Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop!

The Spring Fling Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Eve's Fan Garden 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 Spring Fling Giveaway Hop is scheduled from May 1st at 12.01 AM until May 7th at 11:59 PM (EST).


The Prizes


One lucky subscriber gets their choice of book from The Book Depository. Any book, any book you want! :)


I love giving away eBooks too, so a runner-up will win the ultimate bundle featuring:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sky On Fire Giveaway!

Sky On Fire (Monument 14 #2)
Emmy Laybourne

Hitting shelves May 28th, from Feiwel & Friends, a children's division of MacMillan...


Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In this sequel to Monument 14, the group of survivors, originally trapped together in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, has split in two. Most of the kids are making a desperate run on their recently repaired school bus for the Denver airport where they hope to reunite with their parents, be evacuated to safety, and save their dying friend.

But the world outside is dark and filled with dangerous chemicals that turn people into bloodthirsty monsters, and not all the kids were willing to get on the bus. Left behind in a sanctuary that has already been disturbed once, the remaining kids try to rebuild the community they lost. But when the issues are life and death, love and hate, who can you really trust?
Buy the book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Sony eStore | Kobo

Click "Read more" for the chance to win an ARC of Sky on Fire, plus some awesome Monument 14 swag!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

8 Heart Review: Cooking with Flowers by Miche Bacher

Cooking with Flowers: Sweet and Savory Recipes with Rose Petals, Lilacs, Lavender, and Other Edible Flowers
Miche Bacher

Page Count: 191

Release Date: 2 April 2013
Publisher: Quirk Books
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Here are more than 100 recipes that will bring beautiful flower-filled dishes to your kitchen table! This easy-to-use cookbook is brimming with scrumptious botanical treats, from sweet violet cupcakes, pansy petal pancakes, daylily cheesecake, and rosemary flower margaritas to savory sunflower chickpea salad, chive blossom vinaigrette, herb flower pesto, and mango orchid sticky rice.

Alongside every recipe are tips and tricks for finding, cleaning, and preparing edible blossoms. You’ll also learn how to infuse vinegars, vodkas, sugars, frostings, jellies and jams, ice creams, and more with the color and flavor of your favorite flowers. Fresh from the farmers’ market or plucked from your very own garden, a world of delectable flowers awaits!

Review


Miche Bacher of the famed Mali B Sweets brings us this gorgeous, wonderfully written cookbook on the culinary usage of flowers. There are dozens of flowers mentioned in this collection, including ones I encounter regularly such as dandelions, geraniums, herbs, and roses, as well as a few I hadn't even heard of prior to reading Cooking with Flowers, such as nasturtiums, hollyhocks, and elderflowers.

Each flower has it's own "chapter," making finding recipes you want as easy as ever. I also love how each section has a brief background history of the flower, as well as its culinary uses, flavors, seasonality, preparation instructions, and proper units of measure. 

Now, my expectations of this book were a little different—I thought at first that it would show me how to actually use flowers as food, such as flower soups, casseroles, sautées, etc., but for the most part, they are not an integral part of the recipes in which they are featured. The majority of the recipes only use flowers as decor; otherwise, they can be easily replaced by a non-flower ingredient (e.g. the various flower jellies that are pretty much regular jellies but use flowers instead of fruits). I'm not disappointed, though! This was an unexpected, and rather aesthetically pleasing new experience.

My only reservation is how there are no step-by-step pictures. Maybe it's because I'm an awfully visual person, but the long chunks of text made it difficult for me to follow the steps for some of the recipes I tried out. Other than that, this book is a must for the natural food lover, and for gift-giving!

Pros


Magnificent photographs // Impressive number of diverse, colorful recipes // Sturdy, refreshing matte-cover hardbound book—great for the kitchen and the coffee table! // Beautiful graphics and text // Organized by flower, with so many to discover and try

Cons


No step-by-step pictures // Recipes aren't groundbreaking in uses for flowers; most of them use flowers as edible decoration, for seasoning, or for pigment

Love


Miana Jun's photography is amazing... here are some gorgeous pictures from some of the recipes from the book.
Chive Blossom Vinegar

Chamomile Apple Streusel Muffins

Excuse my ghetto cell phone photo-of-photos...
 Lilac Sorbet—LOVE the colors! And so easy to make, too!

Process of Tulip Ice Cream Bowls—adorable and delicious!

Verdict


Cooking with Flowers isn't terribly inventive in its recipes—for the most part, flowers have superfluous roles, serving as cake/cookie/bread toppings or just as flavoring, akin to the function of herbs—but that doesn't make Miche Bacher's new cookbook any less enjoyable. I love the stunning photographs and the organization of the types of flowers used. Do pick this one up when you get the chance; it's definitely a keeper! Americanflag

8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended (x)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

6 Heart Review: Fifty Shades Freed by EL James

Fifty Shades Freed
EL James

Page Count: 532

Release Date: 17 April 2012 (new edition)
Publisher: Vintage Books (Random House)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by Edenfantasys in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)
Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

When unworldly student Anastasia Steele first encountered the driven and dazzling young entrepreneur Christian Grey it sparked a sensual affair that changed both of their lives irrevocably. Shocked, intrigued, and, ultimately, repelled by Christian’s singular erotic tastes, Ana demands a deeper commitment. Determined to keep her, Christian agrees.

Now, Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.

Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

Review


[NOTE #1]: Read my review of Fifty Shades of Grey, the book that started it all, by clicking here!

[NOTE #2]: Read my review of the second book in the series, Fifty Shades Darker (which, in my opinion, was much MUCH better), by clicking here.

Mr. Grey has finally settled. He's still possessive—still a control freak—but his coming-to-terms with Anastasia—to take care of each other, to love each other, for better or worse—inspires a different sort of dynamic between the two returning characters. Their relationship isn't intense, it's just bipolar; this is best displayed in this last installment of the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

I was highly annoyed by Anastasia's weird internal conflict; she wants her kinky ways with Christian, trying to adjust to his lifestyle, but breaks down every time he obliges—crying it's too much and it's too painful. Make up your mind, woman! Everything is repetitive as always. It's like EL James copy-and-pasted her sex scenes into each other because most of them have the exact same wording and structure, but different venues, e.g. bed, table, aircraft, toilet (yes, she went there... kinky!).

Ana and Christian's roller-coaster ride of a relationship isn't even dramatic or heartfelt anymore; it's just exasperating. I'm also not sure how the fuck they are so deeply committed and in lurve after having known each other for only two months. Two. Months. Anastasia doesn't even know what Christian does for a living, for crying out loud! All she knows is that he's some hoity-toity entrepreneur. I have suspicions he's an underground slave auctioneer but sadly, this tidbit isn't actually revealed in the book.

SPOILER START [[drag your mouse across the blackened text to read]] And they don't get a prenup??/ He's a BILLIONAIRE and they don't get a prenup because he trusts her so much. Just let that sink in for about fifteen seconds. This series should be relabeled as fantasy, not romance. SPOILER END

The ending... ugh. Grossly idealized, but I one thing I liked is how the book concludes exposing Christian's full story. Getting to know him so deeply was probably the best part of the novel. His love for Ana is clouded with overprotectiveness and insecurity, but it's still deep nonetheless. The heart of the dilemma is his need for control and his need for Anastasia. She believes the two aren't mutually exclusive, but even so, they just might be his ruin. These emotions are brutal, and they're actually sweet—knowing where they come from, but really: that's the only thing that kept me reading.

Stylistically, you guessed it! Pretentious big words thrown around carelessly, but otherwise very basic, very weak. It's a shame to erotica writers that James identifies herself as one of them.

Pros


Great character-building // Christian's past

Cons


Let's put it like this: Book 1 should never have happened, Book 2 is dumb, and Book 3 is dumber. That's all you have to know.

Love


Real quotes from the book that I needed to share with you: 
He looks so sexy and genial.
What?
He's so adroit.
What?
I'm so aroused.
I would be, too, if I orgasmed at the slightest breeze.

Two reasons to shoot me now:
Mr. Orgasmic was using his fine-motor sexing skills on me.
Why are his feet so hot? 
Accurately displaying the length of Anastasia's attention span (or lack thereof):
I will never understand this man. Hmm—this crème brulée is delicious.
I glance at my watch: 2:15 p.m. He should be here soon. My tea is cold... Ugh!
Neanderthalic urges:
"I want in your mouth now." 

Verdict


Don't bother reading the actual book, because I can summarize the entire thing up for you here: sex; fight; makeup sex; fight; makeup sex; fight; fight fight; flight; yell; pregnancy scare; panic; OMG; major fight; weep; "hi," I breathed, "hi," he whispered back; makeup sex; happily every after. I really had high hopes for Fifty Shades Freed after liking the second book in the series so much, but alas, EL James disappoints Americanflag

6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back (x)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Byook Giveaway!

Introducing Byook


A unique reading experience
Byook is an eBook enriched with images, sounds and animation for smartphones and tablets.

The Byook is very simple to use: just turn each page to reveal unique images enhanced by sounds and motion. Cleverly paced, the Byook immerses you in the story by capturing all your senses. Any genre can be adapted to the Byook experience: classic literature, young adult and children's stories, mysteries, horror and fantasy.

Check back regularly—our library is growing every day.
  • Each page has been designed unique, original and artistic enhancements
  • Instinctive usability. Leaf through the pages easily, with just the tip of your fingers
  • Images and sounds take you deeper into the story and capture your imagination
Most recently, Byook has teamed with the children's hit Tara Duncan series to bring you an amazing multimedia experience, downloadable through mass digital retailers including iTunes and Google Play.
In addition, for a limited time, the Little Fear Byook is available for FREE for iPhone and iPad. Be sure to check it out!

Giveaway!


The lovely folks at Akel Ventures have been generous enough to provide some great prizes in celebration of these awesome Byooks! Want the chance to win a Byook polo shirt, fabulous Tara Duncan poster, and your very own choice of Tara Duncan OR Sherlock Holmes Byook? Two lucky Books à la Mode readers will!
To enter, please "like" Byook on Facebook. You can earn extra entries as always, so keep track of all of them through this Rafflecopter form:

Rules and disclosure:
Giveaway ends May 11th 2013 at 11:59 PM (your time).
Open to North American residents only. This means only those living in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Everyone else, please check out my sidebar to enter giveaways that are currently open worldwide! :)
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen.
Although I do select winners for my giveaways, 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 ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Top Ten Tips for Dating an Angel by Lisa Voisin + Giveaway!

The Watcher
Lisa Voisin

Millennia ago, he fell from heaven for her.

Can he face her without falling again?


Fascinated with ancient civilizations, seventeen-year-old Mia Crawford dreams of becoming an archaeologist. She also dreams of wings—soft and silent like snow—and somebody trying to steal them.

When a horrible creature appears out of thin air and attacks her, she knows Michael Fontaine is involved, though he claims to know nothing about it. Secretive and aloof, Michael evokes feelings in Mia that she doesn’t understand. Images of another time and place haunt her. She recognizes them—but not from any textbook.

In search of the truth, Mia discovers a past life of forbidden love, jealousy and revenge that tore an angel from Heaven and sent her to an early grave. Now that her soul has returned, does she have a chance at loving that angel again? Or will an age-old nemesis destroy them both?

Ancient history is only the beginning.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Happiness Handbook Excerpt and Giveaway!

Brought to you by...

The Happiness Handbook: A User's Manual For Living Your Extraordinary Life
Jenn Flaa

We arrive on this planet naked and without operating instructions. We live our lives and learn from trial and error (lots of errors) what works, what doesn't work, what makes us happy and what pisses us off.

Each new person that comes into our lives gets no user's manual and has to figure us out the hard way. But what if we changed the rules? What if we wrote our own user's manual, The Happiness Handbook, about what makes us tick and gave it to the people we love most?

Imagine how that would change our interactions and our lives. People would begin to do what makes us happy and... we would be happy! If someone received our Happiness Handbook and chose not to follow it, well then, we could choose not to hang out with them more quickly.

The Happiness Handbook is about empowering the reader to discover their own unique ways of being that lead to unlocking their full potential and becomes their guide for leading the extraordinary life they were born to fulfill.

The Happiness Handbook is written in a warm, friendly and informal tone; as if a girl friend were guiding the reader through their process of self discovery. Peppered with humbling, humorous anecdotes and stories; the reader has a practical, seasoned guide and partner in crime as they work the exercises and use the tools to move from unhappy to happy!
Buy the book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

Author: Shannon Dittemore Interview and Giveaway!

I'd like to welcome Shannon Dittemore to the blog today to celebrate and promote the most recent release in her Angel Eyes series! Welcome to Books à la Mode, Shannon! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief bio with us?

Shannon is a wife and mother. A sister. A daughter. A friend. She was raised in Northern California by her parents—pastors of their local church and constant figures of inspiration.

Angel Eyes was Shannon’s debut novel and the launch of a young adult supernatural trilogy. It was published in the summer of 2012 by Thomas Nelson. The sequel Broken Wings was released February 19, 2013, and the final novel in the trilogy, Dark Halo, will be available August 20, 2013.

Shannon is represented by Holly Root of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency and is an active member of Inspire Christian Writers of Sacramento.

“I’m a firm believer that books open doors into the imagination and remind us that we should venture there often. We should dream. We should try hard things. We should be fearless. And while there are many obstacles that stand in the way, I hope my stories remind readers that life is to be lived. Pain is to be tackled. Mountains are to be climbed. And while you may fall into dark places along the way, light is as close as the prayer on your lips.”

What is the second installment of your trilogy about?

Brielle sees the world as it really is: a place where the Celestial exists side by side with human reality. But in the aftermath of a supernatural showdown, her life begins to crumble. Her boyfriend, Jake, is keeping something from her—something important. Her overprotective father has started drinking again. He’s dating a much younger woman who makes Brielle’s skin crawl, and he’s downright hostile toward Jake. Haunting nightmares keep Brielle from sleeping, and flashes of Celestial vision keep her off kilter.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s been targeted. The Prince of Darkness himself has heard of the boy with healing in his hands and of the girl who sees through the Terrestrial Veil. When he plucks the blind demon, Damien, from the fiery chasm and sends him back to Earth with new eyes, the stage is set for a cataclysmic battle of good versus evil.

Then Brielle unearths the truth about her mother’s death and she must question everything she ever thought was true.

Brielle has no choice. She knows evil forces are converging and will soon rain their terror down upon the town of Stratus. She must master the weapons she’s been given. She must fight.

But can she fly with broken wings?

What was your inspiration to write it?


When I decided to write a novel, angels were the most natural thing in the world for me to examine. I’m the oldest daughter of a preacher and I have a creative flair to boot. As a church brat, I was part of a travelling team that did drama and mime, puppetry and dance. I’ve played some sort of an angelic force in more ways than I can number. Angels and demons have always been on the backdrop of my storytelling experience and when I stumbled upon the concept of the halo, an entirely new door opened up to me. It was fun to push through and let my imagination fill in the blanks.


That's one of the most interesting backstories I've ever heard! And it seems like you were just meant for it. Tell us about your publishing journey—the hardships, unexpected obstacles, and things you picked up along the way.


You think you’re ready, you know? To have your characters and thoughts out there for others to pick through. But I don’t know that anything can prepare you for that. There are such highs and lows which is to be expected, I think, in a profession that keeps you locked inside your own imagination for such lengths. When I first signed that three-book deal, I felt like I could fly. Felt like I could do anything. And then ANYTHING showed up in the form of work. Lots of it. And time away from the world. And lots of opinions to process. These are sacrifices I was happy to make, but at times I understood just how unprepared I was.


Gah, the work never ends. Once you're in you're not really "in" because of the entire editing process! Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your novels?

Not usually, although I did steal the identity of our door greeter at church and slip her into Broken Wings, sparkly heels and all. I cherry-pick traits from friends and family members on occasion and give them to my characters. I’ve given a character in Broken Wings the name of my youngest sister, and in Dark Halo my middle sister makes an appearance. It’s a fun way to immortalize them.


It's awesome how as an author, you can select which traits you've seen in real life are moulded into which character you create, isn't it? You create a whole new person. What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author? 

I think my biggest strength is that I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. I like sitting in my office chair and creating worlds. I like hacking them to pieces when they don’t work and I don’t take for granted the opportunities I’ve been given.

My biggest weakness is that because I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl; I tend to burn out quickly. One day, I’m loving my characters and the next, I never want to see them again. I’m working on balance. But balance is an elusive little dancer, isn’t she?

Agreed, sometimes my enthusiasm about my own make-believe characters fizzles out way too quickly! Name the top five novels that have made the biggest impact on your life or on your writing.


So many novels have made an impact. Let’s see if I can narrow them down:
  1. The Hunger Games. I read this one at a very important time in my writing journey. I was working on Angel Eyes but was struggling with a passive voice. The Hunger Games introduced the idea of first-person, present tense to me and I knew immediately my novel needed that immediacy. 
  2. Harry Potter. JK Rowling’s world is really what brought me back to children’s and YA fiction. I can’t thank her enough for that. And her world building? Amazing. 
  3. The Count of Monte Cristo. I read this one with a couple friends. We took turns reading it out loud to one another at random coffee houses, bookstores, and parks throughout the Portland, Oregon area. Some of my very best memories are wrapped up in my love of that book. 
  4. On Writing. Stephen King has a way of making things very real, very personal, and very applicable. I think the magic of this book is that he has everyone nodding along, saying to themselves, “Hey! That’s what I think too!” 
  5. Showdown. This was my first Ted Dekker novel. It spoke to me on so many levels, but the nitty gritty of it was that I could, in fact, write novels with a Christian worldview that are different, that are not the traditional romance. That revelation freed me.
Thanks so much for sharing with us! I haven't tried Ted Dekker yet but you've convinced me too, and the rest of them, I SO agree with. How do you react to a negative or harsh review of your books?

I don’t really read reviews anymore. Occasionally, someone will send me a review or post it on my FB wall and I do feel the need to give those a look, but I don’t trawl Goodreads or Amazon looking at reviews. Because I’ve learned! Reviews, even the good ones, don’t help me write. In fact, they can screw with my head if I’m not careful. My deadlines have been so tight, I don’t need anything, good or bad, to distract me from writing the stories in my head.

It's great you've figured that out early on. Reviews aren't necessarily editorial critique, and sometimes, even the good ones, don't really help with the writing process. What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Settle in for the long haul. Publishing is notoriously slow. Stop refreshing your email inbox and go out for a latte. Breathe, observe the world, write, love your family and friends. Don’t stop living just because you’re writing.

All wonderful advice :) What’s the most interesting comment you have ever received about your books?

Someone just told me they’ve got a countdown on their phone to the release date of Dark Halo. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that. I accidentally read the title of an Amazon review that said Angel Eyes was dangerous fiction. Not really sure what that means, but live dangerously, peeps!


LOL! It can either be very good or very bad... but come on, it's YA fiction. What are they trying to get at? What are your goals as a writer?

​Regarding the Angel Eyes trilogy, I want readers to close my books feeling like they just experienced a really great worship service. That means some will be uncomfortable and I have to be okay with that. But I hope others will be reminded of the light and life that is our Savior. And in those cases, all the glory goes to my Creator and King. My words are His anyway.


Where can you be found on the web?

Follow the Tour


Gillian Adams // Julie Bihn // Jennifer Bogart // Beckie Burnham // Pauline Creeden // Janey DeMeo // Theresa Dunlap // Emma or Audrey Engel // Victor Gentile // Nikole Hahn // Becky Jesse // Jason Joyner // Karielle @ Books à la Mode // Carol Keen // Emileigh Latham // Shannon McDermott // Meagan @ Blooming with Books // Megan @ Hardcover Feedback // Rebecca LuElla Miller // Joan Nienhuis // Nathan Reimer // James Somers // Kathleen Smith // Jojo Sutis // Steve Trower // Phyllis Wheeler // Shane Werlinger

It was a real treat having you over at the blog today, Shannon! Thank you so much for joining us, and good luck with your future endeavors.

Giveaway!


Here's a quick message from Shannon about a fantastic giveaway her publisher has generously agreed to host at Books à la Mode. Anyone who comments with an answer will gain EXTRA entries!!!
I’d love to know what everyone else is reading these days. Recommend a book to me, friends.
Keep track of the rest of your entries through this Rafflecopter form:
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends 8 May 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only. Sorry, rest of the world! Check out my sidebar for giveaways that ARE open internationally!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I do 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 ❤ Please follow Shannon or Thomas Nelson in some way, as they have been kind enough to provide the wonderful prize!
Good luck!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Showers of Books Giveaway Hop!

The Showers of Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and myself 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 Showers of Books Giveaway Hop is scheduled from April 24th at 12.01 AM until April 30th at 11:59 PM (EST).


The Prizes


One lucky subscriber gets their choice of book from The Book Depository. Any book, any book you want! :)


I love giving away eBooks too, so a runner-up will win the ultimate bundle featuring: