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.


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}


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.


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. 


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

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