Saturday, June 28, 2014

Taken by Felicia Starr Giveaway! (International)

Taken (Breaking the Darkness #1)
Felicia Starr

You must betray your heart and walk amongst the darkness in order to find the truest light.

Opening her eyes to an imposing prison of complete darkness, Kasha is accused of possessing powers and abilities she had no previous knowledge of until the moment she comes face to face with herself while meditating. Haunted by memories strung together by lies and deceit, she soon discovers that maybe her beloved grandmother kept a few secrets she hadn't been aware of. Secrets that could be her salvation... or her undoing.

As she struggles to control her newfound powers, only time will tell if they will be enough to help her decipher who has imprisoned her or what they want from her. She must search for the answers and the freedom she so desperately desires.

Could a handsome guy who vows to help her get away prove to be the man of her dreams... or perhaps her worst nightmare? Not knowing who to trust, she must find a way to escape before she pays the ultimate price and finds herself taken by the darkness.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 two eBook and magnet/bookmark sets of Taken—yay!! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:

If you could travel through time, what year or era would you visit and why? Would you stay if you could?

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. Felicia and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to Felicia!
Giveaway ends July 11th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally, woohoo! However readers who live outside the US are not eligible for the magnet/bookmark, and will only receive the eBook.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Interview with Nicole C. Kear, Author of Now I See You + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

I'd like to welcome Nicole C. Kear to the blog today to celebrate the publication of her new memoir from St. Martin's Press, Now I See You. Stick around until the end for a fabulous giveaway that you don't want to miss!

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

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Nicole is the author of the memoir Now I See You, which was just published by St. Martin's Press and chosen as a Must-Read by Glamour, Fitness, Martha Stewart Living and Redbook, among others. Her work appears in the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, New York, Psychology Today, Parents, American Baby, as well as Salon, the Huffington Post and xoJane. Her column, “Dispatches from Babyville,” has been running continuously for nine years in the Park Slope Reader, and she chronicles her continuing mis-adventures in Mommydom on her blog, A Mom Amok.

A native of New York, she received a BA from Yale, a MA from Columbia, and a red nose from the San Francisco School of Circus Arts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, three children, and two feisty goldfish.


Readers, here's a bit about this new book, which was published this week!

Now I See You

At nineteen years old, Nicole C. Kear's biggest concern is choosing a major—until she walks into a doctor’s office in midtown Manhattan and gets a life-changing diagnosis. She is going blind, courtesy of an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, and has only a decade or so before the lights go out. Instead of making preparations as the doctor suggests, Kear decides to carpe diem and make the most of the vision she has left. She joins circus school, tears through boyfriends, travels the world, and through all these hi-jinks, she keeps her vision loss a secret.

When Kear becomes a mother, just a few years shy of her vision’s expiration date, she amends her carpe diem strategy, giving up recklessness in order to relish every moment with her kids. Her secret, though, is harder to surrender—and as her vision deteriorates, harder to keep hidden. As her world grows blurred, one thing becomes clear: no matter how hard she fights, she won’t win the battle against blindness. But if she comes clean with her secret, and comes to terms with the loss, she can still win her happy ending.

Told with humor and irreverence, Now I See You is an uplifting story about refusing to cower at life’s curveballs, about the power of love to triumph over fear. But, at its core, it’s a story about acceptance: facing the truths that just won't go away, and facing yourself, broken parts and all.
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Books-A-Million | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Describe the Now I See You in six words.

Hmmm, in terms of story: Girl going secretly blind learns acceptance.

Or maybe, more general: Funniest book about going blind yet.

Dealer’s choice.


As a huge fan of first lines, I’d love to hear the first line of The Stories We Tell. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
My disguise was missing something.
I think it’s essential to have a killer first line. We’re all busy, busy people and there are a million books out there to choose from, so if I’m going to pick one over another, it better grab me from the absolute get-go. My favorite first line of all-time, hands down is, “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” from Charlotte’s Web. Who doesn't want to find out what happens next?

I started Now I See You about a dozen different ways and with about a hundred first lines. I wanted to start in medias res, and the idea of beginning the story with my incognito cane training at the abandoned area near the Gowanus Canal, felt right to me, as it got to the heart of the story’s conflict. I love having the word “disguise” in the first line because it communicates a lot of information to the reader about the narrator/protagonist, namely, that she’s kind of out there. You want a protagonist/narrator who’s a little out there, especially in a memoir, because they make for interesting storytellers.


- - - - - - - - - - -

Some randomness...

Favorite kind of chocolate? Dark, milk, white, coffee-flavored, the kind with nuts or berries inside?? There is no kind of chocolate I would not eat in large quantities, but my favorite kind is milk chocolate with caramel. I’m just old-school that way. Stick too much fancy stuff in there—orange rind and cardamom and salt from the Black Sea—and you lose me. I’ll eat it of course, but I’ll act begrudging about it.

LOL! Most romantic thing a guy has ever said or done to you? I’ve had some grade-A, top-shelf pillow talk in my time, and received some love letters that should have book deals, but the MOST romantic thing anyone’s ever done for me is a tie between:
1. The time my husband took me out to dinner on Mother’s Day and told me we should have the third child I so desperately wanted but was nervous about having
and
2. The Valentine’s Day two years ago when I had Norovirus and my husband cleaned the bathroom after I nearly died in there.

Awww! He's a sweetie-pie. How do you get over heartbreak?  I don’t. I’m still holding a grudge against (and a candle for) every single guy I ever dated. That’s roughly eighty percent of the reason I wrote the book, so it’d be a bestseller, and they’d want me back.

It's an excellent strategy. Currently reading? Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time with my nine year-old son; Judy Blume’s Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing with my seven year-old; Lucy Cousin’s Little Red Riding Hood with my two year-old, and for me: the un-put-down-able new gothic thriller novel Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore; the beautiful, brutally honest new novel Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro; and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler which I’ve only just begun but am already smitten with.

What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? A singer with hair that reached to the floor. Basically, Crystal Gayle. It’d be good if I could also act, I figured, as that would increase my options for blockbuster success. By the way, I am still ridiculously proud of my (at best) approaching-average singing voice and treasure the two times I’ve been mistaken for a “professional singer":
Time number 1: At church, where I BELLOW the hymns (I can’t make out the print in the hymnal which makes it difficult to sing along but I’m good at elongating vague vowels so it kind of melds with what everyone else is doing). Once, a long time ago, a church-goer in the pew behind me asked if I was a professional singer, which was probably just his way of asking what was wrong with me.
and
Time number 2: I was walking down 72nd street pushing my son in the stroller and singing him a made-up nonsense song and the guy selling vegetables on the corner asked me I was a professional singer. That was eight years ago and I bring it up all the time in casual conversation.

You crack me up! Go-to comfort food? Pasta. Any and every kind of pasta, the carb-ier, the better. If I could eat pasta with bread and rice sauce, I’d do it. My grandmother, Nonny, makes a transcendent spaghetti a la carbonara and now that my son is as big as me, I have to fight him for the last dregs of pancetta at the bottom of the bowl (I always let him win. I love to be a martyr). Her lasagna and manicotti and stuffed shells are so criminally delicious there should be a federal agency providing oversight about how they’re used.

- - - - - - - - - - -

What are you involved in when you aren’t writing?

Extremely glamorous activities such as changing dirty diapers, nagging children to do their homework, nagging children to put their clothes in the hamper, yelling at children when they don’t do either, more changing dirty diapers and listening to various female family members call to tell me their side of the newest feud. All that and I still find time to eat macaroons!

Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes Now I See You stand out from the rest?

It will make you cry with laughter and with sorrow. There is no better workout for your tear ducts than reading my book. And you don’t want flabby tear ducts.

What is the message in the book that you want readers to grasp?

It’s a simple one: accept yourself. Know that every single person who has ever walked the earth has had a limitation, a handicap, a cross to bear—it’s what makes us human—and you can either hide those parts of yourself and your life and stew in misery and shame and fear or you can be honest about them (which, for the record, is what I recommend). Be honest about who you are and what you’re dealing with. It may feel like a burden on others, but really, it’s a gift.

Beautiful—thank you for sharing! Where can you be found on the web?


Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you'd like to ask our readers?

If you found out you were going want to see before Lights Out?

It was an absolute pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Nicole! Your humor and ability to reflect on a personal struggle and turn it into something wonderful, truly amazes me. Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 two print copies of Now I See You
—that's two winners total, woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is answer Nicole's question:
If you found out you were going blind tomorrow, what are the top three things you’d want to see before Lights Out?
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. Nicole 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 July 10th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US/Can residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Interview with Patti Callahan Henry, Author of The Stories We Tell + Giveaway! (US only)

I'd like to welcome Patti Callahan Henry to the blog today to celebrate the publication of her newest novel from St. Martin's Press, The Stories We Tell. Stick around until the end for a fabulous giveaway that you don't want to miss!

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


Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry has published ten novels, including the upcoming The Stories We Tell, which was released by St. Martin’s Press yesterday. Hailed as a fresh new voice in Southern fiction, Henry has been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and nominated four different times for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Novel of the Year. Her work is published in five languages and in audiobook by Brilliance Audio.

Henry has appeared in numerous magazines including Good Housekeeping, skirt! magazine, South magazine, and Southern Living. Two of her novels were Okra Picks and Coming up For Air was selected for the August 2011 Indie Next List. She is a frequent speaker at fundraisers, library events and book festivals. A full-time writer, wife, and mother of three—Henry lives in Mountain Brook, Alabama.


Readers, here's a bit about this new book, which was published last week!

The Stories We Tell

Bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry is back with a powerful novel about the stories we tell and the people we trust.

Eve and Cooper Morrison are Savannah’s power couple. They’re on every artistic board and deeply involved in the community. She owns and operates a letterpress studio specializing in the handmade; he runs a digital magazine featuring all things southern gentlemen. The perfect juxtaposition of the old and the new, Eve and Cooper are the beautiful people. The lucky ones. And they have the wealth and name that comes from being part of an old Georgia family.

But things may not be as good as they seem.

Eve’s sister, Willa, is staying with the family until she gets "back on her feet." Their daughter, Gwen, is all adolescent rebellion. And Cooper thinks Eve works too much. Still, the Morrison marriage is strong. After twenty-one years together, Eve and Cooper know each other. They count on each other. They know what to expect. But when Cooper and Willa are involved in a car accident, the questions surrounding the event bring the family close to breaking point. Sifting between the stories—what Cooper says, what Willa remembers, what the evidence indicates—Eve has to find out what really happened. And what she’s going to do about it.

A riveting story about the power of truth, The Stories We Tell will open your eyes and rearrange your heart.
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Books-A-Million | iTunes | Kobo | Publisher

Describe the The Stories We Tell in six words (or less!).

Find the truth inside stories.

How did you arrive at writing women's fiction? Are there any other genres you’d like to try your hand at?

I didn't intend or set out to write "women's fiction";I set out to write a good story about families and love.

I'd like to one day try my hand a YA, but haven't yet.


What was the inspiration for the book?

I was inspired by the beauty and handmade world of letterpress and typography. In our fast-paced world where image is everything in social media and branding, where does the handcrafted, honest life fit in? I imagined a woman who valued not only the image of her life and family but also the creative life that nourished her. I saw these two worlds colliding as she struggled to keep both worlds alive in a tension of opposites. Eventually something had to unwind, which of course it did. As an ex-nurse who specialized in closed head injuries, I was also inspired by the constantly wavering life of memory and imagination. What is real? What is imagined or remembered? How accurate is our memory, especially after a head injury? These fascinating questions pulled the story along as I uncovered the answers. I’m always inspired by storytelling and the ultimate ability of creativity to heal a heart, a life and an injured brain.

As a huge fan of first lines, I’d love to hear the first line of The Stories We Tell. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
My eyes changed color and I didn't even notice.
Eve, the narrator, is giving us a hint about how the story will go—how sometimes something has already changed and yet it isn't obvious!

Are the characters from your books based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your stories?

Not one of the characters is based on people in my life. As usual, there might be a curious amalgam in each character but I did not fashion a single character after a loved or known person in my life. I did use some teenage actions I have witnessed or been a part of in raising three high-spirited teenagers (was that a nice way to say it?). I have not owned a letterpress and I definitely can’t write a song (or even sing one). So these characters are born of imagination and the murky world of storytelling.


Which character from The Stories We Tell was most difficult to write?

The husband, Cooper, was the most difficult for me to write. Not because I didn't understand him or because he was male, but because he was conflicted and deceitful while also loving his family.


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

This list changes depending on when I am asked this question, but right now the answer is:
  1. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
  2. Kings Oak by Anne Rivers Siddons
  3. The Stand by Stephen King
  4. Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle
  5. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

Such a fabulous list of books! What’s the greatest thing you ever learned?

This is something that changes all the time because I learn something and have an AHA moment and then learn something new that is built on that again. So I'm going to take a cop out here and tell you the greatest thing my character learned in The Stories We Tell: That just because it looks good doesn't mean it is good.

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

I feel the blood rush out of my face. I wish for the password to whatever website it is so I can erase it. I feel sad. And then, I'm done. There's too much good going on to stay there.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out what kind of kid Patti was in high school, the most disastrous date she's been on, and what makes The Stories We Tell stand out from every other fabulous book out there. We're also hosting a giveaways for a hardcover copy, so you don't want to miss that either!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Rebel Cowboy's Quadruplets Giveaway! (Open Internationally)


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tina will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to TWO randomly drawn commenters during the tour.

Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. Remember, the more stops you visit and comment, the better your chances to win.


REBEL WITH A CAUSE?

Justin Morant can't believe he answered an online dating ad! Turns out, beautiful Mackenzie Hawthorne is looking for a ranch foreman, not a husband. Good thing, because marriage isn't in the injured bull rider's future. Justin is happy to take up the cause of saving the Hanging H ranch—and then there's the bonus of playing stand-in father to the sexy single mom's four angelic newborns.

Mackenzie doesn't know what miracle brought Justin to Bridesmaids Creek, Texas, but she'd be a fool to fall for the hunky cowboy who wears his rebel status like a badge of honor. Justin's a natural with her daughters and a whiz at ranching...yet one day she knows he's going to gallop off into the sunset. Unless, of course, the marriage-minded townspeople get their hands on him!


Now enjoy an excerpt:

“You’ve got the strangest look on your face,” Ty said as Justin returned his gaze to Mackenzie. He just couldn’t seem to get enough of looking at her. “I’d say you have indigestion, except you’re smiling.”

Justin relaxed his mouth so the smile would disappear. He had been smiling, because his muscles ached a bit. Like he’d been smiling a long time—watching Mackenzie walk and chatter with some friends who came over to talk to her.

“I’m not smiling, but I may have indigestion.”

Ty snorted. “I see what’s going on here.”

“Do you.” He made the comment as flat as possible. His buddy’s opinion didn’t really matter. Ty had no idea what was going on, because Justin had no idea.

“You’re tired,” Ty said. “Being around those babies and that falling-down farm has worn you out. You better hit the road with me. You’ll be back to your old self in no time.”

“What was my old self?”

Ty put his hat on, prepared to leave, which was fine with Justin. Then he could go back to surreptitiously staring at Mackenzie. “Grumpy, cranky, annoying.”

Justin grunted. “Thought that was you.”

“Not me.” He peered at Justin. “I really hope this wasn’t too much for you, old buddy. I didn’t mean to bring you down. Figured some time in a small town with a real job would do you good.”

Justin put his hat on, too, because if he didn’t get out of there, people were going to notice that he couldn’t stop staring at his beautiful boss. “That’s what you get for thinking. See you at the house. Don’t get there too soon. I’m taking the boss lady shopping.”

Ty stared at him, stunned. “What’s happened to you?” he whispered. “You’re a shadow of your former self!”

Well, that was a question he didn’t care to ponder too much. Mackenzie came to stand beside him, smiling up into his face, and his poor stupid heart felt like it took the final dive into his stomach.

What had happened to him indeed.

Mackenzie and four babies were happening to him, and they were going to require a great deal of consideration. This was a bad idea, this tiny woman with the big eyes and her sweet family. A very bad idea, because he wasn’t a family man; he wasn’t a staying man.

“You ready?” he asked Mackenzie, and she nodded.

“If you’re not going to chicken out,” she teased.

Oh, he might. He was thinking about it. Thinking about it hard.

But something told him he probably wouldn’t.


USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author Tina Leonard has sold over 2.6 million copies of her titles.

She has made the USA Today Bestseller, Waldenbooks, Bookscan, and Ingrambook lists, and has written and contracted seventy-one books and special projects. Her work has been published by Harlequin, Samhain Publishing, Robinson Scarlet, and most recently Random House Loveswept contracted for a single title trilogy project, Hell’s Outlaws.

Leonard was chosen to be among the first authors published for Robinson’s Scarlet line, writing four single title novels for that imprint. Not long after, she sold on proposal to Harlequin American, where she has since written several popular series, most notably the Cowboys By The Dozen, Morgan Men, and Callahan Cowboys series. Her newest single title project, Hotter Than Texas, was published in March 2013. Leonard is known for her fun sense of humor, endearing communities, snappy dialogue, and memorable characters.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Closed Doors by Lisa O’Donnell Giveaway! (US only)

Closed Doors
Lisa O’Donnell

In this tense and brilliant tale from the national bestselling author of The Death of Bees, a young boy on a small Scottish island, where everyone knows everything about everyone else, discovers that a secret can be a dangerous thing.

Eleven-year-old Michael Murray is the best at two things: hacky sack and keeping secrets. His family thinks he's too young to hear grown-up stuff, but he listens at doors—it's the only way to find out anything. And Michael's heard a secret, one that may explain the bruises on his mother's face.

When the whispers at home and on the street become too loud to ignore, Michael begins to wonder if there is an even bigger secret he doesn't know about. Scared of what might happen if anyone finds out, and desperate for life to return to normal, Michael sets out to piece together the truth. But he also has to prepare for the upcoming talent show, keep an eye out for Dirty Alice—his archnemesis from down the street—and avoid eating Granny's watery stew.

Closed Doors is the startling new novel from Lisa O'Donnell, the acclaimed author of The Death of Bees. It is a vivid evocation of the fears and freedoms of childhood and a powerful tale of love, of the loss of innocence, and of the importance of family in difficult times.

About the Author




Lisa O’Donnell won the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for her screenplay The Wedding Gift. Her debut novel, The Death of Bees, was the winner of the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. Closed Doors was originally published last year and was recently reissued and is now on tour. Lisa currently lives in Scotland.




Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 one finished print copy of Closed Doors—yay!! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:

What's an interesting or funny secret someone has told you, or you've told someone else? Don't share it if it's still top-secret obviously, but rather make it anonymous or name one that's already been revealed!
One of my good friends pierced her own ears in middle school—ouch!—and she made me keep it from her mom. It was a huge burden on me because I was close with both her and her mom, and saw both of them quite frequently! I was so afraid it would somehow slip, but I managed to keep it on the downlow ;)

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. Lisa 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 Harper Collins!
Giveaway ends July 7th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US 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!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop 2014! (Open Internationally)

The 2014 Midsummer's Eve 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 Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop is scheduled from June 21st at 12.01 AM until June 30th 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 a book that was released in the past month, or will be coming out this summer!


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

What would you choose if you won?

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

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

Friday, June 20, 2014

Top Five Things You Didn’t Know About Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

Chasing the Sun
Natalia Sylvester

Partially inspired by her grandfather’s kidnapping in Peru, Chasing the Sun is Natalia Sylvester’s suspenseful debut about a man whose wife is kidnapped just as their marriage is falling apart. After going out for an errand, Marabela Jimenez doesn’t return home and her husband suspects she has left him—again.

Only, the next day a letter arrives in the mail that reads:

Querido Andres,
I’m being held by three men who say they’ll keep me safe as long as you cooperate. They say that means no cops and no media. They say they’ll call when they’re ready to talk to you. Kiss our children for me and tell them not to worry. Keep me in your thoughts as I will be keeping you in mine.
Marabela

Despite their crumbling relationship, Andres quickly realizes he must do whatever it takes to get Marabela home. He can’t possibly afford the ransom the kidnappers demand or handle this threat to his family alone so he hires a consultant to help negotiate with the terrorists. He also reaches out to his estranged mother, who has never cared for Marabela and even reconnects with an old friend who may hold the key to his past and his wife’s future. As each day passes without the return of his wife, Andres is forced to come to terms with whether or not what he and Marabela have left is worth saving and how far he’ll go to bring her home.

Set against the backdrop of the political turmoil and terrorist threats of 1992 Peru, Chasing the Sun is a story of how trauma has a way of exposing our most difficult truths and healing past wounds and regrets.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

4 Heart Review: Love with a Perfect Cowboy by Lori Wilde

Love with a Perfect Cowboy (Cupid, Texas #4)
Lori Wilde

Page Count: 384

Release Date: May 27th 2014
Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and Tasty!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde returns to Cupid, Texas, and asks the question: Do you ever forget your first love?

Melody Spencer had long-ago wiped the dust of Cupid, Texas, off her cute shoes... and done her best to forget the chiseled jaw and strong arms of cowboy Luke Spencer. Their families might be part of a long-time feud, but he was her very first love, even if it turned out they never wanted the same things.

But now Luke's come striding back into her life, tempting her with the memories of long, lazy evenings and hot, passionate kisses. And he has an ulterior motive—as Mayor of Cupid, he knows Melody's business savvy can help save their beloved hometown. His smooth talking might get her to Texas, but that doesn't mean he'll get her in his bed. Still, people do say love can be more perfect the second time around...
Look what had happened when [Luke had] tried [dating Melody] fifteen years ago.
Ah, crap, he was setting himself up for a hard tumble down a rocky cliff.
Yeah? Guest what? He didn't give a good damn. He wanted her and that's all there was to it.

This is one of those second-chance love stories that I thought I'd enjoy—I mean, cowboys? Texas? A forbidden relationship? What's not to love?—but there are so many issues I had with it. It's not a complete carwreck, I'll admit; it has a linear plot, characters easy to sympathize with, and the occasional witty line. But overall, I just didn't find it a very palatable novel.

Melody Spencer traded the wide skies of Cupid, Texas for the bright lights of New York City fifteen years ago, and hasn't looked back since. When her first love—the one with whom things never worked out because of a family feud—shows up in the Big Apple at her weakest moment, begging for her help, she can't help but remind herself that—even though she left Cupid behind—it is where her roots are, and she needs to do her part to save the crumbling town.

The aspect of a family feud keeping the two once-lovers apart attempts to create a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story, but it just didn't seem very complicated or tragic to me. I know the taboo aspect of the relationship is supposed to be sexy, but because Lori Wilde gave no depth to either character, it was hard to follow the romance.

Melody and Luke's cheesy instalove is also a huge problem. The moment Melody lays her eyes on Luke—again—her knees weaken, she swoons, she realizes she still loves him, etc. etc. etc. Every other line in the book is Luke noticing Melody's beauty or intelligence or kindness, which isn't only irritating, but also detrimental to the story because it reduces Wilde's style to simplistic telling, not showing. The dialogue and superfluous descriptions are not only stilted, but they're also ridiculous; I was literally laughing at the writing.

A few examples of the cringe-worthy dialogue and wording:
"You're a terrific catch. Looks like someone would have snared you by now."
"Thanks for the compliment," he said. "But I could ask you the same thing."
...how romantic, how smoldering, how smooth!

A seductive purr hummed over her lips, and a heavy breath drove her exquisite tits straight up into his chest. Through flaring nostrils he inhaled her feminine aroma, the flirty flavor of spice, licorice, and kiwi perfume permeating his olfactory receptors, sailing into his brain, flitting between neurons and skimming over synapses, firing off a timeless male response.
Exotic.
...flaring nostrils? Olfactory receptors?? A timeless male response???? What the fuck!!

God, she was beautiful and sexy and irresistible. Luke genuinely liked her. She was quick-witted and professional, eager, goal-oriented, a real-go-getter. Beautiful and self-confident in maturity. Multifaceted.
...why don't we just put the thesaurus down, Lori, and stop going on like this..

She wriggled beneath him and he was instantly hard enough to cut sheet metal with his dick.
...well, at least it's original.

"Do you have any idea how damn sexy you are?" he whispered.
She laughed. (I would have laughed too.)
Of course she did, the seductive wench.
...seductive wench???/ ?? Is that normal??

Did she have any idea what she did to him? Wearing that little red dress held up by strips of material no thicker than a strand of linguini?
...beautiful and poetic, as you can see.
He imagined chewing those straps right off her body, and licked his lips.
...okay, this is where I lost it. As did Lori Wilde.

Pros


An okay standalone novel, although it's the fourth (and last) in the series // Quick read; fast-paced

Cons


Romance is hardly romantic // Even the plot outside the romance, regarding saving Cupid, isn't well done // Both characters are idiots—no character development or depth at all // Instalove... or re-instalove? // Everything, from the flirting, the backstory, and the sex, is stilted, rushed, and just hard to get into // Unrealistic // Annoyingly repetitive

Verdict


While the author hasn't committed any major crimes in Love with a Perfect Cowboy, it was a sore disappointment because of how shallow and lacking the characters, the romance, and the subplots were. The synopsis seemed intriguing, but the "forbidden relationship" isn't explored deeply and just comes off as outrageously ignorant, and the forced dialogue and laughable descriptions don't help its case either. Maybe diehard Lori Wilde fans will be able to enjoy this last installment in the Cupid, Texas series, but I sure don't recommend it Americanflag

4 hearts: So-so; reading this book may cause wrinkles (from frowning so much)(x)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

9 Heart Review: The Heiresses by Sara Shepard

The Heiresses (Heiresses #1)
Sara Shepard

Page Count: 320

Release Date: May 12th 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: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

You know the Saybrooks. Everyone does. Perhaps you've read a profile of them in People or have seen their pictures in the society pages of Vogue. Perhaps while walking along that choice block on Fifth Avenue, you've been tempted to enter the ornate limestone building with their family name etched into the pediment above the door.

The only thing more flawless than a Saybrook's diamond solitaire is the family behind the jewelry empire. Beauties, entrepreneurs, debutantes, and style mavens, they are the epitome of New York City's high society. But being a Saybrook comes at a price—they are heirs not only to a dizzying fortune but also to a decades-old family curse.

Tragedy strikes the prominent family yet again when thirty-four-year-old Poppy, the most exquisite Saybrook of them all, flings herself from the window of her TriBeCa office. Everyone is shocked that a woman who had it all would end her own life. Then her cousins receive an ominous threat: one heiress down, four to go.

Was it suicide... or murder? In the aftermath of the tragedy, the remaining heiresses—Corinne, the perfectionist; Rowan, the workaholic; Aster, the hedonist; and Natasha, the enigma—wrestle with feelings of sadness, guilt, and, most of all, fear. Now they must uncover the truth about their family before they lose the only thing money can't buy: their lives.

The Heiresses is a whip-smart mystery that simmers with the wicked sense of humor and intrigue that made Sara Shepard's number one New York Times-bestselling Pretty Little Liars series a must-read, must-watch phenomenon.
The girls were the future of Saybrook's Diamonds, and they had to act accordingly. They were to live their lives with the utmost decorum, smile for the cameras, speak several languages, hold many degrees, cultivate the art of conversation, and most important, refrain from doing anything that might bring scandal upon the family. To never, ever break the rules.
And yet they had. All of them. It had been a summer of secrets. They were heiresses, all right, but they hadn't been behaving like heiresses at all.
And it was only a matter of time before the world found out.

Opening in tragedy, and confined by tragedy, The Heiresses follows the lives of the five—well, four—Saybrook heiresses: their lush, rich world, their deeply personal problems, and fate's cruel affinity for hurdling their family into a string of mysterious, sudden deaths, otherwise known as the Saybrook Curse by the public.

Upon the unthinkable loss of one of their own—the perfect Poppy Saybrook—the remaining four cousins set out to solve the dangerous, wildly eery crime, but approach a dilemma when they realize Poppy's murder can only be solved by revealing the scandals and secrets of their past. Each Saybrook cousin has a life-threatening secret—that one personal demon they want to take to the grave—and as each figures out who is a witness, who is an alibi, and who is a backstabber, the dark secrets are slowly revealed.

I was so enchanted by this book. Dramatic irony keeps it running, and the suspense is absolutely electrifying—hair-raising—in a creepy "someone's watching you" kind of way. I couldn't stop reading it because I was too scared to put it down! In the vein of the Gossip Girl series, Sara Shepard masters the sinister, omniscient tone that, in the backdrop of high-society New York City, is as extravagant as its characters are.

The Heiresses is not your average chick-lit novel; it's not just another happy day at the Hamptons. The calamities and misfortunes of the world-famous diamond empire will stun and frighten you, as well as teach you a thing or two about the dangers of money, misconceptions, and pride. It's a story of the consequences of deceit, greed, and lies from one generation to the next, but beneath it all, it's also an examination of four courageous women who bond and discover the values of fortune, trust, and always: family.

Pros


The ending!!!! // Characters aren't deep, but are understandable and lovable // Scintillating suspense // Cinematic, dramatic—I can easily see this being made into a TV show or movie // One of those books you can't put down // Eery, startling tone is so well done

Cons


Literally everybody is screwing everybody... this book is centered on infidelity and illicit sexual relations // Not a super deep, meaningful novel, but still a hell of an entertaining one

Verdict


With the addictive, crippling voice akin to Gossip Girl, the darkly comical tone found in Desperate Housewives, and allusions to the Kennedy curse we're all so familiar with, Sara Shepard's newest novel reads like Pretty Little Liars all grown up. The Heiresses is a juicy, sinful mystery about a legendary American dynasty so blessed with fortune and beauty, yet cursed in the worst of ways. I admit at times the plot resembles that of an overdone soap opera, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining; this series is bound to become everyone's newest guilty pleasure Americanflag

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Life Lessons Found in The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee + Giveaway! (US only)

The Glass Kitchen
Linda Francis Lee

With The Glass Kitchen, Linda Francis Lee has served up a novel that is about the courage it takes to follow your heart and be yourself.

A true recipe for life.

Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan . . . and never cook again. But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.

The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Vitamin C Diaries #3: Updates + La Beauté Pure Giveaway! (International)

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
Here's a little update on the newest serum I've been using.

La Beauté Pure's Vitamin C serum is, like most other serums I've been trying, 98% naturally derived and 72% organic, but I also love how it is produced in an FDA-registered facility and is free of parabens, nano-particles, alcohol, formaldehyde, phthalates, triclosan, GMOs, fragrances or perfumes, or added colors. That's what I call natural beauty!

I've been using it for the past week, and I love the texture of it on my skin. There's virtually no scent (just a slightly medicine-like smell, which I guarantee comes from the tea extracts or witch hazel. It's not really noticeable and definitely fades after sinking into your skin.

I haven't seen noticeable results, but using a Vitamin C serum (not just this brand) every day for the past several weeks has slightly faded some of my acne scars, so I'm hoping to see better, more dramatic results after prolonged usage.

La Beauté Pure is a very practical brand because it offers all the same natural ingredients and money-back guarantees at a very affordable price for a bottle its size (1 fl. oz.). Although its list price is $79.99—a fair price for a Vitamin C serum—it retails for only $19.99 on Amazon, which I think is a steal!

Regardless, I'm giving away one full-size bottle of La Beauté Pure's Vitamin C serum to a lucky Books à la Mode reader!

Giveaway!


Who wants to win it??

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What's your favorite beauty brand—the one company you incorporate into your beauty routine regularly, and love every product of theirs you've tried?
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the seller and review coordinator—a huge thank you to La Beauté Pure and Tomoson!
Giveaway ends June 27th at 11.59 PM (your time).

Open internationally. That means anyone in the world can enter—woohoo!
Void where prohibited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for shipping and handling, or for the prizes themselves.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

FTC Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. However, I was not paid in any way to write a review—positive or otherwise—and all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. I only recommend products or services I have used personally and believe will be good for my beautiful readers!