Monday, June 29, 2015

Bum Rap by Paul Levine Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Bum Rap
Paul Levine

NFL linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter has had it with shifty clients, dirty prosecutors, and a legal system out of whack. It’s enough to make a man want to leave Miami and never look back—until he gets a call from Victoria Lord, the better half of hot local legal team Solomon & Lord. Her partner in life and law has been arrested for murder. What’s worse: the only person who can clear him has fled the city. Now it’s up to Jake and Victoria to track down the witness—a stunning “Bar girl”—before she’s roped in by the feds…or eliminated by the Russian mob.

Jake knows that if he doesn’t get to the witness first, his client’s case is lost. Luckily, he’s got some good advice from his college football coach: “Buckle your chin strap and hit somebody.” And sometimes, the only way to win a tough case is to do just that.

About the Author


he author of 19 novels, Paul Levine won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and was nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, Shamus, and James Thurber prizes.

A former Miami trial lawyer, he also wrote more than 20 episodes of the CBS military drama “JAG” and co-created the Supreme Court drama “First Monday” starring James Garner and Joe Mantegna.

His most recent novel is Bum Rap, which brings together the protagonists of his two long-running series: Jake Lassiter and Solomon vs. Lord.

The critically acclaimed international bestseller To Speak for the Dead was his first novel. It has sold more than one million copies and is still going strong on Amazon Kindle.



Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Bum Rap—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What's the most valuable thing you've learned from one of your past mistakes?

EDIT: I realized this is a repeat question from a few weeks ago—I apologize for the confusion! Feel free to answer this question again with a different response even if you entered the other giveaway, but here's a lighter question you can answer instead:

What is your least favorite food and 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. Lori and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and Lake Union Publishing!
Giveaway ends July 13th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently 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!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

6 Heart Review: Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

Love and Miss Communication
Elyssa Friedland

Page Count: 400

Release Date: May 12th 2015
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Wunderkind PR!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

This unforgettable debut novel asks us to look up from our screens and out at the world... and to imagine what life would be like with no searches, no status updates, no texts, no Tweets, no pins, and no posts

Evie Rosen has had enough. She's tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She's over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it's time to put down her smartphone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear—she's done that too!).

And that's when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn't mean you can also unplug from life.
Somehow quitting the Internet felt right. Like it was taking the bite out of the knockouts she'd been dealt recently. At least this would make her different from everyone else, more unique than another faceless lawyer at a big firm or single girl in Manhattan looking for love. At least she'd have something to talk about on a date, if she ever went on one again. But that was just it. She was relying on the Internet for dates—now she'd go out and meet people in the flesh.

The synopsis of this book is what drew me in initially; disconnecting from the Internet entirely and searching for love as a single thirty-something in New York City? It sounded like the perfect modern-day fairytale. Generally, I did enjoy this book; it's a fresh, airy chick-lit that won't make you think too hard, perfect for a summer road trip or for the beach.

It's clear Friedland is a talented writer in this genre; Love and Miss Communication is an impressive debut. However, a series of minor details struck me as obnoxious, and paired with the pretentious and unlikable main character, Evie, I found myself docking points here and there, and well, eventually everywhere.

Evie, I think, is meant to be an endearing character. A career-driven recent breakup-ee surrounded by happily married friends, she's a protagonist we should sympathize with, root for. Unfortunately, it became very evident very quickly WHY Evie was single. I mean, she's gorgeous, smart, successful (I pulled these adjectives from the text, verbatim)—what's not to love?

Her personality, for starters. I can't imagine wanting to be acquainted with someone as envious and spiteful as her, let alone marry. While she is a funny, often klutzy, self-deprecating sort of gal, she's not nearly as scathing or socially aware enough to get away with her immaturity. Her observations and outlooks on life/dating are bratty, catty, and often borderline offensive... specifically, I feel Friedland crosses the line when she brings unnecessary details about race and class into question. For instance, every time someone is described as "hotter" than Evie or promiscuous, it's an Asian chick. All the manicurists or servers are described as "ethnic," and Evie's ex's new girlfriend is "a Turkish whore." She often expresses insane jealousy over her friends' perfect marriages, and even worse, acts upon these insecurities frequently. Some friend, right? There is one instance where she literally swoons over a guy because of his university credentials, which she calls "pedigree." PEDIGREE. (It becomes obvious that a primary reason she is single is that she won't even look twice at a guy who hasn't graduated from an Ivy League. It's really that simple).

I was able to count 6 more examples or stereotyping/objectification just by skimming through the book. Is there really a need to bring details of minority race/class into such trivial matters like these? I understand it may just be an enormous lapse in judgment but even if just a faux pas, it got on my nerves big-time. I'm not accusing the author of being racist or snobby, but do all the examples make Evie sound like your stereotypical privileged whiney white girl? Absolutely.

If you can get past all that, as well as Evie's unnecessarily competitive and stuck-up personality (and the fact that she doesn't ever grow or evolve into a better person), you'll have better luck appreciating the romance plot which, while unextraordinary, certainly wasn't poorly written, considering this is a light-hearted, feel-good novel. Evie's technology ban isn't as deeply explored as I expected it to be, but it does serve as a prominent theme throughout, so it sets the storyline apart from other contemporary reads.

Happily-ever-after fans will love the ending, regardless of how predictable or unrealistic it may be.

Pros


Laugh-worthy situations Evie gets herself into // Smart, sharp voice // Fluid, easy-to-read style // Hilariously accurate observations on modern dating and social media

Cons


Predictable // Romance portion seems unrealistic, more of the insta-love often found in chick-lit than actual romance // Evie is a self-absorbed and completely unlikable character // Repeated offensive/inferior references to racial and socioeconomic minorities that really ticked me off

Love

"I really think the experience of losing a loved one helps me connect with patients a lot better than I would have otherwise," [Edward] said.

"I totally get that. I just basically got fired and now I connect with unemployed people more than I used to," Evie said. "It's all about the human experience."

What the fuck was she saying?

Edward nodded in agreement, possibly just to save her from embarrassment.

Verdict


Overall a light, fluffy read that doesn't require too much thought or emotional investment, Love and Miss Communication provides extremely funny and relatable anecdotes about modern society from the perspective of a single city woman in the 21st century. While I had a huge issue with Evie's static, high and mighty character, I generally did enjoy this humor- and heart-filled story about breaking out of your comfort zone and finding love—along with finding yourself. Elyssa Friedland provides insightful observations on technology and the pressures of social media in this debut, but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of plot complexity and character development  Americanflag

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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Getting It Right the Second Time Around by Jennifer Frank Giveaway! (Open Internationally!)

Getting It Right the Second Time Around
Jennifer Frank

If you had a chance to do over your biggest regret, would you take it?

When Alison learns the terms of her aunt’s will require that she reverse her life and take the road she rejected six years ago, she has to determine if she can trust herself to make the right decision or if she will be pressured once again to allow someone else to choose for her.

Alison lives a comfortable, safe, life advocating for women at the domestic violence shelter where she works and being bossed around by her cat. When her dynamic Aunt Elinor decides to tie Alison’s inheritance to successfully completing law school, Alison confronts the past that led her to choose love over the law—and lose at both.

As Alison battles through law school admissions, the challenges mount both personally and professionally. Will she sacrifice her dreams again to satisfy her new love, Ryan, and her Aunt Elinor?
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-MillionKobo | Smashwords

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 a whole bunch of prizes—yay!!


  • 3 winners will win $5 Amazon gift card, a digital copy of the book in their preferred format, and a lovely bookmark!
  • 2 winners will win one digital copy of the book in their preferred format, plus a lovely bookmark!
  • 5 additional winners will receive one lovely bookmark!

That's 10 winners total! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
If you had a chance to go back and choose the path not taken, even if all the good and bad consequences from that decision were undone, would you?
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. Jennifer and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Jennifer Frank!
Giveaway ends July 9th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally—woohoo! That means anyone in the world can enter!
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, June 23, 2015

The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Idea of Love
Patti Callahan Henry

As we like to say in the south, "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story."

Ella's life has been completely upended. She's young, beautiful, and deeply in love—until her husband dies in a tragic sailing accident while trying save her. Or so she'll have everyone believe. Screenwriter Hunter needs a hit, but crippling writers' block and a serious lack of motivation are getting him nowhere. He's on the look-out for a love story. It doesn't matter who it belongs to.

When Hunter and Ella meet in Watersend, South Carolina it feels like the perfect match, something close to fate. In Ella, Hunter finds the perfect love story, full of longing and sacrifice. It's the stuff of epic films. In Hunter, Ella finds possibility. It's an opportunity to live out a fantasy—the life she wishes she had because hers is too painful. And more real. Besides. what's a little white lie between strangers?

But one lie leads to another, and soon Hunter and Ella find themselves caught in a web of deceit. As they try to untangle their lies and reclaim their own lives, they feel something stronger is keeping them together. And so they wonder: can two people come together for all the wrong reasons and still make it right?

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished copy of The Idea of Love—yay!!


To enter, all you have to do is:
Describe a moment when you felt most loved.
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. Patti 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 Sullivan & Partners!!
Giveaway ends July 7th 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, June 18, 2015

7 Heart Review: Hugo and Rose by Bridget Foley

I haven't written a review in a loooooongass time, even though I've been reading quite a lot these days. I'm a little rusty so I apologize if my thoughts aren't as put-together, but this is one of the many books I've finished and have had in my stack of "to-review" books, which means there are more to come!

The focus of this blog has really evolved to feature authors with new releases, and of course, host giveaways, which seem to be the most popular posts here for obvious reasons—rather than reviews. I'm on summer vacation at the moment which gives me lots of free time to read, although I don't feel as urgently motivated to review them all, as I used to be. I'm enjoying getting to read books I've had on my TBR pile (that I've forever neglected due to school/work, or because I was committed to my ARCs from publishers instead), and revisiting old classics... it's a great feeling, no pressure and no obligation. Book reviews definitely have their merits but I feel more connected to the literary and publishing world by keeping up with new releases, and of course with interacting with my lovely readers. Can you believe we hit 15,000 followers on Bloglovin'?! I appreciate each and every one of you all, as always ♥

If you guys have any input on what you'd like to see on Books à la Mode in the future (book-, beauty-, or fashion-related!) please don't hesitate to let me know.

Hugo and Rose
Bridget Foley

Page Count: 352

Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (Macmillan)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, St. Martin's Press!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

A beautifully imagined women's fiction novel about a housewife who's dreamt of the same man every night her entire life—until she has a chance meeting with him in the real world.

Rose is by most qualifications an ordinary housewife, except for her dreams. Since childhood, she has always dreamt of the same island, with the same imaginary companion: a brave, heroic boy named Hugo. Rose’s own children now live for tales of Hugo and Rose’s adventures, battling giant spiders and bouncing on the pink sand of the Blanket Pavilion. And each night, after putting her sleepy children to bed, Rose escapes from the monotony of diapers and cracker crumbs to become a more perfect, fully-realized version of herself.

Until one day, Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, and everything changes. Here is the man who truly knows her, who grew up with her, even if they aren’t what either one imagined. Their chance encounter begins a cascade of questions, lies, and a dangerous obsession that threatens to topple everything she knows. Is she willing to let go of everything she holds dear to understand their extraordinary connection? And will it lead her to discover who she truly wants to be?
Why had the universe conspired to send her dreams of the same person every night of her life and then present him to her now, when there was nothing to be done about it? When her life was already locked into place. Her husband chosen. Children born. Investment plans selected.
How inconvenient it all was. To meet the man from her dreams now.

I was initially drawn to this book for its creative synopsis (as well as, let's face it, its beautiful cover), and while it isn't everything I hoped for it to be, it definitely surprised me in many areas, and I'm glad I was able to give it a chance.

Rose is a jaded housewife—a self-admitted "bad" mother and wife who hates tending to her kids and putting up with her loyal husband, but feels obligated to, in order to be a "good" person. Approaching middle age, she's not attractive, not strong, and feels like she isn't fulfilling anything, except for when she is asleep, in her nightly dreams, where she is a brave, slender adventurer with a handsome lifelong companion, Hugo.

When Rose encounters Hugo unexpectedly, jarringly, in her waking life, any literary audience would anticipate drama and threat to her mediocre living to unfold. True to expectation, this is a story about an ordinary woman with an extraordinary condition that follows the dangers of fantastical obsessions and idealized prospects when they intervene with real life.

While narrated in close third person, Rose is a very distant, detached character. I didn't necessarily not like her, and because she herself acknowledges her extreme defects (such as neglecting her children, pushing away her husband, Josh, etc.), I felt like she was somewhat relatable as a character who hasn't yet discovered herself, someone who just wants something more out of life. However, the path to her foolish decisions seemed very unnatural; I personally found myself wondering what was wrong with her inability to ever be rational.

One major thing that irked me was how Josh, Rose's husband, is an extremely two-dimensional character; more a plot device than anything. You would think that a literary/family story would incorporate more intimacy or complexity regarding the marriage or husband—the more you have, the more to lose—but he seemed thoroughly flat. What bothered me the most is that Foley relies on Josh (not completely, but heavily) to convey Rose's appearance and personality; he's constantly talking about how beautiful and wonderful a wife she is (which I personally couldn't see...) but it was a major point-of-view inconsistency, as the narrative is meant to be immediate to Rose.

Rose's obsessive, narrow-minded search for finding out what she really wants through incorporating Hugo into her waking life, when it's clear he was meant to only stay in her dreams, takes the thriller route in the last 25% of the book, which I didn't foresee at all, but still ate up every bit. The pure domestic suspense that expands into an actual struggle between life or death is flawlessly executed, and it was certainly my favorite part.

The interpretation of how Rose and Hugo are actually connected is beautiful, and quite haunting as well (I won't give it away, as it's a huge "aha!" scene in the book). The fantasy layer of the story drew me in at first, but I still appreciate how a real-life explanation was still provided; readers will find it moving, or interesting at least.

Pros


Unique plot, unlike anything I've ever come across before // Vividly imagined // Children are well characterized and lovable // Overall fascinating concept of connecting with another real-life person in dreams // Seamless backstory incorporated

Cons


Rose's character... I could relate to her in some respects but hated her most of the time because of her socially inept/questionable decision-making // Josh's character (Rose's husband) seemed like a plot device more than an actual person // Many clichéd phrases scattered throughout so-so quality writing // Very odd POV shifts

Verdict


Uniquely imagined and poignant in its implications about the human subconscious, Hugo and Rose is not your average things-fall-apart literary novel. Incorporating the fantastical element of dreams and a thrilling twist of a climax, it is captivating and thoroughly original, although not without faults. Looking past the annoying characters and problems I had with the narrative voice, I would definitely recommend Bridget Foley's debut for fans of strange but wondrous plots and blurry distinctions between dream and reality. It runs in the vein of magical realism, which in literature, is actually quite difficult to pull off, as Foley has Americanflag

7 hearts: Not perfect, but overall enjoyable; borrow, don't buy! (x)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Writing Suspense without Violence by John Rector, Author of Ruthless + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Ruthless
John Rector

Page Count: 270
Release Date: June 1st, 2015
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing)
Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Nick White is the only person who can save Abigail Pierce. After uncovering a plot to have her killed, he attempts to warn her but instead puts himself squarely in the crosshairs. They know who he is, they know where he lives, they know how to get at his family.

Drawn into the conspiracy surrounding Abigail, Nick soon discovers the danger is bigger than he ever believed. Now he must uncover the truth to save her and himself. Gripping and intense, this novel is a twisted thrill ride from bestselling author John Rector.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What Let Me Die in His Footsteps Is Really About by Lori Roy + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Let Me Die In His Footsteps
Lori Roy

In the spellbinding and suspenseful Let Me Die in His Footsteps, Edgar Award–winner Lori Roy wrests from a Southern town the secrets of two families touched by an evil that has passed between generations.

On a dark Kentucky night in 1952 exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses into forbidden territory. Everyone knows Hollerans don’t go near Baines, not since Joseph Carl was buried two decades before, but, armed with a silver-handled flashlight, Annie runs through her family’s lavender fields toward the well on the Baines’ place. At the stroke of midnight, she gazes into the water in search of her future. Not finding what she had hoped for, she turns from the well and when the body she sees there in the moonlight is discovered come morning, Annie will have much to explain and a past to account for.

It was 1936, and there were seven Baine boys. That year, Annie’s aunt, Juna Crowley, with her black eyes and her long blond hair, came of age. Before Juna, Joseph Carl had been the best of all the Baine brothers. But then he looked into Juna’s eyes and they made him do things that cost innocent people their lives. Sheriff Irlene Fulkerson saw justice served—or did she?

As the lavender harvest approaches and she comes of age as Aunt Juna did in her own time, Annie’s dread mounts. Juna will come home now, to finish what she started. If Annie is to save herself, her family, and this small Kentucky town, she must prepare for Juna’s return, and the revelation of what really happened all those years ago