Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Royally Roma {ends 8/1}

Julia pulled the hood of her own green rain poncho over her upswept hair. The silly ensemble suited her a fair bit better than it did him. She looked rather cute, actually. Misty-eyed, rain-kissed, and infinitely kissable. Or maybe Niccolo was still drunk. It was the only explanation for the vexation that had crept upon him since she'd first come into view on the hotel's piazza.

She blinked up at him, seemingly oblivious to the effect she was having. "Okay, then. Shall we get started on our adventure?"

Above them the umbrella pines swayed. The bruised sky wept misty Roman tears. And Niccolo got the distinct feeling that he was only beginning to know what it meant to truly lose himself.

"Absolutely."

This book is actually only available in e-book format, but I was able to read it in paper galley format (and if you win a copy of the book, you will receive it in paper galley format, too, unless you prefer an e-book). It's loosely based on the movie Roman Holiday, and it's a cute summer/beach read.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Royally Roma
In this charming, modern retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, a royal prince tries to escape his hectic and rigid life and ends up leading a young graduate student on a chase through the Eternal City.

Julia Costa is too busy trying to complete her Ph.D. while also holding down a full-time job as a private tour guide in Rome to keep up with celebrity gossip. So when she crosses paths with a real, actual prince, she mistakes him for a client and takes him on a daylong tour of the city.

Intrigued by the idea of spending time with someone who obviously has no idea who he is, and delighted at the prospect of a day free of royal obligations, Niccolo La Torre, Crown Prince of Lazaretto, acts on impulse and assumes the role of Julia’s client. He swears to himself that he’ll return to his royal duties after only half a day ... but he’s having the time of his life.

Until Julia presents him with the bill. Since he snuck out of the hotel without so much as a dime, he tries to escape, only to discover that she won’t let him out of her sight until he can pay her back. She’s determined to get her money ... and perhaps more, from the handsome stranger she’s fallen for.


Italy has been on my bucket list for forever, so it was fun to kind-of experience it in this book, as Julia is a tour guide who leads Niccolo around Rome. Because Julia doesn't really use social media, she doesn't recognize that Niccolo is a prince (not of Rome, but of a different city), and he's able to go incognito with her during the tour. 

The problem comes at the end, when it's time to pay for the tour, as Niccolo never keeps cash on him ... 

I found this to be a fun read—it's ideal for the beach or for a quick summer read. Some of the writing, especially near the end, was rather cliche, but we get extensive backstories for both Julia and Niccolo, which is helpful. This book is the first in The Royals series, the second being Royally Romanov, which I also have in my possession to review. 

Overall, I'd recommend this book if you're looking for a quick, not-too-serious read.

3.5 stars out of 5.
{Click here to purchase}

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a print galley of this book!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Tuesday, August 1st, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the next day via email and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Royally Roma print galley

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: My Last Continent, by Midge Raymond {ends 7/16}

Thom and I stand together on the rear deck, watching the Australis moving in the distance like a time-lapse image of a drifting iceberg: slow, massive, inevitable. In one of the articles I'd read about the ship, a spokesman for the parent cruise company had bragged about how the Australis would cruise to every last inch of the planet, that no place was off-limits to a ship this invincible. It reminded me of what people once said about the Titanic.

This novel actually debuted last summer, and now it's out in paperback. I did a giveaway last month for a signed copy, but that was before I had actually read the book; now I have both a review of the book and another giveaway (for *another* signed copy!) for one of my lucky readers to win.

I'm a big fan of shipwreck movies, such as Titanic, and this book was similar. It was also interesting to learn more about Antarctica and penguins.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: My Last Continent, by Midge Raymond
An unforgettable debut with an irresistible love story, My Last Continent is a big-hearted, propulsive novel set against the dramatic Antarctic landscape—“original and entirely authentic love story” (Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project).

It is only at the end of the world—among the glacial mountains, cleaving icebergs, and frigid waters of Antarctica—where Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For the few blissful weeks they spend each year studying the habits of emperor and Adélie penguins, Deb and Keller can escape the frustrations and sorrows of their separate lives and find solace in their work and in each other. But Antarctica, like their fleeting romance, is tenuous, imperiled by the world to the north.

A new travel and research season has just begun, and Deb and Keller are ready to play tour guide to the passengers on the small expedition ship that ferries them to their research destination. But this year, Keller fails to appear on board. Then, shortly into the journey, Deb’s ship receives an emergency signal from the Australis, a cruise liner that has hit desperate trouble in the ice-choked waters of the Southern Ocean. Soon Deb’s role will change from researcher to rescuer; among the crew of that sinking ship, Deb learns, is Keller.

As Deb and Keller’s troubled histories collide with this catastrophic present, Midge Raymond’s phenomenal novel takes us on a voyage deep into the wonders of the Antarctic and the mysteries of the human heart. 
My Last Continent is packed with emotional intelligence and high stakes—a harrowing, searching novel of love and loss in one of the most remote places on earth, a land of harsh beauty where even the smallest missteps have tragic consequences—“Half adventure, half elegy, and wholly recommended” (Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves).

This book was very well-written, and part of the reason why is because it jumps back in forth in time. We see how Deb originally started penguins, and the author even takes us back to her college years for this. We see how she and Keller first met, and how they fell in love; I would argue that a companion novel could be written from Keller's point of view, actually, since this novel is written from 1st person POV from Deb's perspective.

In the present, Deb is back in Antarctica, but Keller isn't on their ship - she later finds out he's on the Australis, a huge cruise liner that shouldn't even be in the same waters as her ship, as it's not equipped to do so. Later, when they get the distress call that the Australis has taken on water and is sinking (much like the Titanic, IMO), of course her first thought is of him, and she desperately wants to make sure he is fine. 

I have never been to Antarctica and now I'm a little scared to do so after reading this book, ha - between the ice and the frigid temperatures, it does sound like a beautiful continent, but also quite dangerous. I'll stick to visiting Alaska at some point instead.

4.5 stars out of 5.
{Click here to purchase}

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers has yet another chance to win a SIGNED copy of this book!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Sunday, July 15th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified the next day via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

My Last Continent paperback

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Quick Pick book review and GIVEAWAY: The Nearness of You, by Amanda Eyre Ward {ends 7/14}

  • Opening lines: (Prologue) The girl in the bed was close to death. There were no flowers on the bedside table, no balloons. It had been a pale day. A final strip of sun light up the girl's motionless hands. Her fingernails were painted rose.
  • Reason I picked up the book: I have read another of Amanda Eyre Ward's books, The Same Sky, and it was one of only three books that I gave 5 out of 5 stars to in 2015.
  • And what's this book about?
  • In this profound and lyrical novel, acclaimed author Amanda Eyre Ward explores the deeper meanings of motherhood—from the first blissful hello to the heart-wrenching prospect of saying goodbye.

    Brilliant heart surgeon Suzette Kendall is stunned when Hyland, her husband of fifteen years, admits his yearning for a child. From the beginning they’d decided that having children was not an option, as Suzette feared passing along the genes that landed her mother in a mental institution. But Hyland proposes a different idea: a baby via surrogate.

    Suzette agrees, and what follows is a whirlwind of candidate selections, hospital visits, and Suzette’s doubts over whether she’s made the right decision. A young woman named Dorothy Muscarello is chosen as the one who will help make this family complete. For Dorrie, surrogacy (and the money that comes with it) are her opportunity to leave behind a troubled past and create a future for herself—one full of possibility. But this situation also forces all three of them—Dorrie, Suzette, and Hyland—to face a devastating uncertainty that will reverberate in the years to come.

    Beautifully shifting between perspectives,
    The Nearness of You deftly explores the connections we form, the families we create, and the love we hold most dear.
  • Recommended for: Anyone who likes a good story.
  • Favorite paragraph: "Has the young runaway turned up?" asked Meg.

    Suzette shook her head. "Where is she?" she said. "How can this be happening?"

    "It's just a matter of time," said Meg. "They're going to find her, Suze. We're going to be sitting here tomorrow and everything will be fine. I promise."

    "I already feel like the baby is mine," said Suzette, somewhat stunned to acknowledge this, even to herself. "I thought it would feel so great, Meg, but this is the worst."

    "Welcome to parenthood," said Meg.  
  • Something to know: I thought this was only the second book by Amanda Eyre Ward, but she's actually written a few more. 
  • What I would have changed: There's a bombshell that we learn at the end, and then the book finishes shortly thereafter. I would have explored this new info a bit more - let's just say that a new character is thrown into the mix, and a central character doesn't even get much "page time" with him before the book ends. 
  • Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
  • Where can I find this book? Click here to purchase on Amazon. 

*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book for reviewing from NetGalley. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own. 


GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a copy of The Nearness of You!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Friday, July 14th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be chosen the next day and notified via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

The Nearness of You book

Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Dating You / Hating You, by Christina Lauren {ends 7/7}

"Hi." I hold out my hand. "I'm Evie."

"Is that short for Evil?" He pretends to be scared as he tentatively returns the handshake. "Are you sure you're Griffindor? Your laugh makes me think you have a secret lab and are building an apocalyptic robot dog that's going to eat every smug person here. Slytherin for sure."

"It's short for Evelyn. The cackle is my gift. It keeps the delicate ones away."

"I'm Carter." He points two thumbs at his chest. "Not delicate, I promise."

Is he ... flirting? I consider the rolling tumbleweeds of my dating life and marvel that I can't even tell anymore.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I'm a huge fan of anything by Christina Lauren, and this novel was no different. It's actually their (they are an author duo) first standalone novel, and I loved that it jumped between the two main character's points of view.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Dating You / Hating You, by Christina Lauren
All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.


There were a lot of elements in this novel that were very "real-life," which I liked - Evie doesn't want to just throw her job away for Carter, and the two of them are very competitive, so when they're pitted against each other for the same job, they put aside their romance and go for it. 

Also, Evie is a bit older than Carter - I think she was 32 or 33, and he was 26 - and she agonizes over that a bit too, not wanting to appear like a "cougar," ha. 

Overall, this is a very cute story that has a lot of real-life elements in it. Carter and Evie both have great friend groups, too, who advise them what they should do in their situation, and although they do listen to them, sometimes it's better for them to just take thing into their own hands.

4 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

GIVEAWAY:

One of my lucky readers will win a paperback copy of Dating You / Hating You!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Friday, July 7th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be emailed the next day and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Dating You/Hating You book

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon {ends 6/20}

"So, you think Ashish is going to come stay with you?"

"Probably. To be honest, I think he's mostly just interested in ogling college girls rather than checking out the merits of the campus." Rishi rolled his eyes.

"Oh, like that thought never occurred to you when you were coming here," Dimple said.

The doors opened to an empty elevator, and both of them stepped in. Rishi turned to her as the doors closed. "It didn't," he said seriously. "I was only thinking of you."

This is probably one of the cutest YA books I've read in a while. I was intrigued by both the premise and the cover (an Indian girl drinking Starbucks or some sort of other drink, who is obviously a bit younger) and the novel did not disappoint.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon
A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers ... right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Signed copy of My Last Continent, by Midge Raymond {ends 6/14}

My Last Continent is now officially out in paperback, and I have a signed copy to give away to one of my lucky readers!

GIVEAWAY: Signed copy of My Last Continent, by Midge Raymond About the book:
An unforgettable debut with an irresistible love story, "My Last Continent" is a big-hearted, propulsive novel set against the dramatic Antarctic landscape original and entirely authentic love story.
It is only at the end of the world among the glacial mountains, cleaving icebergs, and frigid waters of Antarctica where Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For the few blissful weeks they spend each year studying the habits of emperor and Adelie penguins, Deb and Keller can escape the frustrations and sorrows of their separate lives and find solace in their work and in each other. But Antarctica, like their fleeting romance, is tenuous, imperiled by the world to the north. 

A new travel and research season has just begun, and Deb and Keller are ready to play tour guide to the passengers on the small expedition ship that ferries them to their research destination. But this year, Keller fails to appear on board. Then, shortly into the journey, Deb's ship receives an emergency signal from the "Australis," a cruise liner that has hit desperate trouble in the ice-choked waters of the Southern Ocean. Soon Deb's role will change from researcher to rescuer; among the crew of that sinking ship, Deb learns, is Keller. 

As Deb and Keller s troubled histories collide with this catastrophic present, Midge Raymond's phenomenal novel takes us on a voyage deep into the wonders of the Antarctic and the mysteries of the human heart. "My Last Continent" is packed with emotional intelligence and high stakes: a harrowing, searching novel of love and loss in one of the most remote places on earth, a land of harsh beauty where even the smallest missteps have tragic consequences. Half adventure, half elegy, and wholly recommended.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Public Relations, by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini {ends 6/8}

What I knew about Archie Fox before walking into the meeting was as follows: He was twenty-four years old, British, and blew up about five years ago when an amateur video of one of his open-mike-night performances got a million views on YouTube within thirty-six hours. Unlike many YouTube sensations, however, he actually had the goods to support a career, and before the world even had time to process what was happening, his dimpled simple and shaggy hair were everywhere.
...
He seemed charming in person, speaking in a slow, deep drawl—though there was less of that now that he was ducking out of interviews, avoiding paparazzi, and blowing off red carpets. And that was kind of the problem.

This was a very cute book that's being compared to The Devil Wears Prada, though I have to say that the main character's boss in this novel is much nicer than Miranda Priestly. It gives an interesting look into the world of PR, and shows how many celebrity "relationships" are actually manufactured just for the press.

About the book:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Public Relations, by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini
Young PR star Rose Reed is thrown into the big leagues when her boss leaves town the day of the firm's meeting with Archie Fox, a young, hot, internationally famous British singer-songwriter. The meeting is going badly until Rose suggests a staged romance with up-and-coming, young indie star Raya. He'll do it, but only if Rose becomes his publicist.

As the faux-mance begins to rehabilitate Archie's faltering career, Rose finds his herself having unexpected, inconvenient and definitely unprofessional feelings for the crooner. But do late night texts and impromptu burrito binges mean he feels the same? In the end, Rose will have to decide whether to let her fantasy crush go, or to risk her reputation to be with the charming, handsome, scoundrel-y but sweet pop star she's grown to love.


Rose Reed is good at her job - she got promoted at a young age, and currently is only 26. That being said, she's currently falling for her new client, the singer Archie Fox, which is a definite no-no, especially when you are trying to set him up with another new musician (for the press, of course).

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Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 70 books.
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