Sunday, September 21, 2014

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop 2014! (Open internationally)

The Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and BookHounds, works like this: each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another. For followers, it means lots of chances to win free books. For blogs hosting giveaways, it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win! The Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop is scheduled from September 21st at 12.01 AM until September 27th at 11:59 PM (EST).


The Prizes


One lucky follower will win their choice of ANY book from last year's ALA Top Ten Challenged Books list
. Here are the contenders:

Out of 307 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom

1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
10. Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Just to give a little background information, these "bans" or challenges are defined as "a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."

I personally have read exactly 5 out of the 10 books on the list, and can tell you that none of them deserve to be taken off shelves. In fact, a few of them (like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Looking for Alaska) happen to be some of the most powerful YA books I've ever read... and while they may contain mildly "inappropriate" content—toss that word around to your liking—they're hardly illegal, and in print, can become an integral part of a child's development and literary maturity.

The only exception is Fifty Shades of Grey; honestly that book sort of is illegal. Not because of the explicit sexual content, but because of how poorly it was written lol. I definitely have a lot to say about it, but won't waste your time here. It was crafted for an ADULT audience anyway, and should not be found on SCHOOL library shelves in the first place...

Back to the giveaway details: As always, winner gets to choose between eBook or print. 

What would you choose if you won?

And yes, we'll have ANOTHER winner for this amazing set of eBooks:

That's two winners total! Woohoo!!!!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Interview with Kass Morgan, Author of The 100 and Day 21 + Giveaway! (open US only)

I'd like to welcome Kass Morgan to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of her long-anticipated second book in the The Hundred series, Day 21. We're giving away both of the books in the series at the end, so make sure you stick around for that!

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

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Kass Morgan is the author of the epic sci-fi series, The 100, which inspired The CW TV series by the same name.

Kass Morgan has an unhealthy obsession with books that first manifested in third grade when she brought a copy of Mallory and the Dream Horse to her own birthday party. When she was ten, she moved from Brooklyn to Santa Monica, where kids thought she was strange for wearing so much black. Then she went back to the east coast for college, where kids thought she was strange for wearing so much pink.

Kass studied English and History at Brown University, reading gothic novels in the library where Edgar Allan Poe conducted secret love affairs, auditioning unsuccessfully for a number of plays, and learning important truths about walking on ice in high heels.

After college, Kass crossed the pond to pursue a Master’s degree in 19th century literature at Oxford, which was like attending Hogwarts, but with more costume parties. She returned to the states with a deep appreciation for clotted cream, a suitcase full of cocktail dresses, and a thesis on George Eliot that she has since misplaced.

Kass settled in New York to work in publishing. When she’s not editing novels for young bookworms to sneak into their own birthday parties, you can find her jostling for table space at Brooklyn coffee shops, asking strangers if she can pet their dogs, and e-mailing her middle school crush to thank him for introducing her to science fiction, which turns out to be very fun to write. The sequel to The 100, titled Day 21, was released this month.


Readers, here's a bit about the books, which are both available now!


Page Count: 323
Release Date: September 3rd, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown (Hachette Book Group)

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries—until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents—considered expendable by society—are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life... or it could be a suicide mission.

Clarke was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. Wells, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves—but will she ever forgive him? Reckless Bellamy fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And Glass managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Books-A-Million | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | Publisher


Series: The 100 (#2)
Page Count: 320
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown (Hachette Book Group)

It's been 21 days since the hundred landed on Earth. They're the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries. Or so they thought.

Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group safe after a tragic attack. Clarke strikes out in search of other colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost. And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself.

In this pulse-pounding sequel, secrets are revealed, beliefs are challenged, and relationships are tested. The hundred will struggle to survive the only way they can... together.
Are the characters from your books based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your stories?

None of my characters are modeled on real people, exactly, but the emotions they evoke are absolutely based on real experiences. For instance, in order to understand how Glass would risk so much for Luke, I thought a lot about being in love for the first time, and I think dredging up those memories channeled some of my high school boyfriend into Luke. I didn't even realize I'd done it until after the book came out! I'd completely forgotten that aforementioned high school boyfriend (who I'm still friends with) had given me a locket until he asked if he was the inspiration for Luke. It was a little embarrassing, but sort of cute at the same time.


It's fascinating how you can subconsciously put yourself into your writing! Which character from the series was most difficult to write?

I think Clarke might've been the most difficult, as it was hard to make sure she didn't come across as too perfect. I think that, sometimes, writers feel like they have less leeway with female characters as there's more pressure to make them "likable." However, by the end of The 100, it's very clear that Clarke is FAR from perfect. Even I was a little shocked by what her deep, dark secret turned out to be, but it was absolutely the best fit for the story. 




What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

I've always been much more interested in writing at the micro level—word choice, sentence structure, rhythm, metaphor etc.—and less comfortable plotting. That's why working with my editors at Alloy has been so great! They're brilliant plotters, and have taught me a TON about storytelling. 




Name the top five novels that have made the biggest impact on your life or on your writing.

I'm not sure how much these books have influenced my writing, but I've read all of them more times than I can count:

  1. Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
  2. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  3. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke 
  4. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  5. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Marvelous list! 
How do you react to a negative or harsh review to your books?

I admit, they sting! But then I remind myself that it's a privilege to have people read your books, even when they don't like them very much. And then I think about all the mean reviews I might've written if I'd had Goodreads in high school.

LOL! Some authors call out reviewers for being harsh, but they don't understand that being a reader is just as hard too! ;)

Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop!

The Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Stuck in a Good Book, works like this: each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another. For followers, it means lots of chances to win free books. For blogs hosting giveaways, it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win! The Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop is scheduled from September 20th at 12.01 AM until September 25th at 11:59 PM (EST).


The Prizes


One lucky follower will win their choice of ANY book from their wishlist. Any book you want!


As always, winner gets to choose between eBook or print. 

What would you choose if you won?

And yes, we'll have ANOTHER winner for this amazing set of eBooks:

That's two winners total! Woohoo!!!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Why I Wrote Becoming Josephine by Heather Webb + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Becoming Josephine
Heather Webb

Rose Tascher sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. She arrives exultant to follow her dreams of attending Court with Alexandre, her elegant aristocrat and soldier husband. But Alexandre dashes her hopes and abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution.

Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.

Becoming Josephine is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ultimately to find herself.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Product Review: Vita Optimum Omega-3 Fish Oil + Giveaway! (US only)

Bummed about not having won my last fish oil giveaway? Don't despair—I have another great brand to shout about, and they have been generous enough to provide a sample for giveaway as well. Stay tuned!


Discover the Many Health Benefits of Omega 3 Fish Oil With Our Pharmaceutical Grade Supplement!

Very few substances can come close to matching the health benefits produced by the Omega-3 Fatty Acids found in fish oil.

With over 10,000 clinical trials, Omega-3 fish oil is one of the most researched substances in modern medicine.

Many of the Omega-3 products available today do not contain enough EPA and DHA. Ours contains 800 mg of EPA and 400 mg DHA of high quality deep Alaskan Pollock oil per serving.

Many others are filled with plant oils that must be converted by the body to create DHA. Certain other Omega-3 products may contain fish pollutants such as mercury. Please check the ingredients list before you buy. You need an Omega-3 supplement you can trust.

Our Omega-3 fish oil is both 5-star IFOS-certified as well as MSC-certified, so you can be sure of its HIGH QUALITY. It's made in the USA in an FDA-registered and GMP/NSF-certified lab.

Review


I take a fish or krill oil supplement every day, and it's regular practice for me probably because I grew up with it. I've always eaten plenty of fish so it's not that I necessarily needed it, especially as a child, but with high cholesterol on both sides of the family, it's something I've grown to incorporate with my daily intake of multivitamins. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil promote heart health and stimulate brain functions, and in Vita Optimum's softgel form, you can get all the fatty acids you need without eating high-cholesterol fish and other seafood. Anyone who doesn't get enough omegas in their regular diet (which is everyone who doesn't eat fish on a daily basis) should take fish oil. (As a side note, for vegetarians, fish oil has always been a controversial issue since it's technically a fish by-product, rather than fish meat itself. Plant-based omegas exist in the form of coconut oil, so if you are vegan or don't consume animal products for any reason, you always have an alternative).

One bottle of Vita Optimum fish oil, currently priced $35.97 on Amazon, contains 180 clear red softgels. Since the serving suggestion is two capsules daily, one bottle will last you three months. As with all fish oils I've tried, this stuff does have a distinctive fishy odor, but it's not intolerable). This is a great, affordable way to get your omegas in; everyone should be taking this!

Giveaway!

One lucky Books à la Mode reader will win one 180-count bottle of Vita Optimum Omega-3 Fish Oil—yay! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What's your current favorite snack? Lately, I've been obsessed with chickpeas—I know that's so random, but I find myself craving them 24/7! I toss them with spices (chili powder, pepper, cumin) and roast them for a delicious, filling snack!
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the company—a huge thank you to the fabulous folks at True Sol Nutrition!
Giveaway ends September 30th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check out my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize after they have been notified, otherwise risk forfeiting their winnings.
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!

FTC Disclosure: I received one complimentary bottle of this Omega-3 Fish Oil from Vita Optimum via Tomoson.com in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I was not paid in any way to write a review—positive or otherwise—and all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. I only recommend products or services I have used personally and believe will be good for my beautiful readers!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Betrayed by Heather Graham Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Betrayed (Krewe of Hunters #14)
Heather Graham

One night, New York FBI agent Aiden Mahoney receives a visitor in a dream—an old friend named Richard Highsmith. The very next day he’s sent to Sleepy Hollow because Richard’s gone missing there.

Maureen—Mo—Deauville now lives in the historic town and works with her dog, Rollo, to search for missing people. She’s actually the one to find Richard... or more precisely his head, stuck on a statue of the legendary Headless Horseman.

Mo and Aiden, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s unit of paranormal investigators, explore both past and present events to figure out who betrayed Richard, who killed him and now wants to kill them, too. As they work together, they discover that they share an unusual trait—the ability to communicate with the dead. They also share an attraction that’s as intense as it is unexpected... if they live long enough to enjoy it!

About the Author


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels and has been published in more than 20 languages. An avid scuba diver, ballroom dancer and the mother of five, she enjoys her south Florida home, but loves to travel as well, from locations such as Cairo, Egypt, to her own backyard, the Florida Keys. Reading is still the pastime she still loves best, and she is a member of many writing groups. She’s a winner of the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers’ Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and also the founder of The Slush Pile Players, an author band and theatrical group.

Heather annually hosts the Writers for New Orleans conference to benefit both the city, which is near and dear to her heart, and various other causes, and she hosts a ball each year at the RT Booklovers Convention to benefit pediatric AIDS foundations.



Giveaway!


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

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What's your favorite paranormal mystery or legend? Why does it appeal to you so much?
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. Heather and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher and tour publicist—a huge thank you to Harlequin MIRA and TLC Book Tours!
Giveaway ends September 29th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canadian 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!

Product Review: Brieftons InstantVeg Spiralizer + Giveaway! (US/Can only)


Looking for an easy way to eat more vegetables for better health? The Brieftons InstantVeg Spiral Slicer is your answer!

Designed to transform almost any firm vegetable and fruit into delicious spaghetti-like strands or incredibly thin, long vegetable ribbons, the Brieftons InstantVeg Spiral Slicer is the indispensable kitchen gadget for every vegetable fan.

Perfect as a kitchen tool to prepare vegetables for healthy culinary pleasures, the Brieftons InstantVeg Spiral Slicer conjures up delicious vegetable spirals in almost no time at all. It turns zucchinis, carrots, radishes, beetroots, cucumbers, kohlrabis, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, apples and many more fruits/vegetables into eye-catchers on every plate, and add plenty of colors and textures to otherwise boring dishes.

No matter whether you are a vegan, vegetarian, raw foodist, or just looking for an easy way to add more vegetables into your diet, the Brieftons InstantVeg Spiral Slicer has what you need to make your goal a reality.

Review


I jumped on the vegetable noodle bandwagon months ago when I bought my first julienne peeler, but never really got the opportunity to test veggie pasta recipes until I tried Brieftons InstantVeg because it's the first spiralizer I've tried that's given me good enough results!

If you haven't heard of this health food craze, spiralizers are a way to substitute long pasta-like strands of vegetables in place of actual noodles. You can still have your beloved spaghetti & meatballs, fettucini alfredo, pasta salads, and casseroles without overloading on carbs—isn't that fantastic?

You can virtually use any vegetable in a spiralizer but my favorites are squash (especially zucchini) since it's virtually tasteless, and cucumbers for crunchy, refreshing salad-like concoctions. It's really a fabulous way to cut down on starchy pastas (which are totally my weakness) while getting more nutritious, filling vegetables into your diet.

What I love about Brieftons InstaVeg spiralizer is how it's one you actually turn with a handle. The grip at the top holds your vegetable in place, while the turning knob allows you to spin without risking getting your fingers sliced. I've tried various "pencil sharpener" spiralizers and julienne peelers, but have never liked them fully because they just never made long enough strands of pasta. Brieftons makes FLAWLESS veggie noodles, with minimum effort! I seriously love this device and probably use it upwards of four times a week—that's how much I love my veggie noodles!

Your options are diverse with InstantVeg because of the five different settings, ranging from wide ribbons, to thick fettucine-like noodles, to very thin wisps that resemble angel hair. You change the setting with the simple twist of a knob, so this works as a multi-purpose tool that gives you any type of noodle you could possibly want.

This is pleasantly effortless to clean, as well. Since spiralizing isn't really a messy endeavor, and all the vegetable contents are contained in the clear chamber, all you have to do is rinse the top chamber out with soap and water, and clean the blades carefully. I had no problems with shreds of vegetables getting stuck in the blades—which is usually a common issue when it comes to spiralizers—but if you ever do, Brieftons InstantVeg comes with a handy cleaning brush you can use. I personally have never needed it, but it's thoughtful of them to include it in the package.

The best part of this spiralizer (other than the perfect noodles it creates) is the chamber at the bottom that catches all your noodles. This part of the device can screw off and serve as a storage container—perfect for storing any leftovers or for packing meals! Best of all, it has a rubber grip at the base which makes turning the knob so much easier since you have something holding in place.

My only small quip is that it's rather bulky since it doesn't collapse, although the smaller bottom chamber can be taken off and stored inside the larger top chamber. If you have plenty of kitchen storage space, this won't be an issue, but I live in a tiny student apartment and don't have much space to store this huge thing! Again, this isn't a deal-breaker, but something you should still consider when buying kitchen tools. Overall, Brieftons InstantVeg is such a well-designed and fully functional spiralizer every health food enthusiast should invest in.

Giveaway!

One lucky Books à la Mode reader will win one Brieftons InstantVeg Spiralizer—yay! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What vegetable would you spiralize with the InstantVeg? What recipe would you try out with your spiralized veggie noodles?
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the company—a huge thank you to the fabulous folks at Brieftons!
Giveaway ends September 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 currently running giveaways that are open internationally.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize after they have been notified, otherwise risk forfeiting their winnings.
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!

FTC Disclosure: I received one complimentary InstantVeg Spiralizer from Brieftons via Tomoson.com in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I was not paid in any way to write a review—positive or otherwise—and all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. I only recommend products or services I have used personally and believe will be good for my beautiful readers!