Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rest In Peace, Paul Walker

Tragic news like this comes to me as truly jarring, truly unjust. 

I'm a HUGE Fast & Furious fan, and still can't believe it completely.

The world has lost a beloved actor and incredible man. Rest in peace, Paul Walker.
1973-2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

7 Heart Review: Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

Foreplay (Ivy Chronicles #1)
Sophie Jordan
Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Follow the Tour!

Page Count: 320

Release Date: November 5th 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Books (Harper Collins)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Before she goes after the life she’s always wanted, she’s about to find the one she needs. 


Pepper has been hopelessly in love with her best friend’s brother, Hunter, for like ever. He’s the key to everything she’s always craved: security, stability, family. But she needs Hunter to notice her as more than just a friend. Even though she’s kissed exactly one guy, she has just the plan to go from novice to rock star in the bedroom—take a few pointers from someone who knows what he’s doing.

Her college roommates have the perfect teacher in mind. But bartender Reece is nothing like the player Pepper expects. Yes, he’s beyond gorgeous, but he’s also dangerous, deep—with a troubled past. Soon what started as lessons in attraction are turning both their worlds around, and showing just what can happen when you go past foreplay and get to what’s real...

Pepper—perpetually dubbed a "nice girl"—knows exactly what she wants. She wants a place to call home, a stable marriage, two-point-five children, and a white picket fence. Intelligent, kind, and newly single Hunter, whom she's loved from afar ever since her adolescence, can provide all these things—if she can even get him to notice her. But that's the thing with nice girls... they typically go unnoticed, especially the plain-Jane wallflower V-I-R-G-I-N-S like her. To get Hunter to fall for her, she needs a game plan: she needs to tease out her inner bombshell. But in order to do that, she'll need experience, and at her level of desperation, she'll look anywhere to get it.

Pepper's search for a purely physical relationship, particularly with her lack of experience and sexual maturity, in order to achieve the idealistically domestic life she's always wanted, creates a complicated jumble of a romance story—a not-quite love triangle, with a few fatefully belated realizations tangled in. This is an entertaining twist on the typical We Agreed to be Fuck Buddies But Ended Up Falling In Love and the Honey, It Was You All Along! plots, but you can't really expect it to knock anyone's socks off.

The biggest thing that contributed to my enjoyment of this novel was the emotional depth within both Pepper and Reece. I'm not talking about the troubled pasts trope here, because I really felt it wasn't necessary to the development of the book, but rather, the reluctance and self-control both characters are forced to demonstrate when thrown into their sticky situation. Reece's mysterious, bad-boy-with-exceptional-morals vibe will make you want to probe him and get to know him, and Pepper's insistence on having Hunter while simultaneously falling for Reece, is a painful and conflicting issue.

Jordan's characters are intricate and very lifelike—that, I can't complain about—but Pepper as a whole, I had a problem with. As kind-hearted and easy to sympathize with as she is, for her age and circumstance, she seems like a loser—and not the adorable, klutzy kind of loser either, but a complete and utter square. I know that makes me sound like a turbobitch, but her lack of social awareness (about everything and anything, not just with sex!) and very not-cute naïveté are so exasperating. She's a genuine, determined person, I'll give her that, but she's the kind of girl who doesn't understand sarcasm and innuendos, or is deluded enough to actually believe that one guy will give her everything she's ever wanted but never had (happiness, a perfect family, a large house, etc.). AND she's foolish enough to refuse Reece, who's right there in front of her practically ripping his heart open for her to use, because she's so fixated on this dream she's had. I accepted her as the narrator, but really had trouble liking or even relating to her.

Reece, as with most NA heroes, is absolutely delicious—the kind of guy girls lose their heads over. Despite the fact that he seems perfect (has icy blue eyes and a flawless body; is a soccer-player-turned-bartender, as well as sex god), what readers learn of him beneath the surface is what will really made me swoon. Tall, dark, and troubled fans, you will go wild with this bad boy—such a catch!

Pros


REECE! Holy fuck // Pepper's initial mortification with Reece is hilarious // All the characters are well written; I'm intrigued by Pepper's friends because they seem so two-dimensional, but I'm sure they each have their own stories (possible future books in the series??) // Great writing that flows smoothly and steadily // Easy, mindless read // Pepper and Reece make an unexpectedly good pair // Contemporary college setting

Cons


Predictable // Unimaginative storyline: "Average girl and super hunk fall in love in an initially no-strings-attached relationship"—doesn't this scream contemporary romance? // Pepper is a consistent narrator, but an aggravating character // Hunter didn't seem that great to begin with; Pepper's "love" for him is unconvincing

Verdict


While the familiar synopsis of Sophie Jordan's debut contemporary romance didn't get my hopes up for a completely exceptional or mind-blowing read to begin with, I couldn't help but be charmed by her effortless, intriguing execution of the overrated plot. The cast of lively characters, steamy chemistry, and entertaining, endearingly awkward relationship that only comes with the college experience—or rather, college inexperience—make Foreplay a breezy, party-like new adult novel, but Pepper's encounters with intimacy of an unwarranted connection, as well as release from repression to confront true desires, both add depth and complexity. I wouldn't call this an urgent must-read, but it's definitely a promising start to an exciting new university-set romance series Americanflag

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

9 Heart Review: Forgiving Lies by Molly McAdams

Forgiving Lies (Forgiving Lies #1)
Molly McAdams
Author Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Follow the Tour!

Page Count: 359

Release Date: October 29th 2013
Publisher: William Morrow & Company (Harper Collins)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

A matter of secrets...
Undercover cop Logan "Kash" Ryan can't afford a distraction like his new neighbor Rachel Masters, even if she's the most beautiful woman he's ever seen. To catch a serial killer, he needs to stay focused, yet all he can think about is the feisty, long-legged coed whose guarded nature intrigues him.

A matter of lies...
Deceived and hurt before, Rachel would rather be a single, crazy cat lady than trust another guy, especially a gorgeous, tattooed bad boy with a Harley, like Kash. But when his liquid-steel eyes meet hers, it takes all of Rachel's will-power to stop herself from exploring his hot body with her own.

A matter of love...
As much as they try to keep it platonic, the friction between them sparks an irresistible heat that soon consumes them. Can Kash keep Rachel's heart and her life safe even as he risks his own? Will she be able to forgive his lies... or will she run when she discovers the dangerous truth?
People say that being in love is amazing.
They lie. It's freaking terrifying.

An undercover assignment is the last place Kash Ryan should expect to pick up girls, but one look at Rachel Masters has him sighing to himself, "aw, fuck that."

Yes, Forgiving Lies does revolve around a severe case of insta-love—no one believed the "only friends, just attracted to each other" thing anyway—but I enjoyed it immensely regardless.

21-year-old Rachel has been reserved and reclusive ever since the tragic death of her parents, so she doesn't plan on letting anyone in anytime soon... especially after she was hurt by someone she once thought she could trust. Upon meeting Kash, she's rather bitchy and stiff—I disliked her immediately, but when I realized that side of her was just a personal front she was putting up to protect herself, I softened up to her. As Kash, too, begins to comprehend Rachel's defense mechanisms, and finds a way to penetrate them, her actual personality is revealed: smart, saucy, and at her tenderest moments, extremely genuine and sweet. I loved her, and wish I had a BFF like her!

Forgiving Lies alternates between Kash's and Rachel's points of view so readers get to see what's going on in each character's head, as well at what each character is holding back from the other. This makes miscommunications frustrating, but simultaneously, the sexual tension even more delightful. It's clear the two were never meant to be just friends, but the relationship will be strained until both of them fully admit it.

I really appreciate the witty, thoughtful romance in this book. The playful banter will have you smiling and longing for such a fun, yet extremely deep—extremely accomplished—relationship like theirs. Kash is the harmony to Rachel's melody; they are cute and SO amusing together—there were times I'd laugh out loud and times my heart would flutter in my chest from their interactions.

The other characters are lovable, even if a little two-dimensional. We definitely have supporting character archetypes here, like Candi, the super beautiful, super supportive female best friend; Mason, the macho but huggable male best friend (I call this the "Emmett Cullen" trope); the slimy villain, etc. etc. Yeah, it triggered an eye-roll here and there, but it's not something I couldn't get over.

Alongside this adorable relationship, however, is a dangerous reality that even Kash, a police officer who's pretty much seen it all, isn't prepared to face—a harsh, ugly truth that may not only jeopardize his career, but also his life... as well as that of the woman he loves. I can't go on without giving too much away, but this suspense factor is definitely an adrenaline rush, and on top of that, McAdams throws the curveball of an unexpected ending that will keep you on your toes for the next book.

The accuracy and depth of the emotional bond between Rachel and Kash touched me on so many levels. The way Rachel wrenches open her heart and reveals her painful past is distressing, and the way Kash recuperates by promising to love her out of her misery, is ever so beautiful. It's lovey-dovey, yes, but the emotions here are so REAL—it's difficult not to sympathize with them.

Now let me try to get my feelings out about Kash... I saved this discussion for last because I'm really conflicted about him. On one hand, holy mother of god, he is the PERFECT man and I want to have his babies (you had to see this coming), but on the other, he's a bit too demanding and overbearing. I know he's supposed to be the powerful alpha hero with a soft spot, but at times, he seems a little (a lot) clingy... not cool.

He's extremely hot though, and is a really caring, sweet "bad boy," although he's not really bad at all. This annoys me a bit because strong, tough alpha males typically don't get whipped as soon as they meet a girl, no matter how phenomenal she is. And even if they do, they act more on their feelings and less on instinct... but hey, it's a fictional romance novel. We readers can dream, right?

Pros


Emotionally sound // Deep personal issues portrayed // Lovable characters // Rachel and Kash were made to be ♥ // Smoldering, swoon-worthy romance // Entertaining flirting // Disturbing suspense plot... this is not just a light NA read // Takes place in my hometown, Austin! And at my favorite school ever (other than my own, of course), UT!

Cons


Very unrealistic (the way characters act, the way chance plays out, etc.) // Superficial, trite cast of characters... they're likable, but flatly depicted

Verdict


Dreamily romantic and heart-pumpingly eventful, Forgiving Lies is the new adult version of Jumpstreet 21 with just as much suspense and twice the sass. The chemistry and clever dialogue between Kash and Rachel are amusing; they add lightness to the novel, but the deep-rooted, honest emotions are what will make you fall in love. The only reason I'm docking a heart (half a star) is because Kash is overly gooey sometimes... the way he so blatantly declares his love for Rachel seems unnatural, but otherwise this first installment of Molly McAdams's new series is a cute, feel-good contemporary romance that's (mostly) relatable in its emotional reluctance and simultaneously terrifyingly grim at its core. Don't be fooled by the fanciful romance and the bold, self-reliant protagonists; this is a somber, serious story about broken hearts and overcoming fears, about betrayals, vulnerabilities, and the slow collapse of emotional shields... and because of its grounded, weightier issues, I'm a huge fan. I foresee a review for book 2 in the future Americanflag

9 hearts: Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf (x)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Muckers by Sandra Neil Wallace and Giveaway!

Don't forget to check out my 8 Heart Review of Muckers!

Muckers
Sandra Neil Wallace

Red O'Sullivan's world is crumbling around him: the mine that employs most of town is on the brink of closing, threatening to shutter the entire town. Red will be part of the final graduating class of Hatley High School, but he’s got his own burdens to bear: his older brother, Bobby, died in the war, and he’s been struggling to follow in his footsteps ever since. That means assuming Bobby’s old position as quarterback, and leading the last-ever Muckers team to the championship. Maybe then his angry, broken-hearted father will acknowledge him, and they’ll be able to put Bobby’s death behind them.

While the Muckers are racially united, their town is divided. Anglos live near the top of the mountain and Mexican Americans down below—where Red’s best friend Cruz lives, and Angie, who Red longs to be with. When the Communist scare threatens to tear the team apart, Red and the hardscrabble Muckers must find a way to go undefeated and win the state title.

Unforgettable characters fighting to make their mark on the field and in the world combine for a period novel that will spark dialogue on this timely subject.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

8 Heart Review: Muckers by Sandra Neil Wallace

Sandra was kind enough to guest post for us! Don't miss this Books à la Mode exclusive: Top 5 Things You Didn't Know About Muckers!

Muckers
Sandra Neil Wallace
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Follow the Tour!

Page Count: 269

Release Date: October 8th 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Random House and TLC!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Red O'Sullivan's world is crumbling around him: the mine that employs most of town is on the brink of closing, threatening to shutter the entire town. Red will be part of the final graduating class of Hatley High School, but he’s got his own burdens to bear: his older brother, Bobby, died in the war, and he’s been struggling to follow in his footsteps ever since. That means assuming Bobby’s old position as quarterback, and leading the last-ever Muckers team to the championship. Maybe then his angry, broken-hearted father will acknowledge him, and they’ll be able to put Bobby’s death behind them.

While the Muckers are racially united, their town is divided. Anglos live near the top of the mountain and Mexican Americans down below—where Red’s best friend Cruz lives, and Angie, who Red longs to be with. When the Communist scare threatens to tear the team apart, Red and the hardscrabble Muckers must find a way to go undefeated and win the state title.

Unforgettable characters fighting to make their mark on the field and in the world combine for a period novel that will spark dialogue on this timely subject.
It's a funny thing about our town.
We're used to getting cut up. And the one thing we know how to do is fight. And if I don't fight on that field this afternoon and win, we'll be forgotten. The memory of Hatley gone for good, too, with Coach and Maw and Bobby along with it. And that's not how it's going to be.

There are two things that matter to the town of Hatley, Arizona: mining and football. And that's about it. In 1950, when the copper veins—the town's largest source of labor—begin to dry up and threaten to shut down not only the mine, but also the entire town, the future seems bleak with only the smallest feather of hope remaining: Hatley High School's football team's final season.

Set in the grim, desperate backdrop of the Korean War during the second Communist scare, Muckers is a story about the team that had all odds against them, but still found a way to run and fight and survive through the muck—and emerge not only alive, but also triumphant. This is a football story, yes, but it's also a war story, as well as a family story, a love story, a personal story—a very real story.

Red O'Sullivan is no stranger to wartime's tragic effects; the last war that swept the globe changed everything in his life, and this new one is about to do the same. As quarterback, he has a sense of dismay knowing his team's the smallest, scrawniest in Arizona, but it's certainly not the weakest—and that's what keeps him holding on, because it may be the only thing Hatley has left. The last time the town saw something so hopeful was when Red's older brother, Bobby, brought home the Northern title nine years back. Now, everyone's counting on Red to redeem the collapsing town, and this just may be his last shot.

This book was really slow-paced, which had me skimming a lot; I feel it wouldn't hold the attention of younger readers well. However, I'm a huge fan of sports novels and so I refused to give in too easily, and in the end, I am so, so glad I did.

Muckers combines Red's frank, but heartbreakingly tenacious narrative with local newspaper clippings of the time, to expose the untold, valiant history of the real-life Jerome Muckers. Wallace gives careful, stimulating attention to period detail and breathes life into the inspired fictional town of Hatley. There are so many different issues within this book that she handles well, including those on politics, race, the real meaning of family, teamwork, and never giving up; Muckers could really teach our middle and high schoolers about succeeding in even the most disadvantageous of circumstances, just by persevering.

I was particularly intrigued by the origins of this novel, explained beautifully in the author's note. This football team literally had nothing left for them, but they fought hard to earn the only type of victory they could reach. The civil rights issues are interesting, as well; while most American high schools at this time were segregated, Jerome, and Hatley, were rare in that it was inhabited by both caucasians and Mexican-Americans. However, even though they all lived together, the racial tensions are still clearly prevalent, and the way the town manages to overcome them—even if only for the sake of the football team—is glittering, exultant.

Pros


Raw; hits exactly the right notes // Moving story // Captures the genuine hopes and worries and fears of the age // Vibrant, distinct characters // Forbidden romance sidestory // Detailed, suspenseful sports fiction // Preserves the amazing Muckers football team in literature

Cons


On the slow side // The writing style itself isn't particularly impressive

Love

Melvin smiles and runs for the field.

"Wait!" Cruz takes the nose guard off his helmet. He straps it onto Melvin's.

"Am I gonna die?" Melvin asks.

"We're all gonna die someday," Cruz says, "but not before we win."

Verdict


Friday Night Lights meets Remember the Titans in this highly-charged, visceral young adult novel that has both spirit and soul. Harrowing, eye-opening, and tenderly honest, Muckers masterfully recounts an inspiring story about how one resilient high school football team finds victory through enduring the tragic, unforgiving demands of war and the injustices of racial divide. Sandra Neil Wallace did a marvelous thing by digging up the forgotten letters and faded newspapers that made up this previously overlooked narrative, and bringing it to light. This is the kind of story that deserves a special spot in American football history. Fortunately, through this novel, the Hatley Muckers get the chance to prove themselves, while the real-life Jerome Muckers, in their blazing glory, get the chance to be remembered Americanflag

8 hearts: An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended (x)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gratitude Giveaway Hop 2013!

The 4th annual Gratitude Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer, 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 Staying Warm or Keeping Cold Giveaway Hop is scheduled from November 15th at 12.01 AM until November 30th at 11:59 PM (EST).


The Prizes


One follower will win a $10 Amazon gift card! Woohoo! If you are in a country that either Amazon does not ship to or would be extremely expensive to ship to, I am more than happy to substitute the prize with a book of choice from The Book Depository as long as it does not exceed $10 in value. I'm on a student budget, folks :(

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.
Additionally, one lucky US winner will get to choose ANY book they want from PaperBackSwap—woohoo! There are millions of titles available from PaperBackSwap's member-based bookfront (and if you aren't already a member, I highly suggest you sign up! It's FREE and it's my favorite way to get rid of old books and receive new ones on my wishlist).

And yes, we'll have ANOTHER winner for a set of eBooks! Here are some of the books you could win!

That's three winners total! Because I love and appreciate y'all so much!!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

10 Heart Review: Finding It by Cora Carmack

Finding It (Losing It #3)
Cora Carmack

Page Count: 307

Release Date: October 15th 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (Harper Collins)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find where you truly belong...

Most girls would kill to spend months traveling around Europe after college graduation with no responsibility, no parents, and no-limit credit cards. Kelsey Summers is no exception. She's having the time of her life... or that's what she keeps telling herself.

It's a lonely business trying to find out who you are, especially when you're afraid you won't like what you discover. No amount of drinking or dancing can chase away Kelsey's loneliness, but maybe Jackson Hunt can. After a few chance meetings, he convinces her to take a journey of adventure instead of alcohol. With each new city and experience, Kelsey's mind becomes a little clearer and her heart a little less hers. Jackson helps her unravel her own dreams and desires. But the more she learns about herself, the more Kelsey realizes how little she knows about Jackson.
"You scare me," I said.
His brow furrowed, and his mouth opened, but no words came out. He took a breath and then very slowly said, "You have nothing to be scared of. I won't... I wouldn't. I'll help you get to bed, and then I'll leave, get another room."
He thought I didn't trust him... that he might do something.
"Not that. I don't think that."
"Then why do I scare you?"
"Because I don't want you to see."
There was a small part of me that knew I should shut my mouth, that I was saying things I shouldn't, but that part of me felt like it was on the other side of a cement wall. It was too far away and too hard to understand.

"See what?"
He shouldered open a door and I answered simply, "Me."

So THIS is what the buzz for Cora Carmack's books is all about. Finding It is the third book in the Losing It series but it reads fine (more than fine!) as a standalone novel. The previous books are completely unrelated stories that just revolve around Kelsey's friends.

Simply and shortly put: I. loved. this. book.

Now onto my long, possibly incoherent, and certainly unrestrained review. You've been warned.

Even the glamor of traveling through Europe alone and her daddy's limitless credit cards can't get Kelsey Summers out of her post-graduation slump. All the parties, the booze, the hot boys... they're distractions, but they're meaningless to her because she doesn't know what's wrong in her life. She's extremely privileged—blessed, even, with her Barbie-doll looks, theatre degree, and friends back home who love her—but she's unhappy, and what makes her unhappier is she doesn't know why. The bottomless, passionless pit she falls into can't be all there is to life, can it?

Then she meets the piercing eyes of a handsome stranger in a bar, and her world is turned upside-down. Life may not have been pretty before, but it also wasn't scary until ex-soldier Jackson Hunt came around... scary because for the first time in her life, she's met someone who ignites something inside of her—someone who makes her want to bare the parts of herself that she thought she had long buried and thrown away.

Someone who threatens to love her even after discovering her secrets.

Carmack's gift for crafting the most flawed—and thus beautiful—of characters, is stunning. HUNT asdfasl;dflkasf I can't even begin to tell you how hard I fell for him. He is intricate in all of his worries and insecurities and mistakes, and the way I feel about him constantly alternates between I-love-him-so-much-he-is-perfection and fuck-fuck-fucj-why-is-he-fictional?!?! He's that kind of character. Kelsey is fun and flirty, and although she's a bit reckless and a bit irresponsible, she's mischievous, cunning, and absolutely divine; I loved her. She isn't a perfect narrator, but she's complex: a golden girl with an exquisite depth and charm to her that make her so real. She's always been the confident girl, the pretty girl, the one that was never afraid to be bold or brash or independent, but that might just be a role she's always played—a bit too well. And when Hunt slowly, agonizingly breaks through her thick skin only to reach an overwhelming, brilliant fire, he discovers this tendency to slip on the playful party-girl mask to cover up her worst of secrets and most worrisome of fears.

Both scarred and both searching, Kelsey and Hunt set off together in Europe without so much as a proper introduction, but that's what adventure is—it's taking risks—and that's what love is: it's putting your heart out there. Hunt's battle with self-control and Kelsey's battle with self-acceptance align just so they both recognize the hollows that need to be filled within one another. Their pursuit of a stormy, emotionally draining, but completely worthwhile relationship is invigorating, and it entails a flittering hope that maybe, just maybe, they might be able to teach each other to feel once again.

Kelsey and Hunt's voyage is both gorgeously scenic of Europe, and sweepingly romantic, which expertly demonstrate the magic of travel and the necessity of companionship. As walls begin to break down and an initially strained relationship softens, the pure tension—both emotional and sexual—will make your heart flip and tumble and dance and sing.

The romance in Finding It is really something else. It's so hard to find such a realistic—such an ugly but still glimmering—relationship in new adult fiction: complex, soul-searingly deep, and painful at its lows, but absolutely dazzling at its highs. Carmack skillfully demonstrates the sharp, unexpected pain of letting someone into your heart after it's been tightly sealed shut, as well as the hopelessness—the emptiness—the young-and-in-love experience when uncontrollable yearnings approach a startling revelation.

Carmack's writing is pitch-perfect, as well—another thing I adore! Kelsey is snarky and coy in her narration, but at her most vulnerable points, she doesn't hold back from being perceptive, piercing, and very, very tender. It is tremendously difficult not to sympathize with her—not to fall in love with her, yourself.

The stimulating conversations, the lust-driven passion and explosive chemistry, and the turbulent drama will have you aching—aching for a love that has strayed or a personal passion that's been forgotten. When two lost souls—that aren't entirely sure of what exactly they're looking for—take the leap and promise to search alongside each other, there's nothing they can guarantee... just that they might end up finding it together.

Pros


Everything... seriously // Distinct, beautifully human, vividly drawn characters // Smoldering romantic tension and chemistry // Fluid plot and heart-wrenching curveball // Hilarious // Light, charming tone, but still gets deep and insightful where it matters // Hunt... oh lord ♥

Cons


I may or may not have lost a couple nights of sleep to stay up and keep reading this... but that happens with the best kinds of novels, no?

Love

Before there had been attraction and maybe friendship. And those things were there still, but had morphed into something more. The attraction was stronger and tinged with the darkness that only comes when you can't have what you want. 

Verdict


Intoxicating, exhilarating, and cathartic in its probing, intimate revelations, this last book in the Losing It series hits it out of the park. Cora Carmack is now an auto-buy author for me. (I just bought books #1, #1.5, and #2, but that still won't be able enough!) We have two deeply flawed, deeply fragile characters who recognize a rare longing in each other; we have haunting pasts and bleak futures that teach us to live in the now; and we have an intensely burning, intensely complicated love story that will steal your breath away... Yup, it's been decided: Finding It is an exemplary new adult romance that all books of the genre should aim to even come close to be. Perfect. Just perfect Americanflag

10 hearts: I'm speechless; this book is an extraordinarily amazingly wonderfully fantastically marvelous masterpiece. Drop everything and go buy yourself a copy now! (x)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In Love With a Wicked Man by Liz Carlyle Giveaway!

Now on spotlight with the fabulous Bewitching Book Tours...


Page Count: 384
Release Date: October 29th 2013
Publisher: Avon Books (Harper Collins)
Genre: Historical, Regency, Romance

What does it matter if Kate, Lady d'Allenay, has absolutely no marriage prospects? She has a castle to tend, an estate to run, and a sister to watch over, which means she is never, ever reckless. Until an accident brings a handsome, virile stranger to Bellecombe Castle, and Kate finds herself tempted to surrender to her houseguest's wicked kisses.

Disowned by his aristocratic family, Lord Edward Quartermaine has turned his gifted mind to ruthless survival. Feared and vilified as proprietor of London's most notorious gaming salon, he now struggles to regain his memory, certain of only one thing: he wants all Kate is offering—and more.

But when Edward's memory returns, he and Kate realize how much they have wagered on a scandalous passion that could be her ruin, but perhaps his salvation.

Giveaway!


Isn't the cover just divine? And you all know how I love my wicked British men... this sounds like my type of historical romance!

We've a terrific giveaway happening today. There is one print copy of In Love With a Wicked Man up for grabs, just for Books à la Mode readers—I know y'all are just as desperate to get your hands on this as I am! To be considered for the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
You have the optional opportunity to gain FOUR extra entries in the drawing! To earn these additional entries, leave me a comment about the book, your favorite favorite historical romance setting or plotline, why you love Liz Carlyle, and/or the best historical romance novel you've read recently (or, ever).
Don't forget the eligibility terms and conditions:
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to Bewitching and Avon!
Giveaway ends November 26th 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, rest of the world! Check out the top of my sidebar for a list of current giveaways that are accepting international entires—there are plenty you can participate in!
Although I do randomly select winners, and I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
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!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Staying Warm or Keeping Cold Giveaway Hop!

The Staying Warm or Keeping Cold Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Reading in Twilight, 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 Staying Warm or Keeping Cold Giveaway Hop is scheduled from November 12th at 12.01 AM until November 19th at 11:59 PM (EST).


The Prizes


Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.
One lucky US winner will get to choose ANY book they want from PaperBackSwap—woohoo! There are millions of titles available from PaperBackSwap's member-based bookfront (and if you aren't already a member, I highly suggest you sign up! It's FREE and it's my favorite way to get rid of old books and receive new ones on my wishlist).

And yes, we'll have ANOTHER winner for a set of eBooks! Here are some of the books you could win!

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

7 Heart Review: The Facebook Diet by Gemini Adams

The Facebook Diet (Unplug)
Gemini Adams

Page Count: 146

Release Date: May 24th 2013
Publisher: Live Consciously Publishing
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Live Consciously!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

A tongue-in-cheek look at our love of social media through 50 hilarious cartoons that complete the question, "You Know You're a Facebook Addict When...?"

Award-winning author and artist, Gemini Adams, offers a hilarious look at the most idiotic, embarrassing and cringe-worthy behaviors of our social media excess.


With over 1 billion people now on Facebook (that's 1 in every 7 of us) and over 30% checking their account before brushing their teeth or hair in the mornings, it seems most can confess to an addictive Facebook habit; whether it's stalking an ex, faking bathroom breaks to read news, checking-in wherever they go, or art-directing photo's for the perfect profile pic.


Packed with funny digital detox tips that gently 'poke' at readers to examine the health of their high-tech habits and unplug once in a while, this laugh-out-loud gift book is guaranteed to bring a smile of recognition to Facebook junkies everywhere!
Such an overly wired world like ours needs the occasional humorous reflection to prevent us from getting completely lost within the techosphere, and a simple solution is the Facebook Diet: a Facebook detox every once in a while. This may seem completely impossible for some (and if that's the case, you need this book NOW!!), while completely irrelevant to others, but regardless of the number of messages in your inbox, the urgency of your unread notifications, or how many friend requests you have pending, Gemini Adams's fully illustrated cartoon-style book is bound to entertain Facebook users of every kind.

Some of the "symptoms" of Facebook addiction will totally have you thinking That is so me, while others are just plain silly, but this variety and balance is what makes The Facebook Diet such a lighthearted, ironic read.

What I love is how Gemini Adams isn't just about being funny; she genuinely has a purpose with this book: to reveal to social media addicts (like yours truly) how much technology is taking over our lives. While this obviously isn't anything ground-breaking or extremely eye-opening, it's a comical, refreshing reminder of what matters and what really doesn't in life.

Pros


Accessible format; easy to skim and enjoy the "You know you're a Facebook addict when..." list // Relevant in today's tech-filled community // Great as a gag gift and for Facebook geeks

Cons


Chuckle-worthy, but not actually hysterical... // Illustrations aren't that cute

Love


Here's a sneak peek of what the book entails:


Verdict


Mostly amusing, a little vulgar, and completely modern, The Facebook Diet is a socially pertinent and yet still entertaining collection that will not only help you diagnose and cure your Facebook addiction, but also bring a smile to your face. I don't think this is exactly laugh-at-loud-worthy, but it's still a cute anecdote for our internet-dependent culture Americanflag

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

8 Heart Review: The Digest Diet Cookbook by Liz Vaccariello

The Digest Diet Cookbook
Liz Vaccariello

Page Count: 311

Release Date: December 27th 2012
Publisher: Reader's Digest
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, FSB Media!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Eat up and slim down with this companion to the phenomenally successful The Digest Diet.
In The Digest Diet, Liz Vaccariello and the editors of Reader's Digest sifted through the latest weight-loss science to develop a groundbreaking 21-day eating plan demonstrated to help you drop the pounds. Real-life men and women who tried the plan—and lost up to 26 pounds!

The Digest Diet Cookbook will give readers 150 all-new fat-releasing recipes so they can branch out with new foods but still maintain their weight loss results. In addition, the book will include:

  • Buying and storing tips for the 13 amazing fat-releasing foods
  • Guidelines on how to mix and match recipes to make your own menus
  • Quick and easy tips on organizing your kitchen and pantry to make cooking easier, shopping for and storing fat releasers, and scaling recipes to feed just the right number of people
  • More than 50 full-color photographs
  • Daily Menus for vegetarians, cooks on a budget, and other special needs
  • Inspirational stories from our testers
Whether you're new to The Digest Diet or looking to maintain your fabulous success, The Digest Diet Cookbook is all you need to get and stay thin and healthy for life.
As a huge fan of both Reader's Digest and diet recipes, I knew I had to try this new companion cookbook to the New York Times-bestselling The Digest Diet. This book is a compilation of brand new recipes to go along with that diet, so it's less reading, and more recipe-enjoying! And boy, can I say how much I enjoyed sifting through this to get new ideas and even cook up some waistline-friendly food of my own!

I'm still skeptical about the actual diet plan itself; the "lose up to 26 pounds in 21 days" claim obviously does not speak to typical results. In fact, a lot of the diet plan doesn't settle well with me, as it involves lots of skipping meals and only one snack a day (not healthy!). It also emphasizes the importance of fat releasers (good!) and fat increasers (bad!) which can be helpful in selecting ingredients, but I feel it was a bit restrictive.

What I absolutely love love love however, is how there's such an expansive variety of recipes here. Recipes range from flank steak (!!!!) to chickpea-crust pizza to turkey milanese to frozen berry terrine. Good golly, that sounds tasty! It's not the typical layup you'd picture when you think "health food," which is great because most people—myself included—are turned off by the idea of diets that solely consist of salads-san-dressing and kale smoothies. Yeeuch.

Pros


Variety of recipes // Well organized into sections: Breakfasts, Soups, Main Dishes, One-Dish Mains, Salads, Side Dishes, and Desserts // Includes informational chapters about fat releasers // Helpful conversion charts for measurements and portions

Cons


Some recipes don't include pictures! // "26 pounds in 21 days" claim baffles me—anyone could do this, simple. Just starve yourself.

Love


Gorgeous full-color photographs for mouth-watering recipes such as Slow-Cooked Southwest Chicken:
And Italian Soup with Shrimp and Zucchini:
And...

Verdict


A fabulous collection of scrumptious-sounding recipes, The Digest Diet Cookbook is definitely something you want to invest in for getting on track with your diet with delicious sides, meals, and desserts that won't stretch your waistline. While I can't actually endorse the diet plan Liz Vaccariello recommends (it just doesn't sound nutritionally adequate!), the different recipe ideas presented are sure to be a hit among whole food lovers like yours truly, and will inspire healthful lifestyles among foodies of every breed Americanflag

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