Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley Giveaway! (US only)

The Ramblers
Aidan Donnelley Rowley

For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City.

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Ramblers—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What's your favorite thing to see/eat/do in New York City? If you've never been before, what's the #1 thing on your list that you want to do there?
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. Aidan 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 over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends February 23rd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a 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!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Interview with Lindsay McKenna, Author of Night Hawk + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

I'd like to welcome the Lindsay McKenna, to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Night Hawk from HQN Books, a imprint of Harlequin Romance.

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Lindsay! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

A U.S. Navy veteran, Lindsay McKenna was a meteorologist while serving her country. She pioneered the military romance in 1993 with Captive of Fate, Silhouette Special edition. Her heart and focus are on honoring and showing our military men and women. Creator of the Wyoming Series and Shadow Warriors series for HQN, she writes emotionally and romantically intense suspense stories.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, the 10th installment in the Jackson Hole series, which hit shelves last month:


Once upon a ranch in Wyoming...

After losing his comrade, Sergeant Gil Hanford thought a visit to the man's widow would be the decent way to honor his late friend. But Gil found more than comfort in Kai Tiernan—he had always secretly desired beautiful Kai, but a sudden, mutual passion helped assuage their grief... until duty reared its head, removing him from her arms, seemingly forever.

Four years later, Kai is starting over at the Triple H Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Born a rancher, she is looking for a new beginning—but her new boss is unforgivably familiar. Kai has tried to move past the memory of what happened between her and Gil, even though she's never forgiven him for leaving her. But even as they begin their journey toward something new and oh-so-uncertain, a shadow emerges, determined to claim Kai for itself.
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Books-a-Million | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | Publisher

How much of your real life is in your plots?

I always write from direct or indirect experience. I write “close to the bone,” which means I take reality and turn it into fiction for my readers.

Are the characters based off people you know in real life?

I never base a character on an individual person. Rather, I look at the type of personality needed for the plot I’ve hatched, and then begin to cobble the hero, heroine, and secondary characters around them.

As a sucker for first lines, I'd love to hear the first sentence of the book. Can you give us a brief commentary as well?
Kai tried to get her heart to stop pounding so hard in her chest.
I wanted to convey to the reader that something was happening to Kai, the book's heroine, implying danger or threat or that something bad is going to happen—or something she dreads. In this case, she’s on another job interview with another rancher to be hired as a mechanic to take care of all the machinery on the ranch. She’s already tried many others and been told no, because she’s a woman. And most male ranchers never think of a woman being a mechanic, only a man. Kai has come to this ranch in Wyoming, hoping that the man who owns the ranch will look beyond her gender and see that she’s a highly competent mechanic.

Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Lindsay! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!

Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Wolf Haven, the 9th and previous installment of the Jackson Hole series—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What's something you've been told you can't do because of your gender?
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. Lindsay and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

In the professional field, I've experienced many women facing discrimination and having to work harder than men to keep their jobs (or equal salaries). Growing up, I personally have always been told I can't behave roughly/loudly or "like a boy" because it's unladylike. As a kid this seemed like the most unfair thing in the world!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher and tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Harlequin and TLC Book Tours!
Giveaway ends February 11th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a 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!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Exclusive Sneak Peek: The Lady’s Command by Stephanie Laurens + The Tempting of Thomas Carrick Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Lady’s Command
Stephanie Laurens

How does marriage work? If convention is set aside and is no longer there to guide…what then?

#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens brings you The Adventurers Quartet, a riveting blend of Regency-era high seas adventure, a mystery shrouded in the heat of tropical jungles, and the passionate romances of four couples and their unexpected journeys into love.


The instant Captain Declan Frobisher laid eyes on Lady Edwina Delbraith, he knew she was the lady he wanted as his wife. The scion of a seafaring dynasty accustomed to success, he discovered that wooing Edwina was surprisingly straightforward—not least because she made it plain that she wanted him as much as he wanted her.

Declan’s vision of marriage was of a gently-reared wife to grace his arm, to manage his household, and to bear his children. He assumed that household, children, and wife would remain safely in England while he continued his life as an explorer sailing the high seas.

Declan got his wish—up to a point. He and Edwina were wed. As for the rest—his vision of marriage...

Aunt of the young Duke of Ridgware and sister of the mysterious man known as Neville Roscoe, London’s gambling king, even before the knot was tied Edwina shattered the illusion that her character is as delicate, ethereal, and fragile as her appearance suggests. Far from adhering to orthodox mores, she and her ducal family are even more unconventional than the Frobishers.

Beneath her fairy-princess exterior, Edwina possesses a spine of steel—one that might bend, but will never break. Born to the purple—born to rule—she’s determined to rule her life. With Declan’s ring on her finger, that means forging a marriage that meets her needs as well as his.

But bare weeks into their honeymoon, Declan is required to sail to West Africa. Edwina decides she must accompany him.

A secret mission with unknown villains flings unexpected dangers into their path as Declan and Edwina discover that meeting the challenge of making an unconventional marriage work requires something they both possess—bold and adventurous hearts.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

6 Heart Review: The Furies by Natalie Haynes

The Furies
Natalie Haynes

Page Count: 297

Release Date: November 17th 2015 (US Paperback)
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: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

After losing her fiancé in a shocking tragedy, Alex Morris moves from London to Edinburgh to make a break with the past. Formerly an actress, Alex accepts a job teaching drama therapy at a school commonly referred to as "The Unit," a last-chance learning community for teens expelled from other schools in the city. Her students have troubled pasts and difficult personalities, and Alex is an inexperienced teacher, terrified of what she's taken on and drowning in grief.

Her most challenging class is an intimidating group of teenagers who have been given up on by everyone before her. But Alex soon discovers that discussing the Greek tragedies opens them up in unexpected ways, and she gradually develops a rapport with them. But are these tales of cruel fate and bloody revenge teaching more than Alex ever intended? And who becomes responsible when these students take the tragedies to heart, and begin interweaving their darker lessons into real life with terrible and irrevocable fury?

Natalie Haynes's The Furies is a psychologically complex, dark, and twisting novel about loss, obsession and the deep tragedies that can connect us to each other even as they blind us to our fate.
I met them on the 6th of January 2011, in the basement room at 58 Rankeillor Street. And I wouldn't have believed any of them could do something so monstrous.

Theater director Alex Morris flees to Edinburgh in wake of her fiancé's brutal, unexpected death, seeking the position of a grade school drama teacher as refuge. But her background is not education, and this is no ordinary school; dubbed "The Unit," this alternative learning center takes in teenagers who have nowhere else to go, other than correctional facilities. The most troubled of these students, the oldest of the bunch, stand out to Alex as the darkest, the most mysterious, even though on the surface, they just seem like normal, albeit temperamental, adolescents.

The anxieties of a novice teacher and both the languid aftermath of tragedy are excellently portrayed through Alex's first-person voice. Although her character is rather stale and boring, I could easily relate to her concern for the troubled students, and her grief over her fiancé. When one particular student's interest is piqued by this newcomer teacher, Alex finds herself in a freaky whirlwind of events where the haunting tragedy of her past and the eerie environment of The Unit intersect.

Based loosely off Agamemnon and incorporating other Greek mythological symbols and themes into the plot line, The Furies is a provocative account of the danger of obsession and curiosity and the urgency for vengeance. Greek tragedies are discussed in vivid detail in Alex's classroom lessons, which I found fascinating. However, overall I found this book to be rather disappointing because it is lacking just a hair in every other area: a relatable but oftentimes lifeless protagonist, intriguing yet shallowly written character relationships, and a back-and-forth narration that had potential, but was ultimately exhausting.

Told in alternating past and present narratives, The Furies slowly unravels what happened before, and what happened after, but doesn't reveal what actually happened, until the near-end in a rather unexciting climax. I felt the tension regarding the uneasiness surrounding the students is well conveyed, but the "terrible and irrevocable fury" is not what I expected. The dark twist isn't necessarily predictable, but it just isn't thrilling, especially after all the long, slow (veerry slow) rising action that precedes it.

Pros


Incredible suspense created // Original, vibrant plot // Characters are memorable and entirely take on their own personalities within the story

Cons


Rather flat climax and ending // Past/present narratives are confusing // Slowly paced // As much as I loved the basic plot, I just don't think it was executed phenomenally; overall, I just didn't find it as electrifying as I expected it to be // Alex's voice is monotonous—it just didn't capture my attention most of the time

Verdict


Tied closely to common themes of Greek tragedy including revenge, fate vs. free will, and obsession, The Furies is a compelling exploration of the power that comes with awareness and education, as well as the power of naïve youth. While I found this novel to be thought-provoking in its discussion of grief and humanity, the thriller aspects were lost on me because of the rather anticlimactic ending—it could have been accomplished more cleverly. Regardless, Natalie Haynes's unusual plot and smooth-flowing storytelling combine memorably in this debut; it's certainly unlike any other book I've read before Americanflag

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

Fallen Land by Taylor Brown Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Fallen Land
Taylor Brown

Fallen Land is Taylor Brown's debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward.

Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South.

Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers.

In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives.

Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Fallen Land—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What's something someone said that forever changed the way you think? Whether it be a direct conversation or a quote you really like!
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. Taylor 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 February 5th 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!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl Giveaway! (US only)

The Newsmakers
Lis Wiehl, with Sebastian Stuart

TV reporter Erica Sparks has become a superstar overnight. But is it due to her hard work and talent? Or is she at the center of a spiraling conspiracy?

Erica Sparks is a beautiful and ambitious reporter who has just landed her dream job at Global News Network in New York. And while it was hard to leave Jenny, her cherished eight-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband, Erica is determined to succeed in the cutthroat world of big-time broadcasting. She can only hope her troubled past won’t come back to sabotage her dreams.

Although the wounds from her divorce are still fresh, Erica can’t deny the chemistry between her and her new producer, the handsome and empathic Greg Underwood. But a relationship is the last thing she wants right now.

On her very first assignment, Erica inadvertently witnesses—and films—a horrific tragedy, scooping all the other networks. Mere weeks later, another tragedy strikes—again, right in front of Erica and her cameras.

Her career skyrockets overnight, but Erica is troubled. Deeply. This can’t just be coincidence. But what is it?

Erica will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. But she has to make sure disaster—and her troubled past—don’t catch up with her first.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Newsmakers—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What kinds of things do you tend not to believe in the news?
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. Lis and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I'm pretty weary of articles in the popular press about psychological experiments that say "Studies show..." and act like a correlation (or even an insignificant relationship) is a causation. As a psychology major, this stuff just irks me and I never choose to fully believe it without investigating the primary research!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at FSB Media!
Giveaway ends February 3rd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US 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!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Foods by Elizabeth LaBan, Author of The Restaurant Critic's Wife + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Restaurant Critic's Wife
Elizabeth LaBan

What could be better than being married to a restaurant critic? All those amazing meals at the best restaurants... pure nirvana, right? Well, Lila Soto, the heroine of Elizabeth LaBan’s charming new novel, The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, might tell you otherwise. Sure the food is heavenly, but the downsides are considerable—especially being married to a man who is obsessed with his job and paranoid to the point of absurdity about being “outed” from his anonymity. Add to the scenario the fact that Lila has given up her own career to follow her husband’s job to a new, unfamiliar city, and that she is now a fulltime stay-at-home mom—a gig she never aspired to, despite loving her kids—and you begin to see why Lila is doubting every life decision she’s ever made.

Though it is not an autobiography by any means, it can’t be overlooked that Elizabeth LaBan is herself married to Philadelphia restaurant critic Craig LaBan. “This book wouldn’t exist without my husband,” she says, “who brings excitement, adventure, love, and great food into our lives every day, and has always been open to my writing a novel about a woman who is married to a wacky restaurant critic. For the record, Craig is not obsessive or controlling like Sam—and Craig did not tell me to say that.” But, even if her main characters are fictitious, there is no denying that Elizabeth draws on aspects of her own life to lend a delicious verisimilitude to the novel.

The Restaurant Critic’s Wife is a charming portrait of the complexities of life that many women face when dealing with their marriages, their children, their friendships, and their careers. All the talk about exquisite food is merely the icing on a one-of-a-kind cake.