Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: The Heavens Rise, ends 12/4

The Heavens Rise, by Christopher Rice.

I was resistant at first. The idea of a gurgling, classical French fountain surrounded by all that wild foliage appealed to my teenage love of the Victorian gothic. But my father used a very simple and cogent argument to change my mind; I loved to swim, but with my mortal fear of snakes, I'd never so much as stuck a toe in the thick finger of black water that snaked through our property like the waterlogged path of some giant jungle serpent. But if I had a cool, perfectly clear pool of pure water, direct from the source ...

Eventually, I gave in. Of course my father still asked for a show of hands, which seemed like a silly formality to me, but I cast my vote anyway. A swimming pool it was.

It was a decision that destroyed our lives.

This is the first novel I've read by Christopher Rice, the son of Anne Rice, vampire and supernatural novelist. I received a copy of The Heavens Rise a while ago but just now got around to reading it, and I'm definitely glad I did. Even though it's pegged as a "horror" novel, the horror is expertly woven in and you might not realize until 3/4 of the way in that it's a horror/supernatural book, when things suddenly come to light that were not introduced before.

Official synopsis:
Christopher Rice, contestNew York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice brilliantly conjures the shadowed terrors of the Louisiana bayou—where three friends confront a deadly, ancient evil rising to the surface—in this intense and atmospheric new supernatural thriller.

It’s been a decade since the Delongpre family vanished near Bayou Rabineaux, and still no one can explain the events of that dark and sweltering night. No one except Niquette Delongpre, the survivor who ran away from the mangled stretch of guardrail on Highway 22 where the impossible occurred…and kept on running. Who left behind her best friends, Ben and Anthem, to save them from her newfound capacity for destruction…and who alone knows the source of her very bizarre—and very deadly—abilities: an isolated strip of swampland called Elysium.

An accomplished surgeon, Niquette’s father dreamed of transforming the dense acreage surrounded by murky waters into a palatial compound befitting the name his beloved wife gave to it, Elysium: “the final resting place for the heroic and virtuous.” Then, ten years ago, construction workers dug into a long-hidden well, one that snaked down into the deep, black waters of the Louisiana swamp and stirred something that had been there for centuries—a microscopic parasite that perverts the mind and corrupts the body.

Niquette is living proof that things done can’t be undone. Nothing will put her family back together again. And nothing can save her. But as Niquette, Ben, and Anthem uncover the truth of a devastating parasite that has the potential to alter the future of humankind, Niquette grasps the most chilling truths of all: someone else has been infected too. And unlike her, this man is not content to live in the shadows. He is intent to use his newfound powers for one reason only: revenge.
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I liked this novel a lot because it had different themes throughout; the main theme being jealousy and revenge, as Marshall Ferriot was ultimately rejected by the teenage Nikki as a suitor. Within the few weeks they were dating, something happens to both of them ... to avoid spoilers, it's something that can't be undone, and then a little while later, Nikki and her family are in a car accident, never to be seen again.

I also liked that the book takes place in pre- and post-Katrina New Orleans - it starts off in 2005 and flashes to present-day 2013, with flashbacks to 2005 often too, so that we get the whole story. Ben, Nikki's best friend, and Anthem, her longtime boyfriend, both still keep in touch, and they start to realize that there might be more to Nikki's car accident than they originally thought.

I would definitely read another of Rice's books based on this one, even though overall I'm not a horror novel fan. This novel didn't really seem like a horror movie until 3/4 of the way in, as I said before, although the book trailer (see below) pushes its horror elements. I am not sure if his other novels are horror-themed or not, but I would still be willing to give them a try based on The Heavens Rise.

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:

I have one hardcover copy of this novel to give away, and this contest is open to international residents too! Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest ends Wednesday, December 4th, and the winner will be notified via email on December 5th, and have 24 hours to respond, or else another winner will be chosen. Open to all countries.

Good luck!

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Player

Beautiful Player, by Christina Lauren.

I'd always understood why women wanted Will in the first place. He wasn't beautiful in the same way Bennett was, and he wasn't tender like Max. He was visceral and imperfect, dark and knowing. He gave the sense that he looked at a woman and in an instant read every need she had.

But now I knew why women truly lost their mind over him. Because in the end, he did actually know every need a woman had, that I had. He'd ruined me for any other man, even before the first touch. And when he leaned in behind me, dragging his lips across the shell of my ear - not a kiss, not exactly - and asked, "You think you'll scream when you come this time, too?" - I was lost.

I believe Beautiful Player may be the longest of the books in the series, all of which I have reviewed so far, and although it was a little different than the others, I still ended up really liking it.

Official synopsis:
erotica, Christina Lauren, bookA bombshell bookworm. A chronic Casanova. And a lesson in chemistry too scandalous for school.

When Hanna Bergstrom receives a lecture from her overprotective brother about neglecting her social life and burying herself in grad school, she’s determined to tackle his implied assignment: get out, make friends, start dating. And who better to turn her into the sultry siren every man wants than her brother’s gorgeous best friend, Will Sumner, venture capitalist and unapologetic playboy?

Will takes risks for a living, but he’s skeptical about this challenge of Hanna’s…until the wild night his innocently seductive pupil tempts him into bed- and teaches him a thing or two about being with a woman he can’t forget. Now that Hanna’s discovered the power of her own sex appeal, it’s up to Will to prove he’s the only man she’ll ever need.
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First off, I'm sad that the Beautiful Bastard series is ending - after this one, there's a novella, Beautiful Beginning, and then that's it. Christina and Lauren (who make up the pen name Christina Lauren) are on to a new series, which will be coming out soon.

As always, the characters and situations in this book felt incredibly real. Hanna, aka Ziggy, has known Will Sumner since she was a little kid - he's her brother Jensen's best friend. Jensen and her dad agree she needs to get out more and tear herself away from her work at the lab, and she gives Will a call, hoping he can maybe show her the city a bit. She ends up becoming his running partner, and soon, more than that.

Hanna is maybe the most inexperienced out of the Beautiful Bastard women (Chloe and Sara, from the other books), which made Beautiful Player interesting. She wants Will to teach her what he knows, for the most part, but he finds himself slowly falling for her; she's had a crush on him ever since she was a kid, and they have instant chemistry now that they are of appropriate dating ages (she's 24, he was 31; at flashbacks during the book, she was 12 and he 19, and she was 16 and he 23).

I liked the character of Hanna because she reminded me a bit of myself, in some ways, and I liked Will because although he used to be a player, he was also a geek; he always got Hanna's science references throughout the novel. I also liked that although he was a "bad boy" or "player," when he met Hanna he wanted to change his ways for her.

I'm hoping we see more of these two in Beautiful Beginning, at Bennett and Chloe's wedding, and I think we should, based on Player's ending. We also get a sneak peek of Beginning at the end of Player's paperback copy, so keep a look out for that.

4.5 stars out of 5.

My previous reviews, for your reference:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review + Giveaway: Angelfall and World After, ends 11/26

World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2) by Susan Ee.

I know that soon I'll have to think about Paige, Mom, and Clara. My priorities will be all about survival and getting my family together and keeping them safe from monsters and people alike.

But for now, for just this moment, I let myself be a seventeen-year-old girl in a strong guy's arms. I even let some of the what-ifs seep in, the kind of possibilities that might have blossomed between us in the World Before.

Just for a little while.

Before I carefully fold my dreams away into the vault in my head.

When I got the email asking me to review World After, I initially declined, since it was the second in a series and I hadn't read Angelfall. I was then offered Angelfall so I accepted, even though my TBR pile is getting out of control these days.

All I have to say is: I'm SO glad I did!

Susan Ee, Penryn and the End of Days, dystopia


Official synopsis: Angelfall
It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Official synopsis: World After
In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what's left of the modern world.

When a group of people capture Penryn's sister Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?
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This is a review of World After, so there may be some spoilers if you haven't read Angelfall - you've been warned. The synopses above don't really give many spoilers, however, which is why I've included both.

I loved Angelfall and was so glad I had my advance copy of World After to delve in to the day after finishing the first book. Angelfall definitely ends with the plot wide open - anything could happen - so I was curious to see what would happen to Penryn and Raffe, her angel friend.

The world that Susan Ee has created here was a mix between the Blue Bloods series (Melissa de la Cruz), only with angels, and the atmosphere of The Walking Dead TV show (minus the zombies), in that Penryn is living in a post-apocalyptic world where she frequently has to hide out. The books take place in California, specifically the Bay Area, and as she hops from house to house, she sees the things that people have left behind: family photos, clothing, etc. (much like in the early seasons of TWD).

In World After, Penryn is trying to get her sister Paige back, who she was reunited with at the end of book 1, but who she has now lost again. Raffe is on the loose somewhere with new angel wings - actually, demon wings - and she would eventually like to reunite with him as well. She's been separated from her crazy mother as well, and wants to make sure she is safe.

These novels will be addicting for anyone who likes dystopian books, and I can't wait to read the third one in the series, which will be out in May 2014.

World After is in bookstores today, November 19th. 5 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of Angelfall and an ARC of World After for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

GIVEAWAY:

You can win both books in paperback format! Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest ends Tuesday, November 26th at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified on November 27th via email and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen. U.S./Canada only, please.

Good luck!

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Monday, November 18, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Kmart toys for the holidays, ends 12/2

Kmart Toys Giveaway Frenzy



In the spirit of the holidays we are joining with Kmart to Pay It Forward with Kmart Toys


This year, Kmart introduced a new way for you to do the same with a new program, Kmart has called Shop Your Way Charity Gift Registry. Kmart and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign allows members and gift-givers the opportunity to donate Fab 15 Kmart toys to children in need at www.shopyourway.com/giftregistry.

This new gift giving option is a great way for people to pay it forward while shopping online for their holiday presents. The Kmart Toys Holiday Book is full of gift ideas and popular toys that ever child is putting on their holiday wish list.

I am happy to partner with Madame Deals to bring you this giveaway! Check out the toys available and then enter to win at the bottom of the post. The new Furby looks fun - I used to have one of the older ones when I was younger - as does the Disney Planes toy.

The Kmart Toys list is so wonderful, that my family decided to donate all of the Kmart toys sent for review to a local charity so they can be given to a family in need this holiday season. Although it is not much, we are blessed to know that children who would have gone without will have a gift this year.

Read our review on Kmart's Fab 15 Toy List.

Enter to win Kmart Toys

Madame Deals and all the bloggers featured in this rafflecopter are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Prizes will be sent out by the contest sponsor. 13 individual winners will be chosen at random and assigned a prize. They will have 24 hours to claim their prize from the time the winning notification email is sent. Winners will be drawn within 12 hours of the contest end time. If a winner does not respond within 24 hours a new winner will be drawn. Entries will be verified so please be honest when entering. Any questions about the giveaway can be sent to prmadamedeals@gmail.com, Topic: Kmart toys.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review: Someone Else's Love Story

Someone Else's Love Story, by Joshilyn Jackson.

I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K. It was on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill us just as dead as a really nice gun could.

I thought then I had landed in my own worst dream, not a love story. Love stories start with a kiss or a meet-cute, not with someone getting shot in a gas station minimart. Well, no, two people, because that lady cop took a bullet first.

What a great way to start a book, right? This novel had a major twist about 3/4 of the way through the book, too, and it completely fooled me; however, thinking back upon it, I realized there were clues sprinkled throughout the novel, one of which being the title. Regardless, this book had me captivated throughout, and it's one of the best I've read lately.

Official synopsis:
Joshilyn JacksonAt twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Natty, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Catholic mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.

Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. But William doesn’t define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.

Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, in a funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness,; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It’s a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.
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This is a love story, but it's not the usual type. Shandi is involved in a holdup at the Circle K, where she meets William, who she can tell has either been divorced or separated recently. After they finally escape from the scenario, she starts spending time with William, helping him with his house and other work, and his best friend Paula disapproves. Shandi's best friend, Walcott, also disapproves, although his disapproval is not quite as obvious at first.

Shandi has a 3-year-old son, Natty, and when she gave birth to him, she was a virgin; she states this fact plainly at first, and then slowly unravels the story so the reader will know what happened and how she got pregnant.

The writing here was both matter-of-fact and wry, and some parts had me laughing, even though the subject matter is serious. I haven't read any other books by the author but I hope to at some point - she's got 5+ other books in existence. The point-of-view in the book switches between Shandi's and William's, but the reader will get more insight from Shandi; William's brain just works differently than hers. It was definitely interesting to see her perception of situations and then see that same situation from William's, too.

Someone Else's Love Story will be in stores on November 19th. 4.5 stars out of 5.

[edit: apparently there's a prequel as well! It's called My Own Miraculous and is a novella, around 120 pages ... I will definitely be reading it!]

*Disclosure: I received a galley of this book from Edelweiss for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Friday, November 15, 2013

GIVEAWAY: complete set of the Redhead series, by Alice Clayton - ends 11/22

Last month, I reviewed Wallbanger by Alice Clayton, and it's just been announced that Clayton now has a major book deal for three full-length books and one novella.

Her new series, the Cocktail series, will start off with Rusty Nailed, the sequel to Wallbanger, and will be released in June 2014. The next two books in the series, Screwdrivered and Mai Tai'd Up, will be released in September 2014 and December 2014.

The novella, coming out in January 2015, will be the beginning of a brand new Hudson Valley series.

To celebrate this news, I have a complete copy of the Redhead series by the author to give away! I haven't read these, but I've heard they are hilarious, and based on my review of Wallbanger, I wouldn't doubt it.

Alice Clayton Redhead series


GIVEAWAY:

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest will end on Friday, November 22nd, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified on November 23rd via email. Winner has 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be selected. U.S./Canada only, please.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 11, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again, ends 11/18

Seconds Firsts: Live, Laugh and Love Again is the newest from Christina Rasmussen, and I have a copy for two of my lucky readers to win.

Official synopsis:
Christina RasmussenAfter studying to become a therapist and crisis intervention counselor - even doing her master's thesis on the stages of bereavement - Christina Rasmussen thought she knew grief. But it wasn't until losing her husband to cancer in her early 30s that she truly understood the depths of sorrow and pain that come with it.

Using the knowledge she gained while wading through her own grief and researching hundreds of neuroscience books, Rasmussen began to look at these experiences in a new way. She realized that grief plunges you into a gap between worlds: the world before trauma and the world after trauma. She also realized how easy it is to become lost in this gap.

In Second Firsts, Rasmussen walks readers through a proven process that helps them break the spiral of pain and create a safe space for their post-grief life to enter. Her method, which she has used successfully online and offline with thousands of clients, is based on the science of neuroplasticity and focuses on consciously releasing pain in ways that both honor suffering and rewire the brain to experience the world in a new way.

With understanding and empathy, Rasmussen uses practical exercises and stories drawn from her own life and the lives of her clients to guide readers through five stages of opening up to life so that they can come out of grief as a new person and start to experience life again, essentially for the first time.
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About the author: Christina Rasmussen is on a crusade to change the way we live after loss. As the founder of Second Firsts, an organization to help people create a pathway back to life after loss, Christina spends her time speaking, coaching, and helping thousands of people rebuild, reclaim, and relaunch their lives using the most powerful tool for personal reinvention: the human mind. Her personal story and fresh approach to life after loss has garnered international attention. She writes for the Huffington Post, she's been featured as a Woman Working to Do Good in the White House Blog, and she was named the Leading Mom in Business by StartupNation.




GIVEAWAY:

Two print copies will be given away. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Contest ends Monday, November 18th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified by email on November 19th and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen. U.S./Canada only, please.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Book Review: The Whole Golden World

The Whole Golden World, by Kristina Riggle.

She'd noticed he'd cut his hair shorter, which disappointed her. Already he looked less like himself. No doubt his lawyer had made him do it, that lady lawyer who probably thought shaggy hair made him look dangerous. Like she'd been some kind of helpless girl in a silent movie, tied to the railroad tracks while he cackled. That's what no one understood. She was no victim. She was a grown woman trapped in a body too young for anyone to take her seriously.

That quick, sad smile told her all she needed to know. Despite the courts saying it was a crime, despite her parents locking her down like she herself was a criminal, despite the gossip and vandals and spewing hate from random strangers ... he loved her anyway. Against the odds and against all sense. She lifted her chin and straightened her shoulders, as if the orchestra conductor had just raised her baton.

The judge cleared his throat and the air int he room seemed to freeze, as everyone waited for it all to begin.

Kristina Riggle is a Michigan author who always writes great books, so I was excited to receive a copy of her newest, The Whole Golden World. I have previously reviewed Keepsake (2012) and Things We Didn't Say (2011) by her, and enjoyed both of them; this novel was no exception.

Official synopsis:
Kristina Riggle, relationships, book reviewSeventeen-year-old Morgan Monetti shocks her parents and her community with one simple act: She chooses to stand by the man everyone else believes has exploited her—popular high school teacher TJ Hill. Quietly walking across a crowded courtroom to sit behind TJ, and not beside her parents, she announces herself as the adult she believes herself to be.

But her mother, Dinah, wants justice. Dinah is a fighter, and she believes with all her heart and soul that TJ is a man who took advantage of her daughter. He is a criminal who should be brought to justice, no matter what the cost to his family.

Rain, TJ's wife, is shocked that her handsome, loving, respected husband has been accused of a terrible crime. But has her desperation to start a family closed her eyes to the fault lines in her marriage? And can she face the painful truths about herself and her husband?

Told from the perspectives of these three remarkable women, The Whole Golden World navigates the precarious territory between childhood and adulthood, raising questions about love and manipulation, marriage and motherhood, consent and responsibility. It's a novel both shocking and unforgettable in its power.
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This novel could be based on events ripped from the headlines: we've all seen the articles about teachers "seducing" their students, so they say, and secretly wondered why a 30-40+ man or woman would do that. This book provides back story, and shows exactly how Morgan and Mr. Hill (TJ's) affair started; TJ was unhappy at home, because his wife wanted a baby and they were unable to conceive. Morgan was tired of being the responsible child, always looking after her younger twin brothers. She was also lonely after her boyfriend broke up with her, and she had a bit of a crush on Mr. Hill.

Riggle chooses to tell the story from three points-of-view: Morgan's; her mother, Dinah's; and TJ's wife, Rain's. This was a smart thing to do, in my opinion, because we get to learn so much about each of these characters, and see why they make the choices and decisions that they do.

It was also interesting to see how Morgan didn't think she was manipulated by TJ. Everyone else, including her parents, did; but Morgan's opinion on this eventually begins to change once she realizes how she actually was treated by TJ, and how he is still manipulating her now, even as the case goes to trial.

4.5 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received an advance reader's edition of this novel for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Book Review: What Nora Knew

What Nora Knew, by Linda Yellin.

"See, that's what's intriguing about you. I never know what you're going to say. I'd have taken you for a loves-surprises woman."

"Really?" I liked that self-image. Maybe someday I'd adopt it.

"What's interesting about knowing an ending?" "Well, in Sleepless in Seattle, your supposed number one favorite movie, we know Meg will end up with Tom. But it's not about who she's going to end up with. We still want to keep watching. We're mesmerized by the journey."

Cameron seemed to be considering my comment, making a mental note. "Maybe the mystery isn't who we're supposed to be with in life," he said, "but what's keeping us from recognizing them."

The title of this book drew me in, as I'm a big fan of Nora Ephron's movies, and I was curious as to how she tied in to the novel. The book follows Molly, who is toiling away at a writing job she sometimes hates, and dating the "dependable" Russell, whom she likes but isn't sure she loves. She meets a fellow writer, Cameron, and is at first annoyed by him; later, however, she can't stop thinking about him, and starts to wonder why.

Official synopsis:
Linda Yellin, romcomsMolly Hallberg is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced writer living in New York City who wants her own column, a Wikipedia entry, and to never end up in her family’s Long Island upholstery business. For the past four years Molly’s been on staff for an online magazine, covering all the wacky assignments. She’s snuck vibrators through security scanners, speed-dated undercover, danced with Rockettes, and posed nude for a Soho art studio.

Fearless in everything except love, Molly is now dating a forty-four-year-old chiropractor. He’s comfortable, but safe. When Molly is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance "in the style of Nora Ephron," she flunks out big-time. She can’t recognize romance. And she can’t recognize the one man who can go one-on-one with her, the one man who gets her. But with wit, charm, whip-smart humor, and Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies, Molly learns to open her heart and suppress her cynicism in this bright, achingly funny novel.
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First off, this novel was funny. I haven't laughed out loud while reading a book in some time, and I was delighted to find that Molly's screwball sense of humor was indeed humorous. We follow her through situation after situation, and her job is definitely interesting - she's a bit of a "human interest" reporter, and Deidre, her boss, makes her go on crazy assignments like skydiving and trying to sneak ... toys through security at a courthouse.

I will say this novel was very much predictable, but that is what made it fun while reading it. Nora Ephron's movies are predictable as well - in You've Got Mail, Meg ends up with Tom Hanks, and you're rooting for her to dump Greg Kinnear's character - and the same goes for Sleepless in Seattle referenced in the quote from What Nora Knew, above. What makes it fun, however, is trying to figure out how Molly will work her way through the novel, and what exactly her fate will be in the end, even though we have a rough idea of what that fate will be.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes "romcoms," as well as anyone who thinks you have to find your true love by age 30 (or 35, or 40, etc.) or else you're "out of luck."

What Nora Knew will be in stores on January 21, 2014. 4 stars out of 5.

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review and GIVEAWAY: The Burning of Cherry Hill, ends 11/13

The Burning of Cherry Hill, by A.K. Butler.

It has been a mere five generations since the Second Revolutionary War threatened to destroy this nation, since vanishings ceased to be devastating realities and became colloquial slang. It is too easy to forget that Zavier and Evangelina Scot did not set out to start a war; the War followed in their wake. The greatest way to honor their sacrifice is to never force others to make it again. 

I love good dystopian lit, and this book definitely qualifies. Set in 2159, it follows Zay and Lina Scot, as their home is burned down and their parents die in the fire that consumes Block Island - or so the public thinks. Zay and Lina must figure out what is going on, as well as adapt to the new world they're living in, and they might find out some awful truths in the process.

dystopian literatureOfficial synopsis:
It's 2159. Zay Scot is a fourteen-year-old boy raised on a secret island in hiding from a government he doesn't know exists. After more than a decade of avoiding detection, his fugitive parents are brutally kidnapped and he is thrust into a dizzying world centuries more advanced than the one he left behind.

The skies over the United North American Alliance are pollution-free. Meals are healthy and delivered to each home. Crime is nonexistent. Medical treatment requires only the scan of your wrist. Poverty, need, and hunger are things studied in history class.

But Zay soon finds himself a fugitive, escaping the brute force of a government always a whisper away. Now he must choose between peace and freedom, and if the journey doesn't kill him, what he finds might start a war.
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At first, this new world sounds interesting and intriguing. There's always enough food for everyone, if you're hurt or sick you can be fixed with the touch of a button (reminded me of the movie Elysium in that respect) ... and, also, the government also monitors where you are at all time using this same technology. Zay refuses to get a scanner once he and his sister Lina arrive on the "mainland" because of this, and his other orphan friends have to sometimes scan for him so he can have meals.

This is definitely not a "happily ever after" book - indeed, I was a bit shocked by the ending, although it seems to be "for the greater good" - but the journey that they take throughout it was interesting. It did have some Hunger Games elements in it, but overall it was a great, original dystopian story. At the beginning of the book, the Scots live on Block Island, free from government influence, which I think meant the Rhode Island location - that was intriguing to me because I have relatives who live in R.I., so I've heard of Block Island before.

My only criticism is that I would have liked a little more back story, even though the author did flesh out the history of the government and of Cherry Hill nicely.

4.5 stars out of 5.

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

GIVEAWAY:


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Contest will end Wednesday, November 13th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be emailed on November 14th. Prize is one paperback copy of The Burning of Cherry Hill. U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 4, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Seven Seconds: Memories of the JFK Assassination, the Tragedy that Changed America, ends 11/12

The e-book Seven Seconds: Memories of the JFK Assassination, the Tragedy that Changed America, by Holly Millea, has recently been published, and I have a copy for two of my lucky readers to win.

Official synopsis:
Where were you when you heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot?

For years, journalist Holly Millea has concluded interviews with that question. In her decades-long career as a magazine writer, Millea has interviewed dozens of cultural icons who have shared vivid memories of what they were doing on November 22, 1963, when three gunshots fired in Dallas changed America forever.

Jimmy Carter, still a Georgia farmer, had just come in from plowing a field. After hearing the news, he went back outside and wept. Robert Redford was starring in “Barefoot in the Park” on Broadway and could barely remember his lines that night. Artist Chuck Close was at Yale, horrified to see law students toasting JFK’s death. Barbra Streisand was buying a necklace, which she still owns but has never been able to wear. And Nora Ephron was a twenty-two-year-old reporter at the “New York Post.” “It was one of those days when I had a harrowing sense of how much I was a journalist, as opposed to a human being,” she recalled. “My instinct wasn’t to weep. It isn’t that I didn’t feel terrible, it’s just that I also felt ‘I’m a journalist and I’m going back to the city room, where I belong.’”

The Byliner Original “Seven Seconds” is an oral history of the day John F. Kennedy was killed, told through the voices of men and women who made their own impact on American culture and whose work is still relevant today. James Patterson, Jeff Bridges, Diane Keaton, Charlie Rose, James L. Brooks, Gay Talese, Judy Collins, Tom Stoppard, Meryl Streep, Dick Cavett, Peter Fonda, Gayle King, James Ellroy, Carl Reiner, Barney Frank, Donna Karan, and Lauren Bacall are among the many people Millea has spoken with about that fateful day. Everyone old enough has a story. And long or short, heartbreaking or wry, every story further illuminates not just a time and place, but an era. As John Kennedy said, “History, after all, is the memory of a nation.”

The whole world will be marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination this fall. Seven Seconds poses the question that many of us will be asking: Where were you?"

GIVEAWAY:


Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway ends on Tuesday, November 12th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be notified on November 13th and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen. Open to all countries, since the prize is an e-book; two winners will be chosen.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 3, 2013

CONTEST: win a copy of Theirs to Keep (Tangled Hearts trilogy, #1) by Maya Banks, ends 11/11

Maya Banks, the author of the Breathless trilogy, is self-publishing her new book, Theirs to Keep, and it's currently available online as an e-book and in print-on-demand. I have a copy for one of my lucky readers to win - read on to see how!

Official synopsis:
While the Breathless trilogy chronicled the lives and loves of Gabe, Jace, and Ash, three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country, the Tangled Hearts trilogy follows the mysterious appearance of Elle and the impact she has on friends Cade Walker and Merrick Sullivan, who are both determined to keep her safe and loved when they find her. When a battered Elle appears in the cabinet of a gun store with no recollection of how she arrived or who she ran from, Cade and Merrick immediately feel a need to make sure she is taken care of and protected. Their protection ultimately grows to love, and the two men must face the ultimate test of friendship when it becomes clear that Elle is coming between them and neither of them is willing to back down.

In the provocative and thrilling Tangled Hearts trilogy, Banks explores the secrecy of one woman’s explosive past and the hope for her unique and challenging happily ever after with both of the men who love her.

Some interesting facts about Banks's Breathless trilogy:
  • Rush Debuted at #3 on The New York Times Combined Print and eBook bestseller list (February 24, 2013)
  • Fever landed at #2 on the USA Today bestseller list (April 7, 2013)
  • Fever debuted at #2 on The New York Times Paperback Trade Fiction bestseller list (April 21, 2013)
  • Burn debuted at #1 on the USA Today bestseller list (August 15, 2013)
  • Burn debuted at #1 on 3 New York Times bestseller lists: Combined Print & E-book Fiction, Paperback Trade Fiction AND E-book Fiction (August 25, 2013)

GIVEAWAY:

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway ends on Monday, November 11th, at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be notified on November 12th and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen. U.S./Canada only, please.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Book Review: The Theory of Opposites

The Theory of Opposites, by Allison Winn Scotch.

I guess I didn't see it, that we no longer fit, that he outgrew me. That the gawky high school kid eventually discovers that he can go back to his reunions and make the prom queens jealous with regret. 

But what's regret anyway?

Regret, I am learning now, is a lot of things. But mostly, it's a slippery seed of longing, of looking back and asking yourself why you didn't know better, when the answers were so obvious all along.

I was reading a book for my book club that was a little boring, and I crept onto my Kindle and remembered that I had downloaded this, Allison Winn Scotch's newest. I promised myself I'd only read a chapter or two and then return to my previous book ... but I quickly got immersed in this story, and the other book fell by the wayside for a while.

Official synopsis:
Allison Winn Scotch, The Theory of OppositesWhat happens when you think you have it all, and then suddenly it’s taken away?

Willa Chandler-Golden's father changed the world with his self-help bestseller, Is It Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control. Millions of devoted fans now find solace in his notion that everything happens for a reason. Though Willa isn't entirely convinced of her father’s theories, she readily admits that the universe has delivered her a solid life: a reliable husband, a fast-paced career. Sure there are hiccups – negative pregnancy tests, embattled siblings - but this is what the universe has brought, and life, if she doesn't think about it too much, is wonderful.

Then her (evidently not-so-reliable) husband proposes this: A two-month break. Two months to see if they can't live their lives without each other. And before Willa can sort out destiny and fate and what it all means, she’s axed from her job, her 12 year-old nephew Nicky moves in, her ex-boyfriend finds her on Facebook, and her best friend Vanessa lands a gig writing for Dare You!, the hottest new reality TV show. And then Vanessa lures Willa into dares of her own - dares that run counter to her father’s theories of fate, dares that might change everything…but only if Willa is brave enough to stop listening to the universe and instead aim for the stars.
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I loved that the characters and situations in this book were all so believable. Willa met her husband, Shawn, on Match.com six years ago, and they've been "Shilla" ever since, as her sister dubs them. All of a sudden, though, he wants to take a "break," and he proposes that they "do what they want" for two months while he goes to Palo Alto for a work opportunity. Willa is a little bit lost without him until her friend Vanessa proposes working together on a new book, one that Willa's father isn't too happy about because it directly contradicts his own bestseller.

Willa had one other love of her life, Theo, and he asked her to move to Seattle with him years ago; she declined, and the relationship ended. He recently Facebook-messaged her telling her has has testicular cancer, and wanting to reconnect.

Another thing I really liked about this book were the emails/Facebook-messages/tweets that popped up at the beginning of each chapter (I love books that do that). It decidedly puts the novel in the year 2013, and modern-day readers will enjoy this. I also was glad the novel ends how it did, because I was worried it would go the predictable route, for a minute, but it did not.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys "chick lit," but it's much more than that - it's a great story of how you never forget your first love, and how to really examine and evaluate relationships, whether they be with your parents, siblings, or significant other.

The Theory of Opposites will be in stores on November 12th. 5 stars out of 5.

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

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