Friday, April 17, 2015

The Thunder of Giants by Joel Fishbane Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Thunder of Giants
Joel Fishbane

The year is 1937 and Andorra Kelsey—7'11 and just over 320 pounds—is on her way to Hollywood to become a star. Hoping to escape both poverty and the ghost of her dead husband, she accepts an offer from the wily Rutherford Simone to star in a movie about the life of Anna Swan, the Nova Scotia giantess who toured the world in the 19th century.

Told in parallel, Anna Swan's story unfurls. While Andorra is seen as a disgrace by an embarrassed family, Anna Swan is quickly celebrated for her unique size. Drawn to New York, Anna becomes a famed attraction at P.T. Barnum's American Museum even as she falls in love with Gavin Clarke, a veteran of the Civil War. Quickly disenchanted with a life of fame, Anna struggles to prove to Gavin—and the world—that she is more than the sum of her measurements.

Both meticulously researched and resounding with the force of myth, Joel Fishbane's The Thunder of Giants blends fact and fiction in a sweeping narrative that spans nearly a hundred years. Against the backdrop of epic events, two extraordinary women become reluctant celebrities in the hopes of surviving a world too small to contain them.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of The Thunder of Giants—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is your favorite book or movie about circuses?
Water for Elephants is a huge one for me (the book!) and I've been meaning to get into American Horror Story: Freakshow as well!

Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Joel and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends May 1st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

6 Heart Review: The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler + Giveaway! (Open internationally!)

The Truth About Us
Janet Gurtler
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Page Count: 304

Release Date: April 7th, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Sourcebooks and Jean BookNerd!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

A powerful and gripping contemporary YA from the author of I’m Not Her that’s just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult.

The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She’s made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she’s paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it’s all fine. That her “perfect” family is fine. But it’s not. And no one notices the lie…until she meets Flynn. He’s the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart—and no one seems to care.
But Flynn is the definition of “the wrong side of the tracks.” When Jess’s parents look at him they only see the differences—not how much they need each other. They don’t get that the person who shouldn’t fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.
When the bus approaches, I let [Flynn's] hand go reluctantly and watch out the window until we turn a corner and I can't see him anymore. I wish we could have stayed on the beach forever. But we have to get back to real life and find a way to make it work in a world where people don't think we should be together.
It can't be that bad now that we have each other.

Few YA novels are able to grasp the difficulties and injustices of teenhood while still remaining light and age-appropriate. The Truth About Us tackles painful and sometimes dark real-world struggles—this is no Twilight or Pretty Little Liars—but is still a clean read for younger audiences. Despite its "gripping" content claim, I actually found this a pretty light read. I breezed through it effortlessly; it's one of those books I didn't have to think too deeply about, which is perfect for lounging around with in the upcoming summer months.

There are a few things that just didn't click with me, though. My main issue is that I couldn't really connect with the characters, namely Jess (the narrator) and Flynn (the love interest). It isn't that they're necessarily unlikable, but they just seem too flat, too two-dimensional. Gurtler attempts to add emotional complexity and first-world flaws to Jess's ignorant, rather foolish persona, but it seemed rather forced. There are times her compelling vulnerabilities really shine through, but for the most part, her shallow character is randomly peppered with unrelated "insecurities." Half the time, I was irritated by her depressing, undeservedly bleak outlook on life, considering most of her problems could be easily solved if she would just step it up in the maturity game.

Jess's past remains a mystery throughout the majority of the first half of the book, which would normally be suspenseful, but quickly became annoying. Throughout, she alludes to two prominent tragedies frequently: the loss of her mother and her best friend (figuratively, not literally)—but when these moments are actually finally revealed, they're very much told, rather than shown! I feel like this rendered the entire conflict void; there was no emotional value or imagery connected to what she kept from readers for so long... an anti-suspense, of sorts.

That being said, The Truth About Us isn't completely lacking in redeeming qualities. Many teen romance novels feature a bad boy hero from the "wrong side of the tracks," but with Flynn, it doesn't feel like a YA trope. While his character is also only described on the surface level, I'm definitely impressed with the depth and conviction Gurtler uses to convey the very relevant and very real socioeconomic divide between him and Jess. I also enjoyed how both characters have their own hardships in their lives—whether in the past or present—that raise the stakes in the plot.

I have to admit I was disappointed by the romance aspect of this book, but that's because I'm a bit of a romance fanatic. If you're looking for a love story that'll knock you off your feet... The Truth About Us is definitely not the answer. Keep on searching. However, if you want a contemporary teen novel that deals with bigger issues than just the wobbly knees and stomach butterflies, I think you'll get something out of this one.

Pros


An easy read; quick to get through // Surprisingly sentimental (in a good way!) and emotional for a light YA novel // Interesting synopsis regarding romance obstructed by class difference 

Cons


Didn't blow me away stylistically // Some unrealistic, "too fast, too easy" bits, particularly the underdeveloped insta-love // Jess and Flynn both fall flat as characters // Jess's past isn't explored as much as I would have liked // Rushed, stilted ending—overall unsatisfying

Verdict


Younger teen audiences will be intrigued by this chaste romance story about what happens when a girl who has everything (at least on the outside), meets a guy who lives the kind of poverty-stricken life she didn't even realize existed. While I had some issues with the superficially characterized protagonists and rather plain writing style, I did appreciate the overall conflict that faces real-life problems about social class, friends, and family, that is accented by tender moments of affection and teen love in between Americanflag

6 hearts: Decent for a first read, but I'm not going back; this book is decidedly average (whatever that means!) (x)


Giveaway!


Check out this tour-led Rafflecopter form to see what you can win:
Ends Monday, April 20th, and is open internationally!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I Don't Have a Happy Place by Kim Korson Giveaway! (US/Can only)

I Don't Have a Happy Place
Kim Korson

When a trip to the therapist ends with the question “Can’t Kim be happy?” Kim Korson responds the way any normal person would—she makes fun of it. Because really, does everyone have to be happy?

Aside from her father wearing makeup and her mother not feeling well (a lot), Kim Korson’s 1970s suburban upbringing was typical. Sometimes she wished her brother were an arsonist just so she’d have a valid excuse to be unhappy. And when life moves along pretty decently—she breaks into show business, gets engaged in the secluded jungles of Mexico, and moves her family from Brooklyn to dreamy rural Vermont—the real despondency sets in. It’s a skill to find something wrong in just about every situation, but Kim has an exquisite talent for negativity. It is only after half a lifetime of finding kernels of unhappiness where others find joy that she begins to wonder if she is even capable of experiencing happiness.

In I Don’t Have a Happy Place, Kim Korson untangles what it means to be a true malcontent. Rife with evocative and nostalgic observations, unapologetic realism, and razor-sharp wit, I Don’t Have a Happy Place is told in humorous, autobiographical stories. This fresh-yet-dark voice is sure to make you laugh, nod your head in recognition, and ultimately understand what it truly means to be unhappy. Always.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of I Don't Have a Happy Place—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What do you have to be happy about today?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Kim and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Wunderkind PR!
Giveaway ends April 29th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Her Name Is Rose by Christine Breen Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Her Name is Rose
Christine Breen

People used to say Iris Bowen was beautiful, what with the wild weave of her red hair, the high cheekbones, and the way she carried herself like a barefoot dancer through the streets of Ranelagh on the outskirts of Dublin city. But that was a lifetime ago.

In a cottage in the west of Ireland, Iris—gardener and mother to an adopted daughter, Rose—is doing her best to carry on after the death of her husband two years before. At the back of her mind is a promise she never intended to keep, until the day she gets a phone call from her doctor.

Meanwhile, nineteen-year-old Rose is a brilliant violinist at the Royal Academy in London, still grieving for her father but relishing her music and life in the city. Excited but nervous, she hums on the way to an important master class, and then suddenly finds herself missing both of her parents when the class ends in disaster.

After the doctor's call, Iris is haunted by the promise she made to her husband—to find Rose's birth mother, so that their daughter might still have family if anything happened to Iris. Armed only with a twenty-year-old envelope, Iris impulsively begins a journey into the past that takes her to Boston and back, with unexpected results for herself and for Rose and for both friends and strangers.

Intimate, moving, and witty, Christine Breen's Her Name is Rose is a gorgeous novel about what can happen when life does not play out the way you expect.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of Her Name is Rose—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
If you had been able to name yourself, what name would you have chosen? Why do you like it?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Christine and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends April 28th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

French Coast by Anita Hughes Giveaway! (US/Can only)

French Coast
Anita Hughes

Serena has the job she's always dreamed of and Chase, the man her heart never dared to. As a new editor at Vogue, she bags the biggest interview of the year with Yvette Renault, the infamous former editor of French Vogue, in The Carlton-InterContinental Hotel during the Cannes Film Festival. She eagerly jets off to France while Chase stays home, working with her father, a former senator, on his upcoming mayoral campaign.

Everything feels unbelievably perfect... until it doesn't. The hotel loses her reservation hours before her big interview. Serena fears that she'll have to go home without her story, but then she meets Zoe, a quirky young woman staying in the suite below Yvette's who invites Serena to stay with her. Serena is grateful for her mysterious roommate's generosity, but it seems that there's more to her story than meets the eye. To make matters worse, soon after arriving in Cannes, Serena learns a shocking secret about her parents' marriage, and it isn't long before she begins to question her own relationship.

With her deadline looming and pressure mounting, Serena will have to use her investigative journalism skills, new friendships, and a little luck to get her life and love back on track. Fast paced and impeccably written, French Coast will draw readers in to the intoxicating world of the Cote D'Azur. Hughes's beautiful prose and sense imagery bring the food, fashion, and feel of the ocean to life in this audacious new novel.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of French Coast—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
If you wrote a novel, what city would you place your setting in? Why?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Anita and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends April 22nd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Perfume Garden
Kate Lord Brown

An acclaimed international bestseller, The Perfume Garden is a sensuously written story of lost love, family secrets—and the art of creating a perfect scent.

High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco's forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled, and the garden, laden with orange blossom, grows wild. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Emma is London's leading perfumier, but her blessed life has taken a difficult turn. Her free-spirited mother, Liberty, who taught her the art of fragrance making, has just passed away. At the same time, she broke up with her long-time lover and business partner, Joe, whose baby she happens to be carrying.

While Joe is in New York trying to sell his majority share in their company, Emma, guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed to her in Liberty's will, decides to leave her job and travel to Valencia, where she will give birth in the house her mother mysteriously purchased just before her death. The villa is a perfect retreat: redolent with the exotic scents of orange blossom and neroli, dappled with light and with the rich colors of a forgotten time. Emma makes it her mission to restore the place to its former glory. But for her aging grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed in Valencia during Spain's devastating civil war, Emma's new home evokes memories of a terrible secret, a part of her family's past that until now has managed to stay hidden.

With two beautifully interwoven narratives and a lush, atmospheric setting, Kate Lord Brown's The Perfume Garden is a dramatic, emotional debut that readers won't soon forget.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of The Perfume Garden—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is your favorite perfume? Even if you typically don't like or wear fragrances, have you ever encountered one that you couldn't get enough of?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Kate and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends April 21st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Scent of Triumph by Jan Moran Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Scent of Triumph
Jan Moran

When French perfumer Danielle Bretancourt steps aboard a luxury ocean liner, leaving her son behind in Poland with his grandmother, she has no idea that her life is about to change forever. The year is 1939, and the declaration of war on the European continent soon threatens her beloved family, scattered across many countries. Traveling through London and Paris into occupied Poland, Danielle searches desperately for her the remains of her family, relying on the strength and support of Jonathan Newell-Grey, a young captain. Finally, she is forced to gather the fragments of her impoverished family and flee to America. There she vows to begin life anew, in 1940s Los Angeles.

There, through determination and talent, she rises high from meager jobs in her quest for success as a perfumer and fashion designer to Hollywood elite. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, Scent of Triumph is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of Scent of Triumph—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is:
What is your favorite scent in the world? Does it come in a perfume bottle or is it something that can only be experienced?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Jan and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends April 17th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!