me feel awesome and swept away by its awesomeness.

Echo, the female protagonist, comes into herself and her newly acquired firebird powers in this book, and she owns it. The author captures the transition and emotional turmoil Echo experiences with such poetic beauty. There is literary magic in the way Grey tortures and empowers her characters on the page.

Light, bright and vengeful, seared Echo’s eyes as she fell out of the void, her knees landing on packed dirt and dry grass with a painful thud. Her fingers dug into the earth, capturing fistfuls of pebbles and dead leaves, as she heaved in deep, shaking breaths. The world spun and her eyes burned.

Power surged within her, fueled by anxiety. She couldn’t hold it back. It was like trying to close floodgates after a wave had already rushed through. Fire flowed from her hands, scorching the earth and rushing around her, forming a circle.

The complex relationship between Echo, Caius, and Rowan were worked out just right. I am so for love triangles, but I love how it didn’t distract from the powerful women at the center of the story.

The pacing of the story was just right for this action and mythical information packed tale. I enjoyed getting intimate views of all of the characters and their relationships from the third-person storytelling.

And I just might have fallen for a new character named Helios. His description and characterization is like liquid gold that tastes like honey. I can’t wait to get more of him in the third book.

There are more serious themes that can be teased out of this masterpiece that seem strangely relevant to the current social and political climate. Exploring the root of the hate between the Avacen and Drakharin peoples and the loss of innocent lives that result from war and the corruption of power for example.

Overall, this book was magical beyond the plot. The writing was exquisite and the humour was on point. It was a great balance between light and darkness. I think Melissa Grey crafted a rich and fantastic story that appeals to those of us who crush hard on literary fiction and geek-out on intellectual and philosophical name dropping/quoting. Thank you Melissa Grey for appealing to my emotions, my intellect, my love of pop/sub-culture, and my humanity.

And I’m sorry I’m including this “Just for Fun” tidbit in my post, but my mind is saying no, and my bodaaay is saying yesss:

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE AWESOME GIVEAWAY AT THE END OF THIS POST!

Check out this luscious Prologue Excerpt from The Shadow Hour:

Rowan could pinpoint the exact moment he fell in love. It would take him ten years to

admit it to himself, to gather the vocabulary necessary to encompass the complexity of

his emotion, but he experienced the first stirrings of affection the second Echo stepped

into his life.

That day, Rowan’s mother had sent him, armed with a basketful of freshly baked

cupcakes, to play with the Ala’s orphans. The cupcakes had gone fast, and Rowan was

lucky to have been able to snag the last one, a fluffy concoction of red velvet cake and

cream cheese frosting.

When the human girl entered the room a hush fell over the children. Her uncombed

brown hair made her look like a wild thing, and she clung to the Ala like an anchor. She

had no feathers. Her bare arms looked almost obscene compared with the down that

covered Rowan’s skin. Her big brown eyes zeroed in on the cupcake in his hand as if she

were a hawk hunting for her next kill. She was so skinny, so pale.

He extended his hand, the half-eaten cupcake cradled in his palm as if it were something

precious. And to the girl, it was. Even if he had licked off most of the frosting already.

She took it from him with a look of such awestruck gratitude that Rowan had promised

himself, at the tender age of seven, that he would devote the rest of his life to conjuring

forth that smile.

Melissa-Grey-headshot-02About Melissa:

Melissa Grey was born and raised in New York City. She wrote her first short story at the age of twelve

and hasn’t stopped writing since. After earning a degree in fine arts at Yale University, she traveled the

world, then returned to New York City where she currently works as a freelance journalist. To learn

more about Melissa, visit melissa-grey.com and follow @meligrey on Twitter.

WebsiteBlog | Twitter  | Instagram | Pinterest Goodreads

Don’t forget to check out the entertaining first book in the series, The Girl at Midnight!

TGaM COVER

Book 1 Info:

Title: THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT

Author: Melissa Grey

Pub. Date: April 28, 2015

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 368

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Find it: AmazonBarnes &  NobleKobo, Indiebound, Powell’s, Goodreads

For readers of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, The Girl at

Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and

magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one.

Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the

Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a

centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity

believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life

as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants … and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Praise for THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT:

“Grey’s energetic debut offers a strong protagonist…[and the] well-built world, vivid characters, and

perfect blend of action and amour should have readers eagerly seeking the sequel.” — Kirkus Reviews,

Starred

“Sparks fly…This first novel will please fans of Cassandra Clare and Game of Thrones watchers with its

remarkable world building; richly developed characters…[and] a breathtaking climax that…cannot come

soon enough!”—Booklist starred review

“Inventive, gorgeous, and epic—Grey dazzles in her debut.” — Danielle Paige, New York Times

bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die

“A stunning debut. Equal parts atmosphere and adventure … positively divine.” – Victoria Schwab,

author of A Darker Shade of Magic

 

 

Tour Schedule

Week One:

7/18/2016- a GREAT read– Interview

7/19/2016- MEREADALOT– Review

7/20/2016-Literary Meanderings– Excerpt

7/21/2016- Zach’s YA Reviews– Review

7/22/2016- Fiction Fare– Interviewhttp://exlibriskate.com/

 

Week Two:

7/25/2016- The Eater of Books– Review

7/26/2016- YA Book Madness– Excerpt

7/27/2016- Ex Libris– Review

7/28/2016- BookHounds YA– Interview

7/29/2016- The Cover Contessa– Review

ENTER TO WIN A PAPER BACK COPY OF THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. 1 WINNER. US ONLY.

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Hurricane Kiss by Deborah BlumenthalHurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal
on May 1, 2016
Pages: 243
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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For sixteen-year-old Jillian McKay, the threat of Hurricane Danielle means a long car ride with her neighbors--including River Daughtry, the former star quarterback of Harrison High. The guy who was headed to glory until suddenly he disappeared to a West Texas juvenile detention center. Once cocky and flirtatious, he's now silent and angry. When their evacuation route is gridlocked, River is the first to recognize the danger they're in. Together he and Jillian set out to seek shelter in their abandoned high school. As they wait out the storm, they confront the past and realize survival is about more than just staying alive--it's about fighting for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And all anyone will remember is that there were unanswered questions about the two kids who thought they could get out of a car in the middle of the freeway and survive a hurricane by running directly into it instead of getting the hell away. Two stupid kids who thought they were smarter than everyone else.

 

Hurricane season is upon us, and for those who live in coastal regions, it’s kind of a big deal.

People who live close to big bodies of water have hurricane prep rituals that mimic back to school chaos. You can never have enough supplies for the impending storm.

Hurricane Kiss
Hurricane Kiss by clockbirdstar featuring a shedrain umbrella

As a Houston native, Deborah Blumenthal’s Hurricane Kiss hit close to home for me and surfaced vivid memories of hurricane Ike, Rita, and news coverage of hurricane Katrina. If you have never experienced the fear, anticipation, and destruction that come with a hurricane than Blumenthal’s novel might feel over-the-top. But as someone who has lived through this stuff, let me tell you, she hits the nail on the head.

Hurricane Kiss is set in Houston, Texas and Blumenthal’s Friday Night Lights writing tone is pitch perfect. There is a cinematic scope to her storytelling, yet everything stays grounded in relatable experiences and events.

Hurricane Safety checklist

I loved both the male and female protagonists because they could have been my nextdoor neighbors, and because they were well fleshed out, complicated characters. Jillian and River fight for their lives during a hurricane, both weighed down and brought together by the emotional baggage they carry from past events. Events that wrought destruction on their lives long before the hurricane hit. The romantic and emotional tension sizzles like lightening between the two MCs, and I was sucked into the journey they both took during the timespan of the storm. Once I started reading Hurricane Kiss, I couldn’t put it down.

Aerial footage of Hurricane Rita evacuation:

Hurricane Rita Evacuation footage

Hurricane Kiss is a clever and imaginative love story that explores the emotional storms that can destroy us as much as any natural disaster. The story explores the resilience of the human spirit as well as that of the people who experience tragedy at the hands of Mother Nature. I’m a huge fan of Deborah Blumenthal’s work, and I recommend this book to anyone who needs a fast and entertaining read steeped in complexity and regional culture.

And Just for Fun:

Here’s a lovely cover of Bob Dylan’s Hurricane:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog Tour: Never Missing, Never Found by Amanda PanitchNever Missing, Never Found Published by Random House, Random House Kids on June 28, 2016
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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Some choices change everything. Scarlett chose to run. And the consequences will be deadly.

Stolen from her family as a young girl, Scarlett was lucky enough to eventually escape her captor. Now a teen, she's starting a summer job at an amusement park. There are cute boys, new friends, and the chance to finally have a normal life.

Her first day on the job, Scarlett is shocked to discover that a girl from the park has gone missing. Old memories come rushing back. And now as she meets her new coworkers, one of the girls seems strangely familiar. When Scarlett chose to run all those years ago, what did she set into motion? And when push comes to shove, how far will she go to uncover the truth . . . before it's too late?

“With flashbacks that slowly reveal the terrible secret of Scarlett’s escape and Pixie’s fate, this psychological thriller evokes well-paced fear.”Kirkus Reviews

Psychological Thrillers are all the rage right now and if you tore your way through novels like Damage Done, With Malice, or The Darkest Corners , then you will want to add Amanda Pinatch’s Never Missing, Never Found to your “reading a psych-thrill and chill” queue.

Never Missing, Never Found has a certain afterschool special vibe to it that will trigger memories of a common childhood fear for a lot of people. Most of the story takes place in a creepy-ass theme park where the story’s protagonist works and maybe this is something unique to children who grew up in the 80s, or maybe it’s universal to all generations, but the setting alone was enough to keep me creeped out and entertained. Theme parks are horrifying.

coney-island

 

 

The tone of the novel is a cocktail of paranoia, confusion, desperation, and deception. Little pieces of the larger story reveal themselves through flashbacks as certain things trigger memories from the main character’s painful past. This book is a page turner that will have you feeling completely outraged by the end. I was not sure how I felt about the ending because it was more dark and scandalous than I was expecting. But it will keep you thinking about it for a while, making you wonder what you would have done in a similar situation.

I also had mixed feelings about the narrator, but that’s the effect that Pinatch seems to want . The author creates an unreliable narrator in the most subtle ways, and it is brilliant. While there is a healthy dose of lust, romance, and teenage angst, the story focuses on unravelling a tale that depicts the presence of the past in everything one does. Especially when the past is better left behind for the sake of the narrator.

All of the characters are skillfully developed and I ended up saying to myself, “I so know this person/a person like this”,  after being introduced to the romantic interest, Conner. At other times I ended up thinking, “who the hell does something like that?!”. The book evokes all kinds of emotions such as anger and incredulity as more of the story reveals itself and as more of the characters intentions come to light.

Overall, Never Missing, Never Found was a solid psychological thriller that is perfect for a summer night spent reading until the wee hours. I found myself yelling at this book like I do with some movies and/or television programs that dare to push the envelope or the audience’s tolerance and patience. The author plunges the reader into a dark story that captivates from the first page, and I am excited to see what kind of depths she will explore in her next novel.

Have you read Never Missing, Never Found? What did you think?

Just for fun:

I found this funny blog post titled “18 Signs You Work At A Theme Park“, and thought I would share its hilarity with you.

6. You’ve learned to detach your emotions from the upset reactions of people too tall/short/large/small to ride your attraction

Sad tears, aggressive shouts—you’ve heard it all, and by now, you’re immune to the effects of these outbursts. The rules are for their safety, and you can’t budge from your word.

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Upcoming Release: Girl in the Afternoon by Serena Burdick

by Serena Burdick
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 12, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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Purchase Links: Amazon | TBD
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Born into a wealthy Parisian family at the center of Belle Epoque society, 18-year-old Aimée Savaray dreams of becoming a respected painter in the male-dominated art world; and secretly, she also dreams of being loved by Henri, the boy her parents took in as a child and raised alongside her.

But when Henri inexplicably disappears, in the midst of the Franco-Prussian war, the Savarays’ privileged lives begin to unravel. Heartbroken, Aimée tries to find him, but Henri doesn’t want to be found—and only one member of the family knows why.

As Aimée seeks refuge in the art world, mentored by the Impressionist Édouard Manet, she unwittingly finds her way back to Henri. With so many years gone by and secrets buried, their eventual reunion unmasks the lies that once held the family together, but now threaten to tear them apart.

A rich and opulent saga, Girl in the Afternoon brings the Impressionists to life in this portrait of scandal, fortune, and unrequited love.

 

A Bar at the Folies Bergere- Manet
A Bar at the Folies Bergere- Manet

Belle Époque Paris. Three words that will sell me on a book in a heartbeat. The opulence of fashion and architecture. The richness of artistic and intellectual life. The idea of “The Salon” and sparkling soirees that lasted until the morning sun lit the sky a color to match the Perrier Jouet in party-goers crystal flutes. BELLE EPOQUE PARIS. YES.

The setting of Girl in the Afternoon lived up to my expectations of Paris during this era. The descriptions of the clothes, the streets, the people, the flats, and artist studios were as vivid and lush as a painting. The descriptive sentences use to describe the main character’s emotions and observations were poetic and evoked images like a painting as well. I found that this was my favorite part of Girl in the Afternoon.

I was not crazy about the characters. I did not feel a connection with any of them, and I despised the mother of the main female character, but I think that was the point. I would have to say that Edouard Manet was my favorite character of this novel. Unfortunately, he only exists on the fringes of the story.

Despite the characters who were a little underdeveloped for my liking, the plot was thick and complicated. Depressing and twisted, feminist and emotional, the dark secret at the heart of the story is the stuff that Lifetime television movies are made of.

Girl in the Afternoon is a quick read that is great on ambiance and drama. Have you read Girl in the Afternoon? I would love to know your thoughts on it in the comments section below.

 

Edouard Manet Cafe Painting
Edouard Manet Cafe Painting

Here’s a little sampler of some café music that captures a less serious, less refined culture of the Belle Époque. When listening to this music, it’s easy to imagine people laughing, bathed in a romantic carefree glow, toasting overflowing steins of beer and bubbly champagne while admiring an impromptu can-can show at the local street café.

And just for FUN:

Here is a classical music playlist that captures the more intellectual, bohemian, and artistic mood of Belle Époque Paris.

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Midnight in Berlin by James MacManusMidnight in Berlin by James MacManus
on April 19, 2016
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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In 1939, British Colonel Noel Macrae, stationed in Berlin and witness to the rise of the Reich, decides that he might be the only Englishman with the opportunity to avert war. As he attempts to convince the British government of his mission, the colonel becomes torn between his government's orders and his own personal beliefs, especially as he falls in love with a German-Jewish woman. Blackmailed by the Nazis, the woman and her family have faced unspeakable horrors, and the colonel must do whatever it takes to help her escape.

But the colonel doesn't know that the Gestapo have formed a plan of their own. Aware of the colonel's intense hatred of the Nazi regime, the Gestapo work to draw him into a fabricated plot against Hitler. As the colonel finds himself caught up in a tangled web of shifting loyalties, corruption, and shocking indifference, he soon realizes he must find a way to hold on to his sense of humanity to save not only the woman he loves but also himself.

Inspired by true events and characters, James MacManus's Midnight in Berlin is a love story set against a world on the brink of war that will leave you in awe of the human capacity for self-sacrifice and resilience.

This book goes beyond capturing the music, fashion, and style of the WWII era and paints a picture of the chaotic attitudes, theories, failed diplomacy, and missed connections that contributed to the start of the world’s bloodiest war to date. The tone of the novel is serious and the author does an excellent job of capturing the psychosis and sexism of not only the Nazi party but the culture in general. Pre-Nazi party, Berlin was actually a safe haven with an incredibly liberal climate under the Weimar Republic. Many African American entertainers moved to Berlin to escape the deeply rooted racism in America. But things changed in dramatic fashion after Hitler seized power, and the author does a great job at capturing the grey areas that still lingered after this dramatic shift in social and political climate.

Mid in Berlin photo

Set in Berlin, the story world is as deftly crafted as the characters, and I felt absorbed by the novel, if not a little overwhelmed as well. There is a lot of interesting internal dialogue and information to keep straight in this book, so I suggest reading it free of any kind of distractions.

Both the male and female protagonist of the story were likeable in a tense way, if that makes any sense. They are characters that had to make decisions outside of their own character in order to survive the times and plots they found themselves tangled in.

Like with any novel that has a well developed story world and well fleshed out characters, the pacing was slow and steady. The romance between the two MCs was both sad and exciting as only forbidden love can be set against a backdrop of war and racism.

I would recommend this book to those historical fiction fans that are interested in the diplomatic and psychological aspects that contributed to the start of WWII. It’s a heavier read that was incredibly insightful about the actual events leading up to the war and completely engaging on an intellectual and emotional level.

Have you read Midnight in Berlin? I’d love to know your thoughts on it.

Setting the Mood:

Fred and Ginger were famous the world over and Germans were still enjoying their music and films, as well as other American entertainment, at the onset of the war.

 

Just for fun:

Here’s a Donald Duck American anti-Nazi propaganda cartoon that would have been showed in theaters around America at the time.

 

 

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The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-LeviThe Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi
Published by St. Martin's Press, Thomas Dunne Books on April 5, 2016
Pages: 374
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a dazzling novel of mothers and daughters, stories told and untold, and the binds that tie four generations of women.

Gabriela's mother Luna is the most beautiful woman in all of Jerusalem, though her famed beauty and charm seem to be reserved for everyone but her daughter. Ever since Gabriela can remember, she and Luna have struggled to connect. But when tragedy strikes, Gabriela senses there's more to her mother than painted nails and lips.

Desperate to understand their relationship, Gabriela pieces together the stories of her family's previous generations—from Great-Grandmother Mercada the renowned healer, to Grandma Rosa who cleaned houses for the English, to Luna who had the nicest legs in Jerusalem. But as she uncovers shocking secrets, forbidden romances, and the family curse that links the women together, Gabriela must face a past and present far more complex than she ever imagined.

Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swingin' '70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change. With great humor and heart, Sarit Yishai-Levi has given us a powerful story of love and forgiveness—and the unexpected and enchanting places we find each.

“Set against the golden age of Hollywood, the dark days of WWII, and the swinging ’70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change.” – jacket excerpt

Looove this cov so much.
Looove this cov so much.

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is an absorbing novel that traces the familial and amorous relationships and life-shaping decisions of four generations of Israeli women.

1940s dressmakers

“The shop employed several seamstresses who made the clothes according to patterns that appeared in Burda magazine, and Luna would devour the magazine voraciously, studying it for hours on end. She spent all of her wages on clothes she purchased from the shop, and was always dressed at the height of fashion, accessorized to the most minute detail.  The polish on her fingernails matched that on her toenails, which matched her lipstick, which in turn matched her dress, shoes, and handbag. As she dressed, she also blossomed.”

Here is a fun Pinterest board with some vintage covers of Burda magazine.
Here is a fun Pinterest board with some vintage covers of Burda magazine.

I have to admit, I really loved one of the main female characters, Luna, because of her obsession with fashion and her unstoppable desire to look good. It seemed like an act of defiance in a culture that controlled women and their bodies.

But the beauty of this story is beyond cover-deep. The author’s prose is as classy as the cover of this book and provided an often overlooked, alternative snapshot of WWII era. I have read SO MANY WWII historical fiction novels, but not once have I read one from the Israeli perspective. It was refreshing and completely engaging to follow the narratives of the women at the heart of this intricately woven tale that examines the strained and tumultuous mother-daughter relationships set against a backdrop of unstable times in Jerusalem.

While the pacing of this book takes some dedication, it is completely worth the time it takes to read. The author masterfully captures the struggles that younger generations experience with their parents and older relatives. There is almost a voyeuristic feel because of the candid, ”airing of dirty laundry” scenarios that give real depth to this tale. The author captures the rigid patriarchal culture of the times and how women both accepted and rejected the constraints of it throughout the four generations featured in the novel. Despite cultural and temporal differences, I identified with many of the situations and lines of thought among the female characters.

Any lover of historical fiction and literary family portraits will want to add this to their collection. Reading The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem was an enriching experience.

And just for fun:

I liked the WWII era storyline the best, so here is a fun and informative article about fashion in the 1940s. This fashion history website is addictive to look at and full of educational information. Enjoy!

1940s fashion pic

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Summer Reading Abroad: I’ll See You in Paris Review + GIVEAWAY!

by Michelle Gable
on February 9, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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After losing her fiancé in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they’ll go to Paris, where the city’s magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.

Thirty years later, Laurel’s daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie’s father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie’s told herself it doesn’t matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won’t Laurel tell her the truth?

The key to unlocking Laurel’s secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie’s quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.

I enjoyed this story for the rich bits of history and biography revealed through long-lost discovered correspondence and the two main narrators of the story. The most entertaining character in the book was The Duchess of Marlborough, who tries her hardest to deny that she is, indeed, the duchess.

Gladys Deacon (aka the Duchess of Marlborough) Boldini painting.
Gladys Deacon (aka the Duchess of Marlborough) Boldini painting.

The story does some time hopping as each chapter reveals another piece of the puzzle concerning the duchess and the main female protagonist’s parentage. The pacing of the story is rather slow, which I have come to expect with novels that interweave the threads of multiple characters and different generations of a family. But it was a nice kind of slow. The kind of slow that goes great with a glass of wine and a bubble bath.

In addition to the fun mystery at the heart of the story that concerns identity and familial bonds, the author held my attention with the lush descriptions of Gilded Age New York, late Belle Epoque Paris, and the luscious English country side.

English house

I enjoyed the witty dialogue in this literary mystery. There are several laugh-out-loud moments throughout that you can imagine translating perfectly onto the big screen. This book definitely has a certain cinematic appeal because of the vivid descriptions and complicated characters. It is the perfect read for a lazy summer weekend when you want to indulge in an atmospheric story for some armchair travel.

If you have had the pleasure of watching the Smithsonian Channel’s two seasons of Million Dollar American Princesses and enjoyed it, then this book will be right up your ally. It has the same appeal.

Million Dollar
Million Dollar American Princesses Smithsonian Channel

Enter below for the chance to WIN a paperback copy of Michelle Gable’s lovely story, I’ll See You in Paris.

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The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. ArmentroutThe Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 17th, 2016
Pages: 480
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | TBD | Indiebound | BAM!
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For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

Wow, I have no words for this book. Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of those authors who I don’t even bother reading the synopsis for any book she writes..I just usually dive in to the book. The Problem with Forever is a heartbreakingly beautiful book and when I started reading the prologue I knew that it was unlike anything she’s written before.

Mallory is a high school senior who has spent the last so many years being homeschooled. After having such a traumatic childhood that has left her with a severe case of PTSD, she is ready to drop her shield and face her fears by attending Public School.

Mallory is not a girl of many words, She uses silence as a shield. It’s what she knows, it’s what Rider told her to do, it’s what she did to survive her childhood.  It’s been four years since the event that lead to Mallory getting out of the foster house she lived in with Rider. It’s been FOUR YEARS since she’s even seen Rider or talked to Rider. She’s been adopted by an amazing and supportive couple. She’s learning how to overcome what she’s been through. She’s learning that it is ok to speak, or make a sound. She’s ready to take on school and get over her fears, make friends and to live her life.

Mallory’s first day as a senior at Lands High doesn’t go so well. She’s having trouble find the words to respond to a simple “hi” from the girl a few lockers down, the atmosphere in the cafeteria is too overwhelming for her, etc. When she gets to the last class of the day, the class that she probably fears the most, SPEECH, it’s there where she runs into her knight in shining armor…

Rider Stark grew up with Mallory, they were both foster kids that ended up in one of those foster homes straight out of a nightmare. He did everything he could to protect her, he even saved her from their horrific life though it ended up taking her away from him. After the events that took Mallory away from him, Rider ends up in a group home and then from there it ends up in Mrs. Luna’s house.

The second that Rider sees Mallory, it’s like the four years it had been since they’ve seen one another never happened. It’s obvious that he hasn’t forgotten her, that she has never been that far from his mind. They re-connect instantaneously and it’s a beautiful thing.

Jennifer did a really good job of putting Mallory’s discomfort when speaking aloud into this story. Every time she “spoke” in the book, you could tell that she was fighting her urge to just stop talking. With Rider’s help and the help of her new friends, Mallory slowly gets over her fear of using words, of speaking to and being around people.

Rider is just going along with everything, he thinks that he doesn’t deserve to do anything in life. He’s just existing..but Mallory shows him that he deserves to have anything and everything in life that he wants. Just because he grew up in the system doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t try to make his life better. That he shouldn’t go to college or to art school. He’s obviously extremely smart and a very talented artist. He just doesn’t think he’s good enough for all that, or good enough for Mallory. In the end, Rider being there in her life and doing what he always did for her, helped push Mallory into HELPING him. Showing him that he found a HOME WITH PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT HIM, the same as her. Mallory makes him realize that he can do anything he wants.

I really enjoyed this story, even as I had tears running down my face through it. The characters were great, the story line will definitely have your emotions all over the place and in the end..Rider and Mallory are finally finding the happiness that everyone deserves to have in their life.

Thanks to InkslingerPR, Harlequin Teen and Jennifer L. Armentrout for the chance to read and review this book for the blog tour!

 

** I FINALLY GET TO MEET JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT on her book tour for The Problem with Forever on May 19th! I am getting a copy of the book autographed to GIVEAWAY to a lucky reader of ours!! Enter to win below!! There’s also a giveaway being hosted by Inkslinger in part with the Blog Tour, don’t forget to enter that giveaway as well! 🙂

 


*** I don’t normally don’t add songs to posts…but..
I thought maybe this song would sum up Mallory and Rider’s childhood.

This song is Rider..

Hmm..I might add more later..

Giveaway

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The autographed copy of The Problem with Forever giveaway is open to those only in the USA. 

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Pre-Order The Problem with Forever and register your purchase to receive a FREE fan pack! Fan pack includes:Inspirational Wall Art, flag-as-you-read stickers, a poster AND an excerpt of TPWF to start reading now! Pre-Order now from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, The Book Depository, Indiebound or BAM!
Register your pre-order here to receive the FREE FAN PACK! http://bit.ly/24awVFw

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About Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout is the USA TODAY Bestselling author of the adult romance Gamble Brothers’ series, the young adult Lux Series and award winning Covenant Series. She pretty much writes everything—contemporary, paranormal, and fantasy. All of her books have one thing in common no matter the name or genre: kissing… and stuff. When she’s not busy writing, which is never, she’s usually hanging out with dog Loki, watching reruns of The Walking Dead, or procrastinating on the Internet.

Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Nicolas Barreau

by Nicolas Barreau
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 29, 2016
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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Rosalie Laurent is the proud owner of Luna Luna, a little post-card shop in St. Germain, and if it were up to her, far more people would write cards. Her specialty is producing "wishing cards," but where her own wishes are concerned the quirky graphic artist is far from lucky. Every birthday Rosalie sends a card inscribed with her heart's desire fluttering down from the Eiffel Tower - but none of her wishes has ever been fulfilled.

Then one day when an elderly gentleman trips up in her shop and knocks over a post-card stand, it seems that her wish cards are working after-all. Rosalie finds out that it is Max Marchais, famed and successful author of children's books who's fallen into her life. When he asks her to illustrate his new (and probably last) book, Rosalie is only too glad to accept, and the two - very different - maverick artists become friends.

Rosalie's wishes seem to be coming true at last, until a clumsy American professor stumbles into her store with accusations of plagiarism. Rosalie is hard pressed to know whether love or trouble is blowing through her door these days, but when in doubt, she knows that Paris is Always a Good Idea when one is looking for the truth and finding love.

As one customer aptly put it in her review on Amazon, “Reading this book is a GREAT idea.” I concur.

paris is always a good idea pic

If you are like me and have never had the pleasure of visiting Paris, then you probably have a stack of travel books and travel fiction as tall as the Eiffel Tower. Not to mention ones with the word “Paris” in the title. Queue my NON-reluctance to read JUST ONE MORE book set among the most romantic city in the world.

Reading Paris Is Always a Good Idea is like unwrapping a Dove chocolate, popping it on your tongue, and letting it melt in your mouth. Seriously. This book is a sweet literary luxury that will warm you up like a rich, velvety cup of hot chocolate. The story was atmospheric and romantic with the perfect touch of sentimentality.

The three main characters of the novel all come together by chance giving this book the feel of one of those magical films starring Audrey Tautou. Rosalie, the female MC, is personable and the most likable character of the story. A lovely painter and postcard shop owner, she embodies what it is to be living the perfect Parisian life.

And as if the dreamy story world were not enough to make me starry eyed, the introduction of an intellectual idealist- a delicious Professor close to Rosalie’s age- enters the picture, rather chaotically, and adds another fun dimension to this synchronistic tale.

Although the story is quite predictable, it is only in the best way. It provides intense satisfaction seeing all of the  pieces fall into place as you had expected them to.

This book is a quick read that would be perfectly paired with a lazy afternoon and a snuggly reading spot.

Some of the scenery that came to mind while reading this book:

Paris is Always a Good Idea- Audrey Hepburn

 

Paris is Always a Good Idea- Audrey Hepburn by jeanine65 featuring a garden picture

Setting the Mood:

This book will make you want to sink into a plush velour chair or blanket surrounded by white Christmas lights with a mix of Edith Piaf and Carla Bruni playing in the background.


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The Secret Daughter of the Tsar by Jennifer Laam

by Jennifer Laam
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on October 22, 2013
Pages: 344
Source: Publisher
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A compelling alternate history of the Romanov family in which a secret fifth daughter—smuggled out of Russia before the revolution—continues the royal lineage to dramatic consequences

In her riveting debut novel, The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, Jennifer Laam seamlessly braids together the stories of three women: Veronica, Lena, and Charlotte. Veronica is an aspiring historian living in present-day Los Angeles when she meets a mysterious man who may be heir to the Russian throne. As she sets about investigating the legitimacy of his claim through a winding path of romance and deception, the ghosts of her own past begin to haunt her. Lena, a servant in the imperial Russian court of 1902, is approached by the desperate Empress Alexandra. After conceiving four daughters, the Empress is determined to sire a son and believes Lena can help her. Once elevated to the Romanov's treacherous inner circle, Lena finds herself under the watchful eye of the meddling Dowager Empress Marie. Charlotte, a former ballerina living in World War II occupied Paris, receives a surprise visit from a German officer. Determined to protect her son from the Nazis, Charlotte escapes the city, but not before learning that the officer's interest in her stems from his longstanding obsession with the fate of the Russian monarchy. Then as Veronica's passion intensifies, and her search for the true heir to the throne takes a dangerous turn, the reader learns just how these three vastly different women are connected. The Secret Daughter of the Tsar is thrilling from its first intense moments until its final, unexpected conclusion.

Мать Россия!!!

Wonderful domes of Saint Basil's Cathedral, Moscow
Wonderful domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

A little bird told me something. That Historians secretly love to read alternate histories. I’m here to qualify that secret. We love to read well-written and believable alternate histories. The Secret Daughter of the Tsar almost made me want to change my focus of study as a historian-in-training, and that is saying a lot. These days, I am lucky to finish a book in a week. I finished this one in a few sittings. Reading about the tragedy and intrigue that surrounds the Imperial Romanov family NEVER GETS OLD.

The Romanov Family

The Romanov Family circa 1916.

If you are a writer, or an aspiring one, you have probably come across the piece of advice that recommends “writing about what you know” at one time or another. The author, a Historian herself, writes The Secret Daughter of the Tsar from the perspective of Veronica, a struggling historian being tossed around the cogs of academia, and two other women who’s stories unfold in different time periods.

Veronica is both vulnerable and bold, my favorite combination. I loved reading from her perspective the most, especially when she enters into a fast and curious romance with a mysterious hunk who has his own special interests in Russian history.

The novel is an exciting and absorbing book that takes the reader on an intellectual adventure and into super cool museums and archives. History buff or not, any reader will absolutely love the variety of experiences, mysterious romance, and clever story line offered in The Secret Daughter of the Tsar.

Setting the Mood:

I love Russian classical music as much as I love Russian history, so here is an AMAZING album to listen to while you read:

Russian Album

And check out these other great novels set in historical Russia:

Midnight In St.Petersburg coverTsarina

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Book Tour: Listen to Me by Kristen ProbyListen To Me by Kristen Proby
Series: Fusion #1
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on April 12th 2016
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
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Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | TBD | Indiebound
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In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby’s brand new series, five best friends open a hot new restaurant, but one of them gets much more than she bargained for when a sexy former rock star walks through the doors—and into her heart.
Seduction is quickly becoming the hottest new restaurant in Portland, and Addison Wade is proud to claim 1/5 of the credit. She’s determined to make it a success and can’t think of a better way to bring in new customers than live music. But when former rock star Jake Keller swaggers through the doors to apply for the weekend gig, she knows she’s in trouble. Addie instantly recognizes him—his posters were plastered all over her bedroom walls in high school—he’s all bad boy...exactly her type and exactly what she doesn’t need.
Jake Keller walked away from the limelight five years ago and yearns to return to what’s always driven him: the music. If he gets to work for a smart-mouthed, funny-as-hell bombshell, all the better. But talking Addie into giving him the job is far easier than persuading her that he wants more than a romp in her bed. Just when she begins to drop her walls, Jake’s past finally catches up with him.
Will Addie be torn apart once again or will Jake be able to convince her to drown out her doubts and listen to her heart?

Another great story from Kristen Proby and another great set of friends/family that I can’t wait to get to know!

Addison Wade and her closest friends have opened up Portland’s hottest new restaurant, Seduction! While Addison and Kat (one of her best friends and partner) out scoping local talent at an open mic night in an effort to bring some local music to their restaurant, we, the readers meet Jake Keller aka Jake Nash.

Jake Nash used to be a Rock God, but he left the limelight after an accident that he blames himself fore.. These days he prefers to be BEHIND THE MUSIC. He misses performing and goes to an open mic night just to do it. After realizing how much he misses it, his best friend talks him in to going to Seduction and see about getting the job performing there on the weekends.

Now this is where ADDIE and JAKE finally meet each other..and the sparks start flying!

Addie has been around the block when it comes to dating musicians and she is DONE after the last one. Or so she thinks…. Even though she can feel the chemistry between her and Jake..she does her best to not engage in anything with him. But we all know that wasn’t gonna last long… I really loved Jake and Addie together. Usually there’s something about one of the main characters that drives me crazy..but these two I really liked. Of course there was a drama, there should always be a little drama..but in the end it all works out!

I really liked both Addison’s friends AND Jake’s friends. They all seemed like super awesome people and I kind of wish I had a set of friends like that in my own life! Maybe I should move to Portland? Haha! I can’t wait to see where this series and the characters go in the future!

Also, THAT EPILOGUE.. seriously though.. WARNING: CLIFFHANGER…that will get you excited for the next ocuple in the series and it will have you counting the days until the release of Close to You.. (125 days as of the date I published this review.. LOL.)

 

If you love Kristen Proby’s books or if you love Contemporary Romances..DEFINITELY CHECK OUT LISTEN TO ME! I think you’ll really like it! 🙂

 

Thanks to Inkslinger and the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review for the blog tour. 🙂

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About Kristen Proby

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kristen Proby is the author of the bestselling With Me In Seattle and Love Under the Big Sky series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong, humorous characters with a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.
Kristen lives in Montana, where she enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.
Blog Tour: The Darkest Corners by Kara ThomasThe Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Published by Delecorte on April 19, 2016
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

GIVE IN TO THE BIIIIIINGE!

IMG_20160311_162235

The Darkest Corners is a gripping psychological thriller. Once you read the first few pages of this book, be ready to give in to the binge-reading urge that will overcome you.

makingamurderer

Once-upon-a-time there was some television-crack called the O.J. Simpson trial, the Casey Anthony trial, and most recently, Making A Murderer. The dark and addictive pull of these trials has been wonderfully crystallized in The Darkest Corners.

This book could not have come out at a better time. With the wave of murder-mystery hungry people the documentary Making A Murder left in its wake, The Darkest Corners is the perfect novel to follow-up with.

The main character, Tessa, is meticulously constructed as well as the main supporting characters in this story. Peering into Tessa’s mind and the memories that make up her sketchy past were as enthralling as the whodunnit trails the author leads us down through Tessa’s narrative. Everyone has an incriminating past and exploring them through random connections was like a dopamine hit every time.

The story world is vividly depicted and has all the creeptatistic appeal of a former industrial town with forests occupied by squatting meth addicts.

There were some truly shocking twists and turns to the story that completely busted my original theories about the murders going into this book, and that’s something I can appreciate.

I had not read a book this compelling in a loooong time and I highly recommend The Darkest Corners to those who obsessively watched Making A Murderer, or to those who enjoy a clever thriller with deep central character development. In this book, the most prominent characters were just as important as the plot making for a satisfying read.

This is how I got my binge-read on:

How will YOU get your The Darkest Corners binge-read on once the book releases? PRE-ORDER NOW so you can start planning. 🙂

 

Kara is the author of THE DARKEST CORNERS, coming from Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press in Spring 2016. She also wrote the Prep School Confidential series (St. Martin’s Press) and the pilot The Revengers for the CW under the pen name Kara Taylor. She’s represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media. You can find her on TwitterInstagram, or on the couch with her rescue cat, Felix.

Official Website : TheDarkestCornersBook.com

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3/14 Fresh Fiction 3/27 The Eater of Books! 4/9 Reading Nook Reviews
3/15 Jessabella Reads 3/28 Reading Teen 4/10 Downright Dystopian
3/16 Book Addict Confessions 3/29 Chapter by Chapter 4/11 Such A Novel Idea
3/17 Hollywood News Source 3/30 Winter Haven Books 4/12 Across the Words
3/18 Undeniably (Book) Nerdy 3/31 Once Upon A Twilight 4/13 Reviews From a Bookworm
3/19 Curling Up with a Good Book 4/1 Intellectual Recreation 4/14 Itching For Books
3/20 Out of Time 4/2 The Hiding Spot 4/15 Waste Paper Prose
3/21 Supernatural Snark 4/3 Carina Books 4/16 The Irish Banana
3/22 Live to Read, review 4/4 Cover Contessa 4/17 The Book Rat
3/23 Dark Faerie Tales 4/5 Me Read A Lot 4/18 YA Reads
3/24 Ex Libris 4/6 The Writer Diaries 4/19 No BS Book Review
3/25 Reading with Cupcakes 4/7 Whimsically Yours 4/20 Serenity’s Lovely Reads
3/26 The Reader Bee 4/8 Hook of a Book 4/21 Pandora’s Books
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The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa PalomboThe Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Polombo
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, St. Martin's Press on December 15, 2015
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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A sweeping historical novel of composer and priest Antonio Vivaldi, a secret wealthy mistress, and their passion for music and each other

Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

Adriana's father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice's patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana's marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana's own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.

Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana's life, Alyssa Palombo's The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.

 

 

 

“Playing the violin again ignited a permanent glow that I carried inside me, which burned gently and steadily just beneath my breast bone. Before I left Maestro Vivaldi’s house, we agreed I should return at noon in three days’ time, but I knew my frequent comings and goings would not go unremarked upon for long. I was tempting il destino, but I couldn’t stop.”

The man, the myth, the legend:

Antonio Vivaldi
            Antonio Vivaldi

Most ears are familiar with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and think of him as the Italian Violin Master with no recollection of the exact period he was from, or with any idea that he was even a priest. While the maestro was, indeed, a priest, he was also an 18th century playboy by way of his rock star status. Yes, even 18th century Venice had rock stars. Vivaldi’s skill at playing the violin and at composition thrusted an aura of virtuoso virility around him that the ladies found hard to resist. Especially his virginal music pupils.

Original Vivaldi score auctioned at Sotheby's.
Original Vivaldi score auctioned at Sotheby’s.

The Violinist of Venice reads with the alternating tempos of adagio and vivace. It is an ambitious book that does a lovely job of capturing the culture and landscape of the times it is set in. I went into this book expecting the author to completely demonize and generalize Vivaldi’s character, but was pleasantly surprised when she didn’t. She composed his character with as much thought and dimension as Adriana, the female lead.

Adriana is a strong and rebellious character who embodies what I would hope to have been like had I been alive in 18th century Venice. The author does a great job at capturing the suffocating patriarchy that made women the property of their fathers or husbands in this era and dictated what they could and could not do. For a girl like Adriana, pursuing her musical aspirations was literally gambling with her life.

Carnivale Boat Venice

Carnivale! Venice, Italy.

Lush settings, including a few delicious scenes at Carnivale, and historically accurate social climates made this book an enthralling read. I loved the thematic elements such as the divisions of sections and chapter titles that made this book like reading a musical score. The Violinist of Venice was a smart and entertaining window into Vivaldi’s lifetime and that of the women who met his hypnotic and inspiring charms. Musician and non-musician alike will enjoy this emotionally engaging and epic love story that doesn’t play out as one would expect. I can’t wait to read the next novel by Alyssa Palombo.

Setting the mood:

Although Paganini came to fame a while after Vivaldi, the rock star aura of this talented violinist/composer drove women crazy in the same way. It’s not hard to see why in the film The Devil’s Violinist which tells the tumultuous story of Paginini during the height of his fame. This is a great film to watch before reading The Violinist of Venice to help paint a picture of how musicians like this were received in society, and a great film to follow-up with is The Red Violin which tells the story of a violin spanning over 3 centuries, all the way back to its creation in 17th century Italy.

And just for fun:

Everyone knows Vivaldi composed moving violin pieces, but not very many know that he also composed arias and other vocal pieces. Simone Kermes is one of my favorite contemporary Baroque vocalists, and I have included a Spotify playlist of her Viva! Vivaldi album for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

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