Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cocoon by Emily Sue Harvey Giveaway! (US only)

Cocoon
Emily Sue Harvey

Emily Sue Harvey returns with a tale as rich in drama as it poignant in the truths it tells.

When widowed Seana Howard meets Barth McGrath, a newcomer to their little town, she never dreams she’ll fall in love again. Despite his somewhat quirky ways, she falls for the man. The only problem is that her married children do not trust the mysterious stranger. Who is he? Where exactly did he come from? Why are there so many questions about his past?

Against their wishes, Seana elopes with Barth and is happier than she’s been in years. Then her happiness shatters when a mysterious illness suddenly befalls her, exiling her once brilliant mind to a dark nightmare from which she may never return. The eclipse is startling and complete. Will Barth, with such a short history with Seana, love her enough to endure the trials of caring for someone under such dire circumstances? Can her family get past their suspicions and trust his motives and love for their mother? Will Seana ever escape her dark cocoon and reclaim her very purpose for living? Will life give her a second chance to spread her wings, like a beautiful butterfly?

Cocoon is a life-affirming story of travail, obstacles, and the extraordinary lengths that undying love will travel.

About the Author


Emily Sue Harvey writes to make a difference. Her upbeat stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Chocolate for Women, From Eulogy to Joy, A Father’s Embrace, True Story, Compassionate Friends Magazine, and Woman’s World.

Emily Sue served as president of Southeastern Writers Association in 2008-2009. Her first novel, Song of Renewal, published by The Story Plant, was released in the spring of 2009.

New York Times bestselling author Jill Marie Landis called Song of Renewal “an uplifting, heartwarming story of forgiveness, commitment, and love," and Kay Allenbaugh, bestselling author of Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul says “Emily Sue Harvey’s work will linger in the memory long after readers put it aside.”

National bestselling author Harvey, who has written numerous inspiring works of nonfiction, writes intensely romantic novels that thrill the heart as they inspire the soul. Her stories have something to say to every family.


Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Cocoon to one lucky reader—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
If your widowed, wealthy parent fell in love with a mysterious, between-jobs stranger—as Seana does in the novel—how would you handle your cynicism?

Don't forget to include your email address or Twitter username in your comment so I know who to contact when I choose a winner. Don't make me track you down!!!! No email = No entry!
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. Emily and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to The Story Plant!
Giveaway ends May 13th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, rest of the world! Please check 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!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Top 10 Beginnings and Challenges of My Publishing Journey by Holly Peterson + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Idea of Him
Holly Peterson

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Manny—a vibrant novel of love, life lessons, and learning to trust yourself

Allie Crawford has the life she always dreamed of—she's number two at a high-profile P.R. firm; she has two kids she adores; and her husband is a blend of handsome and heroic. Wade is everything she thought a man was supposed to be—he's running a successful newsmagazine and, best of all, he provides the stable yet exciting New York City life Allie believes she needs in order to feel secure and happy.

But when Allie finds Wade locked in their laundry room with a stunning blonde in snakeskin sandals, a scandal ensues that flips her life on its head. And when the woman wants to befriend Allie, an old flame calls, and a new guy gets a little too close for comfort, she starts to think her marriage is more of a facade than something real. Maybe she's fallen in love not with Wade—but with the idea of him.

Captivating and seductive, told in the whip-smart voice of a woman who is working hard to keep her parenting and career on track, The Idea of Him is a novel of conspiracy, intrigue, and intense passion—and discovering your greatest strength through your deepest fears.

Friday, April 25, 2014

9 Heart Review: Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

Sorry for the late review but it's finally up!!!

Mind of Winter
Laura Kasischke

Page Count: 276

Release Date: March 25th 2014
Publisher: Harper (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: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Something had followed them from Russia.

On a snowy Christmas morning, Holly Judge awakens, the fragments of a nightmare—something so important that she must write it down—floating on the edge of her consciousness.

Something had followed them from Russia!

It was thirteen years ago that she and her husband, Eric, went to Siberia to adopt the sweet, dark-haired child they had wanted so desperately. How they laughed at the nurses of Pokrovka Orphanage #2 with their garlic and superstitions, and ignored their insistent warnings. After all, their fairy princess Tatiana—Baby Tatty—was perfect.

As the snow falls, enveloping the world in its white silence, Holly senses that something is not right, and has never been right in the years since they brought their daughter home. Now Tatty is a dangerously beautiful, petulant, and often erratic teenager, and Holly feels there is something evil lurking within their house.

She and Tatiana are alone. Eric is stuck on the roads, and none of the other guests for Christmas dinner will be able to make it through the snow. With each passing hour, the blizzard rages and Tatiana's mood darkens, her behavior becoming increasingly disturbing... until, in every mother's worst nightmare, Holly finds she no longer recognizes her daughter.
They never speculated whether Tatiana might have inherited her love of horses from some Mongol ancestor or whether her lovely singing voice had been passed down from a gypsy grandmother. Neither of them speculated as to whether there might be manic depression tucked away in those genes, as there was in Holly's, or heart disease, cancer, anything. Their daughter had come to them without legacy. She was so beautiful and perfect she did not need one.

On Christmas morning, Holly Judge comes to with a startling message from a foggy dream she's just awaken from: something had followed them home from Russia.

Something had followed them home from Russia! These words, in the context of her daughter, Tatiana's adoption from Pokrovka Orphanage #2 in Siberia 13 years ago, should send chills up your spine. As Holly deals with the domestic mishaps of stressful Christmas dinner preparations, readers tap into the reflective, wistful dusty corners of Holly's mind. Her thoughts drift from her troubled childhood, to her hardest battles, to Baby Tatty's excruciating but worthwhile adoption, to Tatiana's adolescence; these flashbacks are what make up the secure, nostalgic portion of the book.

In the present, however, Holly must face something far more frightening than her personal tragedies and memories: her daughter. The frustration of motherhood is really well captured through Holly's third person narrative. She's excessively sensitive—paranoid, easily startled, a bit overbearing—but her egocentric way of thought is forgiven solely because of how relatable she is, how easy to sympathize with.

Tatiana and Holly's relationship is slightly morbid, a bit eerie to begin with. There's something lurkingly alarming about Holly being trapped inside the house in a snowstorm with a daughter that isn't acting like herself anymore, and although their interactions only occur within a span of eight hours (or so), they take up the entire novel, which should be an indication of just how scrutinizingly—just how comprehensively—Holly's life story unravels.

No matter how much you reflect, the past will always catch up with you, Holly realizes when her reminiscences culminate with a jarring, unexpected revelation that tilts her perspective, sense, and reality a several degrees. The ending of the book—which I won't give away—will make your mind reel and have you rethinking the virtues of destiny, sanity, and delusion of perfection.

Laura Kasischke is a clear poet, with smooth and imaginative style that sets a perfectly chilling and increasingly distressing mood. I noticed a lot of readers on Goodreads complaining about the repetition of certain lines and the exaggerated alarm with which Holly perceives the world, but—hello?—that's the entire POINT of her writing style! Kasischke's merit isn't quite literary, but it's sensuous, it's poetic, and it needs to be read like a movie script would: dramatically, frenetically.

I know the cover is really creepy, and while I can definitely vouch for a disturbing quality to this novel, I also have to say it isn't all blood and guts and gore; I wouldn't call this a horror novel, exactly. It's more about horror of the mind; Mind of Winter is a shadowy psychological thriller that won't only have your heart leaping up in your chest, but will also make you consider the limitations of a solitary perspective, and what it means to truly understand a story.

Pros


Completely absorbing... it was hard for me to stop reading! // Mind-blowing turn of events // Structurally and stylistically bizarre, but that much more impressive // Nothing violent or explicit, but as a trigger warning, there is definitely some emotionally disturbing content // Poetic, repetitive flow to Kasischke's voice // Vivid, detailed style // Introspective // Presents accurate remarks about the joys and dangers of what's inside of us // One of those books that will make you double-take and think hard

Cons


No chapters or clear structure to the book, which I understand is intentional, but it made it hard to find stopping points while reading (not that I wanted to stop reading) // Creeped out the living sh!t out of me (which is actually pretty cool, now that I think about it)

Love

"It isn't repression to acknowledge the horrors of this world and let them go. It's freedom."

Verdict


Tranquilly dark, hauntingly portrayed, and ultimately, completely mind-bending, Laura Kasischke's latest novel is a hair-raising glimpse at not only a repressive household's mother-daughter relationship, but also into the scariest place possible: the human mind. While not explicit or particularly horrific, Mind of Winter has some disturbing content that keeps me from recommending it to the average Jane. However, if, like me, you can stomach that kind of psychological manipulation from the author, and if you're a fan of unreliable narrators, macabre portraits of repression and denial, and characters that come with no baggage or legacy, then this is your next must-read. Buy yourself a copy now Americanflag

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kiss the Enemy by Dianna Love: Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway! (International)

Brought to you by the fabulous Goddess Fish Promotions...

Kiss the Enemy (Slye Temp #4)
Tina Leonard

Her only hope is in the hands of her enemy.

Slye Temp operative Margaux Duke is chasing an international terrorist who murdered the last of her family. But her plans go up in smoke when her agency is in the crosshairs of the dangerous killer, forcing her to turn rogue to protect the only family she has left—her team. This is no time to get involved, especially with an enemy who steps between her and the terrorist she has to stop.

Logan Baklanov has been known by many names in the underbelly of international terrorism and will do whatever it takes to shield those he loves from the treacherous world he lives in. When his brother's life is in jeopardy, Logan takes on a role that places him at the top of the most-wanted lists of government security agencies in every country. He accepts the no-win situation, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice until a long legged beauty draws the attention of his deadly target and screws Logan's carefully planned mission.

Margaux and Logan must join forces in a dangerous game to save a major city from a powerful psychopath, but their ruse escalates out of control when the heat smoldering between them threatens to explode.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fairy Tale Fortnight Giveaway Hop!

The 4th annual Fairy Tale Fortnight Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer, The Book Rat, and A Backwards Story, 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 Fairy Tale Fortnight Giveaway Hop is scheduled from April 22nd at 12.01 AM until May 3rd at 11:59 PM (EST).


The Prizes


One lucky follower will win their choice of ANY book from their wishlist. Any book you want! The catch? It must be a classic fairy tale or fairy tale retelling!


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!!!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Born & Bred by Peter Murphy Giveaway! (US only)

Born & Bred
Peter Murphy

Born & Bred is the first novel in the Life & Times Trilogy, a cycle of three books that will chart the course of one star-crossed life. It is a work of vibrant imagination from a poetic novelist of the first order.

Danny Boyle was a born angel.

At least that’s what his granny used to say, and she should know—she raised him after his parents proved incapable. When she becomes ill, Danny is reunited with his parents but they do not get to live happily ever after, as the ghosts of the past haunt their days. And when the old woman dies, all of her secrets come to light and shatter everything Danny believes in.

In the turmoil of 1970’s Ireland, an alienated Danny gets into drugs and is involved in a gangland killing. Duped by the killers into leaving his prints on the gun, Danny needs all the help his friends and family can muster. Calling in favors from bishops and priests, police and paramilitaries, God and the devil, the living and the dead, they do all that they can. But even that might not be enough.

About the Author


Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family was deported to Dublin, the Strumpet City.

Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for ‘The Wine and Gold’. He also played football (soccer) in secret!

After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff; Paddy, Tommy and Sean.

Murphy financed his education by working summers on the building sites of London in such places as Cricklewood, Camden Town and Kilburn.

Murphy also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world. But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while—thirty years ago. He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened. Having raised his children and packed them off to University, Murphy answered the long ignored internal voice and began to write.

He has no plans to make plans for the future and is happy to let things unfold as they do anyway.



Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Born & Bred to one lucky reader—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
If you could call on your ancestors, whom would you ask—and what would you ask for?

Don't forget to include your email address or Twitter username in your comment so I know who to contact when I choose a winner. Don't make me track you down!!!! No email = No entry!
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. Peter and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to The Story Plant!
Giveaway ends May 5th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, rest of the world! Please check 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!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Interview with Kristin Hannah, Author of Fly Away + Giveaway! (US only)

I'd like to welcome the masterful Kristin Hannah to the blog today to celebrate the publication of the long-awaited sequel to her New York Times bestseller Firefly LaneFly Away, out on the 23rd from St. Martin's Press.

I reviewed Firefly Lane last July and was thoroughly moved by the sincerity and real-world sentiments. Kristin definitely has a way of making you get attached to her characters.

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Kristin! It's absolutely an honor to have you here! Let's get this interview started.


Will you please share a brief bio with us?

I was born in September 1960 in Southern California and grew up at the beach, making sand castles and playing in the surf. When I was eight years old, my father drove us to Western Washington where we called home.

After working in a trendy advertising agency, I decided to go to law school. "But you're going to be a writer" are the prophetic words I will never forget from my mother. I was in my third-and final-year of law school and my mom was in the hospital, facing the end of her long battle with cancer. I was shocked to discover that she believed I would become a writer. For the next few months, we collaborated on the worst, most clichéd historical romance ever written.

After my mom's death, I packed up all those bits and pieces of paper we'd collected and put them in a box in the back of my closet. I got married and continued practicing law.

Then I found out I was pregnant, but was on bed rest for five months. By the time I'd read every book in the house and started asking my husband for cereal boxes to read, I knew I was a goner. That's when my darling husband reminded me of the book I'd started with my mom. I pulled out the boxes of research material, dusted them off and began writing. By the time my son was born, I'd finished a first draft and found an obsession.

The rejections came, of course, and they stung for a while, but each one really just spurred me to try harder, work more. In 1990, I got "the call," and in that moment, I went from a young mother with a cooler-than-average hobby to a professional writer, and I've never looked back. In all the years between then and now, I have never lost my love of, or my enthusiasm for, telling stories. I am truly blessed to be a wife, a mother, and a writer.

Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hits shelves next week!

As teenagers in the seventies, Tully Hart and Kate Mularky were inseparable. Tully, with her make-up and her halter tops, was the coolest girl in school. Kate, with her glasses and her high water jeans, was the geeky outsider. But chance and circumstance brought them together and through the decades they were devoted to each other. This was the story of Tully and Kate which began on a quiet street called Firefly Lane. Best friends forever.

But sometimes stories end, and we have to find a way to begin again.

Now, years later, Tully is a woman trying to deal with the loss of her best friend. She wants to fulfill her promise to Kate—to be there for Kate’s children, but it’s a promise she has no idea how to carry out. What does brash, lonely, ambitious Tully know about being part of a family?

Kate's daughter, sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan, is as lost in her grief as Tully is... until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.

Tully's mother, Dorothy Hart, is an unstable woman who abandoned her child too many times in the past and ultimately broke her heart. Now, when Tully is in danger of losing everything and is more vulnerable and alone than she’s been since she put those rough childhood years behind her, Dorothy returns once more, desperate for another chance to be a good mother. But can she be trusted this time? To help her daughter, Dorothy must face her darkest fears and reveal the terrible secret in her past—only then can she become the mother her wounded daughter needs.

A tragedy will bring these three women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way and they will need each other—and maybe a miracle—to transform their lives...

When it was first published, you described Fly Away's predecessor, Firefly Lane, as the book that hit closest to home for you. What is it about the story of Kate and Tully that continues to be so meaningful to you?

Of all the books I’ve written, Firefly Lane has the most of me on every page. I grew up in the town where the novel is set; I lived in the house that was described. I was very much of that era. I went to the University of Washington, and got the same degree as Kate and Tully did. The world of Firefly Lane is very much my world. Also, I lost my own mom to breast cancer. That’s a very personal story that I wanted to tell. Writing Firefly Lane was my way of looking back on the loss of my mom and understanding it as a woman. Additionally, I wanted to give readers some information about what to look for with breast cancer that maybe they didn’t know. So the book has a really important and personal message for me, too.

You have a lot of fans, readers who feel they know the people who populate your novel. How do you create such memorable characters? Do you know them before you write about them? Do you hear their voices? Talk to us about your literary imagination. How do you bring your characters and stories to life?


You really just set out, as a writer, to write the truest, most honest character that you can come up with. For me, that tends to begin with back story. I believe that we are the sum of our experiences in life; this tends to be true for fictional characters as well. It’s very important that I know about their childhood, the defining moments in their lives, their losses, what their hopes and dreams are—all of these are important details for creating an honest character.


As for their voices: Well, I don’t hear their voices. I think I’d need some kind of medication if that were the case! But I do begin, after a lot of research and a lot of writing, to discover them. It’s like an archaeologist uncovering the spine of a dinosaur in the sand; slowly, bit by bit, the bigger truth is revealed. That’s how I discover characters, by writing about them. Before I begin, I create lots of biological information. But the magic really happens when I start writing the scenes from a character’s viewpoint. I am often surprised by the voices they give themselves, and the way their dialogue happens—how they speak and what they have to say. Also, I see who the characters are by their sense of humor. When I find what a character thinks is funny is when I actually begin to know them.

Some voices come to me very naturally and some voices are very difficult. Kate, for example, is the character most like me: She came to me very easily. Tully’s was the most difficult voice that I needed to get right because she is the farthest from me—absolutely my opposite in almost every way. And teenagers are difficult. I really wanted to get the nuances right—both in the teenage mindset and voice and dialogue. Marah had some moments when I really had to dig deep and find out who she was. Johnny, surprisingly, always came pretty easily for me—I’m not sure why!


Do you ever miss your characters after you’ve finished writing about them?

It takes me between a year and two years to write a novel, with fourteen months being about average. Over the course of it, I do a lot of prep work—and a lot of drafts. So, by the time I get to the end of a novel, I really feel like I’ve created the best version of the story, and the best characters within that framework. Once I’ve done what I set out to do, I am ready to move on to something else.

Firefly Lane is the one exception. That’s why it’s the only follow-up novel I’ve ever done. Because I did keep Tully and Cloud, in particular, in my head. And I really wanted to know what happened to them after the loss of Kate.

They definitely stuck with me, and I find it so meaningful that you were compelled to write the sequel when that isn't your usual thing; it shows exactly how powerful characters—even fictional—can be. What do you hope readers will take away from Fly Away, or from any of your novels?

I guess I hope, first and foremost, that my books are the sort of books that once you start you can’t put down. I just love a book in which you’re dying to know what happens, and how the end comes about. So I hope that mine make them feel that way, and that they learn to care deeply about the characters. And I hope that my novels reaffirm the importance of family and motherhood and caring for each other. In the world right now, it’s so important that we put the positive emotions front and center. If there’s a lesson at the heart of Fly Away it is that you can’t run from your problems or your failures; and, sometimes, if you stand your ground and dare to forgive, life can turn on a dime. You can make a second chance for yourself and the people you love.

Where can you be found on the web?


Thank you for joining us today, Kristin! It was incredible getting insight on the book as well as on the first book. Congrats again on the new release, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away a print copy of Fly Away—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Tell me about your inseparable best friend—what's your story? If you have a lot of close friends rather than one best friend, tell me about one of them who stands out to you!

Don't forget to include your email address in your comment so I know who to contact when I randomly select winner. Don't make me track you down! No email = No entry!!!!
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. Kristin and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends May 3rd at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only. Sorry, rest of the world! Please check out the top of my sidebar where there is a list of currently running giveaways that are open internationally.
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!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sea Panther by Dawn Marie Hamilton: Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway! (US)

Sea Panther
Dawn Marie Hamilton

A Scottish inspired paranormal romance with a Highlander vampire shifter hero, a modern damsel in distress, adventure, suspense, and romance. And a wee bit of time travel—just for fun.

Can love mend a fractured soul?

After evading arrest for Jacobite activities, Scottish nobleman Robert MacLachlan turns privateer. A Caribbean Voodoo priestess curses him to an eternal existence as a vampire shifter torn between the dual natures of a Florida panther and an immortal blood-thirsting man. For centuries, he seeks to reverse the black magic whilst maintaining his honor. Cruising the twenty-first century Atlantic, he becomes shorthanded to sail his 90-foot yacht, Sea Panther. The last thing he wants is a female crewmember and the call of her blood.

Although she swore never to sail again after her father died in a sailing accident, Kimberly Scot answers the captain's crew wanted ad to escape a hit man. She's lost everything, her fiancé, her job, and most of her money, along with money belonging to her ex-clients. A taste of Kimberly's blood convinces Robert she is the one woman who can claim the panther's heart. To break the curse, they travel back in time to where it all began—Jamaica 1715.
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & NobleiTunesCreatespace | Smashwords

Thursday, April 17, 2014

9 Heart Review: My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag by Jolie Kerr + Giveaway! (US/Can)

My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag... and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha
Jolie Kerr
Ask a Clean Person | Tumblr | TwitterFollow the Tour!

Page Count: 238

Release Date: February 25th 2014
Publisher: Plume (Penguin)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Penguin and TLC!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

The author of the hit column "Ask a Clean Person" offers a hilarious and practical guide to cleaning up life’s little emergencies.

Life is filled with spills, odors, and those oh-so embarrassing stains you just can’t tell your parents about. And let’s be honest: no one is going to ask Martha Stewart what to do when your boyfriend barfs in your handbag.

Thankfully, Jolie Kerr has both staggering cleaning knowledge and a sense of humor. With signature sass and straight talk, Jolie takes on questions ranging from the basic (How do I use a mop?) to the esoteric (What should I do when bottles of homebrewed ginger beer explode in my kitchen?). My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag proves that even the most nightmarish cleaning conundrums can be solved with a smile, the right supplies, and a little music.
At this point you should be thinking, "So why wouldn't everyone just use [laundry detergent] pods?" Well, I'll tell you! They present a serious hazard to children and pets, in that they're brightly colored and sort of look like fun toys and they're also just about mouth-size, and you see where I'm going with this? Right, of course you do. So it's something to take into consideration if you've got children and/or pets. You could, of course, get rid of the children and/or pets, which would allow you to use pods with impunity and also would mean you'd have a lot less laundry in general. But I understand that some people feel rather attached to those children and/or pets, so if you want to choose a podless, laundry-riddled existence, be my guest.

Cleaning isn't the most thrilling chore I could think of—in fact, I can say with certainty that no one actually looks forward to the dirtiest job around—but Jolie Kerr's devotion and simply outlined tips really make me want to get my butt off the couch and clean the damn house. It's like when you read food blogs and become motivated to start taking the time to cook and eat healthier; I see someone being really productive with their life which motivates me to at least attempt to reach that level.

The trick is that Kerr actually makes cleaning seem fun; her enthusiasm is contagious and her anecdotes uproariously funny. She's kooky, fanatical, and just becomes your weird best friend who loves cleaning—a hyped-up Martha Stewart, you could say. But unlike Martha, Jolie Kerr isn't a domestic ideal; she's been through real world, real girl problems (like boyfriends barfing in handbags) and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty—literally.

My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag is conveniently sectioned off into eight different cleaning categories:
  1. Kitchen
  2. Floors, Ceilings, Walls, and Other Immovable Things
  3. Bathroom
  4. Personal Hygiene Tools and Appliances (brushes, hair dryers, razors, etc.)
  5. Wedding Cleaning
  6. Laundry
  7. Car
  8. Things You Really Can't Ask Martha (or Mom, for that Matter)
I love how each chapter is outlined, making the book all the more useful as a reference tool. Just look up your problem area in the index and you'll find the solution Kerr suggests—super easy!

I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful the guide is. There's lots of cleaning advice that I have never come across (or, let's be honest—have never had the opportunity to need) before, things that aren't just common knowledge. The book is filled with comprehensive tables and charts that streamline specific cleaning methods and materials; it's a nice break from huge chunks of text every once in a while. And to make your life even easier, Kerr provides DIY cleaning solution recipes—made with ingredients that are probably already in your cupboards!—as well as specific brands and products she recommends for targeted problems.

There's definitely a lot of spunk in Kerr's voice, but that's what makes the book so entertaining; the rambling, direct style doesn't hold back. There's absolutely no BS and readers are taken straight to the emergency, no matter how mortifying—and isn't that what we all want in a cleaning guide?

Pros


Extensive, easy-to-follow tips for any spill and situation // Humorous, light // Organized into sections (bathroom, kitchen, car, etc.) // Helpful graphics to compare and contrast different cleaning methods

Cons


A reference book... not exactly something I would sit down and read cover to cover

Love


This isn't a word-for-word excerpt, but just a condensed tip I got from the book and wanted to share with you guys:

Ever pull off a shirt or dress only to see some of your makeup rubbed off onto the garment? Ugh! To get rid of foundation stains from clothes, rub the area gently with a baby wipe or makeup remove wipe. Be sure to be gentle enough not to push the stain even deeper into the fabric. Then, throw it in the wash.

For trickier, oilier stains such as lipstick or mascara stains on clothing, do the same thing except with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball instead of a baby wipe. The makeup should slide right off. Convenient, right?

Verdict


Highly charged, full of personality, and conscientiously charming, My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag is a stylish but frenetic cleaning guide for the everyday woman in everyday situations. With advice that ranges from generic but crucial (how to do laundry in a way that won't wear clothes out, how to clean the toilet, how to get rid of mildew, etc.) to ridiculously specific and quirky (how to deal with a Laffy Taffy that's melted in your pocket, how to get embarrassing fluids out of your bedsheets, how to even wrap your head around poop stains, etc.), this book is a handy reference tool that's simultaneously thoroughly entertaining. Jolie Kerr zealously combines chick-lit with how-to by contributing her and her readers' own experiences, just for kicks—who knew cleaning would be so fun to read? Americanflag

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

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one finished print copy of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag—yay!! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Share one of your favorite cleaning "life-hacks"—any sort of tip or trick you use to clean that may make everyone's life just a little easier!

Don't forget to include your email address or Twitter username in your comment so I know who to contact when I choose a winner. Don't make me track you down!!!! No email = No entry!
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. Jolie and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC and Penguin!
Giveaway ends May 1st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, international readers! Check out my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop 2014!

The 4th annual Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Read Now Sleep Later, 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 Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop is scheduled from April 17th at 12.01 AM until April 24th 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?

In celebration of Easter, I'll throw in another little prize I think EVERYONE will enjoy:
A Lindt (my favorite!!) chocolate bunny! These cuties come in dark, milk, white, and hazelnut chocolate, so the winner will get to choose :) I will be shipping these out myself and am willing to send them internationally!

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

That's three winners total! Woohoo!!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hold Me in Contempt by Wendy Williams Giveaway! (open US/Can)

Brought to you by the fabulous Tasty Book Tours...

Hold Me in Contempt
Wendy Williams

Move over 50 Shades, there’s a new romance in town. Superstar Wendy Williams of "The Wendy Williams Show" brings on the heat in her first ever, no-holds-barred, down and dirty, romance novel.

Kimberly Kind is trying to get beyond her roots. A successful, beautiful, smart lawyer, she’s finally finding direction in her life and getting out of the streets. But a terrible accident threatens to throw her carefully laid plans off course. Now Kim’s hiding a huge secret… one that could threaten everything.

Enter King. A perfect mix of Justin Timberlake and David Beckham, the man oozes sex and has more swagger than anyone Kim’s ever met. Their chemistry is off the charts. But after passion-filled nights, the intensity of their emotions takes both of them by surprise.

Love was not supposed to be an option. Now it’s the only thing holding them together. When their pasts come back with a vengeance, can love possibly be enough?

About the Author


Mother, wife, media mogul, entrepreneur, performer and best-selling author, Wendy Williams is best known for her long-running talk show “The Wendy Williams Show”. Named one of the “35 Most Powerful People in Media” by The Hollywood Reporter in both 2012 and 2013, Williams’ nationally-syndicated weekday program was hailed a “breakthrough in daytime” by The New York Times when it launched in 2009. The show now airs in 52 countries, on BET at midnight, is set to launch its fifth season in Fall 2013 and has been renewed through 2017.

Williams is the author of The New York Times best-seller “The Wendy Williams Experience” (Dutton Books), as well as several novels including Ritz Harper Goes to Hollywood and her most recent, Hold Me in Contempt. She contributes a regular celebrity hot topics column to the entertainment magazine Life & Style Weekly.

Williams earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with a minor degree in Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Both of her parents were university professors and Williams remains an advocate for education at all levels. Williams credits the start of her career with her decision to take an internship at a radio station on St. Croix, Virgin Islands immediately following her graduation from college.

Williams grew up in Ocean Township, New Jersey and currently lives in Northern New Jersey with her husband and their teenage son Kevin, Jr.


Giveaway!


We are giving away five print copies of Hold Me in Contempt as part of the virtual tour hosted by Tasty Book Tours—that's five winners tour-wide. Yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
As a reminder, this is a generic tour-wide giveaway so I do not choose winners or prizes, and am merely a part of the promotional efforts.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to Tasty Book Tours and Harper Collins!
Giveaway ends April 27th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US/Canada residents only. Sorry, rest of the world! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently-running giveaways that are open worldwide.
Void where prohibited.
As this is a tour-wide giveaway, I have no say in the selected winners and 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!